November 21, 2023 451 PM
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK — On Friday, search and rescue personnel found a woman who had gone missing from the Lost Mine Trail on November 9. Twenty-five-year-old Christy Perry of Houston was found “awake and talking” about a quarter mile below the end of the trail, surviving just over a week in the rugged Chisos Mountains.
Early in the search, park personnel had little information to go on. Perry picked up a rental car in Midland on November 9 and headed toward the park. Her vehicle was last seen at the trailhead later that day, but she never showed up for her nearby camping reservation that evening.
After the weekend came and went, Perry’s family notified the park that she had never returned from her trip. A formal search was initiated on Wednesday, November 15, and park officials closed the trail to the public while they worked.
Last week’s search and rescue personnel spanned multiple agencies: the National Park Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Los Diablos fire crew — made up of Mexican nationals from the small villages bordering the park — also lent their strength and expertise.
On Friday, Perry was found alive around 9:30 a.m. Rescuers helped her down the trail and to a helicopter, where she was transported to a hospital in Odessa for medical treatment. At press time, it was unclear whether or not she had returned home.
The Lost Mine Trail is one of the national park’s most popular hikes. The roughly 5-mile out-and-back route rises 1,100 feet through the thick juniper and piñon forest of the Chisos Mountains, offering visitors some of the best views in the park.
Though the trail is well-marked and well-traveled, conditions were wet and extremely foggy in the Chisos on the day Perry went missing. The Park Service said that she survived on rainwater and had no food with her when she left the trail.
Tom VandenBerg, the park’s chief of interpretation, said that injuries along the trail were far more common than cases like Perry’s. “Surprisingly, Big Bend doesn’t have too many actual missing hikers,” he said.
Search and rescue teams are deployed a few times a year to help locate missing and injured hikers. VandenBerg said that the last major multi-day search and rescue effort the park undertook was the disappearance of Hector Flores and his daughter in 2022, which spanned nine days before the pair were found alive.
VandenBerg said that the park offers lots of materials to visitors online and in person to help them safely enjoy their time in Big Bend. His top tip was to let friends and family know about your plans before visiting the park or taking a hike. “Notify someone when you head out,” he said. “Let them know where you’re going and when you expect to return.”