Campsite of missing hiker discovered near Holy Cross | VailDaily.com

Campsite of missing hiker discovered near Holy Cross

Edward Stoner
estoner@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Authorities said they have found the campsite of missing hiker James Nelson, who disappeared in October 2010 during a planned five-day hike in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

Human remains were found near the campsite, said Jessie Mosher, with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators plan to return to the site to search for additional remains.

Mosher said the campsite was just 50 feet off the Holy Cross jeep road near the abandoned mining camp Holy Cross City. A local resident came across the site Friday while scouting campsites and notified authorities.

Investigators found camping and hiking gear that matched descriptions given to police by Nelson’s fiancee after he went missing, Mosher said. They also found credit cards with Nelson’s name on them, she said.

Writings in a journal found at the site indicated that Nelson suffered from altitude sickness, police said.

Nelson, 31, of Chicago, set out Oct. 3, 2010, for a five-day, 25-mile hike in the Holy Cross Wilderness. His fiancee reported him missing Oct. 8. Over four days, 116 people searched for more than 1,000 hours for Nelson.

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Nelson had planned to start his hike at Half Moon campground, follow Fall Creek Trail past Lake Constantine and go over Fall Creek Pass and past Holy Cross City. Nelson then planned to hike Fancy Pass Trail over Fancy Pass and continue downstream along Cross Creek Trail. Nelson had intended to hike up East Cross Creek and then follow Half Moon Pass trail back to the parking lot.

The campsite found Friday was a bit off of Nelson’s planned route. It was not up the jeep road toward Holy Cross City, where Nelson intended to go, according to investigators, but rather down the jeep road toward Homestake Road.

The Holy Cross jeep road is well-traveled in summer by jeeps, all-terrain vehicles and hikers, but the campsite was obscured from the road by a rock outcropping, Mosher said. Police added that some of Nelson’s gear, including a camera, GPS unit and a camp stove, was missing from the site.

The human remains have been turned over to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office for identification.

Managing Editor Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.