Lost hiker found in Flat Tops Wilderness


— A hiker who had been missing for more than 24 hours in the Flat Tops Wilderness was found alive and well Saturday with help from Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers.

Seven Routt County Search and Rescue members joined a four-person team from Garfield County in the search for Thad Childs, 28. Before he was found shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, Childs had last been seen walking away from Mosquito Lake at about noon Friday where he had been camping with four other people.

Mosquito Lake is in the Flat Tops Wilderness about 1.5 miles from the Stillwater Reservoir trailhead and parking lot west of Yampa.

Search and Rescue Commander Dawn Alperti said all five members of the camping party live in Colorado. She was unsure why Childs decided to set out on his own for a hike. The other members of Childs' party said it was not uncommon for him to take long hikes by himself, which is why they did not call rescuers until their second failed attempt to find him Saturday morning.

"He was in really good shape," Alperti said about Childs.

Early Saturday afternoon, a helicopter was called in from Rifle to assist the search, and a ropes team was on standby.

Searchers tracked the man north of Mosquito Lake to a vast area in the vicinity of Devil's Causeway, Routt County Search and Rescue spokesman Darrel Levingston said.

By late afternoon, Alperti said the searchers were beginning to call off the search for the day and prepare for a resumed effort today. One group of searchers decided to look a bit longer, and at about that time Childs appeared on Devil's Causeway.

"He really was not the least bit fazed despite his adventure," Alperti said.

Alperti said Childs had become disoriented after crossing Devil's Causeway on Friday, and he spent the night near a creek bed.

"Somehow, wherever he was, he couldn't get a real good view of the Causeway and reorient himself," Alperti said.


Terry Noble 7 years, 10 months ago

It never ceases to amaze me at how unprepared people are when they go out in the Wilderness. I lived there for 17 years and if I ever did get disorientated it was only for a brief amount of time. Why? Because I always prepared before I left. I used GoogleEarth to scout the areas before I left and always carried a compass, map and essential survival equipment. Why don't people plan ahead? A very expensive rescue was needed and these guys have a life too. They have better things to do than spend time looking for people who should be better prepared. Thank you Search and Rescue for retrieving another one from what could have been serious peril, you do a valuable service. I hope the community realizes this when these guys have their fundrasers since that's where their main support comes from. God Bless you guys!


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