PALMER — An overdue pair of hikers in the Hatcher Pass area of the Talkeetna Mountains turned up in good condition on Wednesday after they got off trail and spent two days bushwhacking with their dog.
An Alaska State Troopers helicopter found 28-year-old Luke George and 29-year-old Dorothy Hoople, both of Anchorage, at about 2:15 p.m and landed with them at the Marmot parking lot up the Hatcher Pass road.
The pair had set out Saturday morning for a long holiday weekend trip along a popular traverse that links glaciers and mountain huts on the Palmer side of the pass in the mountains north of Anchorage. Along for the trip was George’s 4-year-old Bernese mountain dog, Fenn.
They emerged Wednesday afternoon from the longer-than-planned trek weary but smiling -- except for Fenn, who had a snoot full of porcupine quills and was headed for the vet.
George, up at a parking lot, said they planned to stay at a hut near Snowbird Glacier on Saturday night and one near Bomber Glacier on Sunday.
But they missed a turn on the trek toward Bomber “and we kept going a long ways to the river, the Kashwitna River,” George said. “And then we were bushwhacking pretty hard for two days.”
By Tuesday, when they hadn’t emerged for work as expected, concerned friends and family started a quickly growing search and contacted troopers Tuesday evening. By Wednesday morning, the search was attracting broad attention and increasing worry.
Finally, the pair scaled a valley toward the Seth Holden hut, tucked into a glacial cirque over the Kashwitna drainage.
They started the 4 1/2 mile hike to the Bomber hut Wednesday morning.
The troopers helicopter found them after landing at the hut as part of the search.
“While they were there, the hikers actually popped up over the ridge,” troopers spokesman Ken Marsh said.
Fenn got into the porcupine three days earlier, George said.
Numerous hikers posted information about being at one or both huts this weekend but not seeing George, Hoople or Fenn. A few people had spotted them but not since Sunday.
Troopers got a report they were overdue a little after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, and joined with state parks rangers in the search, along with members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and numerous private citizens. A private plane was also involved.
ADN photographer Bill Roth contributed to this report.