Stranded hiker rescued above Fish Creek Falls |

Stranded hiker rescued above Fish Creek Falls

Joanna Dodder/Steamboat Pilot

— A Steamboat Springs man was rescued by county officials on the evening of June 22 after falling into the popular waterfall.

Christopher Hurley, 32, told officials he was walking along the creek above Fish Creek Falls when he slipped and fell in. He managed to get out of the churning water, but on the other side of the creek. Feeling cold an unsure of how to get back to the trail, he walked downstream to where he could see people along the trail so he could yell for help.

Several people reported Hurley to forest host Sam Bayliss, who called the sheriff's office. Sheriff's deputies, an ambulance crew and the Routt County Search & Rescue team were dispatched to the site.

Deputies were the first to arrive at the scene just outside of Steamboat, and Ken Underwood spotted Hurley with binoculars from the forest parking lot. Deputy Dan Taylor and Sam Bayliss' son Mark hiked a few miles above Hurley to a bridge, crossing it and heading back down to Hurley's location.

Rescuers Doug Allen and Mark Steur set up a Tyrolean traverse rope network to check out Hurley before asking him to walk the extra miles through thick brush back up to the bridge and down the trail. Ambulance crew member Mike Hirshman, who is also a Search & Rescue member, determined that Hurley should be traversed back to the other side on the rope instead.

I took one look at the guy and said "This guy physically does not need to be hiking out two or three hours," said Hirshman. The shivering Hurley appeared to be hypothermic, exhausted and disoriented Hirshman said, although he was uninjured.

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Hurley was placed in a seat and shoulder harness and pulled effortlessly back over the raging creek with a haul line.

Hirshman noted that it was a good thing Hurley didn't fall into the creek again at the site he was found. Hurley was sitting less than 100 feet from the top of the spectacular 283-foot falls. I doubt you could swim that without going over the falls," said Hirshman. "He could have ended up at Safeway" which sits far below in Steamboat along the creek.

As it was, Hurley was taken to Routt Memorial Hospital to be checked out, then released the same night.

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