GREENVILLE — A body believed to be that of a missing Greene County man was found Monday by search and rescue teams in Rocky Mountain National Park after a four-day search.
Steven Grunwald, 24, of Greenville was reported missing Sept. 10 by a friend. His family and friends had not heard from Grunwald since Aug. 28, according to Rocky Mountain National Park officials. Grunwald’s vehicle was found at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead on Sept. 10. The route he traveled was unknown.
The body, which has not been positively identified, was found between McHenrys and Powell Peaks in the Glacier Gorge of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the National Park Service said in a statement.
“Rocky Mountain National Park rangers completed an on-scene investigation and recovery operations took place by helicopter yesterday,” according to the statement. “His body was flown to a landing zone in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park and transferred to the Larimer County Coroner’s Office. Larimer County Coroner’s office will not release positive identification until completion of an autopsy.”
No information about the cause of death has been released. The case remains under investigation, according to the National Park Service statement.
Teams searched areas above 10,000 feet in elevation in winterlike conditions, with 8-10 inches of snow, winds of 50 mph and a wind chill factor of 11 degrees.
Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers and special agents with the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch conducted ground searches, as well as aerial and canine searches.
Grunwald graduated from the Greenville Central School District in 2014.
“The Greenville school community is deeply saddened by the passing of Steven Grunwald,” Superintendent Tammy Sutherland said. “Steven will be remembered for his passion for our environment and his energetic approach to facing challenges. He was a young man who dreamed big and in his time since leaving Greenville Central School District traveled far and accomplished so much. As we mourn the loss of Steven, we know his legacy will continue to be an inspiration to others in Greenville and the many places he traveled.”
After graduating from Greenville, Grunwald attended SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse where he received an associate degree from the school’s Environmental and Natural Resources Program, before attending Ranger School in 2016.
Marian Johnston, director of the Ranger School, remembered Grunwald fondly.
“From what I recall, he was a very bright spot in my memory,” Johnston said. “He had very positive energy, was always upbeat and someone that could always make you smile. He was a standout member of the ranger class.”
The Ranger School is close-knit with six faculty members and the class of 2016 numbered 62 students, she said.
Many students who graduate the program remain lifelong friends, Johnston said.
“[His classmates] are, of course, broken-hearted, as are we,” she said.
Grunwald was an experienced hiker and also loved to rock climb, Johnston said.
“In their yearbook, his classmates made Steven the one most likely to be out hiking on a weekend,” Johnston said.
Although Johnston didn’t know the details of Grunwald’s final trek, she said he was doing what he loved.
Johnston recommended that hikers planning solo trips should always make people aware of their plans.
“Steven was a very accomplished outdoorsman so I don’t doubt he had the appropriate skills and equipment to accomplish what he was meaning to accomplish,” she said. “It’s a high-risk sport. I don’t doubt that he was well-trained and experienced, but there was risk there. You can’t always prepare for everything that might happen.”
Grunwald’s family could not be reached for comment after several attempts.
Grunwald gave a TedX Talk in April 2019, where he compared people to moss.
“Having spent so much of my life in the woods, separated from civilization, I realize that life isn’t something to be taken for granted,” Grunwald said in the TedX Talk. “You never know the value of anything until it’s gone.”
Grunwald walked 2,200 miles from Canada to Mexico, he said.
“I’ve always had a dream that I could change the world, and now I see how I can do it,” Grunwald said. “I can help humanity get out of our day-to-day routines and help to incorporate diversity and thought into our lives. ... We can be the next species that drives the world into the next great extinction or we can be the ones to change the cycle.
“We have the choice, we have the power and together we can change the world.”