PORTLAND, Ore. — A Portland woman says she took the same trail on Mount Hood and experienced the same confusion as a man who got lost and died there.
“It just broke my heart when I heard about it,” said Carli Wright. “It could have happened to me.”
Wright is an avid hiker. That alone left her shaken over the death of David Yaghmourian, the Arizona man who got lost and died while hiking the Timberline Loop Trail earlier this week.
What stunned Wright was knowing that just days earlier, she'd gotten lost at the same point where Yaghmourian did-- just a mile from Timberline Lodge. It was the end of a five-day, 40-mile hike. What was right in front of Wright, suddenly seemed out of reach as the fog rolled in.
"My first thought was, ‘OK, I can't see anything. I have no idea where the lodge is,'" Wright recalled.
Like Yaghmourian, Wright began to hike back up the mountain, not down. Before she knew it, she'd ascended three miles in the wrong direction.
“The whole trail is up and down, up and down, up and down, so it's hard to tell at what point where you're supposed to go down again,” said Wright.
“There's a lot of similarities [to their stories],” said Steve Rollins with Portland Mountain Rescue. Rollins helped lead the search for Yaghmourian. He's also been in touch with Wright and said her story helps clarify what many people couldn't believe about Yaghmourian's ordeal.
“If you don't know where you are on a map and you don't have an orientation to where Timberline Lodge is, it would be easy to go too high,” said Rollins. “I think Carli's really lucky, but she was also carrying an emergency beacon with her that could initiate a rescue and tell us her exact location.”
Fortunately, Wright never had to activate her beacon. After several hours of wandering, she caught a break in the fog.
“I looked up and I saw the lodge and there was this clear path of boulders leading down to the lodge,” said Wright. “I would not have made it down that night without the clearing.”
Wright said she took a risk by hiking the loop by herself, but fortunately, she was prepared in other ways. More than anything, she wants others to know how easy it is for a small mistake to turn catastrophic in the backcountry. She’s also hoping to hike up back up to the spot where she got turned around with volunteers from Portland Mountain Rescue.
“I'd like to go back up there and figure out what went wrong,” said Wright. “I believe other people have done the same thing and maybe they can mark it with a sign.”