By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer
Four cold and wet backcountry travelers were literally carried out to
Highway 75 north of Ketchum early Monday morning after becoming lost returning from a
The four were part of a group of seven people who had spent Saturday night
at the Tornak yurt, owned by Sun Valley Trekking Co. The companys co-owner, Bob
Jonas, said the yurt is at an elevation of 8,400 feet in the Smoky Mountains south of
One of the partys members, Brad Boushele, a Bellevue resident, said
the group arrived at the yurt by snowshoe about 5 p.m. Saturday, and headed back down
about 10 a.m. Sunday. He said they were taking an approximately four-mile-long route west
to a trailhead at Easley Store and Hot Springs, near the highway.
However, Boushele said, a snowstorm prevented them from seeing very far
and the group made several route changes when its members concluded they were heading in
the wrong directions.
Late in the day, he said, they could see the highway, but their route
dropped down a very steep face. By that time, Boushele said, the group had been soaked by
water dripping from the trees.
He said the group stopped along Easley Creek and built a fire. Boushele
said four of them were cold and exhausted and decided to remain there, while he and his
two children, ages 6 and 9, went out to get help. He said the spot was about one-third of
a mile from the Big Wood River.
Boushele said they reached the highway, flagged down a passing car and
called for help.
Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said his office was notified of the
travelers predicament when Bousheles call was received at 9:15 p.m. He said
Blaine County Search and Rescue members were mobilized and 20 searchers were headed into
the area by 10:48 p.m.
"We treated this as a very critical incident and we got everyone
involved that we could because of the way we knew the members of this party were dressed
and how they had been described by the people who came out," Femling said.
Femling said the group did not appear to be properly equipped, and at
least one member was wearing blue jeans.
He said rescuers did not get the victims out until 3:30 a.m.
"They had to spend time with them before they could be transported
because of the extreme state of hypothermia they were in," he said.
Two of the party, Lorna Cowan, of Ketchum, and Shirley Tharp, of Bellevue,
were transported to Wood River Medical Center in Sun Valley, where they were reported
treated and released with minor leg injuries.