By Axie Navas
Search and rescue teams located the 28-year-old missing hiker on Thursday about 2:30 p.m. near Middle Velma Lake.
Nathan Spearing, who suffered nothing more than wet feet, said he camped near Lower Velma Lake on Monday when he awoke to 6 inches of fresh snow. When he saw blue sky around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, he packed up his gear, headed out of the wilderness and met up with rescuers about four hours later.
Spearing left Friday around noon from the Eagle Falls trailhead in Emerald Bay. According to El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Damian Frisby, Spearing was hiking alone and planned to return on Tuesday.
On Tuesday night, the sheriff’s office received a call from one of Spearing’s roommates advising them that Spearing had still not returned. Search and rescue teams were dispatched early the next morning to search for him, Frisby said.
On Thursday, California Emergency Management Agency forces augmented search efforts along with a California Army National Guard helicopter and two helicopters from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol.
“When it comes down to it, you have to look in every nook and cranny. We’ve covered a lot of ground by air, but there’s still a lot more to cover,” Frisby said Tuesday about 12:30 p.m.
Rachel Barker, a friend of Spearing, said she was the last person to see him before he entered the wilderness on Friday. She said he arrived in Tahoe City about two weeks ago from Alaska where he had guide experience.
“He spent a lot of time in the woods in Alaska. So when he decided to go hiking alone, it wasn’t anything out of the norm,” Barker said.
Spearing said he had enough food and fuel to survive and that he’s very thankful of all the efforts of the search and rescue crews.
The search for Spearing was conducted with personnel and equipment from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit with the assistance of: Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, Tahoe Back Country Ski Patrol, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, Monterey Mountain Rescue, California Rescue Dog Association, Placer County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Alpine County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Amador County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. Sixty personnel signed in on Thursday for the search and rescue efforts according to El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff Greg Almos.