Wintry weather conditions have been making the search for two missing backpackers in Glacier National Park particularly difficult, both because of the cold and snow in general and because that snow could be covering up some clues.
Sunday's search efforts failed to turn up any solid sign of the two missing men: Neal Peckens, from Virginia, and Jason Hiser, from Maryland. The two 32-year-olds were reported missing by family members on Friday after they failed to catch a plane back home.
The search has been concentrated on the east side of the park near Two Medicine. According to their backcountry permit, Peckens and Hiser were planning to hike from the North Shore Trailhead at Two Medicine on Tuesday, October 9, and camp at the Oldman Backcountry Campground on Tuesday night. It is believed they planned to hike to Pitamakan Pass and along the Continental Divide to Dawson Pass, and back to Two Medicine on Wednesday, October 10. The entire loop, as planned, is approximately 17 miles in length.
Searchers have encountered up to 18 inches of snow on trails, snow drifts, limited visibility and very windy conditions. Aerial operations were limited Sunday due to low visibility and extremely windy conditions.
A recently used fire ring and tracks were found on Sunday, but searchers are not 100 pecent sure they were left by the two men. Those wintry conditions could have caused the two men to lose their intended trail, park officials said in a release.
The fire ring and tracks were found in the Nyack Drainage, on the west side of the Continental Divide and includes some very densely forested and steep terrain.
Approximately 50 people are involved in the search, including personnel from Glacier National Park and Flathead Country Search and Rescue. Some of the search personnel remained in the backcountry overnight.
Peckens is describing as standing six feet tall and weighing approximately 180 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. Hiser also is six feet tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds with brown hair and green eyes. It is believed that Peckens may have a red hooded rain jacket and Hiser may have a blue North Face beanie hat.
Anyone who may have any information or may have been in the area and seen individuals that may meet the descriptions are encouraged to contact the park at 406-888-7805.