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Kalispell, MT—The two hikers from Virginia missing since Friday in the Glacier National Park have been found alive, the park reports.
Neal Peckens of northern Virginia and Jason Hiser, a veterinarian practicing at the Broad Street Veterinary Hospital in Richmond, both 32, embarked on a recreational trip in the park Tuesday.
Park officials say the two started hiking form the North Shore Trailhead at Two Medicin on Tuesday, with the intention of returning to Two Medicine on Wednesday for day hiking.
According to Neal Peckens' mother Cathy Peckens, Neal slipped into a ravine while the men were hiking on the Continental Divide trail, and the rough weather conditions prevented him from being able to climb out.
Both men were walking parallel to each other, and eventually, Jason Hiser also slipped into the ravine. They decided to make camp in the ravine, and wait for rescuers.
Hiser and Peckens spent three nights in the ravine, battling the severe winter weather conditions. A mixture of rain and snow prevented their attempts to build a fire.
Cathy Peckens says her son and Jason Hiser rationed a Clif Energy Bar, eating only one quarter at a time until rescuers arrived. The men say they could hear—but not see—rescue helicopters most of the time they were in the ravine.
Their vehicle was found late Friday evening, as wintry conditions worsened in the park. The search for the missing hikers started on Saturday.
Fifty people joined the search for the men, and family, friends and coworkers of Hiser prayed for his return.
Sandy Hiser, mother of Jason Hiser, told Washington D.C. ABC affiliate WJLA that she talked with her son Monday evening. She says the men are expected to return home sometime Tuesday.
"They're fine," she said. "Of course they're tired, they're exhausted, but they're fine."
Tracy Crews, a co-worker of Hiser's at Broad Street Veterinary Hospital expressed a steely hope that he would return to 8News on Monday. "We need him back, and we want him back and he is going to come home, and we know that."
Park Spokeswoman Denis Germann says searchers encountered 18 inches of snow on the trail as they searched for the men.
The weather also prevented aerial searches for the hikers.
An update was posted to the Glacier National Park website on Monday evening, announcing that both Peckens and Hiser had been found.
"The two missing hikers, Neal Peckens and Jason Hiser, have been located!" the post read. "Initial information indicates they are well and will be returning to their families! Yeah!"
8News will continue to follow the progress of the hikers as the return to their homes…stay with us for updates.