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Volunteers plan one final day for Uintas search

Volunteer searchers scour an area of the Uinta Mountains for missing hiker Ray Humpherys on July 21, 2018. (Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL)

KAMAS — Organizers of a volunteer effort to find a missing backpacker in the Uinta Mountains expect Monday to be their final day on the mountain.

The Garrett Bardsley Foundation continues to plead for assistance as it nears the end of the mission to find Ray Humpherys.

Organizers said about 350 people turned up on Sunday to help look for Humpherys. That was many more than the roughly 100 who showed up on Saturday.

Humpherys, 66, vanished on Wednesday night while camped at Hidden Lake north of Mount Watson. He had hiked into the lake with a large group of family members earlier that day.

The family told the Summit County Sheriff’s Office that he went to retrieve water in order to douse a campfire at about 10:30 p.m. Nobody realized he was missing until the following morning.

The Bardsley Foundation started performing grid searches of nearby areas with volunteers on Saturday and continued that effort on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office has been conducting a law enforcement search and rescue mission. That has included using dogs, a dive team and aircraft.

The wait has been an ordeal for Humpherys’ family. Two of his daughters spoke to KSL on Sunday.

“It’s been really hard on me. It’s been hard on my sister and my mom because he’s just an amazing person,” Humphery’s daughter Melanie Decker said.

Many of the family members who were part of the original camping trip have remained on the mountain throughout the search. They had originally planned to return on Friday.

“There’s no trace. Like, no one’s finding any trace so either he just keeps walking or he’s injured,” Decker said. “You think of all these things that go through your head, I mean the worst scenarios, and you just don’t know.”

Humpherys came from a large family with nine siblings. Many of his extended family members have made the drive up to the Crystal Lake Trailhead in order to lend support and take part in the volunteer search effort.

“I hope that the searchers don’t lose hope and they’ll just keep going and not give up and they’ll just be there in my place,” Decker said. She is pregnant and not able to endure the physical demands of the search.

Another of Humpherys’ daughters, Michaelle Burnett, recently gave birth herself. She called her dad the greatest father and grandfather.

Humpherys works as a P.E. teacher at Eaglecrest Elementary School in Lehi. He previously taught 4th grade at South Kearns Elementary School.

“Everybody loves Mr. Humpherys,” Burnett said.

The family has turned to faith for support, with ongoing fasting and prayers. Humpherys is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Burnett said leaders of their LDS ward encouraged members to volunteer for the search on Sunday.

“We don’t know if it’s what God’s will is but yes, I want him to come back and I am hopeful for sure,” Burnett said.