By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming and Montana search and rescue teams have expanded their search areas in their attempts to find hiker Tatum Morrell, who disappeared after going hiking in the Beartooth Mountains last week.
According to Red Lodge, Montana, Fire Rescue, search teams still haven’t found sign of the missing 23-year-old, but rescuers have expanded the search area to include areas adjacent to original 15 square-mile area. This expansion was done in case Morrell became disoriented or had to retreat from the high altitude routes due to bad weather.
Morrell planned to hike five peaks in the mountains last week. She camped at Shadow Lake in Montana on July 1 and contacted her mother via a satellite communicator that evening.
A National Guard helicopter was used Thursday night to take high-resolution images of the area for more detailed analysis and to help direct ground searchers.
Officials have determined that although Morrell wasn’t due to be back from her hiking trip until July 5, she left her camp on July 2 to summit a 12,000-foot peak and never returned.
Currently, Montana’s Red Lodge Fire Rescue, Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin County and Big Horn County search and rescue and rescue teams are looking for the young woman, assisted by the Park County, Wyoming, search and rescue team, the U.S. Forest Service, three dog teams and three helicopters.
Morrell is an engineering graduate student at Montana State University-Bozeman and is originally from Idaho. This was her first trip to the Beartooths, according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue officials.
She is an experienced hiker who recently completed a similar trip in Gallatin County, climbing five peaks in five days.
Anyone with information on Morrell’s disappearance can call 406-446-1234, the Carbon County, Montana Sheriff’s Office.
Morrell is not the only hiker to be reported missing in the region recently. Last month, an Irish man disappeared while hiking in Grand Teton National Park.