Gorge hiker found: 'God bless the searchers!'

Gorge hiker found: 'God bless the searchers!'

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by KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 6:19 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 10 at 8:48 PM

COLUMBIA GORGE -- A hiker who reported herself lost Wednesday was found by searchers Thursday morning, cold but in good condition.

An expanded search had been under way Thursday morning for the hiker from Eastern Oregon, who told her husband via cellphone Wednesday evening that she was lost somewhere above Horsetail Falls.

Jessica Wheeler, 33, of Wasco, Ore., was with her dog and had set out Monday afternoon on a camping trip, according to Lt. Steve Alexander of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. She had left her vehicle at the Oneonta Gorge trailhead.

Along with Sophie, her golden retriever, Wheeler had food, water and camping supplies when she was found Thursday around 11:45 a.m., Alexander said. Temperatures had been mild. The dog was also cold but in good condition when found.

A quick search of the area around the trail heads and attempts to ping her cellphone were not successful, he said. A plane did spot a flashing light near Nesmith Point and that's where ground crews found her.

Wheeler told searchers she made a small campfire overnight to help her and Sophie stay warm. When searchers got close to Wheeler Thursday morning, Sophie started barking, alerting crews to Wheeler's location, Alexander said. 

On Thursday afternoon, Wheeler effusively thanked the searchers who found her. 

"God bless the searchers! The all-volunteer crew that showed up late at night, they were out there until 10 o'clock last night, up at 4 or 5 this morning, they got no sleep," she said. "It's an all-volunteer crew that treks out into the wilderness to find strangers who are lost. The gratitude -- I'm without words." 

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