A 73-year-old Ashland woman on a cross-country ski trip west of Bend got lost and made a call for help Monday afternoon, prompting a 3 ½-hour search effort by rescuers who found her after dark, cold and tired but otherwise okay, authorities said.
Deschutes County 911 dispatchers got a call around 3:20 p.m. from Sophia Thundercloud, seeking help as she had become disoriented and lost after having lunch at the Swede Shelter while skiing in the Swampy Lakes Trailhead area, said Sgt. Ronny Dozier, operations manager for the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue unit.
SAR dispatched 20 personnel, including three Nordic ski teams and two snowmobile teams, Dozier said. An AirLink helicopter also was requested to help with the search, but could not reach the area due to adverse weather, he added.
Thundercloud’s cellphone was pinged several times, determining an approximate location, the sergeant said.
Around 6:30 p.m. a snowmobile team encountered downed trees across the trail and could not continue on the machines, so they proceeded on snowshoes, Dozier said.
Around 7 p.m., the team found Thundercloud about 5 ½ miles from the Swampy Lakes Sno-Park, in good health, just cold and tired, Dozier said.
The woman had ventured out without lighting, he said, but was dressed appropriately and did have fire-making material she used to start a small warming fire.
SAR volunteers got Thundercloud home without further incident, Dozier said.
The sheriff’s sergeant reminded backcountry visitors to prepare for changing weather and bring along a well-charged cellphone and a GPS, water and other basic needs, in case the weather turns and they have to be outdoors for a prolonged period.