Brothers find missing hiker lost for 5 weeks


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A faint sound made Albert and Peter
Kottke stop and look around as they hiked out of the Gila
Wilderness at the end of backpacking trip.

A figure moved on the other side of the Gila River. As it drew
closer, the two university students saw a woman, hunched over and
moving slowly.

The Kottkes crossed the river to find Carolyn Dorn, 52, who had
been alone in the Gila National Forest for five weeks after
becoming trapped on the wrong side of the rain- and snow-swollen

The search for her had been called off two weeks ago.

The brothers said they realized Dorn was too weak to go with

They gave her food — Tang, almonds, dried apples, an energy
bar, some hot soup and a little cheese — scavenged firewood for her
from the other side of the river, filled her water bottles and left
her a book — suspense author Michael Connelly's ``Chasing the

They hiked 20 miles over the next day and a half, and on
Saturday hitchhiked into Silver City, where they contacted

``We got her prepared to spend another couple of nights while we
went upstream to get help,'' Albert Kottke, 25, a doctoral student
in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, said
Sunday from his parents' home in St. Paul, Minn.

A New Mexico National Guard helicopter crew, using night vision
goggles and a U.S. Geological Survey map the Kottke brothers
marked, rescued the weak and dehydrated South Carolina woman before
dawn Sunday and flew her to Silver City.

``It is a miracle she came out alive,'' said search and rescue
coordinator Frankie Benoist.

Dorn was about six miles from the nearest road in an area where
the brothers, who have hiked in the region several times over the
past two years, had never seen another human being, said Peter
Kottke, whose 20th birthday was Sunday.

When they left, she was ``very alert, talkative,'' said Peter
Kottke, a junior geological engineering major at the University of
Wisconsin at Madison. ``She seemed very relieved that somebody had
finally found her.''

Dorn told the brothers she was warm enough at night, but her
eyes lit up when they offered her the book, he said.

He felt
comfortable leaving her after that because ``you could tell she had
a positive outlook,'' he said.

Temperatures in the area have dropped into the low teens
overnight in recent weeks, according to the National Weather

Dorn was hospitalized Sunday in Silver City, Benoist said. A
nursing supervisor at Gila Regional Medical Center said she could
not confirm information about patients.

``I'm just happy we were able to find her in time and had the
luck to change our plans at the last minute to take the longer
route,'' said Peter Kottke.

Dorn, who left for a two-week camping trip Dec. 6, had a tent, a
sleeping bag and enough food and water for two weeks.

After that,
she drank from the river, kept warm by building fires and ``used
very little energy,'' Benoist said.

Her car was spotted 2 weeks after she left.

Benoist said her
group conducted an intensive search, ``but we never considered that
she traveled so far.''

Rescuers told them she was severely hypothermic when found
because that night was cold and windy, but that she was perking up
and eating breakfast and seemed to be doing well.

``It was luck that we took a longer route and went by her
campsite and it was luck that she saw us and called out to us,''
Albert Kottke said. ``If I'm in a similar position someday I hope
people will be there.''