- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Emergency crews on Thursday found two hikers who spent the night lost in the rugged terrain of South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, officials said.

Authorities said Val Bak of Massachusetts and Katie Jacob of Connecticut were thirsty but unharmed when crews found them. They were located about two or three miles from the campground where they had left their vehicle and camping equipment, according to the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office originally said the hikers were a 23- and a 24-year-old from Vermont, but park Superintendent Mike Pflaum reported different details gathered from the two women. The hikers didn’t immediately respond to telephone and text messages for comment Thursday from The Associated Press.

They texted a friend Wednesday night to say they had gotten lost after heading out for a hike, and the friend notified the authorities, according to the sheriff’s office.

It took rescuers time to reach the hikers after they were spotted, Pflaum said. They hiked with officials back to the campground and declined medical treatment, he said.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Patty Garland said it’s easy for hikers to lose their bearings if they wander off established trails, and she warned that there are wild animals in the area, including bison.

“There’s bunches of trees, a lot of wild grasses that are kind of difficult to walk through,” she said. “You definitely have to watch where you’re walking.”

Garland said emergency officials used the area for a practice search-and-rescue mission last October.

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