mount elbert.jpg

A hiker in Colorado, who was lost for 24 hours, ignored rescuers' phone calls because "they didn’t recognize the number," authorities said last week.

The hiker was reported overdue at about 8 p.m. on Oct. 18, according to a statement from Lake County Search and Rescue. The person who called said the hiker started at Mount Elbert from the South Trailhead at 9 a.m. and had not returned.

Lake County Search and Rescue searched multiple areas for the hiker, but could not find the person. "Multiple attempts to contact the subject via their cell phone were unsuccessful," the statement said.

The hiker returned home on Oct. 19, more than 24 hours after beginning their hike. The person was not identified.

"The subject stated they’d lost the trail around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail, and once on the trail, bounced around onto different trails trying to locate the proper trailhead, finally reaching their car the next morning," said the Lake County statement. "They had no idea that SAR was out looking for them."

"One notable take-away is that the subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number," the statement continued. "If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you’re safe!"

The statement on Facebook garnered more than a hundred comments, many critical of the hiker.

But Lake County Search and Rescue came to the hikers defense.

"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," it said in a comment. "In Colorado, most folks who spend time outdoors have a good understanding of the SAR infrastructure that is there to help them, but this is not the case nationwide. Please keep your comments respectful."