A hiker and his three young children have made it to safety in southwest Colorado after two nights spent lost in the wilderness. Volunteers in the Weminuche area spent hours searching for Dustin Beaver, 33, his 8-year-old son and daughter, and 6-year-old son, after they failed to return from a hike on Saturday. They were reported missing Sunday night by Beaver's wife when she found her husband's car still parked at the Cave Basin trailhead, reports the Durango Herald. With no sign of the family by late Monday—save for footprints and the smell of a campfire—the La Plata County Search and Rescue called in several helicopters. "They were literally less than 30 minutes from launch," an official tells the Herald. Then came "the best news in the world."
With help from an Arizona family, Beaver and his children had reached the Pine River trailhead, well outside the search area and in "almost the opposite direction" that the family had been heading on Saturday, an official says. Beaver, who'd planned to take the kids to Dollar Lake, told police that he followed directions from a fellow hiker that took him in the entirely wrong direction, per KDVR. The family wandered for two days—with food, water, and a tent for shelter—before meeting up with the group that took them down the mountain. Police say they returned "in good condition" around 8pm complaining only of numerous bug bites. A La Plata County official adds Beaver's wife cried "tears of joy" when she heard the family was found.