|Ken Eley and Randy Lake of the search and rescue wait at the bottom for word from the helicopter.|
On Sunday a Huntington man, Mark Stoddard, 24, was hiking in a canyon across from the Bear Creek Campground in Huntington Canyon. His companion became alarmed when he did not return to the car well after dark, after he had been waiting four hours for Stoddard. He returned to town to seek assistance and returned to the canyon with flashlights, still unable to locate Stoddard they returned again to town. At this time, Sheriff Lamar Guymon was alerted of the missing man and he called search and rescue to come to the scene. Search and rescue teams searched the lower recesses of the canyon during the night, but could not locate the man.
A Utah Highway Patrol helicopter arrived on the scene at daylight and began scouring the canyon looking for signs of the man. After two initial sweeps, the man was not located. The man was then spotted coming down the canyon. The helicopter approached Stoddard and he gave the thumbs up signal indicating he was OK. Stoddard said he became cold and wet and it was after dark so he decided not to climb off the ledges in the dark. He waited out the night in an area protected by rocks and he built a fire and ate the food he had taken with him. He was also accompanied by his dog who aided in keeping him warm. Stoddard began walking at daylight at which time he was spotted by the helicopter. He was in good condition and had dried his clothes by the fire and slept off and on throughout the cold night. He said he never really became too cold, but he was very tired and he appeared to be in good condition.
Initially Stoddard had planned to exit the canyon on the Bear Canyon side, but deep crackling snow forced him to change his plans to avert any chance for setting off an avalanche. He then backtracked three miles at which time it became dark and he decided to hole up for the night.
Stoddard commented that he didn't really think anyone would begin searching until after daylight.
He is an experienced hiker and backcountry enthusiast.