On February 1, 2022, at approximately 6:18 pm, TCSO Deputy Mike Reeves responded to the southernmost part of Tillamook County near Cascade Head for a report of possible lost hikers. Their vehicle was located at the trailhead parking lot on N. Three Rocks Rd. Cell phone contact was made with the hikers. The lost hikers were two 17-year-old females from the Portland area that went off the trail and got turned around. They were now unable to locate the trail as it was getting darker and precipitation was increasing. They believed they were now on a road. The teens were advised to stay where they were, and that rescuers were on their way.
TCSO Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator Deputy Billy Cloud paged out the SAR team. Deputies Tom Mayne, Dennis Greiner, Kelly Awe and Detective Andy Christopherson responded to assist the two SAR volunteers that answered the page-out. The team was divided into three groups: a command post and two ground search teams.
Tillamook 911 Dispatchers advised there was a high probability that the teens were somewhere on US Forest Service Rd 1861, and provided the SAR base with GPS coordinates. At about 8 pm, Team 1, consisting of Deputies Christopherson, Greiner and Mayne, arrived at FS1861, located at the top of Cascade Head, and began their search.
USFS Forest Protection Officer (FPO) Travis Sisco advised that the road was washed-out past the gate, therefore vehicles would not be an option. Team 1 decided to hike down the road anyway with the hope that they could hike their way around any washouts in an effort to reach the lost teens faster than hiking in from the bottom. The teens had reported that although they had coats, they were cold and wet and had been on the trail since noon that day. Weather conditions continued to worsen.
“We soon encountered the first washout,” said Detective Christopherson. “We were able to get around it. Then, about a quarter-mile in, we hit the 2nd landslide. We were also able to work our way around that one. But, further in, we hit a third landslide that was impassable. The road was washed away on one side, and the other side had a mud bank that went straight up 150 feet.” It was determined that the only way to reach the lost teens would be to join Team 2.
Meanwhile, Team 2, consisting of SAR volunteers Zach Lee and Brodie Cloud, had already begun hiking up the trail the 3.4 miles to where it intersects with FS1861. Then they hiked west on FS1861 for 1.5 miles, where they located the lost teens.
Team 2 met up with Team 1, and they all made their way back to the trailhead – slipping and sliding their way down more than 5 miles. “At times, we were hiking in calf-high mud,” said Detective Christopherson. The group finally reached the parking lot at about 1 am. All were cold, wet and muddy – but thankfully, no injuries were reported.
“The hikers weren’t as prepared as they should have been,” said Deputy Billy Cloud. “They were wearing sneakers and one was wearing pajama bottoms. Thankfully, they did have some food, a charged cell phone and they stayed put when advised to do so, which allowed us to find them.” The teens were reunited with their parents at the trailhead.
Tillamook County Search and Rescue relies on volunteers in order to perform our missions. We are in need of volunteers who are willing to respond to call-outs and trainings. In return, you will learn life-saving forest navigational skills, first aid, and receive specialized training which can include dive and rope rescue teams. The skills you learn by volunteering for TCSO provides an important service to your community, and just might save your own life as you venture out into our beautiful forests. Please consider volunteering today. For more information, visit tillamooksheriff.com