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Rescuers find missing hikers.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

A Eugene man and his 12-year-old nephew were located by search and rescue personnel late Sunday morning after becoming lost in the Waldo Lake Wilderness.

"They're in pretty good shape other than being exhausted," said John Miller, Lane County's search and rescue coordinator.

David Wach, 55, of Eugene and his nephew, Jarom Jenkins, were reported overdue late Friday from an overnight hiking and fishing trip. Search and rescue personnel found their vehicle on Saturday at a remote trailhead near the end of Salmon Creek Road east of Oakridge. Their unoccupied camp was located later near Lower Quinn Lake.

A sheriff's helicopter spotted Wach and the boy about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The two were 1.2 miles to the east of their camp, off trail, near the Middle Fork/Willamette drainage.

Wach and the boy had no food while lost. Wach was able to build a small signal fire to attract the helicopter's attention.

"There was a little puff of smoke, which caught the observer's eye," Miller said.

Then helicopter rescuers saw Wach waving a red shirt, Miller said.

More than a dozen volunteers, including members of Eugene Mountain Rescue, Ground Search and Rescue and Lane County Sheriff's Amateur Radio Operators, conducted a ground search and were able to respond to the location provided by the helicopter within an hour.

A ground crew reached them about noon and provided food and water, Miller said. Then they walked them back to their camp to gather their things, before assisting to the trailhead to get their vehicle.

Wach and his nephew left Eugene to go fishing and camping on Thursday, Miller said.

"It's easy to get disoriented in that country with all those lakes around there," he said. Getting lost in the woods happens "frequently" in the summertime, Miller said. A man hiking in Linn County north of Blue River got lost Saturday but was able to get out on his own before search and rescue crews got there, Miller said.

Hikers, campers and others should never leave camp without an "essentials" kit, Miller said. Essential items include a compass, light, water, whistle, flares and a garbage bag for shelter, he said.

"I was very happy it ended this way," Miller said of Wach and his nephew. "It's much better than some of the others we've had."
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Searchers spot a signal fire to locate a man and his nephew in the Waldo Lake Wilderness area
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 27, 2009
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