Search and rescue rescue hikers near Gilpin Lake, experts warn recreationists to be careful this time of year
NORTH ROUTT – Routt County Search and Rescue Volunteers rescued a group of hikers from the Gilpin Lake area of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area in North Routt County around 6:20 p.m. Thursday.
Search and Rescue President Jay Bowman said the hikers were not injured but went further than expected in the hike, ended up knee-deep in the snow and no weren’t ready to turn around or walk in the snow.
Bowman added that the woman who called Search and Rescue did so from her Apple Watch because her cell phone was dead.
To avoid situations where search and rescue should be called in, Bowman encouraged hikers to be especially aware of trail conditions at this time of year, as temperatures are cooler, days are shorter and most high altitude trails are covered in snow. Additionally, Bowman said those hiking in remote locations should bring a fully charged cell phone.
If the trail does not have cell phone service, Bowman suggested purchasing a device that allows users to contact an SOS service that calls 911 with the user’s location.
“You just have to prepare for massive climate change. Be prepared to spend the night, bring food, plenty of water, and materials to build a fire, ”Bowman said. “The most important thing from our perspective is letting someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back – this allows us to begin our search for where to look for you.
“If someone reports your missing and we have nothing to do, we can’t really start a search,” Bowman added.
While snow and cooler temperatures can be a safety concern for outdoor enthusiasts, trail experts from Routt County Riders and the US Forest Service said hikers and mountain bikers should also pay attention to conditions before. use the trails as hiking or biking on a muddy trail can be detrimental to the trail and vegetation in the area.
“The biggest message is that trail conditions and weather are very variable this time of year, so people should pay close attention to the weather forecast,” said Brendan Kelly, Recreation Specialist with the Forest Service. “There can be a huge mix of trail conditions ranging from dry to wet but still acceptable from muddy to snow covered.”
Kelly said the trail conditions should be tested. If a bike tire or shoe leaves a rut or mud sticks, Kelly said the recreationist would be wise to turn around. And Kelly said people should also remember that stepping off the trail and entering the surrounding vegetation is detrimental to plants in the area as well.
Laraine Martin, executive director of cycling advocacy group Routt County Riders, said those looking to use the trails should do so early in the morning when the trails are still frozen and before they soften into mud.
“It doesn’t matter what got you off the track by the time it hit around 32 to 35 degrees,” Martin said. “If you are on a trail while the mud is still frozen, it looks like dirt, so it works.”
Martin added that most of the trails are muddy in mid-October, but south-facing trails, like those at the back of Emerald Mountain, are generally the best option.
If a cyclist is riding a trail that is mostly dry with small wet portions, Martin suggested walking straight while carrying the bike.
Martin said mud can also ruin a mountain bike.
“Despite the fact that you could ruin the tread surface of the trail, you don’t want this type of mud to dirty your bike,” Martin said. “It’s a bad situation.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email [email protected]