Shortly past midnight on Sunday, August 12, 2012, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office requested Portland Mountain Rescue to assist in the search for a missing hiker in the Jefferson Park area on Mt. Jefferson. The subject had been backpacking with friends from Breitenbush Lake to Russell Lake on Thursday, August 9. He stopped to take photographs on Park Ridge and told his friends he would meet them in camp at Russell Lake later that afternoon. He never arrived at camp. His friends searched for him on Friday and hiked out to report him missing later that evening. Search teams had covered portions of the area on Saturday. The Sheriff requested PMR’s help to search steep terrain and snow fields. The subject was a 52 year old male and was reported to be equipped with shelter and enough food for several days. His situation was made more urgent because he suffered from Type 1 Diabetes.
PMR fielded a team of eight rescuers on Sunday, August 12. That day, they hiked into Jefferson Park from the Breitenbush trailhead and covered an area larger than a square mile between the crest of Park Ridge and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Portions of the PMR team also searched nearby Sprague Lake and Sarah Jane Lake as well as several campsites near the PCT
On Monday, August 13, a team of four PMR rescuers returned to the Jefferson Park area. New information from a witness placed the subject near some waterfalls above Russell Lake on Thursday. An Air National Guard helicopter inserted the PMR team into the area, saving the several hours required to reach the trail head and hike into the area. They found the falls and searched that area as well as a moat at the edge of a nearby snow field. They also conducted a grid search between the falls and Russell Lake but found no important clues.
On Wednesday, August 15, another team of four PMR rescuers assisted in the search. New information from witnesses placed the subject near Bays Lake on Saturday. The PMR team was assigned to search the steep branches of Whitewater Creek west of the PCT and also to follow the main flow between the Whitewater Ridge Trail and the PCT near Bays Lake. The team focused on areas near waterfalls where the subject may have stopped to take photographs. Again, however, they did not discover any important clues. Due to hazards associated with forest fires in the area, all teams were ordered out of the field mid-afternoon. The team returned to base by 4:00 p.m.
PMR expresses it condolences to the subject’s family and friends. We regret that we were unable to bring closure to them.