MOUNT HOOD, Ore. – The mother of a hiker who went missing and was found dead on Mount Hood is now wants changes to trail signage.
David Yaghmourian, 30, went missing Monday, October 8. He was last seen at the eastern junction of the Timberline Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
A climber found Yaghmourian's body three days later at elevation 8,270 feet, about 3,000 feet higher than the search area. Police believe he made a wrong turn and hiked away from the lodge, not toward it.
Mary Ellen Yaghmourian, David’s mother, cannot believe what was supposed to be a fun trip to Portland ended this way. She is now making funeral arrangements for her son.
“He was extremely bright,” Mary Ellen explained. “He had a great future ahead of him.”
A bright future, cut short by one wrong turn on Mount Hood.
"David is from Phoenix,” Mary Ellen said. “He doesn't know the environment there, he doesn't know that trail."
David was at the end of a four-day hike on Mount Hood when the fog rolled in.
"He died on Monday night in the fog,” Mary Ellen Yaghmourian. “They suspect no foul play at all. Tragic accident, it was the weather.”
Another hiker from Portland has told KGW she got lost in the same spot David did just days earlier. She said the fog made it difficult to see which way she was supposed to go.
“The whole trail is up and down up and down and so it's hard to tell at what point where you're supposed to go down again,” said Portland hiker Carli Wright.
Other hikers are not convinced a sign is the answer.
“Personally, I think it’s on me and my fellow hikers to know what we’re doing and take responsibility for ourselves because it’s really not up to the forest service or Timberline Lodge or anybody else to keep us safe, but there is that flip side if you’re bringing in a lot of people who are causal or inexperienced hikers in a place like this it might be helpful,” explained Sam Hartsfield as he was heading out on a hike on Mt. Hood.
Portland Mountain Rescue stressed the importance of hiking with navigation equipment and being prepared for all weather.
“When I go in the back country, I don’t rely on signage, I mean if it’s there I’ll certainly take advantage of it, but I have to be responsible for myself, I have to have the right equipment and signs could even be wrong potentially, so I have to rely on my map or compass and equipment to navigate in the back country,” explained Steve Rollins, a rescue leader with Portland Mountain Rescue.
David’s mom wants the trail confusion fixed.
“I would like it very much if they would improve their signs, so it doesn't happen to another hiker,” Mary Ellen Yaghmourian said.
She is convinced something as simple as a sign pointing toward the lodge could have saved David’s life.
“He was very bright,” she said. “He was very logical in his thinking. If he'd seen a sign that said lodge this way, he would've gone that way, so that would've really helped.”
She now wants other to speak up to push for signs along the trail so another life like David’s is not lost in the future. In the meantime, she is left with memories of her son.
“He was so nice, he was kind, he was helpful, you know, he was just a great kid, he was a great son,” she explained.