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Hiking couple OK after long trek out of San Rafael Desert to find help

Published June 17, 2014 9:07 pm

Emery County • Man hiked 23 miles to Interstate 70, flagged down bus.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A missing couple are safe and well after the man hiked out of the San Rafael Desert, flagged down a bus, and then helped an Emery County sheriff's deputy locate his girlfriend.

Dayne Aristizabal from Spanish Fork and Saryn Stratton from Provo.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Janalee Luke said Dayne Aristizabal, 27, of Spanish Fork, and 22-year-old Saryn Stratton of Provo had been reported missing Monday afternoon by their families after they were overdue from a Sunday morning hike in the rugged, remote area.

The couple's vehicle was located near the Baptist Draw Trailhead and a search by ground and air ensued.

About 10:30 p.m. Monday, a helicopter crew spotted a glowing fire ring and an arrow pointing south. Thirty minutes later, sheriff's dispatchers were told that a Greyhound bus had picked up a man on Interstate 70 who claimed to have been lost in the wilderness for two days.

"A deputy located the bus, pulled it over, and took the man with him to aid in the search for the missing female. He advised that his female hiking companion was approximately 13 miles south of I-70 on Muddy Creek," Luke stated.

Stratton was located at 11:30 p.m.

Aristizabal told deputies that he had become concerned with gathering storm clouds and the potential for flash flooding in the slot canyons, so he and Stratton moved off the trail to find higher ground. Soon after, the couple realized they were lost.

After hiking together about 12 miles, Aristizabal decided to continue on alone to find help. It was estimated he covered an additional 23 miles before reaching I-70.

Other than slight dehydration, both hikers were in good condition and refused medical treatment.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims