STONEHAM — Four hikers lost overnight in the White Mountain National Forest were found by a bear hunter early Wednesday morning, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Deborah Turcotte said.
Paul Harrison of Poland was baiting traps when he found the three men and one woman and took them back to their campsite at the end of Hut Road, Turcotte said.
The four were identified as Matthew Colon, 20, of Ridgefield, Conn.; Brandon Gusman, 29, of Portland; Samuel Clayton, 21, of San Diego, Calif.; and Amanda Nobbee, 19, of Cleveland, Ohio.
They were part of a group called Rainbow, whose members hold gatherings in national forests and parks, Turcotte said. About 30 to 35 members had been camping at the site for two weeks.
The four lost hikers were found on Emid Road near Willard Brook on the opposite side of Sugarloaf Mountain from their campsite.
The Oxford County Sheriff's Department received a call at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday from the group saying some members had left the base camp at about 1 p.m. to look at cliffs but had not returned.
Maine Warden Service officers were called at 11:15 p.m. and combed trails and roads until 4 a.m., Turcotte said.
The search resumed at 7 a.m. with Warden Service pilot Dan Dufault flying over the area. Finally, Harrison came upon them and led them back to the campsite, she said.
"It ended up being two searches," Turcotte said, because hikers at the base camp also reported hearing on their walkie-talkies a distress call from some other hikers not in their group.
Turcotte said Warden Service personnel checked for reports of missing persons in the area and had the pilot observe the area as well.
"There were no credible calls to any law enforcement agency about anyone being missing or in danger in the White Mountains," she said, so the search was called off.