Two weeks after a hiker made a gruesome discovery at a remote Colorado campsite, a local coroner has identified the mummified remains of three campers as a family who were attempting to live off the grid.
Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes said that Rebecca Vance, 42, her 14-year-old son and her sister Christine Vance, 41, all of Colorado Springs, went to the secluded campsite last July with plans to live there permanently. Vance’s step sister told the New York Times that Rebecca had become disillusioned with politics and life in America, and wanted a more natural existence for her and her son. Her sister Christine went along with the pair to help out.
The sisters informed family members of their plans, but did not disclose their intended location and they had not been reported missing. The 14-year-old boy had been home schooled so there was no record of him leaving the school system.
It appears the three drove to a parking spot near the campsite last summer and probably hiked the remainder of the way to Gold Creek Campground in Gunnison National Forest. They apparently intended to live off canned and dried foods.
Barnes said there was evidence that the family had perished either from the extreme cold in the area during the winter or from starvation. Gunnison County is frequently one of the coldest counties in the nation. There were signs they had built a fire inside their tent and had not wanted to stray far from the tent to go to the bathroom. All three bodies were emaciated and the only item of food remaining at the camp was a single packet of Ramen noodles.
A hiker stumbled across the remains of one body on July 9. When officials from the sheriff’s office arrived at the scene the following morning, they discovered two more bodies zipped up inside a blue tent.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.