Teenage hiker disappears on New Hampshire trail in frigid -30F weather

A Massachusetts teenager has gone missing in freezing temperatures after setting out to hike three mountains in New Hampshire.

Emily Sotelo, 19, was last seen by her mother at around 5am on Sunday when she dropped her off at a trailhead leading to Mount Lafayette, Haystack, and Flume in Franconia, New Hampshire.

Sotelo, according to her parents, had planned to hike various trails in the area but was not dressed for the frigid cold weather that quickly followed her departure.

Temperatures dropped to ‘about zero’, with windspeeds making the chill factor -30 degrees Fahrenheit, officials with the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team said Sunday evening.

Emily Sotelo's parents told WMUR that she does not have much experience with winter hiking

Emily Sotelo’s parents told WMUR that she does not have much experience with winter hiking 

Mount Lafayette reaches a 5,260 foot peak and its surround trail was rated 'difficult' by 4000Footers.com

Mount Lafayette reaches a 5,260 foot peak and its surround trail was rated ‘difficult’ by 4000Footers.com

Search teams were out in the area Sunday and Monday searching for Emily in the bitter cold

Search teams were out in the area Sunday and Monday searching for Emily in the bitter cold 

‘Pemi has three teams out tonight looking for this missing hiker’ the search team said in a post on Facebook.

On Monday, officials spoke with WMUR and said that number has now increased to 18 as the search becomes more serious.

Mount Lafayette’s trail has a ‘difficult’ rating and goes as high as 5,260 feet, according to 4000Footers.com.

The mountain is also part of a loop that spans several miles and summits Mount Lincoln and Little Haystack Mountain, which Emily was expected to hike.

‘Her mother watched her start hiking up the trail, so we know that,’ said Charlie Stewart with Pemi Valley Search and Rescue. ‘We departed from that area, and we have an idea what her itinerary was.’

The National Guard has also brought in a helicopter to search for the missing hiker.

‘For us, we’re doing drainages. We’re going up the rivers and streams that come down,’ said Stewart.

‘We’ll follow them up until we get close to the ridge and then cut over and come down another one,’ he continued.

Mount Lafayette can become extremely treacherous during the winter as temperatures drop and snow accumulates

Mount Lafayette can become extremely treacherous during the winter as temperatures drop and snow accumulates 

The hike Sotelo set out on is a loop that contains Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln, Mount Haystack and Mount Flume

The hike Sotelo set out on is a loop that contains Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln, Mount Haystack and Mount Flume 

This is the photo of Emily Sotelo that was released by New Hampshire officials in the search for the missing 19-year-old hiker

This is the photo of Emily Sotelo that was released by New Hampshire officials in the search for the missing 19-year-old hiker 

Emily’s parents told WMUR that their daughter is an experienced hiker overall but does not have much experience with winter hiking.

Stewart added that the young girl had not been dressed for the cold weather.

‘She was wearing sneakers and potentially some wind pants, not really ready for what the temperatures are right now,’ he said.

Emily, who turns 20 on Wednesday, was last seen wearing a brown jacket, exercise pants, and sneakers.

She is described as 5’3, 115 lbs, brown hair, blue eyes. Fellow hikers have also joined the search for the 19-year-old.

‘From what they say, I’m going to be taking pretty much the same route that she was planning to take,’ said hiker, Andrew Azorian, of Merrimack

‘So, I’m definitely going to keep my eyes out and be vigilant,’ Azorian said.

Emily was last seen around 5am at the Mount Lafayette trailhead in Franconia, New Hampshire

Emily was last seen around 5am at the Mount Lafayette trailhead in Franconia, New Hampshire

18 search and rescue teams were out Monday searching for Emily after just three were initially dispatched

18 search and rescue teams were out Monday searching for Emily after just three were initially dispatched 

Search and rescue efforts are ongoing at this time.

Pemi Valley Search officials told the local news station they plan to continue searching all day and into the night if needed.

Anyone who has information or who might have seen Sotelo is being asked to call the New Hampshire Fish and Game at 603-271-3361.


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