Pitkin County, CO – On Friday, September 8, 2021, around 09:12PM, the Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center received an SOS activation from a Garmin InReach device. The SOS notification came from a reporting party seeing flashing lights up on North Maroon Peak.
The North Maroon Trail is an 8 mile round trip hike to the summit of North Maroon Peak. According to a report from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department, Mountain Rescue Aspen was activated and attempted to contact the subject of the flashing lights with drones. After Mountain Rescue Aspen was unable to identify the source of the flashing lights, the mission was postponed until the following day.
On September 9th, 2023, MRA received information the flashing lights were still occurring near the North Maroon Trail. 2 volunteer rescuers from Mountain Rescue Aspen entered the field to assist in locating and source of the flashing lights. Additionally, several other members of Mountain Rescue Aspen responded to the C.B. Cameron Rescue Center in order to help coordinate the rescue efforts.
The volunteer rescuers from Mountain Rescue Aspen located the lost hiker, who had diverted off the designated route, at around 6:40AM. The hiker was uninjured and provided food and water. The hiker was able to hike out alongside the volunteers from Mountain Rescue Aspen. All rescuers were out of the field by 7:56AM on September 9, 2023.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Mountain Rescue Aspen would like to remind hikers to plan their trips accordingly and to stay on the designated route when applicable. Always be aware of your surroundings and prepare for the unexpected.
Lessons Learned and Safety Tips
The incident involving the lost hiker near North Maroon Peak underscores the importance of adhering to safety measures while hiking. Here are some condensed pointers:
- Stick to Designated Routes: Straying off marked trails can lead to dangerous situations.
- Invest in Emergency Devices: Devices like Garmin InReach can facilitate quick rescue operations.
- Be Time-Conscious: Plan your hike around daylight hours to avoid getting stuck in low-visibility conditions.
- Carry Essential Supplies: Always pack sufficient food, water, and emergency gear.
- Inform Someone of Your Plans: Share your route and expected time of return with a trusted individual.
Preparation and caution are key to enjoying safe and fulfilling outdoor experiences. Learn more with our complete mountain safety guide.