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Golf league updates

Nifty Niners

Fall was definitely in the air as the Nifty Niners teed-off on Tuesday morning, August 23. Even though the temperature didn’t change much throughout the morning, everyone enjoyed playing the game of “Pitch Two.” The winners were: Nancy Smith – 1st. Place,

Sue Ronald – 2nd Place, Lynn Turnquist and Deb Sisung shared 3rd Place, Lucette Kottcamp and Gladys Howard tied for 4th. and last but not least was Vicki Nessan in 5th Place. Gladys Howard won the “Putt Pot” for the third week in a row. “Congrats to her!!

Grand Lake Mens Golf Club

On August 24 and 25 the Grand Lake Mens Golf Club held their Annual Championship Tournament. The Club Champion was Larry Burks with a gross score of 78/76, total 154. The ‘Net’ Club Champion was Mike Montgomery with a score of 70/68, total 138. The Flight 3 winner was Todd Mayfield with a total 139 and the Flight 4 winner was John Murray with a total 142. Congratulations to the winners! Following the tournament, cocktails and delicious appetizers were served up by the Sly Fox Restaurant followed by a fabulous dinner of Sirloin steak, Salmon, Chicken and dessert. The event concluded the official 2016 Men’s Club season.

Pole Creek Ladies

On Thursday August 25 the Pole Creek Ladies golf league played a “Partner Relay” tournament. Each two-person team recorded the lower handicap partner’s Net score for the odd holes and the higher handicap partner’s Net score for the even holes. The winning teams were: 1st Place Tie} Helen Brown & Sandy Williams 74, Linda Moore& Mary Regehr 74, Susan Odneal & Madelyne Stevens 74. 2nd Place: Pat Riddell & Andrea Singleton 75. 3rd Place: Marie Johannes & Cathy Malone 76. Linda Moore and Jeanne Anne MacDonald had the fewest putts with 31. Carol Stott and Susie Noel shared the large chip in pot.

Obituary: Margaret Jean Alt

After a hard fought battle with illness, Heaven has acquired a very special angel. Margaret (Marge) Jean Alt passed away in her home with her family by her side. She was born in Detroit, Michigan. In 1944 she moved to Denver with her now deceased parents, Lewis and Lillian Hall, and surviving sister, Joan Sweet (Sam) Aurora, Colorado. In February, 1955, she became the loving wife of John A. Alt, who survives her. During their 61-year marriage they were blessed with two surviving daughters, Cindy Greiner, Granby, and Sandy Tillotson, Grand Junction. In 1973, the family moved from Denver to Granby. Marge was elected Grand County Treasurer and Public Trustee. She served in that office from 1979 to 1993. During this time, she was elected to positions with the State of Colorado Public Trustees Association, and was honored as Outstanding Treasurer at both the Colorado State and National levels. Marge was very dedicated and a mentor to many. Along with raising their two daughters, Marge and John opened up their home to foster care for numerous foster children.

In addition to her husband, children, and sister, Marge is also survived by six grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and wonderful friends. She dearly loved each and every one. Her greatest joy was spending time with family and friends.

A “Celebration of Marge’s Life” will be held in Grand Junction, Quartzsite, Ariz., and in West Virginia at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Margaret Alt to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by mail: PO Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148 or by phone: 800-822-6344.

Enrollment tallies for EGSD new school year

Fall is in the air in Grand County.

Aspen leaves are beginning to change in small stands of tress that line the local streams and rivers. The temperature is dipping lower and lower each night while dense fog formations lift off the Three Lakes Region and envelope the mountain parks surrounding Granby nearly every morning.

The fall brings many things; hunting season, sweaters and gloves, and for those who still attend school, or those with children attending school, the fall is a time of new beginnings as youngsters head back to the classroom.

The first day of the 2016-2017 academic school year for the East Grand School District started on Monday August 29. Students from Middle Park High School (MPHS) and East Grand Middle School (EGMS) attended classes throughout the day while elementary students from Granby Elementary School (GES) and Fraser Valley Elementary (FVE) underwent testing both Monday and Tuesday in preparation of the first day of elementary school classes on Wednesday August 31.

