Hunter stranded after horse takes off with his gear on Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A man’s trusty horse was not so trusty when it ran away with all his gear Wednesday night.
Routt County Search and Rescue members were contacted about the incident at about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25.
The 50-year-old California man was hunting on Rabbit Ears Pass. Incident Commander Darrel Levingston said the man had dismounted his horse while hiking.
“When he looked back up, the horse was gone,” Levingston said.
When the horse returned to camp without the hunter, the hunter’s uncle went to get help.
Levingston said the hunter had all the supplies and survival gear that he needed to spend in the woods.
“He went out prepared,” Levingston said. “Just everything was on the horse.”
Without his horse, the hunter no longer had a light source, and the clothes he was wearing were not warm enough.
“He might not have made it through the night the way he was dressed,” Levingston said.
Temperatures were around freezing at higher elevations Wednesday night. The hunter did have his cell phone, and rescuers were able to determine his exact GPS location when he called 911.
Levingston was able to talk with the hunter over the phone.
After looking at a map, Levingston determined the hunter was going to have to navigate a creek, rough terrain and a marsh to get back to the camp. Levingston told the man to stay put, but to try and stay warm by moving around.
There were 11 people who showed up for the rescue mission, and they hiked in. In some areas, there was 15 inches of snow.
They reached the hunter two hours after leaving Steamboat Springs.
He was located one and a half miles from U.S. Highway 40 along the Hogan Park Trail.
Levingston said the hunter was extremely cold but otherwise fine. Levingston said the incident illustrated something they preach to Search and Rescue members: Never put your gear in a place where it might get away from you.
“Your pack is your lifeline,” Levingston said.