Missing Women Found

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Missing Women Found

Postby bwca » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:02 pm

The two women who went missing on the Kekekabic Trail were found today at 3:30 and flown out. They had lost their way, but are fine.
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Re: Missing Women Found

Postby PaddlerJimmy » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:08 pm

Here's what the Star Tribune had on it:

BWCA hikers rescued, apparently doing well
By Paul Walsh, Star Tribune
Last update: October 9, 2008 - 6:08 PM


The women had gone to a high spot to be more visible to searching aircraft, said authorities. The crew of a state patrol helicopter spotted them waving around 3:30 p.m. today.

Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk said the women, Duluth hikers Maria Jacenko, 42, and Grace Knezevich, 23, were located north of the Kekekabic Trail near Bingshick Lake, only about 4 miles from the Gunflint Trail, their original destination.

Float planes from the Superior National Forest and two helicopters assisted federal rangers and personnel from the Lake and Cook County sheriff's offices on the ground in the search today.


The women had gone to a high spot to be more visible to the searching aircraft, said Falk. The crew of a state patrol helicopter spotted them waving around 3:30 p.m. today.

A search team on foot was directed to their direction while the helicopter set down nearby, and the women were guided back to the helicopter by searchers on the ground, Falk said.

They were flown to a U.S. forest service helicopter pad near Snowbank Lake, east of Ely.

The women appeared healthy as they exited the helicopter and carried their own backpacks to a waiting sheriff dept. SUV.

They were brought to Smitty’s on Snowbank, a nearby lodge for a meal and to be checked out by emergency medical technicians, Falk said.

Through the sheriff department, they declined to be interviewed.

“They’re in good shape,” Falk said.

After interviewing the women Falk told reporters that they “lost the trail” on Monday between Howard and Bingschick Lakes and had been trying to find their way out since then.

They started fires but kept them small because they were worried about fire danger, Falk said. He said they “kept going to high spots” and wore bright clothing to make themselves more visible.

He said they also changed their positions on the ground based on the path of the search aircraft they saw periodically, again to make themselves more visible.

“They did everything right,” Falk said. We just didn’t spot them right away.

James Siebenand, who has lived with Jacenko for the past 12 years, earlier today expressed confidence that she and Knezevich would be OK.

Jacenko, a physical therapist, and Knezevich, a registered nurse, are co-workers at Benedictine Health Center in Duluth, said Siebenand.

"Maria is game for anything, any kind of a challenge," said Siebenand, who added that Jacenko has been to the BWCA numerous times but not in this precarious section. He and Jacenko, who grew up in Richfield, also camped for a month in Alaska soon after they moved in together.

He added that both women are in excellent shape, have "all the latest gear" and have medical backgrounds on their side in coming out of the wilderness alive and well.

Knezevich "loves the outdoors," the Rev. Jeff Burton, her pastor at Lakeview Covenant Church in Duluth, said in an interview hours before the rescue. This past summer, Knezevich was part of a 33-member mission trip to Belize, where she helped on building and renovation projects in a small village and worked with children as well, Burton said.

"Grace is very much loved, and lots of people are praying and concerned for her," he said. "She's an exceptional young lady."

Jacenko and Knezevich started on the Kekekabic Trail at Snowbank Lake in Ely on Friday and planned to finish at the Gunflint Trail, where a friend planned to pick them up Monday evening. On Wednesday morning, the friend notified authorities that the women hadn't shown up, and search teams were sent out.

The trail, which stretches through the BWCA, attracts only about 50 groups of hikers throughout the year. It is one of the most rugged in northern Minnesota and became even more difficult to hike after a fire in 2005.

Seven years ago to the month, a 29-year-old Milwaukee medical student got lost on the same trail during what he envisioned to be "three days of solitude" and survived nearly a week before his rescue, albeit with frostbitten feet.

Bloomington native Jason Rasmussen's harrowing tale has since been immortalized in a critically acclaimed book, "Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods," by Cary J. Griffith.

In a 2004 article for the state Department of Natural Resources, Griffith wrote: "On the seventh day of [Rasmussen's] exposure, a search plane took another pass. His hollow tree was too concealed to be seen from the air, but he'd made a practice of blowing his whistle after each plane passed. He did it again, and a quarter-mile away one person in the five-person search party heard it."

