(NEW YORK) — The search for two hikers missing in Glacier National Park is expected to continue on Monday after a weekend of challenging winter weather.
Neal Peckens, 32, of Virginia and his college friend, Jason Hiser, 32, of Maryland, were reported missing by their families on Friday after they did not board a scheduled flight home from Montana.
The friends, who met 10 years ago in veterinary school at Virginia Tech, are experienced hikers, Hiser’s mother, Sandy, told ABCNews.com.
“They’re both in very good physical condition,” she said. “They’re both intelligent young men, just lost. We’re hoping for the best.”
Park officials said the two men had a back country permit to hike the North Shore Trailhead at Two Medicine on Tuesday. Peckens and Hiser planned to camp overnight and return from the 17-mile loop on Wednesday, and then go on a day hike on Thursday.
Over the weekend, search crews had to battle wintery weather, including up to 18 inches of snow on trails, winds and snow drifts.
Aerial operations were also limited due to wind and low visibility, said Glacier National Park spokesperson Denise Germann.
On Sunday, search personnel found a used fire ring and tracks that they believe may be related to the hikers. The clues were found in Nyack Drainage, an area that contains dense and treacherous terrain, Germann said.
Search crews will have to contend with more difficult weather on Monday. The National Weather Service is forecasting highs in the mid-50s to low 60s today with a near 100 percent chance of rain. Winds are expected to move southwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts reaching as high as 40 mph.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire