Hiker gives grueling details of search for missing women

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Volunteers are recounting the month-long story of the search for the second woman missing at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Jo Elliot-Blakeslee's body was spotted by a helicopter pilot Tuesday about a mile away from where the body of her hiking partner, Amy Linkert, was found weeks ago. The two were reported missing on September 24th.

Search and rescue volunteers say they're not surprised it took so long to find Elliot-Blakeslee because of the harsh conditions crews dealt with in the search.

"There were cracks out there in the ground so big you couldn't walk across them," explained Dan Paulsen, a volunteer who helped search for the women, "They were so deep, and it kind of took your breath away to walk up to the edge. There was nothing consistent. It was very difficult terrain."

Paulsen says when he heard that the women were missing, he knew he had to help. He says he spent around 60 hours searching and covered about 200 miles of Craters of the Moon. He's an avid hiker but says the search was very trying.

"After a few days I realized I've never been in any terrain like this before," Paulsen said, "Once you got off the trails and on the lava flow, there was never any good footing. You were constantly walking with your toes jamming into the front of your boots or off to the side. You're climbing through things that are so sharp it sounded like glass plates when you walked on it. It was very unstable and difficult to walk across fields of that."

But Paulsen says despite the rough terrain, his desire to help find the women gave him strength.

"The times that I was out there and I was feeling hurt and I was feeling sore," he said, "It just made my little aches and pains feel like nothing. It kept me going."

Paulsen says it was all worthwhile when Elliot-Blakeslee was found on Tuesday.

"I was so happy and and the family was very happy," he said, "we touched bases about it, and they were very appreciative, and they were able to kind of close this chapter and move on to the next stage."