Middle Park High School

Total enrollment for the high school stands at 380 students as of the first day of classes. Middle Park has a total of 89 senior students starting the school year in 2016. The senior class at MPHS is the smallest out of the four high school classes. The junior class, eleventh-graders, has a slightly larger total with 94 students while the sophomore class has a total of 92. There are 105 ninth-graders in the freshman class of 2016, who will look do graduate in 2020.

This year MPHS welcomes five new teachers and one new paraprofessional while administrators and students will welcome back 20 returning teachers who have previously instructed classes at the high school.

East Grand Middle School

East Grand Middle School starts the 2016 academic year with a total of 302 students enrolled. The new middle school class, sixth-graders, is the largest class of students currently attending EGMS with a 108 students. The seventh-grader enrollment total stands at 97. This year’s eighth-grade class also has 97 students enrolled.

Administrators from EGMS welcomed two new teachers this year who will be instructing students, one new teacher is a transfer from MPHS while one is from out of district. There are a total of 20 returning certified teachers this year for the EGMS.

Granby Elementary School

Granby Elementary School has a total of 334 students currently enrolled for the first day of classes, excluding preschool students. Granby Elementary offers classes for preschool through fifth grade but because of the flexible and fluctuating schedule of many preschool students enrollment and attendance figures for that grade can change drastically throughout each week and over the course of the school year.

Kindergarten teachers at GES will have 51 young charges to instruct and look after over the coming year. The first-grade class has a total of 49 students enrolled for the first day of classes. Local Granby second-graders will attend school this year with a total of 55 students in the class while the third-grade class will have 57 students. The fourth-grade class is the largest class at Granby Elementary this year with a total of 69 students. The Granby fifth-graders, who will move on to the EGMS next year, will be part of a class of 53.

There are 18 classroom teachers returning to GES this year and one new teacher who previously served as a half-time science before entering a new role as fifth-grade teacher. Along with classroom teachers GES has four returning teachers for the courses of PE, music, science and art.

Fraser Valley Elementary

Fraser Valley Elementary is the smallest school in the EGSD in terms of raw student enrollment numbers. The quaint elementary school in southeastern Grand County has a total enrollment figure of 247 for the coming school year, excluding preschoolers. Like Granby Elementary Fraser Valley also offers preschool classes for the youngest students in the area but numbers can fluctuate significantly throughout each week and the year.

The Kindergarten class at Fraser Valley has a total of 37 students enrolled, the exact same number of first-grade students enrolled for the 2016 year at FVE. The Fraser second-grade class is the second largest class at FVE with a total enrollment figure of 43.

Fraser’s smallest class is the third-grade which has a total of 34 students enrolled for the first day of school. The fourth-grade class is the largest at FVE with a total of 47 students while the fifth-grade class will see 41 students attending this year.

Students and returning faculty at Fraser Valley will welcome one new Kindergarten teacher this year along with a new school librarian. The school has 13 classroom teachers returning for the 2016-2017 school year including the school’s preschool teaching staff. Additionally FVE has a special education teacher and director as well as art and PE teachers and two science teachers.

CPW awards $87,900 grant to Grand County

Western slope economics, especially areas like Grand County, are driven by tourism. Tourism, in turn, is dependent upon the unique environment of the high Rockies and the recreational opportunities on offer.

During the long high country winter massive snow dumps draw visitors from throughout the state, nation and world. The summer season offers more varied recreational choices but the preeminence of our local lakes and streams is hard to overstate. One of the biggest draws for recreators in Grand County are our incredible fishing opportunities.

While many who come to Middle Park seek out vast mountain lakes, creek and river anglers are extremely prevalent. Driving down US Highway 40 through Grand County will typically reveal several anglers casting for trout in our mountain streams. For some time now local conservation groups have been working to improve river habitat in the Fraser Valley.

The regional adaptive management committee for water issues, known as Learning By Doing (LBD), has already undertaken a few projects. The LBD group is made up of multiple entities including Trout Unlimited, Grand County government, Northern Water and Denver Water among others.

