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Sheriff's Office wants you to be prepared this summer hiking season


The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office wants you to have a fun and safe summer recreating in the Columbia River Gorge, and trails across the region, and it starts with being prepared.

We’ve found that the majority of people who need rescue are not prepared for trail and weather conditions, or become disoriented and lost because they are unfamiliar with the area.

Packing the Ten Essentials whenever you step into the wilderness, even on day hikes, is good practice. On a routine trip, you may not use any items, but when something goes awry, having the Ten Essentials could be essential to your survival.

  • Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger
  • Headlamp or flashlight: plus, extra batteries
  • Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen
  • First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (as needed)
  • Knife: plus, a gear repair kit
  • Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove
  • Shelter: carried at all times, (can be a light emergency bivvy)
  • Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation
  • Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation
  • Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation

Lost people generally fall into two categories: panic or denial. Almost everyone who was lost had that voice in their head saying, “something's not right”, long before they outwardly came to that conclusion. When that voice starts to nag you, take a break, and STOP. Then follow these steps:

  • SIT: The most important step, you need to stop moving. Have a drink of water, and clear your head.
  • THINK: Replay your actions from the trailhead on. Try to identify your current location, last place you knew for sure, or the point where you made an error.
  • OBSERVE: Take stock of your current situation. Your intended route, equipment, time of day, physical condition, terrain, and anything else that may impact how you proceed. If you think you know where you are, consult with team members and use other navigational resources to verify.
  • PLAN: You will need to make your decisions and create a plan. Communicate if possible, be prepared with your intended route, a brief explanation, and where you may have gone wrong.
    • Attempt to call 911. If that cannot go through, text 911, and provide your details.
    • Text messages need less service than voice, and will continue to 'try' for a period.
    • Learn how to find your location using your phone's GPS.
    • Don't use your phone for anything but emergency communications.
    • Put your phone on battery saving mode before hitting the trail.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office partners exclusively with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue program, which is referred to as MCSOSAR. The 501(c)3 program is volunteer-based and majority youth. MCSOSAR volunteers work directly with sheriff’s deputies, who lead and coordinate search efforts.

MCSOSAR 2023 statistics include:

  • MCSOSAR says searchers logged more than 24,000 volunteer hours in 2023, on the trail, and attending training and other community events.
  • 96 active search and rescue volunteers;
  • Volunteers logged 3,758 mission hours;
  • Young adults comprise 60-percent of the general membership;
  • MCSOSAR is the second longest active search and rescue team in the region, operating since 1961.