When This Dad Called Out For His Kid On A Hike, He Heard A Strange And Unfamiliar Voice Answer Back

When John Utsey and his two children went for a hike in the summer of 2020, he became separated from his oldest kid on the path. At that point, the dad called out to get her attention – only to be met by a mysterious voice. Utsey never would’ve guessed what that sound was ultimately leading him to.

So where were Utsey and his family at the time of this incident? Well, they’d been enjoying a stroll on the Winsor Trail, which can be found in New Mexico. The lengthy path is located within the Santa Fe National Forest, a popular spot for explorers in the area.

With that in mind, the Utsey clan were just like any other hikers as they took in their surroundings on the trail. John and his family are all keen campers, and they’re big fans of biking and geocaching, too. Something tells us that he loves the great outdoors!

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But that love of nature couldn’t prepare Utsey for what happened in the summer of 2020. Something was waiting for him and his family in the dark recesses of the New Mexican woods, catching their attention with a mysterious sound. From there, the group’s relaxing hike morphed into an unforgettable experience.

Utsey was 47 when he took to the trail that day, while his two kids were 12 and ten respectively. Their dad boasts a pretty fascinating background, as his career has gone through some big changes. For one, he’s a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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So what did Utsey do following his spell with the armed forces? Well, he earned a position at the National Center for Genome Resources, which is situated in Santa Fe. The veteran plied his trade as one of the facility’s data center managers, where he stayed for a decade and a half. That’s a lengthy stint!

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At that point, Utsey transitioned away from the research facility to another field. He moved into the world of education, to be precise. The dad-of-two scored a job at Santa Fe Prep back in 2013, and he’s been there ever since. As for his role, he holds the title of “Director of Technology.”

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Like we said, Utsey has a pretty broad range of experiences in his locker! So you’d think that he’d have no problems navigating the Winsor Trail with his kids. The path itself is just over 22 miles in length and stretches across some beautiful terrain. The forest is a truly stunning backdrop.

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But if you don’t like heights, we’d advise against tackling this trail in New Mexico. That’s because at its highest point, the winding path hits a peak of more than 11,000 feet. No, that’s not a typo! The lower spots aren’t much better either, reaching no lower than 7,000 feet.

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Despite that, though, the vast majority of hikers who take on this trail wouldn’t consider it to be a particularly tough journey. On the Hiking Project website, three-quarters of walkers voted the path as “intermediate” on the site’s scale. As for the other quarter, they deemed it to be “difficult.”

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So it’s safe to say that the Winsor Trail isn’t a cakewalk for everyone. But what about the forest itself? Is it worth visiting? We think so! If you love the sight of alpine trees, you’ll be spoiled for choice while wandering the area. But this idyllic spot does still harbor some dangers.

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For instance, a tragic story emerged back in the fall of 2013. The preceding month, a fireman named Token Adams had journeyed into Santa Fe National Forest to see if a blaze had broken out. He was a member of the United States Forest Service. And to traverse the landscape, Adams hopped aboard an all-terrain jeep.

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After driving into the forest at the end of August though, Adams failed to come back out. As a result of his disappearance, a massive search party was formed to find him. The CNN website reported that more than 200 individuals took part. But unfortunately none of them could locate the fireman over the next week.

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It didn’t look good, and those fears were confirmed on the eighth day. At that stage, Adams’ body was discovered in the woods. The New Mexico State Police told reporters that he might’ve been killed in an ATV accident. The U.S. Forest Service worker was just 41 at the time of his death.

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And sadly Adams isn’t the only person to lose their life in the picturesque area. Some 12 months later, a 70-something hiker named Audrey Richman Kaplan disappeared on the Winsor Trail in the summer of 2014. She was on the path with her partner, before they lost sight of each other.

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What were they doing on the trail? Well, the pair had their eyes on the mushrooms that grow in the forest, which was apparently one of Kaplan’s hobbies. Anyway, after she disappeared, a large group again came together to find her. One of those people was a woman named Judy Allison, who’d been a pal of Kaplan for many years.

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Allison reflected on the effort to locate Kaplan while speaking to the KERA News website in August 2014. She said, “We searched every conceivable place. It was over 300, maybe 350 people came out to volunteer to help and were all over those mountains looking for her.” That’s a massive endeavor, right?

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The search lasted for almost a week before Kaplan’s remains were discovered. The 75-year-old had apparently traveled over a mile from her last known position on the Winsor Trail, stopping just two miles from the Santa Fe ski basin. And Allison had been fearful for her friend’s safety prior to this incident.

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Allison believed that Kaplan’s untimely passing served as a warning to those who took the trail lightly. She explained, “The fact is that Audrey had been told many, many times by me and others that she dressed inappropriately and didn’t carry the appropriate gear for hiking in the mountains. So it wasn’t a surprise.”

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Keeping that in mind, you clearly need to be careful while navigating the Winsor Trail. And given what happened to Kaplan, we don’t blame John Utsey for showing some concern when his daughter left his line of sight in August 2020. But the veteran got more than he bargained for after shouting out to her.

