CONEJOS — What started out as a mid-weekday trip into Duck Lake above Conejos Canyon turned into a nightmare for two 30-year-old Alamosa natives.
Tyler Haynie, Alamosa and Marcus Newell, Santa Fe, were both rescued Friday afternoon by the Conejos County Sheriff’s Office and others after getting disoriented.
The pair spent four days in the mountains with no food but fortunately could build fires nightly for warmth and melted snow for water, according to Sheriff Garth Crowther.
Newell suffered a severe twisted ankle and had to be airlifted out by helicopter but didn’t require hospitalization, nor did Haynie, who walked out most of the way according to Crowther.
The two apparently left Tuesday morning for a day hike into Duck Lake but got turned around and lost their way back, the sheriff said. They ended up in the third meadow of Elk Creek which generally sees swift water this time of year. Crowther said he was sincerely concerned about their welfare in those conditions.
“I was worried it wasn’t going to be a happy ending,” Crowther said after searching for the pair for four days. “The way we thought they tried to come down I was losing hope, but it was a happy ending.”
Crowther thanked the many agencies that helped with the search including the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control providing a search airplane, Flight for Life, search dog assistance from Alamosa and Pueblo counties, plus assistance from Mineral County, Custer County, Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Search and Rescue.
He also thanked the VanBerkum family from Rainbow Trout Lodge for spending days on horseback searching for the two men, as well as many family members and friends of the pair.