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Family Searches For Answers As High Country Search Continues

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A photo of the search effort, provided by emergency crews in Chaffee County (credit: Chaffee County Sheriff)

A photo of the search effort, provided by emergency crews in Chaffee County (credit: Chaffee County Sheriff)

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CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Search teams are out in masses in a mountainous region in Chaffee County as family members of a father and daughter who went missing grow more and more concerned.

“They’re no clarity as to where they are or what happened. Even just an answer would be nice at this point,” said Nicole Box, a cousin of Makana Gortler.

Makana and her father Dr. Michael Von Gortler planned to go on a hike at the Missouri Gulch Trail last week and had planned to be back in their hometown of Boulder on June 24. Deputies initiated a search when no one had heard from them by Monday.

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Makana von Gortler and Dr. Michael Von Gortler (credit: CBS)

The Colorado Army National Guard is assisting with the search, which includes 40 people on the ground, six search dogs and three helicopters.

Family members are hoping the pair just got stuck somewhere on the trail. The two had already done multiple hikes together, including a previous one in the Missouri Gulch area. This trip was to include a summit of the 14,067-foot Missouri Mountain.

“They are experts, and Mike is really well versed in plants you can’t eat and how to drink water that is not contaminated with giardia,” Box said. “(They know) different survival tactics that ordinary people that climb fourteeners wouldn’t know.”

Friends and family told CBS4 Dr. Gortler is known for hiking off the beaten path and taking risks, but that he is always prepared when he goes on a hike.

“They both had walking sticks, They had everything. They had compasses, you name it … a plethora. Anything you’d need in an emergency situation,” said Suzanne Kutz, Makana’s aunt.

Makana is studying to be a nurse at the University of Colorado and her father is a traveling ER physician. They had just attended the Telluride Bluegrass Festival prior to going missing on the trail.

Officials say the search effort could continue for several more days.

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