Hikers have to be rescued from icy trails

Icy patches are causing many hikers to slip and become injured on Barr Trail. FOX21 - Kurt Story

Just because the sun is out doesn’t mean winter didn’t leave some dangers behind.

For example, hikers and runners on Barr Trail Monday were finding slippery spots on many of the switchbacks.

“We saw probably about 3 or 4 people wipe out,” Alisa Hansen said. “There are shaded spots where it was muddy and the snow is really packed down. It is solid ice,” she said.

John Khoury and his wife were out hiking, but didn’t expect the chilly conditions the shade kept around.

It was challenging because we thought it was warm so we came up with t-shirts, and we climbed through ice! It felt a little like Mount Everest,” he said.

The gravel on many trails, often hides the ice underneath. That’s why El Paso County Search and Rescue (EPCSAR)
had to help three people down from Barr Trail Sunday.

“The snow gets compacted, it melts, it refreezes. You really can’t see it on the trails, especially in the shady areas, so you tend to slip and fall and twist an ankle, or hurt a knee,” Teresa Burgess, a rescue member of EPCSAR said.

The recent preview of spring weather brought more people outdoors. Many understand the risks, while many others may not have so much experience hiking or driving in constantly changing conditions.

We asked Burgess what rescue calls are coming in most frequently.

“Some of those are people out for a beautiful drive, some of the back roads like Rampart Range Road or Mount Herman Road and unfortunately don’t realize there’s a lot of snow out there,” she said.

That’s why EPCSAR tweeted this warning over the weekend: “Don’t let the nice weather fool you, the Rampart side roads may be impassible.”

Search and Rescue can come help you get out, and they never charge, but they will only rescue people and pets, not tow your vehicle.

“The farther you go the worse it gets,” Burgess said. “At a certain point you will not be able to turn around, and you will need to call for help.”

She said being over-prepared and hyper aware will always help, especially if you are hiking and weather or dusk force you to unexpectedly stay the night.

EPCSAR recommends bringing the following items on any hiking or trip:

map & compass, whistle, flashlight, appropriate clothing, sun protection, food and water, matches, a first aid kit and a waterproof jacket.

For unexpected inclement weather while you drive, keep these in your car:

blankets or a sleeping bg, booster cables and tools, bottled water and food, a first aid kit, flashlights and batteries, matches, candles, medication, a waterproof jacket and extra clothes, a shovel, sand or chains.

El Paso County Search and Rescue is made up of only volunteers, which means they have other jobs. That means when you call 9-1-1 they won’t arrive immediately, especially because they have to travel through the same conditions you did.

For that reason, they’re hosting a Masquerade Ball at the Mining Exchange to raise funds to support their equiptment and volunteer efforts.For details, click here.



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