A Jackson County, Oregon search and rescue helicopter crew was able to rescue two stranded and injured hikers from the shoreline of Crater Lake in south central Oregon May 30.

The rescue serves as a reminder that an otherwise enticing adventure in the outdoors can devolve quickly into a life-threatening situation.

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The 1,100-foot caldera, formed 7,700 years ago when a volcano collapsed, is off limits to hikers, and especially this time of year, say park officials. Lingering snowfields make it especially treacherous.

But a mountaineering club runs a campsite, complete with showers, available for $21 per night. This location lets visitors hike to the lake on maintained and relatively safe trails.

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Swimming in the icy water of the nation’s deepest lake is a rite of passage for first timers to the shore, but park officials stress the importance of following marked trails. Hiking down into the caldera, down the steep cliffs and loose rock, only invites trouble and ties up rescue personnel.

The two hikers, both men from the Seattle area, had decided to hike into the caldera to take pictures, according to the Eugene Register-Guard. A friend reported them missing Sunday afternoon, and by 9:30 the night crews had located the them, but had to wait for first light to attempt a rescue. 

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Raul Mendez and Abraham Dominguez Gonzalez  were taken to a hospital in Bend. Mendez sustained serious injuries after falling 250 feet, and Gonzalez was treated for mild hypothermia.

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