Backpackers found in N. Routt
Search and Rescue used GPS coordinates to help plot location
July 18, 2007
Steamboat Springs — Four Iowa backpackers became lost while camping in North Routt County during the weekend.
Routt County Search and Rescue Incident Commander Russ Sanford said Tuesday that Steve Marx and another Iowa couple with a 14-year-old daughter left the North Lake Trailhead on Friday for a three-day trip but became “turned around” while making their way back to camp Sunday. The campers were experienced backpackers who had five mules and a horse with them, he said.
Marx wasn’t able to use either of the GPS units to plot his coordinates, so he called a brother in Illinois to let him know the group was lost. Marx’s brother, John Marx, called Routt County officials at about 9:30 a.m. Monday to get his brother’s group some help, Sanford said.
Sanford, who teaches people how to properly use GPS units, said he didn’t need to page other Search and Rescue members because he helped Marx plot his group’s location after reaching him by cell phone at about 2:30 p.m.
“(Marx) was able to give me the coordinates off both his GPS systems, which when I plotted them gave me the same location, so I felt confident I knew where they were,” he said.
Sanford was unable to contact Marx again but ended up finding them at about 8:30 p.m. when the group strolled into Clark. Sanford was interviewing another of Marx’s brothers who had been camping with the group but did not go on the backpacking excursion.
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“I was getting ready to figure out what to do next when they showed up,” he said. “It was a nice reward because that doesn’t happen very often.”
Sanford said none of the backpackers was injured and that the group had packed enough gear to sustain themselves another night.
The group had traveled about 40 miles since it left camp Friday, he said.
While the Iowa backpackers were lucky, Sanford said it’s important to know how to use the equipment you take with you into the backcountry.
“People get a false sense of security by having those things with them, but they’re useless if you don’t know how to use them,” Sanford said.
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