Earlier this summer Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) awarded Grand County an $87,900 grant. The grant will be applied to projects the LBD group is working to develop. According to a press release from CPW issued in early August the grant is for, “public access and habitat improvement on the Fraser River near Tabernash.”

Local officials have been negotiating details surrounding how the grant would be implemented for the past several weeks but lingering issues have been worked out and the project is now moving forward.

The LBD group has already done several projects in the Fraser Valley including the Fraser Sediment Pond, which removes road traction sand laid down on Berthoud Pass over the winter, and the Fraser Flats River Habitat Project. The Fraser Flats Project seeks to improve the habitat of the Fraser River by digging deep narrow channels in the middle of the existing stream bed to allow the river to recede in low flow periods while still maintaining high water velocity, a crucial dynamic in the health of any river.

Riding the Wild Waters

Gore Fest 2016 was a success with heavy competition from kayakers, rafters, and SUP boarders. Kayak and raft races saw some very skilled competitors navigating five miles of constant class IV and V rapids through Gore Canyon.

The fest began on Friday, August 26 for most and was a fun day for spectators and competitors as they floated the Colorado River from Pumphouse Recreation Site to Rancho Del Rio where the camping sites were located. The float was a great chance to enjoy some refreshing beverages and relax before entering the raging and violent water of Gore Canyon on Saturday. Saturday’s events included kayak and raft races, all of which were timed, so competitors started one at a time. They started just as the rapids begin in the canyon, after about four miles of flat water. The winning time for rafters was 26:36 and the fastest for kayakers (long-boat) was 20:43. Imagine navigating some of the most intimidating rapids in the country while worrying about your time as well.

There was no shortage of safety for the races as each major rapid saw about 25-30 people on either side of the river ready with throw ropes and safety kayakers. Safety kayakers are applied when someone is in the water away from their craft and often cannot get to shore. The kayakers paddle up to the swimmer and have them grab handles on the back of the boat, and then paddle them to shore. Safety kayakers can also recover lost kayaks and paddles from competitors that have capsized and become separated from their boat. There were many experienced whitewater professionals with ropes along the shore as well ready to deploy a “throw bag,” containing a rope, which was anchored to a rock or sturdy object. The point of the throw bag is to pendulum a person that is in the water to shore, or pull them to safety in an eddy. Ropes were thrown every time a person was in the water away from their boat, and were rescued before continuing to swim through another rapid. There were also rescuers on shore set up as “live bait.” Live bait means the rescuer is leashed to a rope that is attached to the their personal floatation device (PFD) with a detachable chord on the PFD so they can jump in after a swimmer if needed, without the threat of being stuck on the line. If they feel they are in danger while in the water, they pull the detachable chord on their PFD and swim to shore. Safety is nothing to be taken lightly in whitewater sports, especially in Gore Canyon, and the safety crews were deployed flawlessly throughout the rapids through professional organization and volunteer efforts from all safety crewmembers.

Saturday’s race finished off with a barbecue, awards, raffle prizes, and live music at Rancho Del Rio. An immaculate presentation of stars, and a cloudless sky made the night one to remember after seeing some of the best whitewater the country has to offer-located right here, in Grand County.

Ten Mile Creek becomes a Firewise Community

In August, Ten Mile Creek HOA was recognized as a Firewise Community by the National Fire Protection Association. Firewise is a national program that emphasizes community involvement and educates residents to reduce the risk of wildland fires.

On Saturday, August 27 seven homeowners from the association met at 9 a.m. for a workday. Every year they plan a workday to inspect each lot and look for hazardous trees. They look at their fire plan.

The fire plan is part of the Firewise certification process. Despite all the work that has been done over the years to reduce risk, today, the group still has a list of tasks to work on to keep their certification active.

One item the HOA is considering is adding a 20 to 30 gallon water tank, which will cost upwards of $100,000.

Application process

Mike Hulley, one of the homeowners, started the application process from the Colorado State Forest.

