PORTLAND -- The six hikers who were stranded on a cliff between the Oneonta Gorge and Multnomah Falls after getting lost Wednesday were rescued and reunited with family members Thursday afternoon.
The woman and five teens were part of a church youth group that ventured off the main trail Wednesday. The woman was identified as 57-year-old Julie Fritts of Grass Valley. The teens' names were not released but they included two girls from Gladstone, a boy and girl from Grass Valley and a boy from Oregon City, according to officials.
The hikers were first located about 2 a.m. Thursday, in good condition, but could not immediately be reached by rescuers due to their precarious position. Searchers said they "cliffed out," meaning they went down a steep incline to a point where they could neither descend or ascend.
"We took a wrong turn, headed down to the river and took another wrong turn. Then we hit a cliff and realized there was no other way to go," explained hiker Jason Earl.
The group spent the night on a steep incline leading to a cliff below Cougar Rock, at about 1,000 feet elevation. Searchers were able to pinpoint their location by tracking pings off their cell phones.
The rescuers needed to use ropes, harnesses and other climbing gear to safely hoist the hikers 600 feet off the cliff around 1:30 p.m. Some of the teens suffered scrapes and bruises, but no serious injuries, rescuers said.
They were all reunited with family members at the trail head just before 4 p.m.
The hikers did not have warm clothing, flashlights or much food and water with them, according to Stephen Dangler with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. He said Thursday's rescue served as an important reminder why people should always bring emergency supplies with them, just in case.
"Have a plan, let people know what you're plan is going to be and be prepared for the elements," he added. "Carry the basics, including food and water and enough gear to be able to survive overnight."