An overdue hiker reported missing Aug. 18 was found safe Aug. 21 after an intensive search in the mountains in the Taylor Mesa area east of Stoner.
Ron Nurnberg, 71, of Dolores, left his residence at 10 a.m. last Tuesday for a day hike with a dog on the Calico Trail. When he failed to return Tuesday evening, his wife contacted the Dolores County sheriff and a search was organized.
On Friday, after two days of searching from the air and ground, a search helicopter operated by Olathe Spray Service located Nurnberg on Stoner Mesa after he triggered his SPOT Locator, according to a sheriff report. When activated the device broadcasts GPS coordinates to searchers.
"Once it was turned on, the search helicopter honed in on his location," said Todd Jones, Rico Fire chief who helped in the search. "He was quite a ways away from where he parked his truck, about 8 miles."
Nurnberg had cuts and abrasions and was dehydrated, but was otherwise unharmed. He was airlifted to the Stoner Campground where an ambulance picked him up for transport to Southwest Memorial Hospital. The dog was found within a mile of the truck and was OK.
It wasn't clear why the SPOT Locator unit was not turned on earlier. Following an interview with sheriff's deputies Nurnberg explained he had been trying to activate it since Tuesday but it was not working, according to a report. The unit successfully operated on Friday, despite batteries that were 10 years old.
Several ground search crews were involved, including the Dolores County Sheriff's Office, Dolores county staff, United Search and Rescue, Rico Fire, San Miguel Search and Rescue, Dolores Fire, K-9 Search and Rescue, Colorado National Guard, U.S. Air Force, Air Care, and Olathe Spray. Thirty people were involved in the ground search.
Communications were aided by two F-16 fighter jets in the area that were from Buckley Air Force base, according to officials.
The search area included the Priest Gulch, Calico, Taylor Mesa, and Stoner trail areas. Nurnberg is an avid hiker who has a preference for loop hikes, officials said. He had no overnight gear.
Dolores County sheriff said the community rallied to assist in the search in difficult terrain.
"It was one of the most challenging searches we have ever been involved in," he said. "I extend a personal thank you to all those who assisted in the search."
Temperatures were below freezing on Taylor Mesa each night Nurnberg was missing.