Hiker Who Was Lost For 24 Hours Ignored Calls From Rescuers Because It Was An Unknown Number

By maks in Travel On 3rd February 2024
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The hiker later clarified to the authorities that they chose not to answer the phone because the incoming number was unfamiliar to them, illustrating a unique intersection of modern communication challenges and outdoor survival situations.

The situation unfolded when the hiker was reported missing following their failure to return from a journey on October 18, 2021.

Attempting to conquer Mount Elbert, which stands as the tallest peak within Colorado, the hiker ventured out, as mentioned by Lake County Search and Rescue.

The report of the missing individual was lodged around 8:00 PM, though they had embarked on their hike at 9:00 AM that same day, indicating a significant amount of time unaccounted for in the wilderness.

Throughout the subsequent day, Lake County Search and Rescue teams scoured the area but were unable to locate the hiker, who had strayed from the designated path.

The lost hiker spent the night trying to rediscover the trail amidst the vast landscape.

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The hiker refused to answer a call from an unknown number. Credit: Jason Jones Travel Photography / Getty
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After approximately 24 hours of being lost, the hiker managed to find their way back to the trail and ultimately to their vehicle, completely unaware that a search operation had been underway to locate them.

Reflecting on the incident, Lake County Search and Rescue shared on Facebook:

"Multiple attempts to contact the subject via their cell phone were unsuccessful."

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"The subject stated they'd lost the trail around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail. Once on the trail, they navigated through different paths trying to find the correct trailhead, eventually reaching their car the next morning, about 24 hours from the start of their hike. They had no clue that SAR was out searching for them," continued the statement.

Credit: Calvin Chan Wai Meng / Getty
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"One notable take-away is that the subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn't recognize the number," added the statement, highlighting an important lesson.

"If you're overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it could be a SAR team trying to confirm you're safe! Finally, to Mount Elbert hikers, remember that the trail can be obscured by snow above treeline, and it will likely remain that way until late June. Don't rely on your ascent tracks for descent, as wind often erases your tracks."

Following some criticism directed at the hiker, Lake County Search and Rescue defended the individual, stating, "common sense in hindsight is not obvious to a subject in the moment when they are lost and panicking."

"Please remember that what seems like common sense in hindsight is not obvious to a subject in the moment when they are lost and panicking."

"In Colorado, most people who enjoy the outdoors are aware of the SAR infrastructure available to assist them, but this awareness isn't universal. We ask for respectful comments," they implored.

Truthfully, I've never felt more connected to someone's experience in my entire life.