A hiker was found alive on Saturday morning by a National Guard Helicopter after she had been missing for almost a week. The missing hiker, 23-year-old Mary Owen, survived by making a snow-cave and wrapping herself in her poncho. According to Mary Owen’s father, his daughter was an experienced hiker but since she had injured her ankle, she was stranded on Mount Hood until a helicopter found her and was able to rescue her, reported KOIN Local on March 30, 2013.
The hiker who was found alive on Saturday morning had planned on taking a one-day hike last Sunday on Mount Hood. After she had parked her SUV and left her backpack in it, Mary Owen hiked up the mountain “wearing wool leggings, shorts, light-weight running shoes and a water-proof poncho.” Since it was only supposed to be a one-day hike, she took very little food with her.
While hiking up Mount Hood, Mary Owen was surprised by a whiteout and decided that the conditions were too treacherous and that she needed to turn around.
On her way down the mountain, however, the hiker slipped and injured her ankle. She was just below Sandy Glacier at an elevation of 4,600 feet near the Pacific Crest Trail.
Mary Owen, who is a George Fox University senior, had emailed a friend about her plan to hike up Mount Hood and that she would return by Monday.
Initially, Mary Owen’s friends thought that when she didn’t return as planned, that she might have found some other hiking spots and decided to stay longer.
When Mary Owen hadn’t returned from her hike by Wednesday, her friends contacted the hiker’s family who in turn notified the police. While authorities quickly found the hiker’s 1998 white Toyota 4-Runner with a laptop and an empty backpack inside, there was no sign of the missing hiker or any indication on where she might be.
A search on Thursday night and on Friday still showed no sign of the missing hiker.
For Mary Owen, knowing that she would be stranded on the mountain until help would arrive, there was nothing she could do but wait. By Wednesday, she had run out of food and in order to protect herself from the freezing cold, she made a snow-cave and wrapped herself in her thermal poncho.
On Friday night, Mary Owen could see the search and rescue planes circling overhead but even though she thought that they had seen her, they did not return.
By now, Mary Owen had been stranded on the mountain for six days and despite being weak and starving, the silence of the non-returning rescue planes were the hardest part to endure.
On Saturday morning, an Oregon National Guard Black Hawk helicopter went for a test flight before taking along searchers – and that is when they found Mary Owen.
It appears that the saying, “you find it when you least look for it,” does have some truth in it.
About 10:30 a.m., the helicopter crew lifted Mary Owen to safety and transported her directly to the hospital with injuries and frostbite. She is said to be in good condition at Legacy Emanuel Hospital on Saturday evening.
Before his daughter had been rescued, Mary Owen’s father, Bruce Owen, had driven with his family up to Mount Hood on Saturday morning with nothing left but prayers. By the time he arrived at Timberline Lodge, a rescue worker told him that the helicopter had spotted someone matching Bruce Owen’s daughter but that it had not been confirmed that it was indeed the missing hiker.
“’It was just one of those times when there’s just nothing else to do but pray. Please God let it be her, please God let it be her,’ said Bruce Owen, ’and they came and said it is her, that she’s alive and okay. I had been holding it together for a few days but I just lost it and I was on my knees’.”
“Owen dropped to his knees and tears flowed.”