Injured man rescued

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An injured hiker spent a cold night in the Flat Tops Wilderness area before being rescued Friday morning.

At about 7 p.m. Thursday, Routt County Search and Rescue members were notified of a 22-year-old man who fell off a cliff southwest of Stillwater Reservoir in Garfield County.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office declined to release the man's name or place of residence.

The man was hiking with his girlfriend about four miles from the trailhead near Mosquito Lake when the accident occurred, Search and Rescue member Darrel Levingston said.

The two reportedly lost the trail and, with the parking lot in their view, took a shortcut leading over a series of ridges and cliffs. The man fell about 20 feet off the second ridge.

His girlfriend made her way to the trailhead and drove to a campground host, who reported the accident, Levingston said.

Fifteen members of Search and Rescue and the Yampa Fire Department responded to the area, where they searched for the man until about 2 a.m. A member of the Steamboat Springs Fire Department also assisted in the search.

The group resumed the search Friday morning with four members of Garfield County Search and Rescue and their dog team. At about 7:30 a.m., a member returning to the staging area on an all-terrain vehicle found the injured man, who had made his way back to the trail and was trying to walk down, Levingston said.

The man, who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, was very cold, Levingston said, noting that temperatures dipped to 40 degrees that night.

According to early reports from the scene, the man had cuts on his leg, and rescuers were concerned he might have spinal injuries from a puncture wound on his back.

It took rescuers about an hour to carry the man to the parking lot on a stretcher. A waiting ambulance took him to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

His condition was not available Friday.

Levingston did not know whether there was snow in the area where the couple veered from the trail. Aside from muddy patches, the part of the trail where the man was found was in good condition, he said.

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