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11/14/2012 4:09:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Local hunter found safe after two days
Kacie Thrift
Staff Writer

Lance Chipman, 49, Cashmere, found his way on foot to a hunting camp in on Nov. 5 after being lost for two days when his horse left him on a trail.

Sergeant George Town, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, said Chipman was found at Soda Springs Campground over on the Lewis County side to the west of where he was trying to go.

Chipman, his son and a hunting partner had set up a hunting camp up White Pass and had been hunting the area for a few days. Town said their camp was set up right on the county line of Yakima and Lewis Counties, north of the highway. He said there are a small series of lakes and some good hunting ground in the area.

The men had ridden in to Dumbbell Lake, which is a few miles north of U.S. Highway 12, with horses and pack mules.

"Lance decided he was going to run out to his car after a few days to grab something to eat and bring in a few additional supplies so he took off from camp around Saturday [Nov. 3] at 10 in the morning to go do this," Town said.

When Chipman didn't return to camp later that evening, his son and hunting partner went down to the vehicle to see if they could find him. Town said when they got to the vehicle they noticed Chipman had already been there so they headed back up to camp.

By the time Chipman's son and his hunting partner were back at camp, it was late so they decided to wait until the next day to start looking. Town said the men looked all day on Nov. 4. Later that afternoon, they called Search and Rescue.

"We went out Sunday and deployed teams out there. It was pretty nasty," Town said. "We had three different ground teams running all kinds of trails and there are a lot of them up there because of the multiple lakes. We had crews out. We had vehicle crews in case he would walk out we wanted to make sure we were watching the roads."

The search went on until 4 a.m. Monday morning. Town said periodically Chipman's friend would receive generic text messages from Chipman but it didn't help locate him. On the morning of Nov. 5, Lewis County brought in their horse teams and the State Emergency Operation Center at Fort Lewis provided an aircraft to help patrol the air.

Around the same time Lewis County Search and Rescue became involved, Chipman walked into a campground near Soda Springs where other hunters were camping.

Chipman told Town that he had made it to his vehicle on Saturday but had a late start heading back to camp. When it became dark, he headed up the trail but he eventually became lost.

Town said Chipman had almost made it to Dumbbell Lake but got off trail because it was pitch dark. Chipman had thought he had gone off to the east side of the trail but he was off to the west of the trail.

"It's dark and he ends up off trail, not sure exactly where he was. He had a map with him and he was apparently trying to read the map and he dropped it. He got off his horse and as he picked up the map he looked up as the horse was running off. His horse left him," Town said.

The weather was cool but not as bad as it could have been for the time of year. Town said when Chipman made it back he was in good condition after being lost for two nights without supplies.

"He had a good coat, good hat, and good boots on," Town said. "He was able to hunker down in some brush and protect himself a little bit."

Thinking that he was east of the trail, Chipman walked west to try and find his way back to the trail but ended up walking to another campground. Town said 20 or more volunteers helped look for Chipman.

This is not the first time Town has been a part of a search mission for a hunter in the area. He said because of the number of trails it's common for people to get lost up there. While hunting or hiking in the woods there should always be a concern for getting lost and one should be prepared, according to Town.

"On of the biggest things you can do is go prepared for the potential you could end up being lost. Have a map and a compass so you can figure out how to get back to your destination," Town said.

Simple things like a fire starter or an LED flashlight that can fit in a coat pocket are also handy to have. Chipman did not have a flashlight and was unable to start a fire. Town said Chipman didn't do anything wrong but his horse left him that had all his supplies so he didn't have a flashlight or anything to make a fire.

Even though Chipman had a cell phone, he was unable to receive text messages or make phone calls because of the service reception.

"The last thing is a lot of people get used to cell phones and think if I get in trouble I have my phone so I will just call. Reality is when you are out in the woods most places your phone won't work," Town said. "People get that false sense of back up when reality is your phone probably won't work."

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or

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