Milwaukie woman recounts dangling from cliff after misstep on hike

Hiker recounts dangling from cliff

PORTLAND, Ore. -- April Meads and her older sister were about half-way down from their hike to Horsetail Falls in The Columbia River Gorge on Sunday when things took a dramatic turn for the worse.

"My foot just slipped and next thing I know I'm just sliding down the cliff," Meads said.

The 19-year-old Milwaukie native grabbed a branch which briefly stopped her decent before it gave way and she continued sliding down the hillside.

Somehow she grabbed hold of a tree root at the edge of a cliff and held on tightly.

Meads, a sophomore track and field athlete at Linfield College, said she held her knee and her right toe against the cliff to somewhat stabilize herself.

"The only thought I had in my head was, my life is over."

Meads and rescuers estimate the cliff she was dangling from was nearly 100 feet high.

That's when five hikers, four of whom were with Mazamas, a Portland based mountaineering organization, happened to pass by.

They quickly determined that there was no time to wait for search and rescue. They had to act.

"You know, it honestly seemed pretty dire," said Sarah Bradham, a member of Mazamas.

They quickly tied pants, jackets, sweatshirts and any other article of clothing they could find into a makeshift rope, about 30 feet long.

One of the rescuers inched his way out to Meads from the side, tied the make-shift rope around her waist and with Meads' help, pulled her from the edge of the cliff.

"I kept telling him, you are so amazing, thank you so much. I don't even know you but I love you. You are saving my life right now," Meads said.

From start to finish, Meads had dangled from the cliff for about 45 minutes before rescuers got to her.

"If they wouldn't have been there I don't know what would have happened, I can't even imagine what would have happened," she said.

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