“We started mitigation in 2005. Some homeowners were spraying trees,” he said.

However, by 2008 the Board made a resolution that all homeowners needed to clear trees that were 50 feet from power lines and to clear their roads and driveways.

In 2009 they had to clear their lots of hazards. It was expensive and all homeowners were responsible for the cost, said Hulley.

Then they discovered there was a certification process.

They reached out to Schelly Olson at Grand Fire in Granby who administers the program, and filled out the application to become a Firewise community.

For Hulley and his neighbors there were many drivers to get the certification. One, mainly to gain credibility with the insurance companies but also it was to protect their homes.

“It shows that we care about our neighbors and we care about the people who we share borders with,” he said.

“The application process can take longer if you haven’t done much work,” said Olson.

“They are a great example of a Firewise community that has done a lot of work so the application process isn’t as long.”

“Schelly and the team at Grand Fire and Colorado State Forest have been an incredible resource. If you don’t want to do the work, the education is worth it,” said Hulley.

The key is buy-in from all the individual homeowners.

“Community spirit needs to be built first; it’s a hard sell without it,” he said.

“The important part is to maintain value of your property and to be safe together,” said homeowner Philip Brinkmann.

Every year each Firewise community must submit an application for recertification.

“It is a lot of work, but well worth it,” said homeowner Steve DeLorm.

Ten Mile Creek becomes the fifth Firewise Community certified by the National Fire Protection Association in Grand County.

Granby approves pedestrian crosswalk

If you’ve ever crossed Agate Avenue in Granby on foot you know how daunting of a proposition it can be.

The phrase, “taking your life in your own hands” comes to mind, or perhaps “taking your life on your own feet” would be more appropriate. For residents hoping to cross Agate Ave. on the east end of Granby there will soon be a reprieve from the danger though after a new pedestrian crosswalk is installed.

Agate Avenue in Granby is not a normal town street. The road serves as the main thoroughfare for the town of Granby and also serves interstate commerce and other functions as US Highway 40. Highway traffic moving through Grand County must traverse Granby proper through the middle of town on Agate Ave./US 40.

The road sees significant levels of traffic throughout the high tourist seasons and also sees modestly high numbers of large commercial vehicles such as 18-wheelers and delivery trucks. The four-lane road is separated by a single middle turning lane.

Last week the Granby Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the purchase and installation of a flashing crosswalk sign for pedestrian use on Agate Ave. The Granby Design Committee brought the request before the Board with committee members Rod Lock and Michele Snow presenting.

The flashing crosswalk will be installed near the corner of Agate Ave. and 4th Street in Granby, between Azteca Mexican Restaurant and Mad Munchies and will be attached to existing municipal light poles. The crosswalk sign will be solar powered and would flash after a pedestrian, who wishes to cross Agate Ave., pushes a button to activate the crosswalk.

The need for such a safety measure was strongly supported by several Board members including Trustee Becky Johnson who relayed a personal story about nearly being hit by a car while crossing Agate Ave. Granby has several crosswalk locations up and down Agate Ave. and during summer months free-standing pedestrian cross-walk signs are placed in the middle of the highway at predetermined locations.

Design Committee members expressed their concern for pedestrians in winter months, when the freestanding crosswalk signs are removed from Agate Ave., the road becomes caked with a thick layer of hard packed snow and when darkness falls much earlier each day.

According to Committee member Snow the crosswalk would be very similar to the flashing crosswalk setup employed by the town of Empire, on the southern side of Berthoud Pass. The Design Committee hopes to have the flashing crosswalk installed by Halloween this year. The price tag for the single solar powered crosswalk setup was tallied at $4,691.48.

Hideaway Trail Run preview

Tyler Tomasello’s feet say a lot about the life he leads. They are leathery from the sun and calloused from thousands of miles run on Grand County trails, wrapped only with the thin straps holding simple rubber sandals to the soles. He has run dozens of races across the US and in Mexico at ultramarathon distances ranging from 50 kilometers to 100 miles, all in minimal footwear produced by his sponsor, Seattle-based Luna Sandals. The design is based on the footwear used by the Tarahumara people in the Copper Canyons region of Mexico, made famous by Christopher McDougall’s 2009 book Born to Run. He says he’s only ever run 10 miles in shoes, and he didn’t enjoy it.

