Durango Herald file
Durango Herald file
A couple of Sonic cups and a sippy cup believed to have been contained in a missing hiker’s backpack were located Monday, but the elusive 23-year-old man, whose name has not yet been released, remains missing somewhere near Haviland Lake.
In addition, Butch Knowlton, director of La Plata County Emergency Service Office, confirmed a beer can was located, but it was not known if it came from the missing hiker’s backpack.
“We’ve been finding evidence all day. We’re in contact with the missing man’s party, and we try to determine if it is coming from the man’s backpack. Sometimes it has nothing at all to do with him at all,” Knowlton said.
A Black Hawk helicopter equipped with night-vision equipment should join the search south/southeast of Haviland Lake around 8 p.m. Monday, said Ron Corkish, La Plata Search and Rescue’s mission coordinator for Monday’s effort.
Some 18 searchers were in the field Monday, Corkish said, and he added the cold temperatures expected Monday night should aid the effectiveness of thermal-locating devices.
Also, Knowlton said La Plata County’s drone is being used as part of the search. Using the drone requires careful coordination with officials from the San Juan Public Lands Office and other air assets being used in the search, he said.
On Sunday night, 14 searchers, two K-9 search dogs and a Flight for Life helicopter began the initial response in search of the missing 23-year-old man who became separated from his party Sunday evening while hiking near Haviland Lake.
The search area Monday morning focused on about a three-mile area between Haviland Lake, Forebay Lake and the northern end of the Glacier Club, Corkish said.
Knowlton says the search is now moving east, and assistance may soon come from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Tall Timber Resort.
Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing Monday night in the southern San Juan Mountains. Cornish said the search will continue in the dark.
“He was wearing only a black tank top and black shorts. I don’t know what the low was last night, but it wasn’t much above 30, and the high today is only suppose to be about 50. That’s what’s put some of the urgency to this,” Corkish said Monday morning.
Officials had not revealed the man’s identity as of 5 p.m. Monday.
In addition to La Plata County Search and Rescue, searchers from La Plata Mounted Patrol, San Juan County Search and Rescue and Upper San Juan Search and Rescue are in the field.
The man has never hiked in the particular area, but he is familiar with Southwest Colorado, Corkish said. He said the man’s cellphone service is T-Mobile, which has limited coverage in the area and is not helping them locate him.
The man was with a large party on a hike Sunday evening, just before 5 p.m., but when the group decided to return to their vehicle, the man ventured off on a longer hike Corkish said.
“That was the last sight of the subject,” he said.