Morning came and it seemed like winter with all of the frozen hail covering the ground. Half of the group had been up by the fire since 2:00 AM after the rain had stopped because there was so much water that it had just flowed right under a lot of the tents and soaked their sleeping bags.
Me and 3 other leaders took off first thing to go back out and search for him. We left instructions with 2 of the boys to hike out to the trail head if they hadn't heard anything by 10:00. Two of the leaders went all the way to the lake hollering for him all the way.
the other leader and me went most of the way out but spent time searching below cliffs and possible spots he could have fallen. We returned to camp pretty exhausted by about 4 o'clock having found nothing.
They were able to contact a ranger already in the back country that had been camped about 5 miles away and had packed up camp and moved to where we were after being called. He had a radio so now we had outside communication. A helicopter came in and searched for a while until it got low on fuel and didn't turn up anything.
It was getting late and the 2 boys that had gone to the trail head hadn't returned. One of the boys and I headed back down the trail to meet them. We weren't sure if they had flashlights . The ranger had held them quite a while in case they had questions so they were making the return trip later than expected. We were surprised to not run into them right away and the farther we got the more worried we became. We couldn't just turn back without finding them and I was afraid we may have to go the full 7 miles to the trail head.
About halfway [3 1/2 miles in] we passed a fork that they could have taken. I started to notice 2 different shoe prints in the trail that I hadn't seen before the fork. They matched about what I thought the boys were wearing. I went back to the fork and took the other trail for a ways and determined the same tracks had gone that way. I hadn't seen a map and didn't know the trails in the area but there was a sign that said welcome lake the way they had gone, and there was also a fork by our camp that said welcome lake so I knew it was possible to get back that way.
We hiked back to camp in the dark hoping to find them at camp. We got there and found them at camp in bed. Whew! for a while there I was worried about having 2 boys lost too. Somebody at the trail head had told them about the other route and they had decided to take it for a change of scenery.
Another 7 mile hike just before bedtime was just what I needed.