Injured hiker, group rescued at Hanging Lake

Staff Report

Garfield County authorities on Thursday said a hiker who suffered a head injury was rescued Monday evening at Hanging Lake.

A news release said that five young hikers headed up the Hanging Lake Trail in the Glenwood Canyon at around 4 p.m. Monday, a warm afternoon.

The trail was easily accessible and the bottom portion was dry. As the group started climbing the 1.2-mile trail, they encountered muddy spots, frozen ground and ice patches. The ice had a film of water covering it, making the surface slick, the news release said.

The hikers were dressed in light clothing, some wearing designer jeans with holes intentionally cut in the fabric. Their footwear was primarily tennis shoes.

They scrambled across the slick terrain and eventually made it to the top of the trail at Hanging Lake.

At that point, one of the hikers fell and struck her head on the ground. With the evening closing in and shadows cast by the canyon walls, temperatures were dropping rapidly.

With spotty cell service, Garfield County Search and Rescue was ultimately contacted and by 7:30 p.m. ramped up for a rescue operation. The rescue involved 10 members of the Search and Rescue team, a sergeant from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and six members of the Glenwood Spring Fire Department.

The hikers were fitted with detachable traction devices over their shoes, given water and energy snacks and led down by the rescue team with the aid of flashlights and headlamps.

This rescue was concluded by 10 p.m. The woman who fell needed follow-up medical care, but was not gravely injured.

Authorities said the incident highlights the need to take seriously the need to take hiking seriously and to prepare properly.

They urge hikers to remember to:

• Wear hiking boots or shoes with adequate ankle support.

• Carry water and keep hydrated throughout the day.

• Allow yourself plenty of time to complete your journey before dark.

• Carry a light snack, energy bars, trail mix, etc.

• Take a working flashlight or headlamp.

• Layer your clothing and take a coat or light jacket; temperatures can quickly drop 30-50 degrees at night in Colorado.

• Take along matches or a lighter in case you need to build a fire.

• Take traction cleats for over your boots, especially during the winter or the transitional seasons of spring and fall.

• Keep your group together and move only as fast as your slowest member.

• Make sure someone outside your hiking group knows where you are going and when you expect to return.

• Check the weather forecast for incoming storms.

• Understand that trail maintenance is not an everyday practice and that during the spring thaw or a storm, more rocks and other debris may come down.

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