The three adults and two children made a lucky escape after rescue teams came to retrieve them from the Greenhorn Mountains, the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office said.
The family set out on a hike together on the Greenhorn Trailhead on Wednesday morning, spanning 7.8 miles long and gaining 3,880 feet of elevation, according to the USDA.
While the trail is moderate for hiking, the family were hit with harsh weather conditions as unexpected snow started to blanket the terrain.
The sheriff’s office said that the family’s experience levels of hiking were not equipped to deal with the conditions, and the higher they climbed, the more exhausted they got.
As dusk approached, the family was still on the trail and had a long way to go until the endpoint.
The family had no food with them and were dressed in inadequate clothing for the harsh weather and the increasingly cold temperature, so they decided to call 911 for help.
The sheriff’s office volunteer Search and Rescue team, the sheriff’s fire team and deputies and the local Rye Fire and Flight for Life all worked together to respond to the distressed family on the mountain, who were becoming more cold and fatigued by the minute.
Using a GPS signal, the rescue team were able to find the family and were airlifted down to give them food, water and warmer supplies.
After regaining some energy, the family and the team hiked a mile over the peak, where they met with fire personnel who had hiked from another trail, the Bartlett Trailhead.
At this point, darkness had fallen on the mountain, and the family had been out in these conditions all day, yet the entire group endured the conditions for a while longer and hiked to the top of Ophir Creek, where emergency vehicles were waiting for them.
The family finally reached safety after a seven-hour operation, and were greeted by other family members at the bottom of the mountain.
The sheriff’s office said that their rescue would not have been successful if it was not for the family who took safety measures prior to their hike, such as bringing an outdoor survival kit, having a charged phone and using it before their situation escalated, and telling their other family members their plans before they left.
“While this rescue took extensive time and coordination by all involved, we commend this family for the things they did that led to their successful rescue,” the sheriff’s office said.
However, they also reminded hikers that now weather conditions are changing and the sun sets earlier in Colorado, hikers should be more prepared with their mountain attire and keep in mind their abilities before setting out on a tricky trail.
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