HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Rescuers searched by air and with dogs Tuesday across treacherous terrain in Glacier National Park for a 19-year-old seasonal worker with little backcountry experience who never returned from a weekend day hike.
National Park Service workers, U.S. Border Patrol officials and Flathead County Sheriff’s rescue team members focused their search for Jakson Kreiser on the rock cliffs and forest between two popular destinations, Avalanche Lake and Hidden Lake. The trails leading to both lakes are often crowded with tourists, but there is no designated trail between the two destinations.
The terrain includes cliffs with drops of more than 4,000 feet, wet and slippery boulders and dense vegetation. Park officials, after speaking with Kreiser’s roommate and friends, believe that he meant to hike from Logan Pass to Avalanche Lake on Saturday and possibly climb down some of the exposed rock faces, said park spokeswoman Denise Germann.
The search began Sunday after Kreiser was reported missing. The Hudsonville, Mich., resident’s vehicle was found at the Logan Pass Visitor Center parking lot.
“He had told some of his acquaintances that he wanted to do this. Finding his vehicle at Logan and talking about wanting to do this has moved us in this direction,” Germann said.
This is Kreiser’s first summer as a kitchen worker at the Lake McDonald Lodge. He is 6 feet, 2 inches tall with short, black, curly hair and a black beard. He was believed to be wearing a yellow sweat shirt, khaki pants and carrying a grey and yellow backpack.
He works for Glacier Park Inc., the vendor that runs the lodge. Officials with the vendor did not return a call for comment.
A message left at Kreiser’s home in Michigan was not returned.
Germann said the park service’s investigation revealed that Kreiser has very limited backcountry experience and that officials believe he has “minimal equipment with him.”
Two canine teams from the Border Patrol are involved in the search, and searchers are also using infrared technology that detects heat sources as they attempt to pinpoint Kreiser’s location.
Searchers also were keeping a close eye on the rock face at different times of the day, as the moving sun affects what can be seen against the sheer cliffs.
“We’re doing that over and over. As the light changes, the view changes,” Germann said.
Last year, a seasonal employee died after he fell several hundred feet down a steep mountainside while on a day hike in Glacier. Jacob Rigby was reported missing in late August and his body was found several days later.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)