Rescued hikers talk about being stranded in snow storm

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Hikers open up after rescue
azfamily.com

UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 17 -- News release from Coconino County Sheriff's Office

Flagstaff -- Kira Runtzel, 21and John Mizell, 26, both of Tucson, were located in their 1980 Volvo Station Wagon North West of Bear Canyon Lake on Wednesday December 17, 2008 at 12:45 a.m. Both were reported to be in good health and did not require any medical attention. The two were taken out of the area by Coconino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue personnel and driven to Payson Arizona. John and Kira will return to their homes in Tucson Arizona later today.

On Thursday December 11, 2008 U.S. Forest Service personnel made contact with the two hikers at a trail head located North West of Bear Canyon Lake. It was at this time that John and Kira expressed their intent to hike to Promontory Butte and return home on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon with news of the impending storm a Coconino County Sheriff's Deputy and U.S. Forest Service personnel returned to Bear Canyon Lake to discover John and Kira's vehicle was still in its parking spot and unattended. On Tuesday Forest Service personnel made contact with John Mizell's roommate and learned that the two had not returned home. The coordinator of the Coconino County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Unit was contacted on Tuesday afternoon.

Due to the remote area and the extremely heavy snow fall Bear Canyon Lake could not be accessed by conventional vehicles. Search and Rescue personnel drove into the area in a snow cat and reached the vehicle at 12:45 this morning. According to John Mizell, he and Kira Runtzel hiked to their vehicle on Monday evening. Due to the heavy snow that was waste deep the two could not drive out or hike out. Their intention was to wait out the storm and either hope to be rescued or to hike out.

ORIGINAL STORY

TUCSON - Rescue teams are searching for two hikers from Tucson who have not been since Thursday.

Coconino County and Gila County are helping search for John Mizell, 26, and Kira Runtzel, 21.

The couple reportedly drove to the Bear Canyon Lake area on Thursday and had plans to go hiking Friday morning. They went backpacking in Promontory Butte, which is just off the Mogollon Rim.

They are both experienced hikers but authorities think they are stuck somewhere in the deep mountain snow. They were camping in a popular area near Forest Lakes on Highway 260 on the Coconino-Gila County line. That area is under more than a foot of snow.

Forest Services noticed the vehicle unattended for several days and contacted Tucson Police on Sunday.Officers went to the address listed for the owner of the vehicle and spoke to a roommate, who filled police in on the couple's plans.The couple was supposed to return home on Sunday.

Mizell is described as a white male standing 5'6" and weighing about 120 pounds. He has brown eyes and brown hair. Runtzel of Tucson is about 5'5" tall and weighs about 127 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. They were driving a 1980 brown Volvo station wagon with Arizona license plates.

They reportedly had three days of provisions and are both experienced hikers.Officials are concerned because of weather conditions and the fact that they are overdue.