Search group looks for missing hikers Thursday
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Rescue Group officials weren’t holding out much hope Thursday for three 60-year-olds who headed out for a day hike on Wednesday and didn’t return home by their designated time.The rescue group mounted a search in the Cataract Lake area in the Gore Range at 1 p.m. Thursday.”If they’re not found soon, we’re going to have a pretty serious search going on,” public information officer Mike Schmitt said Thursday afternoon. “All three might be fine. Maybe they’ve stumbled on an old cabin. But the chances are pretty slim.”The three were due home at 3 p.m. Wednesday, said Undersheriff Derek Woodman. He did not know the hometowns of the three.Wednesday night was highlighted by unusually relentless rain and snowfall at higher elevations. Schmitt estimated temperatures were in the high 30s to low 40s in that part of the county Wednesday night. It’s not uncommon to have snow in the High Country, even in August.”It doesn’t take long to die of exposure, especially at that age,” he said. “And the chances of one in the three having a previous medical condition could also exacerbate this. That’s not to say they’re not all Olympic athletes, but there’s a good possibility that that’s the reason they didn’t show up.”There is also a slim chance the three had a run-in with wildlife, some of which are busy foraging for food before winter hibernation. Such was the case with a group of hikers on Quandary Peak last year when a herd of bighorn sheep wouldn’t let them off the mountain.”It’s something to think about,” Schmitt said. “We have to approach this from all aspects. We have to run through all the possible scenarios to find these people.”The Cataract Lakes area is popular among families for its easy access around the lower lake. More experienced hikers, however, often take the rocky trails to the upper lake.”Up there, it’s so vast and there are so few houses it’s hard to get yourself found,” Schmitt said. “If they took some halfway decent rain gear and something to start a fire with, it’s possible they’re OK.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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