Update: Missing Vail Valley man found safe
A Vail Valley man rescued himself after nearly 60 hours in the backcountry.
John Smith’s cell phone appeared on towers in the area as he made his way down from a spot three miles south of Sylvan Lake on Powerline Road, south of Gypsum, where his truck got stuck in the snow. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Panama City, Fla., spotted him Thursday morning when his cell phone found service, according to the Vail Mountain Rescue group.
Smith, a hunter, headed into the backcountry looking for lion tracks. His truck became mired in deep snow and Smith decided to stay with it and try to dig it out, said Kelly Ash with Vail Mountain Rescue.
He went missing around 1 a.m. Tuesday. The last contact was at the gas Loaf and Jug gas station in Eagle, VMR officials said.
HAATS helicopters flew search missions Wednesday, but Smith’s truck was apparently under a canopy of trees and searchers could not see it.
He had plenty of gas in his truck and was able to stay warm through the night.
Smith started to walk out Thursday morning around 10:30 a.m. Not long afterward his cell phone pinged and he was in contact with rescuers.
Several of Smith’s friends rallied to join a search, but no search was needed since he walked out. Several of those friends headed up with equipment to help retrieve his truck late Thursday morning.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.