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Lost Hiker Rescued

Lost Hiker Rescued After Overnight Ordeal at Walker Ranch Open Space

BOULDER COUNTY, CO – On Sunday, September 24, 2023, Boulder County’s Communications Center received a distress call around 6:30 p.m. regarding a 50-year-old female hiker who had become disoriented and lost in the Walker Ranch Open Space, west of Boulder. She was found safe and uninjured at approximately 10:00 a.m. the next day.

The woman had gone to Walker Ranch Open Space with her husband, who planned to fish while she hiked. The couple separated at South Boulder Creek and agreed to meet at a bridge that intersects the creek and trail. When the husband arrived at the bridge and didn’t find his wife, he initially waited before checking their car and surrounding areas. During this time, the woman called 911 but could only inform the dispatcher of her location before her phone died.

Boulder County deputies responded promptly, locating the husband and initiating a search operation by 8:00 p.m. Teams from Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and Front Range Rescue Dogs scoured the area overnight, extending the search into Eldorado Canyon State Park and the South Boulder Creek Drainage, but were unable to locate the lost hiker.

The search resumed at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, September 25, with additional personnel from Boulder County Mounted Search and Rescue, and Boulder Emergency Squad. An Everbridge notification was also sent to local homeowners. At 10:00 a.m., the woman walked into the visitor center at Eldorado Canyon State Park, where she was reported safe and uninjured. She was then transported back to the Walker Ranch Trailhead and reunited with her husband.

The successful rescue effort involved multiple agencies, including the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Boulder County Mounted Search and Rescue, Boulder County Parks and Open Space, Boulder Emergency Squad, City of Boulder Open Space Mountain Parks Rangers, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Eldorado Canyon State Park Rangers, Front Range Rescue Dogs, and Rocky Mountain Rescue Group.

Lessons Learned and Safety Tips for the Public

This incident serves as a valuable reminder of the importance of proper planning and preparation when heading into the outdoors:

  1. Inform Someone: Always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and the route you intend to take.

  2. Pack Essentials: Carry the ‘ten essentials,’ including food, water, extra clothing layers, a headlamp, whistle, and a fully charged phone or battery bank.

  3. Stay Calm: If you become lost or disoriented, try to stay calm. Panicking can exacerbate the situation.

  4. Conserve Phone Battery: If lost, use your phone sparingly to conserve battery. You might need it for emergency calls.

By being prepared and making thoughtful decisions, you can significantly improve your chances of a safe and successful outdoor adventure. Learn more with our complete mountain safety guide. You can support search and rescue volunteers by purchasing a COSAR Card.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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