Lane Co. rescues another solo PCT hiker

Second in days; late snow depth surprising travelers

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 5:56 PM PDT June 24, 2013    UPDATED: 6:03 PM PDT June 24, 2013 
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BEND, Ore. -

For the second time in days, Lane County searchers rescued a solo hiker on Sunday who had become stranded in deep snow near the Pacific Crest Trail, prompting another warning Monday for trail users to be prepared for winter-like conditions.

Samantha R. Kennedy, 33, of Waldport, was dropped off at Elk Lake Friday afternoon for a solo hike north on the PCT, said John Miller, search and rescue coordinator for the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

Lane County 911 got a call from Kennedy around 6:15 p.m. Saturday, saying she was on the trail in the Willamette National Forest, but in deep snow and unable to keep traveling north, Miller said.

Kennedy also said she was unsure if she could find her way back to Elk Lake, as she only had a cellphone and no other navigational tools.

Since she had food and camping gear, Miller said the sheriff’s office asked Kennedy to camp in place and await help.

A seven-person team from Eugene Mountain Rescue, along with a search manager, left Eugene at 5 a.m. Sunday and responded to the area off Highway 242.

Using cellphone-locating technology, teams were directed seven miles into the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, where they found Kennedy shortly before noon. Miller said she and her dog were in good condition.

The team escorted Kennedy out to the Obsidian Trailhead, arriving around 3:30 p.m. She then was taken to Eugene and her waiting family.

Miller noted Kennedy was the second solo hiker to become stranded on the trail in the past week, as late-season snowfall has surprised some.

An Arizona man who planned a solo PCT hike from state Highway 242 (the McKenzie Pass Highway) to California encountered a snowstorm, hunkered down in his tent for three days, then called Lane County officials for help Thursday, prompting a successful rescue.

He reminded everyone heading to higher elevations that there’s still “a substantial amount of snow” covering many trails above 4,000 feet.

“It is difficult to locate and/or follow these buried trails without advanced navigational skills and equipment,” Miller said in a news release. “Please make sure you are properly equipped and trained when recreating in the mountains, and leave a detailed itinerary with a responsible party who can call authorities” if you fail to return at the expected time.