Hiker’s Smartphone App Helps Him Get Rescued After Getting Lost in Oregon Wilderness Overnight

by Amy Myers
Photo by: Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

On Monday, Deschutes County Search and Rescue received word of a missing hiker who had been exploring Oregon’s backcountry. Thanks to the man’s friend, officials were able to find his general location and begin the search for him.

While it isn’t smart to rely on your phone while navigating remote, wilderness regions, it is a good additional tool to have (along with a map, compass and headlamp). Because the hiker shared his location with the friend, the reporting man was able to look up his location on a find-my-phone type of app when he was overdue from an excursion. There, he saw that the unnamed 55-year-old man from Bend parked his car at the Tumalo Falls Trailhead in Deschutes National Forest.

Once the friend had this information, he promptly reported it to emergency personnel at approximately 9 p.m. According to Deschutes County SAR, “The Special Services Deputy paged out Search and Rescue volunteers to respond and search for the missing male.”

Along with the volunteers, deputies joined the effort and fanned out across the area’s few trails throughout the night to look for any signs of the hiker. Of the trails in the area, the most difficult is the North Fork to Farewell loop. The route travels over 15 miles through challenging terrain past meadows and waterfalls. Other less difficult trails in the Tumalo Falls area include the Bridge Creek and Tumalo Creek Trails, both of which are considered moderately easy by AllTrails. It’s unclear which these routes the fellow hiker found the missing man on.

“Searchers checked multiple trails on foot throughout the night and into the following day,” the foundation detailed. “Searchers were showing other hikers in the area a picture of the missing male and asking people to call if they saw the male.”

Fellow Hiker Finds Missing Man on His Way Back to Car

Finally, at about 11:10 a.m., another hiker happened to cross paths with the man who was already en route back to the Tumalo Falls parking lot. The fellow hiker quickly called in the sighting to emergency teams, and crews hurried to meet the man.

“Searchers responded to the area and contacted the missing hiker, who confirmed that he had lost his way as it got dark, so he sheltered in place over night and then began walking out the following morning,” the post shared. “The male was escorted back to his vehicle in the parking lot.”

Police did not say whether the man required any medical attention. However, it appears that officials allowed him to exit the scene in his own vehicle. It is not clear if the hiker had any emergency gear with him when he had to shelter in place in the national forest overnight.