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Memorial Hike On Friday, August 15

This postcard was written by Joe's hiking companion just after their August 15 hike to Flattop, before it became obvious something potentially awful had occurred. Photo credit: Roland Halpern collection

This postcard was written by Joe’s hiking companion just after their August 15 hike to Flattop, before it became obvious something potentially awful had occurred. Photo credit: Roland Halpern collection

On August 15, 1933, the young University of Chicago college student Joe Halpern disappeared while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. His hiking companion left him just south of the Flattop Mountain summit around 2:30 p.m., and they agreed to meet later that afternoon in the Bear Lake parking lot.

When Joe Halpern hadn’t returned by 10:30 p.m., a massive manhunt was organized, lasting six nights and five days. Lacking any clues or additional eyewitnesses, and deciding that it was impossible for him to survive the elements that long, the chief ranger and park superintendent called off the active search on August 21. Joe’s parents returned to Illinois, always hopeful that, at the very least, their son’s remains would someday be found.

Because Joe’s disappearance remains a mystery to this day, and because over the years competing theories have emerged as to what might have happened on Flattop the afternoon of August 15, the Estes Park Archives has organized a memorial hike on the anniversary of Joe’s fateful outing, beginning from the Bear Lake parking lot this Friday, August 15, to at least approximate the hours of daylight and potential snow burden on various peaks existing 81 years ago.

All active hikers are encouraged to participate in this memorial event, either by joining the main group at 7:30 a.m. next Friday near the ranger station at the Bear Lake parking lot, or by meeting up with the group at the summit of Flattop around 10:00 a.m., where a short 10-minute talk will introduce the limited, mostly conflicting evidence gathered in 1933, and bring up some of the challenges of conducting an ongoing investigation into locating Joe Halpern, either dead or (somehow still miraculously) alive. Participants who wish to end their adventure at this point should be back at Bear Lake by noon, where a sack lunch will be provided.

In the event of bad weather, the event will be rescheduled for the following day. Except for admission into Rocky Mountain National Park, the hike and sack lunch is free. For additional details, or to reserve your spot, call the Estes Park Archives at 586-6333.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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