His resume includes some of the sport’s most iconic races, from the Leadville 100 to the Tahoe Rim Trail to the Speedgoat 50k. He lives in Winter Park and works at the Winter Park Trading Company, an outdoor gear retailer and consignment store.

Over the last several years, Tomasello has worked to bring the ultrarunning world to Grand County. In 2015, he organized the inaugural Hideaway Hundred outside Winter Park, which included race distances from 50 kilometers to 100 miles. The race drew athletes from around the state and nation to a county that has the vast public lands and trail networks necessary for this kind of event, but an almost non-existent local running community.

“I think it’s cool for my friends and people I care about from all over the world to come here and see what we have, because it’s kind of untouched as far as trail running goes,” Tomasello said.

Tomasello said he learned a lot from putting together last year’s inaugural edition of the race. This year, the race will offer three race distances: half-marathon, 50-kilometer, and 100-kilometer. The start/finish line will be at Hideaway Park in Winter Park. All three courses will loop through trails in the Corona Pass area, including Riflesight, Twisted Ankle and Yankee Doodle. The 50k and 100k courses will split off for a long, steady climb to a turn around at 11,877-foot Rogers Pass. The 50k race covers one circuit of this course, while the 100k adds a second circuit in the reverse direction.

There were isolated issues related to course marking in the race last year, but Tomasello said he’s been obsessive about marking the roads and trails this year.

Medals before the start

One unique feature of the race is that participants will receive a medal before the race even starts, but they go beyond the typical participation trophy. They are called Milagros, and are comprised of a thin cord that carries a small piece of metal shaped like a leg. It’s drawn from Mexican tradition Tomasello picked up while traveling back and forth to the Copper Canyons. The piece is meant to protect the particular body part it resembles from injury.

“It’s supposed to protect them throughout the run so they stay safe,” he said. “It’s a little different, but I want it to be different.”

While the trail running scene in Grand County remains small, a few local runners have a shot at pushing a solid pace over the 100k course.

One is Dusty Olson, an extremely accomplished ultrarunner made famous for pacing Scott Jurek, one of the most dominant racers in the sport’s history, to many of his biggest victories. Olson hasn’t raced consistently since he contracted Lyme disease five years ago during the Minnesota Voyageur 50-mile in his home state. The disease wrecked his body, and he had to stop running completely in order to recover. In mid May, doctors gave him the ok to start training again, and in June he returned to the Voyageur and placed eight in seven hours and 43 minutes, re-conquering the race that sidelined him for five years.

Tomasello raced the Leadville 100 on Aug. 20, but had to drop out after less than 30 miles. Olson was set to pace him in that race, and said Tomasello probably pushed too hard in the beer mile in Leadville the day before the race.

Olson now rents a house from friends in Tabernash, having sold his house in Duluth, Minnesota. He expects to become a full-time Grand County resident moving forward, after frequently spending winters in Winter Park and other Colorado ski towns. He spent his first summer in Grand Lake 16 years ago, working at Hernando’s pizza and running the trails on Corona pass.

“Things are low key and mellow in Winter Park, you’re an hour and a half from everything. I like the sleepy tone of the valley,” Olson said. He works as a carpenter in the valley along with training for trail races. Olson supplements running with marathon canoe training, paddling a long slender racing canoe on Grand Lake and Granby.

Olson met Tomasello through a small facebook-organized group trail run in Winter Park. He credits Tomasello for developing a grassroots trail community, pointing out that in a lot of places those communities are built around shops trying to sell shoes.

Olson’s made a habit of running the long stretch of the course up to the Continental Divide every time he makes a trip back and forth to Denver.

“I like being at altitude, and running up above treeline to James peak, you’ve got to put yourself in a different zone. It’s about controlling breathing and keeping your legs moving.”

