BOULDER COUNTY, CO – On Sunday, July 16, 2023, an 18-year-old woman and her canine companion were safely rescued after a distress call from Jasper Lake, located west of Eldora and accessed via the Hessie Trailhead. The woman, who had been on an overnight backpacking trip with her mother, fell ill and started experiencing nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, and the dog sustained a leg injury.
The Boulder County Communications Center received the SOS alert from the family’s GPS unit at approximately 10:17 a.m., triggering an immediate rescue response. Considering the severity of the woman’s condition and the dog’s injury, the family doubted their ability to return to the trailhead unaided.
Multiple local agencies collaborated in the rescue operation. Flight for Life Colorado provided a helicopter, which transported rescuers and paramedics from the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group to the scene. In the meantime, other rescuers from the Nederland Fire Protection District, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group navigated their way to Jasper Lake using Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) and then by foot to offer aid.
Upon locating the distressed family, the rescuers provided immediate on-site care and assisted them in walking down the trail to the UTVs. From there, the hikers were driven to their vehicle. The family decided to decline any further medical attention following the rescue.
This successful rescue operation stands as a testament to the joint effort made by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the Nederland Fire Protection District, the United States Forest Service, the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, and Flight for Life Colorado.
Lessons Learned & Safety Tips
This incident serves as an important reminder about the unpredictability of outdoor adventures and the necessity of being prepared for emergencies. To ensure safety:
Carry a reliable communication device: The family’s ability to activate an SOS on their GPS unit was instrumental in their rescue. In areas with limited or no cell service, a GPS unit with SOS capabilities can be a lifesaver.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water, especially during strenuous activities such as hiking or backpacking. Dehydration can quickly lead to more serious conditions.
Know the Symptoms of Illness: Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain can be signs of serious illnesses, including altitude sickness and foodborne illnesses. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.
Never hike alone: Always hike with a buddy. If something goes wrong, there’s someone to help or get help.
Consider your pets: If hiking with pets, keep an eye on them for signs of injury or exhaustion. Carry a small pet first-aid kit if possible.
In all cases, outdoor enthusiasts are urged to respect the unpredictability of nature and prioritize safety in their activities. Learn more in our comprehensive mountain safety guide.