Steamboat Springs Snow-related injuries and wayward hunters had Routt County Search and Rescue members going in several different directions Wednesday.
Teams responded to calls for help in the Flat Tops Wilderness area, California Park and Rabbit Ears Pass.
About 20 people almost half of the volunteer organization put their skills to work from morning to evening.
It was a full day, but nothing for which Search and Rescue was not primed and ready to go.
"It was a little out of the ordinary," Scott Havener said of the multiple rescue missions. Havener was incident commander of the team that responded to an injured hunter in the Flat Tops Wilderness.
"But we have to be prepared," he said.
The 53-year-old hunter from Oregon suffered what appeared to be a fracture to his femur when his horse slipped in wet conditions and rolled on top of him Wednesday morning.
After a six-hour rescue mission, he was rushed to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he was still in surgery later that evening. His condition was unknown as of late Wednesday evening.
Thirteen Search and Rescue volunteers arrived at Stillwater Reservoir southwest of Yampa at about 11:20 a.m. and took National Forest Trail 1120 four miles to Mosquito Lake, where the incident was reported.
Poor visibility hindered any aircraft from transporting the man to the hospital, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.
"This would have been easier had the skies been clear," Warner said.
The rescuers used a one-wheeled stokes litter to move the man.
The stokes, a stretcher outfitted with a bicycle wheel at the bottom and handles around the edges, allowed the team to slowly wheel the injured hunter along the trail from Mosquito Lake to Stillwater Reservoir. Changes in terrain sometimes demanded the team stop wheeling the stokes and carry it until the ground leveled.
The Oregon man had been hunting with a few other people for about a week. The group was preparing to scout the area for some hunting spots when the incident occurred.
The group called police and kept the man warm until Search and Rescue arrived by building a fire on either side of him.
Rescuers reached the injured hunter by 1 p.m. They did not return to Stillwater Reservoir until 5 p.m.
"It took a lot longer (back)," Havener said.
Intermittent heavy snowfall reduced visibility. Three to five inches of snow fell during the rescue, he said.
But the hunters were not unprepared for the changing conditions or the change of plans, Havener said.
"It was just an unfortunate accident," he said.
Mechanized equipment was not used because the mission occurred in wilderness area.
The other hunters assisted Search and Rescue in getting the man safely to the ambulance.
"It took all 17 people to carry him out four miles," Havener said.
Representatives from the Routt County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Forest Service were also a part of the mission that occurred in Garfield County. Routt County Search and Rescue has an agreement with Garfield County to handle such calls.
Havener said the mission was simple. The team went in, secured the injured party and went out.
Wednesday's mission was the third rescue in the Flat Tops Wilderness area in the past two years and the fourth accident this year involving a horse.
While the rescue unfolded to the south, a handful of volunteers responded to reports of an injured snowboarder near Summit Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass and four lost hunters in California Park north of Hayden.
The four hunters walked out by 11 a.m., and the snowboarder was rescued later Wednesday.
With the weather changing and winter outdoor recreation ensuing, Havener said he expects similar days that demand much of Search and Rescue members.
"It's hunting season, and we realize that with hunting season and snow coming in and adverse weather we'll start having more and more missions," he said.