Colorado Hiker Lost For 24 Hours Because They Ignored “Unknown Number” Calls From Rescue Team

A hand holding a phone

It’s 2021… no one on earth accepts calls from numbers that aren’t already saved in their phone book unless it’s been predetermined that they’re expecting a call from a specific area code at a particular time or something like that.

Most of the calls are just spam about your car’s extended warranty or student loan bounty hunters calling to remind you that even though you give them money every month, you now somehow owe them even more money than when you graduated.

 Or they’re just automated robocalls that are about random nonsense or easily identifiable scams.

My phone rings about 6-10 times a day, almost exclusively from numbers that I don’t have saved in my phone. So I don’t answer any of them.

Although, a few months back, I did randomly decide to answer a call from a random number just to see what was up, and the guy on the other line was so surprised that someone actually picked up that he couldn’t even remember what he was supposed to try and pitch, sell, or tell me.

I was shocked it wasn’t a robot on the other end, but he sounded even more shocked someone answered his random cold call. 

So we shared an awkward silence, and then HE HUNG UP ON ME. 

Most of the time, no one is missing out on anything if they ignore random calls. If it’s important, the caller would leave a voicemail or send a text message. Right? Well, maybe not… 

Last week a hiker got lost while exploring Mount Elbert. The highest mountain in Colorado, and they were reported missing when they didn’t return. The following day rescue crews searched the area but could not find any signs of the missing person.

According to the New York Post, the rescue team reportedly tried calling the missing person several times, and despite having cell phone service, the calls were ignored. The lost hiker later explained that they missed those calls because they were unfamiliar with the phone number from which the calls originated.

Perhaps if “guardian angel” or “life saver” had popped up on the caller ID, they would have answered, but I digress.

The hiker was missing for 24 hours but eventually navigated their way back to the trail, found their way to their car, and went about their life. They reportedly had no idea rescue crews were searching for them, which makes sense as to why they ignored phone calls they perceived to be spam numbers.

With that in mind, I can’t decide whose side I’m on in this story.

On the one hand, I can ultimately see why the missing hiker would ignore random phone calls… I mean, a call about my car’s extended warranty is the LAST thing I want to hear when I’m stuck on the side of a mountain. Did the rescue team leave a voicemail?

But either way, I guess if you get lost in the wilderness and have reason to believe people may be looking for you, then maybe you should consider answering a call from a random number just in case it’s someone trying to save your life. 

A lot of parks and trails will also make you sign in and out of your hike to prevent situations just like this, so maybe this is a good reminder for hikers to take those itinerary logs a little more seriously.

Telling friends and family when and where you’ll be hiking, camping. hunting, or fishing is also a good habit to get into along with checking back in after the trip, especially if you like to explore the great outdoors alone.

The rescue team in this story is obviously glad the missing hiker is safe, but they use the opportunity to make a public service announcement about the situation on Facebook. 

“The subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number. 

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 [search and rescue] team trying to confirm you’re safe.”

While browsing through various accounts of this story, at no point did I read anything that indicated the rescue crews left a voicemail or sent a text message. 

I have to admit I probably would have ignored those calls, too, if I was in the hiker’s situation.

The Lake County Search and Rescue team even went so far as to call out the missing hikers common sense in their Facebook comments.

But it seems like maybe leaving a voice mail or following up with a text would have been common sense too? 

“Please remember that what seems like common sense in hindsight is not obvious to a subject at the moment when they are lost and panicking.”

Well, please remember that it’s 2021, and the vast majority of people I know would not answer a cell phone call from an unknown number no matter the circumstances, good or bad…  

So maybe rescue teams should consider using all of the tools at their disposal next time, and maybe try leaving a voice mail or sending a text message? Maybe even an Instagram DM? 

I think it’s a tie between the rescuers and the missing hikers regarding who handled this situation more poorly.

Plus, if you don’t even know you’re “missing,” are you really “missing” at all?

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock