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Two lost strangers find each other in backcountry near CB

Not a bad way to spend the night

By Mark Reaman

If two lost strangers find each other are they lost or are they found? The answer last week in a situation near Horse Ranch Park was: Lost—at least for the night. And then found.

“It was a pretty wild story,” said Crested Butte Search and Rescue president Randy Felix. “It was super random but it all turned out fine.”

According to Mt. Crested Butte police department spokesperson Marjorie Trautman, the incident occurred on Thursday, October 5.

“A 28-year-old woman from the Boulder area reportedly visited Gunnison County for a day hike near Crested Butte. When she did not return to her hotel room and was reported missing, officers began searching,” Trautman reported. “Her cell phone ‘pinged’ to the West Maroon area and Copper Lake. Cell pings are not necessarily precise and, as it turned out, this was a false lead.

“As officers continued to search for her vehicle up the local drainages and at multiple trailheads, a 23-year-old Colorado Springs woman was also reported missing,” Trautman continued. “This woman was expected to be day hiking the Horse Ranch Park Loop.”

Felix said the Search and Rescue team was called into action and was told one missing person was near Horse Ranch Park and there was no idea what area the other missing hiker was. “But when the Mt. Crested Butte officers got to Horse Ranch Park they couldn’t believe what else they found,” he said. “The cars of both women were parked literally right next to each other. It was so random.”

So was the fact that as dusk approached the two lost women, strangers to one another, literally bumped into one another on the Dark Canyon Trail. “They didn’t know each other but were both out in the backcountry as it was getting dark,” Felix said. “They made the obvious good decision to stay together.”

A helicopter was used to search the area and according to the Mt. Crested Butte police report, “The women had seen the helicopter fly over, but due to heavy tree coverage, they were unable to signal to it.”

Trautman said after they met, the two women got even luckier.

“The two stumbled upon an outfitter’s camp stocked with food, firewood, a tent and cots. Everything you need for an unexpected evening in the wilderness. As darkness fell, they built a fire and holed up for the night,” Trautman said. “The following morning the women attempted to find their way back to the trailhead, but turned the wrong way down the Dark Canyon Trail where SAR team members ultimately found them. The two women were very tired and moving slowly, but otherwise healthy and unharmed.”

Felix said the women initially ran into some other hikers in the morning and then into the SAR team. “Everyone was okay but it is quite a good story,” he concluded.

The women were led back to the parking area and headed back to the Front Range—tired but with a pretty good tale.

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