A search and rescue effort ended successfully Aug. 17 when Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Shawn Tripp located Gloria Albright, who had been missing since Aug. 13, forest officials said Friday.
Albright became disorientated in the Little Belt Mountains in the Judith-Musselshell Ranger District and was found about 3 miles from where she had first gone missing.
“It took a village to have this successful ending,” Tripp said in a news release. “So many folks assisted in this search and rescue operation and our hope in sharing this story is to help folks understand what to do if they find themselves lost in the forest.”
Wheatland County Sheriff Everett Misner posted on his department’s Facebook page that Albright told him she had become separated on the trail from her husband. She came to a meadow, then made a wrong turn in the opposite direction of Jellison Campground, where they had camped earlier. She fell on the trail, injured her knee and continued downhill as best she could in hopes of getting out of the timber before dark, Misner said. She spent the next two days deprived of sleep as well as water and became delusional, he said.
During the late evening hours on the day before she was found, she saw a search helicopter fly over and had removed her pants in hopes of gaining their attention, Misner wrote.
“She placed them on a stick and began to wave them," he wrote. "This caused a new concern and she thought, ‘What if they were to land before I got my pants on?’”
Albright found water in a stock tank and that kept her alive as she was in need of hydration to the point her tongue had swelled. She made an attempt at making a crude wooden “HELP” sign and lay in the open grass in hopes that a helicopter would arrive that morning to find her, Misner wrote.
She soon heard an engine running in the distance, Misner wrote. She then saw a “’very large man on a four-wheeler’ coming towards her.”
“This is when Gloria and Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Shawn Tripp became acquainted,” the sheriff wrote. “She described him as a very big man to hug.”
“Any of us who know Shawn would understand that her analogy would be quite correct,” Misner wrote.
He said Albright’s advice to fellow hikers is “Don’t make bad decisions, don’t get off of the trail, know the country you are in and understand directions by the sun and the moon.”
The forest service said people visiting the forest should carry 10 essential items. They include navigation, headlamp, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water and extra clothing.
People who are lost are urged to remain calm and stay in place if you are safe to do so. Stay on marked designated routes, do not leave the trail to take a “short cut” and maintain a positive mental attitude. Visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/if-you-get-lost for more information on what to do if you get lost in the forest.