Lost Backpacker near Lake Katherine

At 4:00am on June 29, 2016, a District 1 Search and Rescue Mission was initiated for a 70-year-old backpacker last seen at 4:30pm the prior day near Windy Saddle, west of Lake Katherine in the Santa Fe National Forest. The Reporting Party was a friend who said that the subject had just arrived in the Santa Fe area from a much lower altitude and was extremely fatigued as they reached the saddle above the lake. The friend said that he had called out to the subject that he would hike ahead and set up camp. When the subject had not arrived by 5:30pm, his friend went looking for him and couldn’t find him. He then hiked back out and called 911 for help.

Resources from Santa Fe SAR, Taos SAR, Sandia Search Dogs and 2 National Guard Black Hawk helicopters responded to support this mission. One of the Black Hawk crews was supporting a concurrent mission in the Pecos Wilderness for a missing Boy Scout and was in the process of delivering a Dog Team to that area when a “find” was reported. That Black Hawk Crew was retasked to the Lake Katherine Mission. That helicopter picked up another  4 man ground team ( Team 5)  at Incident Base (IB) and flew them and the Sandia Search Dog Team (Team 4) to Windy Saddle at about 4:30pm with their task being to search until dusk, shelter for the night and continue searching next morning. Team 1 who had been in the area searching since early morning was flown from Windy Saddle back to IB by the helicopter.

Teams 4 and 5 searched the area from Windy Saddle toward Lake Katherine and decided to overnight there. Arriving at the lake, a camper was seen and when approached was identified as the missing subject. He reported that he had missed the trail to Lake Katherine and had gone left and found a small lake below lake Katherine and camped there for the night. In the morning he set out to find Lake Katherine, got lost again and ended up circling back to his overnight camp spot. After resting he set out again and eventually found the trail to the Lake arriving there at about 5:00pm. Teams 4 & 5 overnighted with the subject and hiked out to IB the next morning arriving there at 12:30pm

 

 

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