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For the week of Apr. 12 through Apr. 18, 2000

Snowshoers rescued
in Smokies

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 yurt.

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 company’s co-owner, Bob Jonas, said the yurt is at an elevation of 8,400 feet in the Smoky Mountains south of Baker Creek.

One of the party’s 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 Boushele’s 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.


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