Hikers rescued after a night in the Flat Tops Wilderness

August 6, 2021

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5, Emergency Operations Division of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office was notified that two hikers, a mother and her 14 year-old son, had failed to return and were lost in the wilderness between Trappers Lake and Stillwater Reservoir.

The husband/father had set out to find them. Two other hikers joined the husband, “good Samaritans,” he met along the trail. The three began the search on foot. Garfield County Search and Rescue sent out an alert page shortly after midnight for available members to meet at the operations barn in Rifle at 5 a.m.

Cell service in the area is very limited, however they were able to receive a ping from one cell phone to assist in finding approximate location coordinates of the hikers. Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, along with Garfield County Search and Rescue, coordinated its rescue efforts with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office and its search and rescue team to begin at dawn. Garfield County deployed at Trappers Lake and Routt County began a ground search further east from Stillwater Reservoir.

CareFlight of the Rockies was asked to join in the search with their helicopter to provide any necessary medical support and transport when the hikers were located.

Shortly before 7 a.m., a short message was received from the father, who called 911 and stated that he could see the two lost hikers. By 7:30 a.m., CareFlight announced that it had visual contact of all five hikers. It landed and transported the mother back to Trappers Lake; she was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. One of the “good Samaritans” had twisted a knee in the rugged terrain, so CareFlight returned and airlifted him to Trappers Lake.

The other three hikers walked out, headed for Stillwater Reservoir. Members of Garfield County Search and Rescue began a ground transport of the mother and other hiker from Trappers Lake to Stillwater Reservoir, an estimated two-hour drive. All parties were safely re-united at Stillwater Reservoir.

This was another successful mission of the volunteers of Garfield County Search and Rescue. These volunteers are called upon regularly to assist in various rescues from water rescues to climbing accidents; they assist in the rescue of lost or injured hikers, travelers or other outdoor enthusiasts in the backcountry.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend its thanks to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, the search and rescue volunteers from both counties, and to CareFlight. The rapid response of the entire team resulted in another successful mission.

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