Navy helicopter hoisting injured backpacker. (National Park Service)

Navy helicopter hoisting injured backpacker. (National Park Service)

Backpacker airlifted from park

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A 70-year-old backpacker was airlifted from the Elwha River Valley to Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday after sustaining an injury in a fall nearly a week earlier, Olympic National Park officials said.

The Bremerton woman, who was not named by the park, was injured in a fall while backpacking with a group of hikers Sept. 19.

The injury was not reported by the group.

“The injury occurred on the first day of their trip,” Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park spokeswoman, said Thursday.

The injury was reported at 5:09 p.m. Tuesday by a park fisheries crew that had met the group, five days after the fall occurred.

“After the injury, the group continued to hike almost eight miles of their planned trip over the course of several days rather than walk out or seek help,” park officials said in a statement.

“Due to the time of day the report came in, it was decided that park emergency services staff would hike in and evaluate the injured hiker the next morning.”

Park crews arrived at the group’s location at Krause Bottom near Goblin Gates to conduct a medical evaluation at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday.

Wagner said the woman was suffering from back pain.

Olympic Mountain Rescue was on standby in case a carryout was necessary.

“Due to the nature and severity of the injury it was determined that a litter carryout was not feasible,” park officials said.

A helicopter crew from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was requested to perform the rescue. The helicopter landed on a gravel bar on the Elwha River.

A paramedic provided medical treatment to the woman. She was hoisted at 12:15 p.m.

Wagner said she did not know if the woman’s injury was exacerbated as she continued to hike after the fall.

“She was in a great deal of pain by the time they were doing the medical evaluation that morning,” Wagner said in a telephone interview.

Hospitals will not release a patient’s condition without a name.

Park officials encouraged the public to have an emergency plan in place before heading outdoors. To see the park’s plan, go to

“Visitors are urged to plan ahead, hike smart, pack the Ten Essentials, and have an emergency plan even for a day hike,” park officials said in a press release.

“Hiking is a popular activity through the fall and visitors are reminded to be prepared for changing weather conditions that can also affect rescue efforts. Consider learning CPR and basic wilderness first aid, especially if you are planning to hike in the backcountry.”

Olympic National Park has had 78 search and rescue incidents so far this year.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected]

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