KALISPELL, Mont. (CBSDC/AP) — Rescue teams at Glacier National Park are searching in wintery conditions and rugged terrain for two Virginia hikers reported missing by family members.
Park officials said 50 searchers were looking for 32-year-old Neal Peckens of Herndon and 32-year-old Jason Hiser of Richmond.
Peckens works as a veterinarian at Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates in Vienna. His wife has flown out to Montana to wait out the search.
Weather was the biggest challenge facing searchers, who have found 18 inches of snow on the trail at higher elevations and five-foot drifts in some areas, spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
“The area they are working in is very steep and exposed,” she said. “It’s right along the Continental Divide, and it’s very windy.”
The two were reported missing Friday after failing to catch a flight home from Montana. Their vehicle was found late Friday, and the search started Saturday.
Searchers say a fire ring and tracks they discovered this weekend may belong to the missing hikers.
Germann said it’s not clear if they were prepared for cold weather, or if they have much experience in the backcountry. Searchers believe the two were hiking and not mountain climbing.
“We believe they are still in the park,” she said. “We don’t know what clothing or gear they’ve got.”
Officials believe the two started hiking from the North Shore Trailhead at Two Medicine on the east side of the park on Tuesday and planned to return to Two Medicine on Wednesday, and then do some day hikes Thursday.
She said park rangers along with Flathead County Search and Rescue members were taking part in the search. She said some are on foot, some on horses and some searching with dogs.
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