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hikers found safe after search


Hikers found safe after search

A married couple was found safe Friday afternoon by Chaffee County Search and Rescue volunteers after the two spent an unplanned night on Mount Columbia.  Dale Baldridge, 70, and his wife, Joyce Baldridge, 65, visiting from Michigan, made a 911 call at about 5:30pm Thursday saying they were too exhausted to continue their descent from the summit.  A hiker who encountered the pair and offered assistance reported later that they declined his offer, although they accepted water and two “bivvy sacks” from him.

Cell phone contact with the two hikers was lost.  At about 7pm Thursday, a team of search and rescue volunteers began ascending the trail searching for the two.  Having no success, four members of the team remained on the mountain overnight.  The search resumed early Friday morning when personnel from the Buena Vista Correctional Facility and additional search volunteers joined the effort  One of these, a Buena Vista resident and private pilot, flew his personal airplane over the area for about an hour attempting to spot the hikers, without success.

Finally, at about 3:15pm Friday, the couple was spotted by other hikers as they were descending the mountain about two miles above the North Cottonwood trailhead.  They were met on the trail by searchers about forty-five minutes later and accompanied to the trailhead.  Both were in good condition and required no medical treatment.