Three hikers from the Lehigh Valley are lucky to be alive after being rescued from Hawk Mountain in Albany Twp., Berks Co.
All hands were on deck for a frantic search for the missing trio.
It started out as a peaceful hike to listen to the birds, but those sounds over Hawk Mountain were quickly replaced by something else entirely.
Helicopters flew overhead as search and rescue crews from Lehigh, Berks and Schuylkill counties were called in to initiate an intensive grid search. They were looking for Bob Durn, 74, of Allentown, and his two young grandsons Garrod, 9, and Griffen, 5.
"People kind of tend to head downhill into easier walking areas, and that kind of fits the bill out there," said Ryan Beltz, the assistant director of land and facilities for Hawk Mountain.
Durn left his cell phone in the car. When he never called his daughter, she alerted Hawk Mountain.
"Once they realized they were lost, they stayed put, rested and waited to be found," said Elizabeth Christman, who waited nervously for her dad and boys.
Hawk Mountain receives about 70,000 visitors a year. Officials said many of them can get turned around easily, but nine out of 10 times they find them quickly. What worried them in this case was the extreme heat. The missing hikers were out in near triple digit temperatures for roughly 14 hours.
"Your average person would be fine in that situation, as long as they're not exerting themselves fully. Where it is kind of an issue is where you have the very young and the very old," said Beltz.
After hours of searching, tragedy was avoided. The hikers were reunited with their family early Thursday morning. They were found roughly four miles from where they started, said officials.
"It's a ravine, a really treacherous area down through. It's right off the Appalachian Trail. They were found down in there," said Sgt. Matthew Mendenhall, Berks County Sheriff's Department.
"It was just a tremendous amount of relief once they discovered them and when we did hear word they were alright," said Scott Christman, the missing boys' father.
The family praised the rescuers efforts, and said next time they plan to bring a compass.
"It's just a matter of being prepared and letting somebody know where you are, but it doesn't mean you cant enjoy the outdoors. There's still plenty of things to do out here that are safe and comfortable," said Beltz.