Star Tribune staff writer Larry Oakes contributed to this report.
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Re: Missing Women Found

Postby Magdalene » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:09 pm

I'm glad they are ok!
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Re: Missing Women Found

Postby bwca » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:13 pm

The article said they had all the latest equipment. I wonder if they had a GPS.
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Re: Missing Women Found

Postby PaddlerJimmy » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:59 pm

Missing hikers found close to Gunflint Trail
Rhonda Silence, Cook County Star
Residents of Cook County gave a collective sigh of relief on Thursday, October 9, 2008, when word spread that the two women presumably lost while hiking the Kekekabic Trail had been found. A huge search effort had been underway since a call to Cook County Law Enforcement on October 7 at 11:01 a.m. reported that that Maria Jacenko, 42, and Grace Knezevich, 23, of Duluth, had not appeared at a prearranged pick-up point on the Gunflint Trail on Monday, October 6.
The women began their Kekekabic hike in Ely near Snowbank Lake on Friday, October 3. They planned to camp along the way and had provisions for four days. Both women were experienced hikers and were aware that the “Kek” is one of the most difficult trails in the country.
The women were located at 3:15 p.m. on October 9 on the north side of Glee Lake in Cook County by a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter. They were just 3 -miles from the Gunflint Trail. At 3:40 p.m., it had been confirmed that it was Jacenko and Knezevich. The women were taken out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) via the State Patrol helicopter.
Reached at her Duluth home on Saturday, October 11, Grace Knezevich said they were not really lost. “The trail had a habit of starting and stopping. In most places, we could find it, but it got really rough between Howard and Bingshick Lake. We went along the ridge to try to locate it but had to give up.”
Knezevich said they knew they had to keep going, but travel was difficult through all the blowdown. The pair had a compass and they knew that if they kept heading east they would eventually reach the Gunflint Trail. “That was hard. We were running low on food and it took a lot of energy,” said Knezevich.
Knezevich said they realized people were searching for them. “The first time we saw a plane, we used an aluminum cook pot and tried to signal,” said Knezevich.
They also donned the lightest colored clothing they had packed and erected their tent, which was white. When they heard planes, they moved to higher ground. They also tried to call 911 at high points.
Many people involved in the search and waiting for news wondered why the women didn’t start a signal fire. Knezevich said they did, but they were concerned about starting a forest fire. Although it was very humid and rained on the shore of Lake Superior, it was dry in the Boundary Waters. “It only rained on Tuesday,” said Knezevich. “It was really dry—and windy.”
Although the women were very close to the Gunflint Trail, Knezevich said they were happy to be picked up. “The last two days we hiked until we couldn’t go any further, but our food supplies were getting low.”
Knezevich, a registered nurse, and Jacenko, a physical therapist at the Benedictine Health Center in Duluth, said they were grateful to all who were concerned about them. Knezevich said, “We knew people were looking for us, but we weren’t aware how many there were until we were in Ely. We appreciate all of the volunteers and all of the agencies that were involved.”
Asked if she would hike the Kekekabic again, Knezevich said, “Probably. It would be nice to finish that last 3 miles!”
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Re: Missing Women Found

Postby PaddlerJimmy » Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:11 pm

Hiker Retraces Steps Of 2 Women Lost In BWCA
Darcy Pohland (WCCO), November 17, 2008

A close call by two women lost on a trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area challenged another hiker to try it.

Martin Kubik is president of the Kekekabic Trail Club and followed the hiker's ordeal closely. Twenty-three-year-old Grace Knezevich and 42-year-old Maria Jacenko were rescued after they got lost and disappeared in the BWCAW for three days. The trail remains treacherous even for the most experienced hikers.

"It was disconcerting to me that the two hikers from Duluth got lost," said Kubik.

So he took a trek of his own on the Kekekabic Trail two weekends ago.

"I wanted to see for myself what kind of a condition the trail was in," he said.

He started at the Gunflint Trail end, where the women hikers got lost.

"I knew the first 13 miles would go through the most difficult section, the burn," Kubik said.

He said the first three miles were easy but then conditions worsened in the wildfire-ravaged area.

"There must be over 100 puddles, 5 to 15 yards long where you would just soaking wet," he recalled. "I got lost or walked off the trail and couldn't find it at least a half dozen times ... and I have hiked the trail for 20 to 30 times before in the past."

Kubik used a compass and map to get back on track but the missing women lost their compass.

"I immediately gained a lot of respect for those two women and the fact that they kept their heads cool," he said. "You can easily start feelings of panic."

It took Kubik three days to navigate the tough trail, but as the women discovered, it was risky.

"I'm very relieved that they were found and I'd like to see some measures adopted so that we can prevent this from happening in the future," he said.

Kubik plotted the trail on GPS so he can help future hikers. He and a group of volunteers also plan to clear and mark the trail next spring.
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