PCT Trail Runner Found Dead in Columbia River Gorge

Nicholas Wells, 33, of Camas, WA was found deceased at approximately one a.m. on Sunday, October 23rd, 2022, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. According to the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, his wife had called the sheriff to report her husband missing on the evening of Friday, October 21st, 2022, after he failed to return from a trail run on the PCT. He had started in the morning and had been intermittently in touch with his wife via text and phone calls. At one point, he told her he had lost the trail but had then found it again. She began to worry when he stopped answering her calls and texts.

Hood River Crag Rats and Pacific Northwest Search & Rescue commenced Search and Rescue (SAR) operations that evening. They used cell phone location data after the carrier approved an emergency request. Due to the terrain, location data was imprecise, and rescuers had to search over a wide area across the Pacific Crest and Ruckel Creek trails.

On the morning of Saturday, October 22nd, 2022, Portland Mountain Rescue and Clackamas Search and Rescue joined in the SAR efforts. They were supported by the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office airplane and a Blackhawk helicopter from the Oregon Department of Emergency Management.

The family provided new cell phone location information late in the evening, and Wells’ remains were found around 1:00 AM on Sunday, October 23rd, 2022, at the bottom of an 80-foot cliff about a mile from Interstate 84.

“On Sunday, October 23rd, 2022, a recovery operation was conducted, and Wells’ remains were brought down the trail and transferred to Anderson’s Funeral Home,” said the Sheriff’s Department in a written statement.

“Our hearts go out to the family of Nick Wells, and on their behalf we ask for privacy as they grieve their tragic loss,” they continued.

Featured image via USFS.

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Comments 2

  • Bill Jensen : Oct 25th

    Sad news. Ruckel Ridge is one of the toughest hikes in the Gorge and is in fact not an official trail, but rather a user-maintained route. A descent is not recommended, although I did it once in my youth. Most hikers descend via Ruckel Creek which is much less exposed, but still not easy. Not clear which trail he was on, but in either case, this area is still closed due to the 2017 fire, so route finding could be tricky.

    • Christian Sunugal Mawuena A. I. Wolle : Nov 1st

      Very interesting and rdicativf for humanity
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