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Search For Missing Hikers Comes To Successful Conclusion

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avatar Search Underway For Two Missing Hikers In Glacier National Park
October 15, 2012 11:05AM
Glacier National Park
Search Underway For Two Missing Hikers

A search is underway for two hikers who were reported missing by family members after they missed their flight from Montana to the East Coast and failed to return home. It’s believed that 32-year-old Neal Peckens from Virginia and 32-year-old Jason Hiser from Maryland departed from the North Shore trailhead at Two Medicine on Tuesday, October 9th. According to their backcountry permit, the two men planned to camp at the Oldman backcountry campground on Tuesday night and return to Two Medicine on Wednesday, October 10th. Rangers located their vehicle late on Friday and began a search early on Saturday morning. The weather has been quite challenging for the search operation. Search personnel are encountering up to 18 inches of snow on trails, snow drifts, limited visibility and very windy conditions. Aerial operations were limited yesterday due to low visibility and extremely windy conditions. A recently used fire ring and tracks were identified in the area of the search on Sunday. It is believed the evidence may be related to the missing hikers. It’s likely that due to winter weather conditions and snow covered trails, the two men may have gone off trail. The fire ring and tracks were found in the Nyack Drainage on the west side of the Continental Divide, which includes some very dense, steep and treacherous terrain. According to their backcountry permit, Peckens and Hiser were planning to hike from the North Shore trailhead at Two Medicine on Tuesday and camp at the Oldman Backcountry Campground on Tuesday night. It’s believed that they planned to hike to Pitamakan Pass and along the Continental Divide to Dawson Pass, returning to Two Medicine on Wednesday. The entire loop, as planned, is approximately 17 miles in length. Approximately 50 people are involved in the search, including personnel from the park and Flathead Country Search and Rescue. Peckens is six feet tall, weighs approximately 180 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes; Hiser is six feet tall, weighs about 200 pounds, and has brown hair and green eyes. Peckens may be wearing a red hooded rain jacket and Hiser may have a blue North Face beanie hat. Anyone who may have any information or may have been in the area and seen hikers who meet these descriptions is encouraged to contact the park at 406-888-7805.
avatar Search For Missing Hikers Comes To Successful Conclusion
October 16, 2012 01:18PM
Glacier National Park
Search For Missing Hikers Comes To Successful Conclusion

Searchers found missing hikers Neal Peckens and Jason Hiser in good condition yesterday afternoon. They were flown out of the backcountry and met family members anxiously awaiting their return. The two men went hiking on the east side of the park near Two Medicine last week but failed to return as planned. A search was begun last Friday evening and continued until yesterday. The weather during the period was challenging – searchers had to contend with up to 18 inches of snow on trails, snow drifts, limited visibility and very windy conditions. Organizations assisting the park with the search included the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Flathead Country Search and Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead Emergency Aviation Resources, and the US Border Patrol.
avatar Missing Hikers Were Well Prepared
October 19, 2012 02:23PM
Glacier National Park
Missing Hikers Were Well Prepared

On Monday, October 15th, the search for two hikers missing in the park’s backcountry came to a successful conclusion. Additional information has since been gathered on how the pair got lost and how they fared during the five days that searchers were looking for them. Hikers Neal Peckens and Jason Hiser were planning to hike from the North Shore trailhead at Two Medicine and camp at the Oldman backcountry campground on Tuesday, October 9th. After spending the night in the campground as planned, they continued on their 17-mile hike, encountering snow on the trail and very high gusts of winds as they hiked a section of trail on a ridge along the Continental Divide. One of the men slipped and fell approximately 100 feet down a steep slope. The men then tried to hike in parallel for a bit, one above and one below. They determined that the best approach would be for both hikers to be together, to go down the mountain, and to perhaps try another route back up. The men had a quality map of the area, but lost it when extreme wind gusts blew it out of their hands. They continued down the mountainside and spent Wednesday evening in the Nyack Lakes area, where they set up camp and lighted a fire. On Thursday, they started to hike back up the mountain by another route, hoping to follow their original direction. Weather conditions and mountainous terrain were challenging. They put considerable thought into what their best options would be, finally deciding to travel back down the wet and slippery terrain and wait for a break in the weather. That break did not come, so they camped near the headwaters of the Nyack Drainage at approximately 6,000 feet for the next four nights. They rationed their food, collected firewood and materials to create a fire and smoke, turned their cell phones on during the day, displayed their space blanket for possible reflection during the day and used it to stay warn at night, and created an SOS message with logs. On the afternoon of Monday, October 15th, two park employees were searching on foot when one of them saw colored flagging that led him to a tent and the missing hikers. Peckens and Hiser were cold and wet, but in fairly good condition with no injuries. The two men communicated their appreciation to the searchers and were ready to travel home with family and friends.
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