Search and Rescue Teams Continue Combing the Mountains in Northern N.H. for Missing Hiker, 20

Emily Sotelo, a 19-year-old hiker who went missing on a hike in New Hampshire on sunday and is now the subject of a massive search operation
Emily Sotelo, a 19-year-old hiker who went missing on a hike in New Hampshire on sunday and is now the subject of a massive search operation

NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division

Search and rescue crews in northern New Hampshire have spent the past two days combing Mount Lafayette, Mount Haystack and Mount Flume for Emily Sotelo, who failed to return from a hike in the wilderness area hit with high winds and frigid temperatures on Sunday.

An experienced hiker, Sotelo, according to media reports, was dropped off at a trailhead near the Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia, New Hampshire, around 5 a.m. on Nov. 20 by her mother, who watched her head off on her trek.

Described — on the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Facebook page — as 5 feet, 3 inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes, and weighing 115 pounds, Sotelo (who turns 20 on Wednesday) was wearing a brown jacket and exercise pants, and was carrying very little water, food or lighting equipment.

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Temperatures along the ridge she is believed to have been hiking on dropped to 0 degrees on Sunday, with winds ranging between 30 and 40 miles per hour.

"She was wearing sneakers, potentially some wind pants, not really ready for what the temperatures are right now," Charlie Stewart, with the all-volunteer Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue group, told WGME-TV.

The Westford, Massachusetts, resident, who was staying in a local hotel with her mother for the past week, had little winter hiking experience but had numerous treks planned in the area's wilderness over the holiday week, according to WMUR-TV.

While those who know the area say that the route she was taking can easily be hiked in a day, the cold weather and other conditions are concerning.

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"It [Sotelo's route] certainly can be done in a day," Fish and Game Capt. Michael Eastman told WMUR-TV. "A hiker in good shape can probably do it in no time in summer conditions, but the conditions we had yesterday — high winds, temperatures, varied conditions — you have, in the higher elevations, snow up to your chest."

Over 60 search and rescue personnel — along with a Blackhawk helicopter when the weather permits — have participated in the two-day operation, but have yet to locate Sotelo, whose birthday is Wednesday.

Calls to the New Hampshire Fish and Game by PEOPLE were not immediately returned.

Search and rescue officials are asking anyone who has information or who might have seen Sotelo along the route to call New Hampshire Fish and Game at 603-271-3361.