With the return of summerlike temperatures, outdoors enthusiasts have flocked back to the natural wonders that abound in and around the Portland region.
That prompted a busy weekend for area search and rescue crews, as temperatures climbed into the 80s.
Early Saturday, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue teams gathered near Multnomah Falls for a training exercise. A call came in around 5:15 p.m. that a 50-year-old hiker was having a heart attack 2 miles up the trail to Angel’s Rest.
The caller said three doctors who happened to be on the same trail had begun performing CPR, but a crew was dispatched.
While they were responding, a call came in that another hiker in his 70s had become lost and tired on the trail to Wahkeenah Falls, and a few members of the crew responding to the heart attack were diverted. That hiker was able to make his way to the trailhead, where emergency responders were waiting for him.
The remainder of the responders continued on to the heart attack victim. While on their way up the trail, they learned the man had died despite the efforts of the doctors on the trail. The response transitioned from a rescue to a recovery, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Nearly five hours after the initial call, the crew reached the dead hiker and began taking him back down the steep trail in the dark, reaching the bottom near 4 a.m.
Just after midnight Monday, another call came in about a 31-year-old man who had been hiking near Multnomah Falls with his nieces, ages 11 and 16, and never returned. By 2 a.m., the sheriff’s office found his car on East Larch Mountain Road, and another full-scale rescue operation was initiated.
A Gresham police officer, who had been called in to help with the search, located the group about a mile east of the vehicle. They were hungry and tired but otherwise unharmed. The man told the rescue crew he had planned to return to his car but became lost. He used a smartphone app for directions, but the app had taken him to Larch Mountain instead of Multnomah Falls, his intended destination.
“This is the third group in two weeks that deputies have helped who have used maps apps for directions to Multnomah and Wahkeena falls,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Sgt. Keith Bybee, the search and rescue coordinator for the sheriff’s office, commended his staff for the long hours they put in.
“They never fail to impress me. No matter the situation, they always rise to the challenge,” he said in a statement. “We’re proud to have such a dedicated team of volunteers at the ready.”
The sheriff’s office recommended that anyone venturing out into Oregon’s wild spaces be prepared with what they called the 10 essentials:
Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon or satellite messenger
Headlamp or flashlight, plus batteries
Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen
First aid, including foot care and insect repellent