HAGERSTOWN, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Two missing hikers from Virginia have been found alive and safe in Montana’s Glacier National Park.
Jason Hiser, 32, of Richmond, Va., and Neal Peckens, 32, of Herndon, Va., were reported missing on Friday after failing to board a flight home.
A brief update posted to the Park’s Facebook page says the men are well and will be returning to their families.
Earlier Monday, friends and colleagues of the missing men established a fund to help raise money for the search and rescue efforts of crews working to find them.
The website, findVAhikers.com, lists a goal of raising $5,000 to help offset the cost of food and equipment.
The pair had taken several hiking trips to other western national parks in the past four years, said Hiser’s mother Sandy of La Vale, Md.
The National Park Service said as many as 50 people on foot and horseback, along with a specialized dog team, were searching the back country near Two Medicine, Mt., on the park’s east side. The agency said the team found a recently used fire ring and some tracks Sunday on the west side of the Continental Divide that suggested the men may have gone off trail in wintry conditions that included snow 18 inches deep.
According to their backcountry permit, the men planned to hike Oct. 9-10.
Sandy Hiser said Peckens’ wife Deborah arrived Sunday in Montana and was keeping the families updated.
Peckens’ aunt Kathy Stiles in Boonsboro, Md., told The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail Sunday that Peckens was an experienced hiker.
Both men are originally from western Maryland — Peckens from Boonsboro and Hiser from La Vale. They met at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va., Stiles said. Both are married.
At the Broad Street Veterinary Hospital in Richmond, where Hiser is an associate veterinarian, clients have been calling to offer prayers and assistance, administrator der Au Michael said.
Peckens is a cardiologist with Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates. He works out of offices in Vienna and Springfield, Va., according to the group’s website.
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