Three Central Point residents spent a chilly night on Mount McLoughlin after becoming lost Saturday afternoon before rescue crews found them Sunday morning.
The 43-year-old father, his 15-year-old son and a 25-year-old companion were headed back down the mountain when they decided to take a short cut across a rocky field, and lost the trail, said Jackson County Search and Rescue Sgt. Shawn Richards.
The trio were not the first to fall victim to the field of loose rock that creates a "simulated optical illusion," Richards said.
"It looks like, if you go down it, you'll pick up the trail at the bottom of the field," he said. "But often times going down the scree field gets hikers lost."
Richard declined to identify the lost-and-found hikers but said SAR rescues more than a dozen hikers each year who fall for McLoughlin's ill-fated shortcut, he said.
The Central Point trio called for help at approximately 4:30 p.m. More than a dozen members of the county's search-and-rescue crew headed up the mountain but were unable to locate the missing hikers before nightfall, Richards said.
The hikers were rescued at approximately 8:30 a.m. Sunday, discovered at an elevation of about 5,600 feet. They had water, food and warm clothes. They'd also managed to light a small fire to keep warm, Richards said.
"It got very chilly last night," Richards said. "We always like to see it when people plan ahead for that unexpected night out. It could happen to any one of us."
Crews from Northern California and other counties in Southern Oregon also joined in the search Sunday, bringing the total numbers of rescue personnel to about 30, Richards said.
Although the Sheriff's Department has long had the ability to levy a $500-per-case fee for rescue endeavors, Richards said the missing hikers will not be charged.
"We worry that, if we do that, people will hold off on calling for help," Richards said. "Then things just compound."