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Lost hikers rescued in Horse Lake area


A Bend couple who became lost on a hike near Horse Lake west of Bend on Tuesday afternoon called for help with directions. But spotty cellphone coverage instead made for a rescue effort that took nearly six hours to complete, officials said.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue got a call from Jeanne Larson, 69, saying she and her husband, Kurt Larson, were lost and while doing fine needed directions to return to their starting point at the Elk Lake Trailhead, said Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant SAR coordinator.

Unfortunately, Whitcomb said, cellphone reception was very poor in the area, “allowing only hit-and-miss information.”

Several attempts to call the couple back for further information or guidance were unsuccessful, he said. But eventually the pair were able to inform SAR they were standing by the trail sign intersection of the Horse Lake Creek and Red Hill trails.

Whitcomb said dispatchers were not able to provide very accurate GPS coordinates, due to the broken nature of the cellphone calls. As a result, the Larsons advised they would remain at the reported location until help arrived.

Around 6:30 p.m., four SAR members deployed at the Elk Lake Trailhead. About two hours later, after a hike of about four miles, they made voice contact with the couple, then located them a few minutes later.

The Larsons were escorted back to the Elk Lake Trailhead, arriving about 10:30 p.m.

Whitcomb said the sheriff’s office wants to remind those recreating in the wilderness to carry the “10 Essentials for Wilderness Survival,” which include sources for navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first aid supplies, fire, a repair kit/tools, nutrition, hydration and emergency shelter.

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