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Stranded in an Oregon snowstorm for five days

Marlene is a Latina deaf travel content creator from Los Angeles. Ever-curious, she loves learning about different cultures, their languages, and meeting people from all walks of life, especially the deaf communities around the world.

At first, she listened to her loved ones’ fears that it would be too challenging for a deaf person to travel. But little by little she broadened her travel sphere from the US into the wide world. She learned how to advocate for herself, becoming more assertive and confident in her ability to navigate the inaccessible world.

Recognizing the lack of diversity in the travel industry, and lack of access to travel resources for deaf communities, she created the travel blog DeafinitelyWanderlust.com. Now Marlene shares her own stories along with those of other deaf travelers and provides travel resources for the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

Crater Lake National Park was our last stop, and we just missed the sunset. Exhausted from sleeping in the car and snow camping in sub-zero weather, I convinced Jason to sleep in the warm bathroom. We’d get up early, sneak out before the rangers found us, and catch the sunrise. Little did we know that a snowstorm was approaching – there weren’t any warnings in the news or weather apps we checked.

The next morning, we found our door barricaded by snow four feet high. We were stuck inside.

Thankfully we had running water, toilets – and heat, but no food except for half a bagel I dug from the trash. We spent the day checking the door’s small window, hoping to see rangers or anybody. We tried to find a way out or a way to call for help, finally making a sign for help, which we put in the window. At night, we flashed a headlamp through the window.

On Day 2 the snowstorm had worsened. By that night, the snow was as high as the window – our help sign was blocked. I kicked the door, slamming it with my fists and screaming for help. Not having the ability to hear, and then not having an ability to see out – that was the scariest part. All we could do was to wait and hope.  

On Day 3 I saw a figure against the snow. I pounded on the door, screaming for help. The man saw us, and slowly snowshoed over to us. Something about him was off. Maybe he was tired or injured. Maybe he was dangerous. But he was our only hope.

Turned out, he had camped outside, been buried in an unexpected avalanche, and spent three days stranded in a snow cave. He was dehydrated and injured but managed to dig us out with his snowshoes. We slept in his truck, ate frozen groceries, and communicated as best as we could as we sought other ways to get help. On the fifth day, he ventured out on snowshoes to send out an SOS from his satellite phone.

If it wasn’t for our snowshoer, I don’t know what would have happened to us. But the experience made me realize that we need more accessible products and features for deaf and hard of hearing adventurers.

READ MORE about Marlene’s harrowing experience…


Check out his website:  www.deafinitelywanderlust.com