Phillip had been drinking, and later he repeatedly told people close to him that he’d taken LSD that night. Somewhere behind him was a grizzly, and Harry’s flashlight was lost. Phillip stumbled down-hill through the forest and burst into the moonlight on Geyser Hill. He dodged the steaming pools, got to the boardwalk, and ran toward the lights. At 1:10 a.m., he crashed through the door into the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn and fell on the floor in front of the registration desk, weeping and begging for someone to help Harry. Ken Reardon had stopped by the Old Faithful Inn on foot patrol and was warming his hands at the fireplace with two young men employed as kitchen help. The three of them gathered up Phillip, put him in Reardon’s patrol car, and drove northwest up an abandoned section of the Grand Loop Road to where a footbridge crossed the river at the far end of the Geyser Hill trail. There they left the car, crossed the rumbling stream, swollen with rain, and hiked up the boardwalk to where Phillip and Harry had been leaving it to climb up the ridge to their camp.
In those days park rangers still kept their firearms in their cars, not on their waists, and as he walked up the trail, Reardon realized he was unarmed. He gave one of the kitchen helpers his car keys and sent him back to retrieve a .38 revolver from the glove box—not much of a comfort against a bear. Someone woke up Tom Cherry and David Trickett, and at around 1:30 a.m. they hurried out on foot to join Reardon, bringing with them Cherry’s girlfriend, the nurse, carrying her little black doctor’s bag.
Cherry, Trickett, and Reardon were unsuccessful in getting the incoherent Phillip Bradberry to lead them to his camp, and their calls to Harry up into the woods went unanswered. After about half an hour they returned to the Old Faithful ranger station, where a larger, better-equipped effort was mounted. Jim Brady and the West District ranger arrived to take command. Ranger Scott Connelly heard about the situation as he returned home from the after-party. Highly regarded by his patrol partners, Connelly judged that he’d had too much to drink to be wandering around the woods with a gun, so he went to the ranger station to see what he could do from there. Elaine D’Amico, a twenty-four-year-old former radio operator at the Old Faithful ranger station, was now assigned to help organize the Centennial festivities from Mammoth Hot Springs. Off duty that weekend and staying with friends at Old Faithful, she was awakened and pressed into service at the radio.
The rangers gathered flashlights, guns, and first-aid supplies, and the second wave of the search departed for Geyser Hill at around 3:30 a.m. All of the experienced rangers had seen multiple injuries by black bears, and because a grizzly hadn’t killed anyone at Yellowstone in thirty years, a grizzly attack was not the first thing that came to mind for some of them. There was a sense that Harry might still be alive. A second nurse from the clinic in the Old Faithful Inn was awakened and sent out to assist with medical aid, if needed.
Phillip Bradberry had not been much use in locating the campsite, but he had told the rangers that Vikki Schlicht had visited it too. Rangers were sent to wake up the matron of the girls’ dormitory, who pounded on the door of Vikki’s room. Vikki was put in the back of a patrol car, driven up a road on the other side of the Firehole River, and marched over a bridge to where the search was being staged. To begin with, no one told her what was happening. Then Phillip mumbled that they had probably lost Harry, and she began to weep uncontrollably. She wasn’t any more use than he was in locating the campsite, or Harry.
Brady had assigned the searchers to three-man teams, and for the next several hours they tiptoed through the dense pine forests, calling for Harry. Brady began to get a sense they might be dealing with a grizzly. He and others among the searchers reported hearing the characteristic jaw-snapping noises grizzlies make when they are agitated.