But he maintains he’s just getting into running again and doesn’t have any goals in terms of what he wants to do.

“I’m just there to have a good time and enjoy the sport,” he said.

Tomasello has a long-term vision for the race, such that he procured a 10-year permit from the US Forest Service for the race. He has plans to add a cross-country division to the program in the future.

Registration and volunteer information can be found at hideawayrunning.com.

FVMRD presents master plan study to public

The Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD) held a meeting on Tuesday, August 23 to discuss their initial findings for their master plan process. FVMRD hired GreenPlay LLC who operates as a consortium of experts, acting as a management tool for agencies by organizing consultant teams that are responsive and understand the needs of administrators and their communities to provide services for park, recreation, open space, and related agencies, according to their website.

Representatives from GreenPlay presented a slideshow at the meeting. According to the presentation, the project mission of the master was to provide detailed, researched facts concerning the community and the role of parks and recreation, and establish priorities for FVMRD and its community. The plan will evaluate existing conditions and plans, and provide direction for the FVMRD for a five to ten-year period, establishing immediate and long-range goals. The master plan will document and clearly define the link between the community’s high priority recreation programs, facility needs and strategies to obtain those goals, including financing and funding.

According to a needs assessment conducted by the FVMRD and GreenPlay, there were many priorities that full-time residents of Grand County and second homeowners (or seasonal residents) agreed upon, but also several areas where their priorities were different.

Facility ratings

For the overall facilities ratings, the Pole Creek Golf Course and the Grand Park Community Recreation Center received the highest ratings; followed by the Pole Creek Club House, the Fraser Valley Sports Complex (FVSC) soccer fields, FVSC baseball fields, FVSC overall, the Icebox Rink, and the Fraser Town Park tennis courts.

Local and part-time residents mostly agreed on the ratings of facilities, according to charts presented by GreenPlay in the presentation. Where local and part-time residents differed the most was the improvement priorities assessment on the sports complex and Pole Creek Golf Club. Local residents, for example, voted higher priority on projects such as refrigeration at the Icebox Ice Rink, lighting of the sports fields, and installing additional volleyball courts, soccer fields, and basketball courts. Part-time residents found higher priority in projects like expanded and enhanced playgrounds, more lighting of parking lot and pedestrian ways, and paved parking lots at FVSC.

Pole Creek

For Pole Creek, local residents prioritized paved cart paths, GPS golf carts, a permanent outdoor event pavilion, a year-round restaurant, and a paved maintenance lot. Part-time residents found more importance in improved practice facilities, bunker renovation, more rain shelters, a new irrigation system on Ridge Course, and paved parking lots.

Future Facilities

For potential future facilities in the FVMRD, full time residents prioritized building a teen center, a senior center, a multi-purpose field house, and an artificial turf field. Part-time residents voted higher for a dog park, an outdoor shooting range, indoor tennis courts, more tennis courts, a splash pad, and “other facilities.”

Another survey question asked residents what they would do with a $100 allocation to improvements and future facilities, and the overwhelming winner for average allocation was from part-time residents who said they would use the money to improve and build new facilities at the Pole Creek Golf Course.

The satisfaction with public facilities and services in Grand County was generally above average according to the needs assessment presented. The top three rated facilities were parks, trails and open space; recreational facilities; and community facilities. Activities and recreation options also rated high for satisfaction, while transportation options rated a bit below average.

Next steps

The next steps for the FVMRD include continuing to gather information from stakeholder interviews and meetings; benchmarking analysis; financial and operational analysis; alternative funding and partnerships; and probable operating, maintenance, capital costs, and potential funding analysis. Other steps include visioning session; and drafting recommendations, final plans, presentations, and deliverables, according to the FVMRD presentation.

Foley: Get ready for hunting season

Big game hunting season started this week with archery season. Muzzleloaders get their chance starting September 10 and rifle season starts in October. Between now and Thanksgiving hundreds of thousands of hunters will head for the Colorado backcountry to stalk elk, deer, moose and other big game species.

