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MailTribune.com
  • Medford city manager rescued from Mount McLoughlin

  • Medford City Manager Eric Swanson was rescued from Mount McLoughlin by helicopter over Memorial Day weekend after losing track of the snow-covered trail.
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  • Medford City Manager Eric Swanson was rescued from Mount McLoughlin by helicopter over Memorial Day weekend after losing track of the snow-covered trail.
    "It was a difficult situation, and all the volunteers and everyone was great," Swanson said. "I'm very appreciative." Swanson declined to give further details.
    Sgt. Shawn Richards of Jackson County Search & Rescue said the rescue was the first on Mount McLoughlin this year. Because of the freezing temperatures on the mountain and several other contributing factors, Richards decided a helicopter was necessary.
    "With evening rescues, we have a very short window of daylight to even try and locate people," Richards said Friday.
    Although the 9,495-foot Mount McLoughlin is in the federal Sky Lakes Wilderness, Jackson and Klamath counties foot the bill for finding lost hikers because Oregon law assigns county sheriffs responsibility for search and rescue.
    Search and rescue teams routinely get calls for lost hikers on Mount McLoughlin, especially in the summer. As with the Memorial Day weekend case, hikers most frequently become disoriented on the way down, Richards said.
    Because Mount McLoughlin is a part of the Sky Lakes Wilderness area, federal law prohibits signs or permanent markers, in order to maintain the wilderness experiences for the public. The trail is not well marked from the peak to the tree line, but it is easy to aim for the summit.
    "On the way back down it can be difficult to remember where you hiked," Richards said.
    Hikers are cautioned to stay on the trail and not attempt shortcuts because it can be difficult to relocate the trail.
    Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters told the Mail Tribune last year that he remembers years when as many as 40 people became lost on the mountain. In one day in late October of 2013, search teams rescued nine people in three different parties, all of whom became stranded on the mountain when darkness fell.
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