16 Stranded Hikers Rescued After Blisters Prevented Them from Hiking Out

by Vern Evans

Dispatchers with the Curry County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Garmin International, who reported they had received an SOS from a man in Coos Bay, Oregon, at 7:55 p.m. on Thursday. The man, Ryan Olsen, used his Garmin InReach to report that 10 minors and four adults were stranded on the Rogue River Trail, a 40-mile National Recreation trail in southwestern Oregon. When rescuers arrived the next day, they ended up evacuating a total of 16 hikers who had spent the night unprepared for the conditions.

“Dispatch was able to gather information that the group were all wet and cold due to the inclement weather and that some of the boys had blisters on their feet and not able to continue,” a CCSO press release reads. It’s unclear if the group was planning to hike the whole trail or just a section of it, as the Rogue River Trail can be accessed from either end or the middle.

One member of the group, Randy Shelman, stopped hiking earlier in the day to escort a kid who wasn’t feeling well out of the area. CCSO was able to make contact with Shelman and the next day, on March 29, search-and-rescue volunteer and U.S. Forest Service employee Steve Dicicco and SAR volunteer Will Tucker took a U.S. Forest Service boat down the Rogue River to the Gleason Bar access. The men, both of whom were familiar with the area, then hiked roughly 4.5 miles to the area where the group had spent the night, near the Rogue River Ranch. 

The effort required multiple trips, but all 16 of the hikers were transported by boat back to Foster Bar, where a sheriff’s marine boat met them and transported them the rest of the way. The Rogue River Trail follows the northern bank of the river from Grave Creek to Big Bend, Oregon. According to the BLM, it takes the average hiker four to five days to complete.

Read Next: Should You Pop a Blister When Hiking?

Of all user groups, hikers and backpackers in the western U.S. are the most likely to use their Garmin devices to trigger SOS calls, a 2023 report from Garmin concludes. This makes sense, since hikers and backpackers are a significantly larger user group than others, like paragliders, off-roaders, or backcountry skiers, as the report points out. But hikers and backpackers are also especially good at under-preparing for a trip, injuring themselves, or encountering potentially dangerous wildlife along the way — all three of which are standard reasons for needing rescue.

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