A balmy Labor Day hike on Missionary Ridge led to a rainy night weathered in the wilderness for a 75-year-old local man and his black Labrador, Sprite.
Neither suffered injuries, only the rain and cold, which made for hypothermic conditions.
La Plata County emergency responders rescued the man at 8:05 a.m. Tuesday about two miles downhill from where he was last seen, northeast of Henderson Lake. He went missing on a trail in the Mountain View Crest area north of Durango around 3 p.m. Monday.
Returning from a day hike, the man and his dog were walking ahead of about 10 friends on the trail, according to La Plata County Search and Rescue President Ron Corkish. When the rest of the group reached their cars at the trailhead, they realized the man was missing.
At least one of the party had a Colorado Outdoor Search and Rescue card, which helps fund SAR organizations.
Crews deployed a Flight for Life helicopter to scour the terrain until about midnight, then renewed their efforts Tuesday morning with search canines.
Monday night storms ravaged Durango, and the man’s rain jacket was unhelpfully left on his kitchen counter, Corkish said. The man had a daypack with him, but the contents are unknown.
Corkish said the man likely did not or could not light a fire, because searchers would have seen it from the air Monday night. No other details were available about how the subject got off course or survived the night.
The mission came on the heels of a long day at Cascade Creek, where La Plata and San Juan county emergency responders rescued six waterfall jumpers.
Local search-and-rescue organizations have retrieved at least 12 individuals from Cascade Creek this summer, in addition to nearly a dozen more lost or injured hikers at Windom Peak, Engineer Mountain and the Weminuche Wilderness.