A missing hiker’s dog was found alive eight days after his family reported them missing following a hike in Boulder County.
Josh Hall, 27, of Arvada, and the family dog, Happy, went hiking last Wednesday on the Hessie Trailhead to get to Devil’s Thumb Lake. At some point during the hike, a snowstorm came in, and Hall and Happy never returned home.
Dangerous weather conditions made it nearly impossible for search crews to locate Hall and Happy, and the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search on Monday, Feb. 8.
“We believe that he was, unfortunately, at the furthest point when the really crazy snowstorm came in,” Hall’s mother, Laura Vukson, said.
On Thursday, however, someone found Happy on Peak to Peak Highway between mile markers 40 and 41, about seven miles northeast of the trailhead. He somehow survived the wilderness for eight days.
Nick Vukson, Hall’s stepfather, said Happy lost about 10-15 pounds, but, miraculously, there were no signs of frostbite.
“How can a domestic dog be up in the Rocky Mountains in some extremely severe conditions and emerge with no frostbite whatsoever,” Nick said. “We don’t know if maybe he had found some shelter and perhaps Josh was with him. We’re not sure.”
Laura is elated someone found Happy alive because it’s renewed hope in the search for her son.
“Based on the information I was given, I did not think that there was any chance that they could have survived. And the fact that Happy is here absolutely gives me renewed hope,” Laura said.
But it’s also reinforced her biggest fear.
“I’m terrified that that means that Happy stayed with Josh until he succumbed to the cold,” she said.
On Friday, she and her family spent the day putting up flyers in the Nederland area with the hope someone may have seen Hall or Happy and can provider law enforcement with more information.
We caught up Josh’s family as they put up these flyers in Nederland. Because of terrible weather conditions, all searches have been called off, and they’re hoping someone will see these flyers and call in with any important information about Josh’s whereabouts. @DenverChannel pic.twitter.com/6s0V2FAiDK
— Pattrik Perez (@PattrikPerez) February 13, 2021