(NEXSTAR) – Just how bad have spam cellphone calls become? One lost hiker inadvertently ignored help because the calls were coming from an unknown number, search and rescue officials said.
The unnamed hiker started hiking Colorado’s Mount Elbert at 9 a.m. on Oct. 18 but hadn’t returned by 8 p.m. that evening, according to Lake County Search and Rescue (LCSAR), who were notified the person was missing.
Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the state of Colorado at 14,400 feet.
“Multiple attempts to contact the subject via their cell phone were unsuccessful,” the LCSAR said in a news release, and five team members set out around 10 p.m. to find the missing individual in the dark.
After hours of combing the Rocky Mountain terrain without luck, the search team returned at 3 a.m. the next morning.
LCSAR officials said a team of three searchers went back out at 7 a.m. on Oct. 19 to check an area where hikers often lose their way but learned around 9:30 a.m. that the hiker had managed to return on their own.
“The subject stated they’d lost the trail around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail, and once on the trail, bounced around onto different trails trying to locate the proper trailhead, finally reaching their car the next morning, approximately 24 hours after they’d started their hike, LCASR officials said in the release. “They had no idea that SAR was out looking for them.”
The search and rescue team asked people not to judge the hiker’s decision to ignore the calls, adding that common sense in hindsight is not often obvious to someone alone, lost and panicking.
They had the following message for Mount Elbert visitors: “If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you’re safe!”