First responders say more hikers being rescued in the Gorge

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 5:32 PM PDT
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MULTNOMAH FALLS, Ore. (KPTV) - Corbett Fire District chief Rick Wunsch said there’s been a significant increase of hiker rescues this year.

With a few weeks left in summer, the fire district wants to remind hikers what to do to stay safe on the trails.

The death of a 62-year-old woman from Minnesota on the Multnomah Falls trail last week was a sobering reminder of how quickly a day of hiking can turn tragic.

Wunsch says there are many dangers to be aware of right now.

“We’ve got a lot of cutouts on the trails,” Wunsch said. “A lot of washed-out areas, some trees down, overgrown brush.”

He said these particular hazards could get you into trouble.

“You step one way or another to avoid one of those cuts,” Wunsch said. “You’re right up against the edge of a bank. (You can) get a little off balance and you can have that tragic fall like we saw on Friday.”

Wunsch and the rest of his crew are the ones called to hikers that are injured for a large stretch of the Columbia River Gorge.

Wunsch said trail conditions can still be difficult due to weather conditions and delayed maintenance. He says it’s most important to have a plan, let someone know where you’re going and do not go past “trail closed” signs.

Drew Prescott was one of the many people going up the Multnomah Falls trail this week.

“I heard about it,” he said. “(I) heard it was really beautiful and the waterfall was there, so I decided to come up.”

He said there were a few places where he took more safety precautions.

“I’d say wear good shoes, stay hydrated and watch your step,” Prescott said. “There’s a couple parts where maybe the roots have grown up and made the pavement crack a little bit.”

Wunsch says making a rescue is difficult for them with the response time. He said if you’re a mile up the trail, it will take at least 40 minutes to reach you.

“If it’s a significant emergency, that’s a huge amount of time before we can get there and render any kind of aid,” he said.

Wunsch said to always be prepared by bringing supplies you might need in case you run into difficult conditions on the trail.