Hunting season is also a busy time for mountain rescue volunteers. With all those hunters in the woods the chance of wilderness search and rescue situations is naturally higher. Only hikers outnumber hunters as the subjects of search and rescue incidents in Colorado.

There are all sorts of ways hunters can get in trouble; broken bones, twisted knees, lacerations, hypothermia. Hunters have the same baseline risks as anyone in the backcountry, maybe more when you consider firearms, knives and arrows. Last season, one of our most difficult rescues occurred when an archery hunter accidently impaled himself in his thigh with a hunting arrow. Besides the serious medical issue, he required a litter evacuation on a steep slope with down trees, at night, in the rain.

Illness can also become a problem. Hunters may not be physically prepared for the rigors of hunting camp. We have had several hunters die of heart attacks. Last September there was a four-day search for a missing archery hunter in Routt County involving ground crews, helicopters and search dogs. The subject, Richard Harkins, 43 of Minnesota, was found just 200 yards from his camp. He had died of acute mountain sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness.

Mountain weather can be dangerous, even for the well prepared. In the early 80s, before I moved to Grand County, I worked a search for a black powder hunter on Gore Pass. After a multi-day search, which included time and labor intensive grid searching in the primary search area, the camouflaged hunter was found under a giant spruce. He had been struck by lightning, which not only killed him, but ignited his powder horn.

Hunters sometimes get lost. Rescuing a subject from a known location is exponentially easier then rescuing a subject who’s lost or unable to communicate. Adding the search element increases the complexity of the operation and almost always compounds the survival problems for the subject. Many of our most intensive searches are for hunters. Several years ago, in Corral Creek, we had a hunter who got caught out after dark. He made a number of bad moves including heading towards “headlights” that were really the rising moon and traveling randomly during the day. He started a fire each night, then put it out before moving his position. He was found after five days over in Wheatley Creek by a Blackhawk helicopter. When I interviewed him he proudly showed me the tiny Cracker Jack toy compass he was using.

Hunters as a group are usually pretty well prepared for a simple day hike in the forest. It’s when something doesn’t go as planned that they often need search and rescue. A simple Injury, accident or illness in the backcountry can turn into an emergency. Since hunters are most often solo in the woods, being self-sufficient is critical.

As with any backcountry traveler, we recommend carrying basic survival gear which includes proper clothing. Wool or synthetic clothing maintains its insulating properties when wet, while cotton draws heat from your body and takes a long time to dry. The ability to make a fire or shelter, to navigate with a map, compass or GPS and illuminate the forest at night will increase survivability. Hunters who become lost don’t usually die from thirst or starvation. They die from exposure.

According to case studies* of lost hunters, only 40 percent are adequately equipped for their emergency situation. Besides injuries, accidents and illness, weather and darkness play a large role. With 18 percent of lost hunters, weather played a major factor. Darkness was a contributor in 33 percent of lost hunter cases.

Some other interesting facts from lost hunter case studies:

Hunters often take shortcuts that result in getting lost.

Many hunters will go to great lengths to walk out on their own unassisted due to ego and other factors.

While pursuing game, hunters often end up in difficult or unfamiliar terrain without regard for exhaustion or navigation.

They typically under prepare for extremely foul weather.

Hunters tend to over extend themselves into darkness and push beyond their physical abilities.

On the positive side, hunters are usually dressed in orange, making them easy to spot, and will use their weapon to signal for help. Many will attempt to build a fire or shelter and 33 percent of lost hunters walk out unharmed.

Hunter safety classes cover survival skills, but without some practice, preparation and experience that classroom lesson doesn’t translate very well when the sun goes down and the mercury drops. As long as 60 percent of hunters don’t have the right gear for spending the night out in bad weather or other unplanned emergencies, odds are hunting season will continue to be busy for GCSAR volunteers.

*The Textbook for Managing Land Search Operations by Robert C. Stoffell

Greg Foley is a member of Grand County Search and Rescue and has been a mountain rescue volunteer for 35 years. He can be reached by email at greg.foley@grandcountysar.com. The GCSAR website can be found at grandcountySAR.com or on Facebook/GCSAR.