BEND, Ore. - Three lost snowshoers whose only map was a picture on a cellphone that died were rescued near Dutchman Flat west of Bend Tuesday night, thanks to the dim light from the trio's last working cellphone, with just 1 percent of its battery left, a Deschutes County sheriff's deputy said.
Here's the full report prepared by Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue coordinator:
Around 3:45 p.m., Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue was dispatched to a report of a subject that snowshoed to Todd Lake from the Dutchman Snow Park parking lot, then became lost on the way back and was being slowed down by a broken snowshoe.
Dispatch was able to provide the GPS coordinates of the snowshoer following the 911 call, placing the snowshoer on the Big Meadow trail, north of Dutchman Loop trail.
Phone contact was made by a deputy to the snowshoer, identified as Melissa Schneider, 31, pf Bend, to inform her of her location and distance from Dutchman Snow Park; about 1.25 miles.
It was then learned Schneider knew she was on a ski/snowshoe trail and was with two other snowshoers; Doniree Walker, 34, and Jillian Seaman, 32, both of Portland.
Schneider advised they were too tired to continue and they were getting cold. After learning the time delay of approximately an hour in getting SAR volunteers to their area by snowmobile, it was decided Schneider and party would continue on the trail they were on to help stay warm with the intention of snowshoeing to Dutchman Flat with plans to call back if needed.
Schneider was instructed to call back in 30 minutes to provide an update. She also was told to place her cell phone in airplane mode in the meantime, to save the battery which was at 26 percent.
Around 5:20 p.m., Schneider called 911 back to advise they could no longer see the trail and they were standing in an open field. Phone contact was made again by a SAR deputy. Schneider then said they could not go any further, as it was too dark to see, and wanted assistance back to the Dutchman parking lot. Schneider's phone battery was now showing 11 percent.
Three SAR volunteers responded to the location on snowmobiles and located the subjects around 7 p.m. The snowshoers were very cold, but otherwise fine. Schneider and party were transported to the Dutchman parking lot; a distance of about 3/4 of a mile, without incident.
It was learned the snowshoers started from Dutchman at noon and became lost around 4 p.m.. The snowshoers' map was a picture on a cellphone, which later died. They had no illumination other than a cellphone, two of which had died, no water or backpack with extra supplies.
SAR volunteers were able to see the dim light from the groups remaining cell phone that was being held up in the air. The remaining cell battery was at 1 percent.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office would like to remind those who recreate in the back country to ensure they have with them the Ten Essentials:
1. NAVIGATION: cell phone, GPS, Map extra batteries
2. SUN PROTECTION:
3. INSULATION: extra clothing, protection from the cold ground
4. ILLUMINATION: Headlamp or flashlight, with extra batteries.
5. FIRST-AID SUPPLIES:
6. FIRE: Waterproof matches, butane lighter or candle stubs, plus fire-starting materials (paste, etc.). Do NOT depend on making a fire in bad weather!
7. REPAIR KIT/TOOLS:
8. NUTRITION: High energy, no-cook foods, such as high-carb energy bars. Carry at least 200 calories for every hour you will expect to be out.
9. HYDRATION: Extra water; take at least 1 liter for short outings and at least 2.5 liters for longer excursions.
10. EMERGENCY SHELTER: A Space blanket or bright plastic tarp (9' x 12') and a few large plastic trash bags. Bring something to insulate you from the ground. You cannot dig a snow cave without a shovel, and you should not sit/sleep on snow with¬out an insulating pad