PAGOSA SPRINGS, CO – A tragic turn of events unfolded last week as a Colorado hiker, missing since August, was found dead with his faithful canine companion alive and by his side, as confirmed by officials.
The 71-year-old Pagosa Springs resident, Rich Moore, and his dog set off on a hiking adventure to Blackhead Peak, a mountain situated east of his residence, on August 19. Their journey ended in mystery as Moore failed to return, sparking a search operation by Taos Search and Rescue (TSR).
Search teams, airlifted to a point near the mountain peak, commenced their search for Moore, moving west towards the trailhead where Moore’s car was discovered. Despite their exhaustive efforts, they were unable to locate him.
A hunter in the Rio Blanco drainage area, about 2.5 miles east of the peak, made the grim discovery of Moore’s body on October 30. This was reported by the Denver Gazette, referencing the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office. Moore’s white Jack Russell terrier, Finney, was found alive, faithfully by Moore’s side.
TSR member Delinda Vanne-Brightyn, who was part of the initial search for Moore with her certified search dog, shared her experience on the TSR’s Facebook page. She described the challenging terrain and the fact that Moore was found beneath their initial drop point.
The sheriff’s office has yet to determine Moore’s cause of death. In the meantime, Finney was taken to a vet and has since been reunited with Moore’s family.
Blackhead Peak, standing at an elevation of 12,500 feet, marks the western boundary of the South San Juan Wilderness in Archuleta County.