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Missing hikers walk out of woods

Search efforts failed to locate lost couple

Danie Harrelson

— Ron and Dianne Revell’s picnic lunch at the lake didn’t go quite as planned.

The couple from Illinois hiked Friday to Dinosaur Lake, just north of Fish Creek Reservoir. On the way back to their car, they missed the trailhead and wandered for two more days.

They emerged Sunday before noon from the Fish Creek Falls parking lot. An ambulance transported them to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Two nights in the woods left them tired, cold, wet, dehydrated and hungry, but remarkably unharmed.

“They seemed to be in very good shape,” said Joe Stevens, president of Routt County Search and Rescue. “They were in good spirits.”

Routt County Search and Rescue responded Friday evening to the place where Ron and Dianne Revell, both 55, were last seen.

Six other friends had accompanied the Revells on their hike to the lake, but they headed back to their vehicles at different times. When the couple did not return to their car by late Friday afternoon, their friends called police.

A four-person team quickly scouted the half-mile trial to the lake and the lake’s perimeter before dark settled in.

The same confusion that befell Ron and Dianne Revell confronted search teams as they looked for clues around the lake.

Some people looking for the missing couple unknowingly walked past the same trailhead the Revells overlooked.

“It’s really easy to miss,” incident commander Darrel Levingston said.

A search dog was unable to pick up any scent, and additional teams resumed the search early Saturday morning.

Twenty people searched by air, foot and ATV.

“Saturday, we went all out,” Levingston said.

Ron and Dianne Revell headed north from Dinosaur Lake and eventually moved southwest toward the North Fork drainage of Fish Creek.

Had they gone any other direction, they would have run into a road, Stevens said.

“They would have been within two miles (of a road) easily,” he said.

Search teams discovered some of the couple’s tracks north of the lake. The footprints followed an old Jeep trail for about a mile until brush and undergrowth made human traces indistinguishable.

“We could see where they followed,” Levingston said.

The missing couple’s route surprised search teams, who assumed they would have taken a less formidable course.

A steep ravine leads to the North Fork drainage.

“Everyone said they wouldn’t go down that deep ravine,” Levingston said.

But down the couple went.

When they finally reached the water, they followed it until they ran into some hikers who led them to the Fish Creek Falls parking lot.

Thirty-five people participated in the search Sunday. Their search, however, was called off when word of Ron and Dianne Revell’s appearance came.

Dianne Revell, who was wearing shorts, had some cuts and welts on her legs. Ron Revell was wearing jeans and hiking boots.

The couple huddled for warmth with their German shorthair pointer, Goose, at night, Stevens said.

They had no food, but they drank creek water to stay hydrated, he added.

Stevens, who conducted his search from the air Sunday morning, said the Revell’s neutral-colored clothing blended with the landscape and made it difficult to pick out any anomalies on the ground.

This weekend’s search was only the third multi-day mission in at least 12 years for Routt County Search and Rescue, Levingston said.

It’s an incident that would-be hikers can learn from, Stevens said.

Search and rescue teams can locate missing persons much faster if the people they are trying to find stay in one place, he said.

“If you do get lost, the best thing you can do is hold still,” Stevens said.


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