Hikers rescued by GCSAR May 26
May 27, 2016
On Thursday, May 26 Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) Incident Command was paged at 3:51 p.m., for a 3rd party report of two missing hikers in the Buffalo Creek Trail area, about 12 miles north on US Highway 125.
With information gathered from Grand County Dispatch, and direct contact with the subject, and a cell phone GPS coordinate, GCSAR was confident in the location of the subjects, said GCSAR President John Sanderson.
GCSAR had the Incident Command Post set up at 5 p.m. at the Buffalo Creek trailhead. Also present were Grand County Sheriff Deputies and USFS Law Enforcement.
The subjects had departed on the Bill Miller Trail for a short 9 mile hike at 11:30 a.m.. According to the subject; they had received information from a VRBO app which indicated the Bill Miller Trail was a dog friendly hike. The route was intended to follow the Bill Miller Trail northwest to the Elk Mountain Trail, heading south, to the Buffalo Creek Trail, northeast back to the trailhead.
At some point around two hours into the hike, they became disoriented, exhausted and could not call for help due to no cell coverage in the area. Some time later, their phones lit up as soon as they were high enough on the ridge to get signal. The subject communicated with a relative in Texas, who called the USFS in Granby. USFS took the information in detail and instructed the relative to tell the subjects to call 911 for GPS location and to report they were in distress. The GCSAR page followed.
"We had a good fix on their location based on the cell phone GPS info," said Sanderson. "Team 4 followed the best track based on the GPS coordinate, while the rest of the teams were spread across the adjoining trails just in case the cell phone GPS data was inaccurate."
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GCSAR fielded three ground teams of two members each, and an ATV team of two members. One member in reserve at Incident Command, and two members in operation support via radio.
Team 1 entered the field at 5:36 p.m., Team 2 followed at 5:55 p.m., Team 3 at 6 p.m., and Team 4 via ATV at 6:54 p.m.
The team inserted the ATVs in the hope that the trail would be passable enough for a quick north to south search. It turned out the trail was impassable, according to the report.
Team 3 made verbal contact at 7:45 p.m. Team 3 made personal contact at 7:49 p.m. The subjects and dogs were found tired, cold and hungry.
Team 1, 2 & 4 were recalled to base at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Team 3 escorted the subjects to the Incident Command at 9:35 p.m.
Command terminated at 10 p.m.
GCSAR thanks all teams members who responded. "We had great support from Grand 5 & Grand 8, as well as 2221 from the USFS. Radio communication was terrible, and GCSAR need their mobile radios (the more powerful units they have in their cars) to communicate," according to the report.