The father, identified as 33-year-old Dustin Beaver, and his three children (an 8-year-old boy, an 8-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy) were first reported missing by Beaver's wife on Sunday night. Their only complaint was the bug bites they received since setting out for their hike Saturday. The family ended up spending three days wandering the wilderness area.
During their ordeal in the wilderness Beaver and his children happened upon an Australian family that was camping in the area.
Searchers combing the forest since Monday morning didn't know the family had a tent, food and extra water and that Beaver was able to start a fire each night, The Durango Herald reported ( http://bit.ly/29Q2ufw ).
It was a happy ending after more than 25 people spent the day searching for the family on the ground and from the air, a search that had yielded little - a few footprints that couldn't be positively connected to the family, the smell of a campfire.
La Plata County Search and Rescue director Butch Knowlton said the group parked at the Cave Basin trailhead at the end of Middle Mountain Road near Vallecito to head toward Dollar Lake in the vast wilderness area.
Search leaders were reviewing information gathered Monday and preparing to redeploy search teams on Tuesday morning when news arrived that the family had been found. Beaver and his children were checked out by Upper Pine Fire Rescue personnel and found to be in good condition.
The area has several game and livestock trails that lead down into steep, rugged terrain. Four K-9 teams were also a part of the search. In the afternoon a Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad helicopter continued the air search.
The names and hometown of the Australian family who helped rescue the Beaver family were not available.