PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — After rescuing a group of overdue hikers from the backcountry near Aspen, authorities are reminding hikers to tell family or friends where they're planning to go, and for how long, before they head out the door and to enter the wilderness prepared for unexpected and unfavorable circumstances.
At 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center received a call about a group of five overdue hikers on Lost Man Trail, which stretches nine miles between trailheads on Colorado Highway 82 near Independence Pass.
The hikers — two men and three women between 53 and 73 years old — had reportedly left the Aspen area around 8:15 a.m. with plans to be back at 5 p.m., according to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office. The group was prepared for a day hike, but not an overnight in the backcountry.
Authorities confirmed that the group's car was still parked at the trailhead and called Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA) to get a rescue crew in the field at the Lower Lost Man trailhead.
A second MRA group arrived at the Upper Lost Man trailhead to help around 10:20 p.m., according to the sheriff's office.
A deputy with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office worked in the area of the South Fork of the Fryingpan River on Forest Road 504 in case the group had inadvertently hiked to the area.
Around 10:30 p.m., the first MRA group found the group along Lost Man Trail, about 2.5 miles from the lower trailhead, the sheriff's office said. They were cold and tired, but not injured.
The MRA crew helped the hikers make their way back to the trailhead, which they reached around 11:45 p.m.
The sheriff’s office and MRA are reminding all backcountry explorers to tell friends or family their itinerary and to always carry a map, compass and enough food, water, clothing and equipment to spend the night out in the backcountry.