Snowmobilers unhurt after night on Grand Mesa
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Nine-year-old Brady Smith said he felt better when he saw the moon on a snowy, stranded night Saturday on Grand Mesa.
“I wasn’t scared then. And I kept hearing noises, but it didn’t creep me out too much,” said Smith, who was among a group of snowmobilers helped off the mesa by Mesa County Search and Rescue members in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday.
Brady along with his father, Chet, 35, found themselves stranded early Saturday evening in a remote area above Leon Lake ” Chet Smith said they were searching for members of their party who got separated.
“We weren’t really in any jeopardy,” said Chet Smith.
“It was probably a half-mile or better to the bottom, and we just ran out of daylight,” he said. “The snow was really loose so we’d planned to come out (Sunday) morning on frozen ground.”
They made a fire and told jokes.
“Just trying to keep everybody’s spirits high,” Chet Smith said.
An eighth member of their party left and contacted authorities around 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Some 25 search and rescue team members were deployed to Grand Mesa and spotted the group’s campfire around 10 p.m.
The Smiths along with Jay Fellhauer, 48, Gregory Cole, 38, Larry Thompson 42, Chris Gray, 36, and David Hoffman, 50, reached a staging area at Vega Reservoir by 3 a.m. Sunday.
Nobody was treated for injuries and the party was prepared for an overnight stay.
“Emergency road flares are the best fire starter I know,” Chet Smith said.
He added that he tries to get out every winter weekend for snowmobiling, but Saturday’s trip was just the third time he’d ventured up Grand Mesa.
“We could have made it through that night pretty easy,” he said. “Even if you’re talking about a two-hour ride, I’m always packing survival gear. You just never know.”
The sheriff’s office Sunday said rescued individuals are not billed for search efforts. But with Smith’s party, the snowmobiles were licensed and registered, which means local officials can seek reimbursement from the state.
The cost of Saturday’s operation wasn’t immediately known.
Reach Paul Shockley at firstname.lastname@example.org
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