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So what actually transpired on that fateful day? Well, to help set the scene, Utsey spoke to the KRQE website. He confirmed that his oldest had run ahead up the path, prompting his response. “I called her name and she didn’t call back to me,” the dad recalled. “So I called her name really loud.”

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“And then I heard [my daughter] yell back to me from way up around the corner,” Utsey continued. “I couldn’t see her, but she had gone the right way. Then, I heard somebody else answer from way off the trail.” That led to a bizarre 20 minutes, as the teacher engaged in a loud conversation with the mysterious voice.

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Utsey was trying to pinpoint the voice’s location in the forest, which caused him and his kids to take an unexpected detour. KRQE reported that the group went 600 yards away from the path and traversed a large slope. At that point, they finally found the source of the noise.

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Yes, Utsey’s clan saw a hiker in a really tough spot. Apparently, this poor man had been stuck in the Santa Fe National Forest for two whole weeks. We can’t imagine what he went through during that time! The veteran described the stricken hiker’s state in vivid detail, outlining where they found him.

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“[The hiker] was lying beside a creek. He couldn’t stand, he couldn’t move; he was delirious. So he wasn’t making much sense,” Utsey recalled. “His lips were all chapped to the point they were bleeding. His tongue was swollen; he was super gaunt and skinny. I was like, ‘This guy really needs help.’”

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Utsey offered up some more information about this dire situation during another interview. The dad-of-two appeared on the As It Happens radio show in August 2020. Once again he described the man’s condition, before shedding some light on what might’ve happened to him. How did the hiker end up there?

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“[The hiker’s] face was so gaunt. Like, his cheeks were hollow,” Utsey said. “He looked like he had severe [sun] exposure and had not eaten in a long time. I asked him, you know, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘My legs don’t work.’ And I said, you know, ‘What happened?’ And he said, ‘I think I fell.’”

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Anyway, as much as Utsey wanted to help this poor guy, he came to a quick realization. The teacher had already clocked in around 12 miles of walking by the time he first heard the voice. So he didn’t believe that he could both lift the hiker and help his children out of the forest.

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What did Utsey do then? Well, ahead of returning to the path he and his children handed the hiker their food and drink. The trio headed for the trailhead, racking up an additional three miles in the process. Upon arriving there, the former Marine quickly contacted the emergency services.

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Some 60 minutes later, the local fire brigade were at the trail. To help find the hiker, Utsey handed over his GPS coordinates, highlighting the spot where the man had been stranded. Thank goodness for technology! So you’d think that’d be the end of things, right? After all, the group just needed to follow the directions.

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But there was another twist in this tale. The fire crew failed to locate the injured man, despite having his coordinates. They spent roughly eight hours looking for him before coming to a stop. Off the back of that decision, the department’s captain spoke to KRQE.

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Nathan Garcia admitted, “It was a little bit difficult to have to call off the search and rescue efforts.” Unsurprisingly, Utsey was left scratching his head. “I thought it was strange,” he told As It Happens. “Like, I figured if they were standing there and he wasn’t, then something must have happened. It was so surreal.”

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But beyond the feelings of bafflement, Utsey was dealing with a little bit of guilt as well. The dad told KRQE, “So, I’m laying there, like, this guy is still in the mountains. So, at nine o’clock Sunday morning, I get in and put my hiking boots back on and hike back. And he was exactly where I left him.”

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We can sense your relief from here! According to Utsey, the hiker struggled to recall if he’d overheard the fire crew – it’s possible that he’d passed out. So what happened next? Well, after ringing the authorities for a second time the veteran didn’t leave the path, instead staying there for about four hours.

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And the emergency services did finally reach the pair. Then, some 24 hours later, the Santa Fe Fire Department’s Facebook page posted a statement about the incident. It read, “Station 1 A shift crew did a nine-hour trail rescue to save a man that was lost in the Santa Fe forest for 14 days.”

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“[The crew] built a fire to bring up the man’s body temperature which was dangerously low, fed him and gave him water,” the message continued. “The man suffered from chronic back pain and again injured his back while hiking, and could not stand or walk. His gear was stolen, at which point he got lost and disoriented.”

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After that, the Facebook message hailed Utsey’s efforts in saving the hiker. Well deserved, we say! And once the post was published, it quickly gained traction on social media. The fire department’s words earned hundreds of likes and numerous shares. They also generated plenty of positive comments as well.

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As for Garcia, he made a striking statement about the hiker’s survival to KRQE. “Never had we found somebody who had been out for that long,” the fire department captain noted. “It’s hard to say. The human body can do some amazing things sometimes, but I don’t think he had very much left in him.”

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“[The hiker] seemed kind of at the end when we did actually encounter him,” Garcia added. “He would wiggle his way to the stream. He would drink water from the stream and then wiggle his way away from the stream at nightfall, because of the colder temperatures that the stream brought. He had the will to survive for sure.”

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So what happened to the hiker? Well, following the ordeal, he was left to recuperate at a nearby medical facility. Utsey still hadn’t caught his name by that point, but at least the hiker was finally safe. Thank goodness Utsey’s daughter ran down the trail in the manner that she did. It ultimately saved a life!

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