Everyone feared the worst, but now they are breathing a sigh of relief. The families of Neal Peckens and Jason Hiser have waited anxiously for any news of the two hikers, who hadn't been seen after going missing in Glacier National Park.
Those fears have been transformed into prayers of thanks as the two men have been found safe. They are still in Montana, but out of the back country and back in the arms of loved ones. They were found about 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. mountain time) Monday afternoon and immediately flown off the mountain.
Peckens and Hiser are considered experienced hikers, who had a special permit to hike in a remote region of the park, but despite their experience, emerging safe after being missing for six days seemed impossible.
Their discovery is something that their family members are having a hard time believing.
"I think my neighbors must've thought that I was being attacked by the screams," said Liz Briscoe the sister- in- law of Neal Peckens. She said those screams of joy, were born out of fear. A fear this situation would end in tragedy.
"It was just unreal," Briscoe said. "You want to think that you aren't thinking the worst, but you are the entire time."
They had every reason to consider a bleak outcome. Glacier National Park Spokesperson Denise Germann said the region they went lost in is bleak and dangerous.
"It included some very steep and treacherous terrain. It included some drop offs," said Germann. "It included some very heavily wooded forested area with about 18 inches of snow in various places."
There is still very little known about what led to the two being discovered. Hiser lives in Richmond, his family, still reeling from a roller coaster of emotion, posted a sign begging for privacy.
His colleagues at the Broad Street Veterinary Hospital posted several updates on facebook, Including this one that shared the good news, adding "yeah!"
Liz Briscoe, couldn't be any happier the two are coming home, but hopefully they won't have to worry about this again.
"There will be a wonderful celebration and the closest Neal will get to hiking again I know will be like at Six Flags Atlanta," she said.
There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for the two; a fund set up to aid in their recovery has raised more than $30,000. They are expected to fly home Tuesday.
The two hikers were missing for five days before they were found.
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