Canine discovered on Peak to Peak renews hope for household of hiker lacking in Boulder County

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Josh Hall, the Arvada man who has gone missing since leaving Boulder County on February 3, 2021, is hoping to be found soon after his dog was found alive on February 11, 2021. (Laura Vukson / Courtesy Photo)

Josh Hall’s dog, a hiker who has been missing in Boulder County for more than a week, was found en route from Peak to Peak Highway Thursday, renewing hope for his family that Hall is still alive.

Hall, 27, started a hike at 9:30 am on February 3 at the Hessie Trailhead near Nederland with his dog Happy, but his mother Laura Vukson said he should be back at 5:00 pm for an online class be.

“If Josh decided to skip class, which he wouldn’t because he’s 27, not 18; If he had known he wouldn’t be back in time and could have called me, he would have called, ”Vukson said.

Vukson called the dispatchers, and the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office reported that his vehicle was found at the trailhead that night.

Searchers checked accessible cabins and mine shafts along the road on July 4th and along the Devils Thumb Lake Trail below the Diamond Lake border, and the sheriff’s office said the cell phone pinged his phone near Devil’s Thumb around noon Trail / Diamond Lake boundary brought February 3rd.

Vukson said Hall tried to hike Devil’s Thumb in January but couldn’t after Happy tried to turn around. But Vukson said that meant he was only more determined this time around to tackle this hike.

“I know Josh does when he thinks about something,” she said.

Vukson said based on Hall’s general walking pace, obtained from some logs of his previous hikes, they believe it was near Devil’s Thumb Lake, or maybe even a little further, towards the continental difference when the weather hit. According to Vukson, Eldora reported severe weather south-east of Devil’s Thumb that hit around 1:15 p.m. that day.

“We believe the reason it didn’t come down on time is because it got caught in a blizzard with poor to poor visibility,” Vukson said.

However, the weather also hampered the search efforts, and search teams stopped looking for Hall on Monday.

Happy, the dog that missing Arvada man Josh Hall took while hiking in Boulder County on February 3, 2021, was found alive on the Peak to Peak Highway on Thursday, February 11, 2021.  (Boulder County Sheriff's Office / Courtesy Photo)Happy, the dog that missing Arvada man Josh Hall took while hiking in Boulder County on February 3, 2021, was found alive on the Peak to Peak Highway on Thursday, February 11, 2021. (Boulder County Sheriff’s Office / Courtesy Photo)

“It was hell, pure hell,” said Vukson, who said other members of Hall’s family had flown in to be closer to the search. “This is my kid, it doesn’t matter if he’s 4 or 27, it was very difficult.”

However, shortly after Thursday noon, Vukson received a call from a Fort Collins woman who said she had driven around and found Happy at the 40-mile marker from Peak to Peak Highway south of Ward and called Vukson’s number on his label.

Vukson said Happy was hungry but was otherwise in good health.

“He’s lost at least 10 pounds, but otherwise he’s fine, he’s got no frostbite or anything,” said Vukson.

Boulder County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Haverfield said rescue officials are now debating what finding Happy means to the search and what clues there might be as to Hall’s whereabouts.

The peak-to-peak highway is miles from Hall’s last known location, and as time has passed, Haverfield said it was possible the dog could have walked quite a long way during that time.

But Vukson said Happy, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was Hall’s trusted hiking partner, and although he was known to be temporarily distracted, she didn’t think the dog would leave Hall for very long.

“He had his own ideas, and Josh kept him on a leash sometimes,” Vukson said. “There were times when Happy hunted some kind of squirrel, rabbit or bird, but they also stuck together.”

More importantly, however, finding Happy Alive Hall’s family gave hope that he was still alive.

“It really costs like a miracle,” said Vukson. “We are happy that we found him, it renews our hope. It gives us hope that if Happy survived, Josh did too. “

Vukson says Hall is a seasoned hiker and avid nature lover, and his love of the outdoors was one of the reasons he moved her from Virginia to Colorado with her in June.

“His goal is always to go out and do the bigger hikes,” said Vukson. “He loves the view. Hiking was his therapy, his ability to enjoy life and deal with all the things the world had to bring. “

Vukson said she is grateful for the work the sheriff’s office, Rocky Mountain Rescue, and other groups have done, and hopes that Happy’s recovery will move her to continue the search.

Vukson also asked any winter walkers who were out on the lookout for signs of Hall.

“Just keep your eyes peeled if you are a winter hiker please be aware,” said Vukson, but added, “I want to find my son, but I don’t want people who have no experience to themselves put in danger. ”

Vukson said even supporting news and posts and spreading information about Hall helped them.

“The people gave us tremendous support,” she said. “Just let the prayers come.”

At the moment, Vukson said that she and her family hope that finding happiness is a sign of good things to come.

“This renewed my hope that maybe Josh did it and I would give anything to make it happen,” she said. “It’s been a terrible, terrible week, but that gave us some level of comfort that Josh may survive.”

Anyone with any information is encouraged to call Boulder County at 303-441-4444. Hall may have been wearing a green khaki jacket, dark hat, or a gray or green backpack.