Milwaukie resident Morgan Bailey fell from a fifty-foot cliff while hiking around the Columbia River Gorge Tuesday. On Friday, hikers found the injured hiker less than a mile from the Gorton Creek Trailhead.
Bailey was immobile and confused but responsive. They thought that he was exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia. After three nights injured and exposed to the Pacific North West’s elements, hypothermia would not be a surprise. They called the authorities to get the injured hiker back to safety.
There was no way that Bailey was walking out of there. His injuries were too severe. At the same time, the trail’s conditions were treacherous. There was no way for authorities to safely reach him and get him out on foot or in a vehicle. They knew they would have to use a helicopter to airlift the injured hiker. So, that’s what they did.
The rescue was a coordinated effort. The Hood River County Sheriff’s Department, United States Coast Guard, Oregon State Police, United States Forest Service, and Cascade Locks Fire Department were all involved. At the same time, volunteers from Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue and Hood River Crag Rats were called in. Despite the number of people involved, the rescue effort came together quickly. The call came in at 5:30. An hour and fifteen minutes later, the helicopter was on the scene ready to lift the injured hiker to safety.
The injured hiker was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. He is currently in stable condition according to OregonLive. According to search and rescue coordinator Deputy Chris Guertin, Bailey was extremely lucky to be alive. He went on to say that if those hikers had not found him, his chances of making it through the night were slim.
The Injured Hiker’s Survival Is Surprising
The fact that Morgan Bailey survived as long as he did is surprising. His stable condition is almost miraculous. In survival situations like this, the “rule of threes” usually comes into play. This rule states that you can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in extreme conditions, and three days without water. You can survive for up to three weeks without food.
The injured hiker was testing the absolute limits of the rule of three. Luckily for Bailey, the weather was mild over the past week in the Columbia River Gorge area. While temperatures dropped to uncomfortable lows, they never dipped below freezing. This went a long way in keeping the injured hiker alive. However, he wouldn’t have lasted much longer. His immobile and confused state would have led him to die of dehydration if not for the hikers who found him and the rescue teams that pulled him out of there.
While we can all feel good that Morgan Bailey made it out of his predicament alive, it does bring some important things to the forefront. It’s important to be safe when trekking out into the wilderness. Never hike alone. If you’re going to be in nature, be sure that you’re prepared for emergencies. Get out and enjoy the world just be safe while you’re doing it. Not everyone is as lucky as Morgan Bailey.