According to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, a woman has been found alive, but with serious injuries, after becoming lost while snowshoeing and spending Sunday night in the cold.
The 47-year-old woman started her snowshoeing adventure at Eldora Nordic Center in Nederland on February 21 at about 9:30 AM. She planned to take Jenny Creek Trail, which is described on HikingProject.com as "a lesser-used trail from Eldora to Yankee Doodle Lake and onward to Rollins Pass," clocking in at approximately 5.3 miles one-way with more than 1,300 feet of overall elevation gain.
At some point, the woman got off trail and became lost. It was discovered the following morning that the woman had not returned, which prompted an overdue person report by a concerned family member and a subsequent search.
Thanks to information about where the woman was supposedly snowshoeing, search and rescue crews were able to start their search on and around Jenny Creek Trail with the assistance of air resources. Roughly eight hours into the search, the woman was located 200 feet off of the trail.
The woman was discovered alive and is expected to survive, though she did sustain serious undisclosed injuries. After search crews made contact, the woman was transported away from the area via snowmobile, soon taken to a nearby hospital for treatment via helicopter.
This incident serves as an important reminder that risk comes with many outdoor recreation activities, not just high-speed winter sports. The ever-changing nature of a snowy landscape can make it difficult to follow trails – especially those less-traveled. Falling or blowing snow can cover tracks within minutes, making navigation much more difficult.
When entering the outdoor space during the winter, it's crucial to tell people where you're headed. In this incident, the snowshoer seems to have done this, as search and rescue crews knew to start their search in a specific area. This knowledge of the woman's approximate location could have ultimately saved her life.
It's also crucial to be highly aware of where you're going – not reliant on a trail or a phone-powered GPS. Phone batteries tend to die quickly in cold weather and trails can disappear in winter conditions. Instead, be prepared to use a paper map and compass, along with landmarks, for navigation if necessary. Bringing along an emergency beacon, like a Garmin inReach device, is never a bad idea. If lost, opt to stay put and wait for rescue.
Thanks goes out to the search and rescue crews involved in this mission, including: Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Front Range Rescue Dogs, Boulder Emergency Squad, Eldora Ski Patrol, City of Boulder Water Utilities Department, U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, American Medical Response, Colorado Search and Rescue, Nederland Fire Protection District, Northern Colorado Med Evac, Flight for Life Colorado, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Regional Transportation District and Alpine Rescue Team.
If you're interested in helping to support Colorado's volunteer-driven search and rescue effort, consider purchasing a CORSAR card.