Lake County Search and Rescue (LCSAR), in a Facebook post, described the incident that happened on Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest peak. The person started hiking Mount Elbert from the South Trailhead on October 18 around 9 a.m. However, the hiker did not return by evening. Five members of the LCSAR looked for the hiker until next morning but were unable to locate him.
The hiker rejected "multiple phone calls" because he didn't recognize the number, according to LCSAR. The Facebook post read,
If you're experiencing difficulties according to your itinerary and receive repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team confirming your safety!
A five-person rescue squad was assigned to track down the hiker. On October 19, at 3 a.m., the squad returned with no indication of the man. A team of three resumed the search a few hours later, around 7 a.m., searching the places where hikers frequently get stuck. A different team was assigned to conduct a search in a different location.
The hiker told rescuers that he/she had drifted off the track around dusk and was unable to return. The hiker said they spent the night looking for the path and then hopped about on several trails attempting to find the correct trailhead - all while being unaware that a rescue team was searching for him/her.
According to the post, at approximately 9.30 a.m., the search team reported that the hiker had returned to the place of lodging. All personnel were out of the field by 10 a.m.
The hiker who went missing returned to their car the subsequent morning, 24 hours after leaving for the day trek, and had no idea a rescue mission was underway.
The message, which was posted on Facebook, triggered a barrage of angry replies from those who criticized the hiker for not picking up the phone. But LCSAR called on people to show some understanding, by commenting:
Please remember that what seems like common sense in hindsight is not obvious to a subject at the moment when they are lost and panicking.
In Colorado, most folks who spend time outdoors have a good understanding of the search and rescue infrastructure that is there to help them, but this is not the case nationwide.
Mount Elbert, the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains, is 14,440 feet tall, and most of its routes are covered in snow for most of the year, according to the Idaho Statesman.
"Please don’t count on following your ascent tracks to descend the mountain, as wind will often cover your tracks," the rescuers stated in their direct plea to hikers.