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On July 17, 2015 I left to go backpacking on the Continental divide trail. The plan was to spend a few days on the trail and then finish the trip backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Just north of the Meadow Creek Reservoir on what appeared to be the Continental Divide trail, the trail seemed to turn into more of a game trail and then it vanished. Knowing that I couldn’t be far from Monarch Lake, I chose to continue north using my compass to help me navigate. I had been hiking on the mountain crest just southwest of Monarch Lake and decided to descend the mountain to see if I was at the lake or still along side the creek that flowed into the lake. About half way down the mountain I started looking for somewhere to camp for the night. There was a large flat rock coming out of the side of the mountain that was good enough for me to set up camp. The temperature dropped more then I expected that night and I didn’t get a good night sleep because of the cold.
When morning came, I packed up and continued my trek down the mountain reaching the creek about mid day. Following the creek became difficult because of the steep slope so I crossed the creek where the terrain looked more accessible. After I crossed the creek I found myself standing in what appeared to be the perfect site to camp in and since I didn’t get a good night sleep and was extremely tired I decided to camp there and get some sleep while the sun was out. When the sun dropped behind the mountains, the temperature dropped and woke me up. The temperature dropped more then expected again and I was awake and cold most of the night. This being the 3rd day I knew I had to try something so I climbed about 20 feet up the mountain and decided to move horizontally down the mountain parallel to the creek. I quickly found out that I was still very tired and my legs weren’t strong enough to carry me so I returned to my previous camp site.
The creek I was camping on was at the bottom of a ravine with steep mountain slopes on both sides going up roughly 1000 feet and it was a heavily overcast day. Considering everything I reluctantly decided to activate my beacon before things got worse. 6am on the 4th day and there was no indication that they were looking for me so I decided to climb back up the mountain and try to find the trail, if nothing else, be in a better location for the beacon to work. Since the beacon was still active, I turned it off and packed up my gear. When I was about a third of the way up the mountain I reactivated the beacon and started calling out for help. It wasn’t long after I reactivated the beacon that I started to see planes in my area and started to signal them with my mirror. GCSAR had signal locating equipment that helped narrow the search area based on my PLB. The planes saw the reflections from my mirror and notified the ground team in the area that I was up and active.
Soon after that we made vocal contact then visual contact. When they reached me and made sure that I was in good health we walked out of the mountains. They didn’t know how close I was or my condition until we made vocal contact. Personal location beacons are a good tool and aid to any search and rescue team. I would like to thank the Grand County search & Rescue team that found me along with my son Daniel. When the search and rescue team first contacted my wife to gain as much information as possible about me, my wife informed our sons of the situation. My son Daniel was on a plane that night to my location and had contacted the search and rescue team. He was part of the team in the mountains that located me.
Thank you ACR!
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