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Hiker unprepared for difficult terrain in Columbia River Gorge; second hiker rescued from snow on Larch Mountain

COURTESY PHOTO: MCSO - Crews are attempting to save a stranded hiker spotted at the top of Murna Point.A 51-year-old hiker who became stuck at the peak of Murna Point, a craggy viewpoint in the Columbia River Gorge just west of Wahclella Falls, was reached by rescue crews and able to walk out with assistance.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 2, a person at Bonneville Dam spotted smoke from a signal fire near the top of the point, and what appeared to be a hiker in distress through a scope.

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office deputies responded and also spotted the hiker, activating the search and rescue team. Because of the precarious location of the hiker, the Hood River Crag Rats, a highly-skilled mountain rescue team, were also activated.

Around 4 p.m. crews were able to contact the hiker and figure out the safest route to get him safely down the trail, which is unmaintained, difficult to access, and climbs approximately 2,000 vertical feet in two miles. He was suffering effects of mild hypothermia, but was able to communicate and walk. After reaching Interstate 84, he declined transport to a local hospital.

The hiker said he left Sunday to go for a hike, but was unfamiliar with the trail. He reported after a few hours he became disoriented, and got stuck due to the sheer cliffs. He was only wearing flip-flop sandals, which came off during the descent. His cell phone battery also died.

In the middle of the night the hiker decided to light a small fire and shelter in place, which is the smoke that caught the person's attention at the Bonneville Dam.

This was the second search and rescue mission in the Gorge over a 24-hour period. Around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1, a 25-year-old hiker used a located beacon to notify first responders he was not prepared for deep snow at Larch Mountain and needed rescue. Around 9 p.m. crews located the hiker, who was in good condition, and helped him back to the staging location.

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