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Concern grows for missing Richmond hiker Jenn Coleman: 'She's tough'

Posted at 3:34 PM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 23:47:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Marilee Mason said her best friend Jenn Coleman was tough as nails and an experienced hiker. Two reasons why, she said, she was so nervous that no one had seen Coleman in several days.

The 34-year-old Richmond woman, and Roanoke native, was last seen hiking Glacier National Park in Montana.

Jenn Coleman 01.png
Jenn Coleman

"If she's out there and she's lost, then that means she does need help," Mason, who said she and Coleman were as close as sisters, said. "I just want to reach as many people as possible spread awareness, and just try, on the off chance that anybody has maybe seen her in the last three days, reach them."

Mason described the last few days as a roller coaster of emotions.

"Waiting. Feeling helpless. Having no control. Just wanting to hear from her," Mason said. "The first thing I did, I texted her phone. I know I couldn't get in touch with her. I texted her phone and was like, 'Jen, where are you?' Just out of just habit and sadness and just fear."

Marilee Mason.png
Marilee Mason

Mason said Coleman's family was equally worried.

"They are on pins and needles. They are doing everything that they can. They're trusting the search and rescue and trusting the professionals to do their jobs," she said.

The AWARE Foundation of Virginia, a Roanoke-based group that shares the stories of missing people and victims of violent crime, released information that Coleman was last heard from via text.

"Jennifer sent the text [on August 30] from Highline Trail/Logan Pass to Granite Park Chalet in Montana," according to an email from the AWARE Foundation. "She was to pick up her dogs from a boarding facility the following day, but never showed to get them. A welfare check was done at her campsite by the local sheriff’s office, where they discovered her belongings at the site. Her vehicle was located in the parking lot for the Highline Trail."

Glacier National Park Spokesperson, Brandy Burke, told CBS 6 that teams had been out searching Thursday and Friday on the ground and in the sky, with K9s searching through the trees.

As of Friday evening, Burke said ground teams would halt their search at nightfall for the safety of those teams. She added that Thursday night, an aerial team had continued to search overnight.

Coleman's cousin, Will Coleman, told CBS 6 he was 'lost for words.'

"I was just shocked and worried," said Coleman. "She's very intelligent. She's very smart. You know, she's grown up on a farm her entire life. So, I know she has survival instincts."

He said one of Jennifer Coleman's last posts on social media, was Sunday. She was on a horse.

Jenn social media post

"So I don't know if there are horse trails, or if they're just, you know, she's on a regular trail or not. But I know that was one thing that stood out to me. That could help possibly," said Coleman.

Mason added Coleman was very comfortable outdoors.

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Jenn Coleman

"She's a tough lady. She did her [hike] research," Mason said. "I'm hoping that maybe she just got turned around. Maybe she's out there and got lost. I know that she had some very challenging hikes on her itinerary."

She had one final plea for Glacier National Park hikers.

"Anybody that's seen anything, anybody that's heard anything, every hiker that might be out there right now, please keep your eyes out for anything," she said.

If you saw Jenn Coleman in Glacier National Park, please call the Glacier National Park tip line at 406-888-7077.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.