Custer County Search and Rescue was called out to respond to Hwy 165 on Tuesday afternoon, June 2nd, after a 911 call was received by Pueblo County at 12:35. The reporting party was one of three young men who reported that they had left Bishop’s Castle at 3:00 pm the previous afternoon and walked east on a trail across from the castle. They reported that they left their vehicle parked at the castle and had been lost all night in the area that is crisscrossed with trails. They also reported that their cell phone battery was nearly dead. Pueblo County was able to provide coordinates from the party, which placed them in Custer County on a single track trail at South Creek, well south and east of the castle. All further attempts to contact the men by CCSAR were unsuccessful.
A two member hasty team was deployed, as well as a deputy who tried to locate the vehicle at the parties last known location. Additional resources, included two ATVs that were enroute to the first location, when Pueblo County notified Custer SO that a second party had become lost near the Boy Scout camp. The two ATV’s were re-routed to that location and subsequently that subject was located by family members.
As a second ground team was being deployed, the initial hasty response team radioed in that they had audibles from an unknown male party. All additional teams stood by, while the hasty ground team moved in, locating the three men within minutes. All were hydrated and given snacks, before the one and ¼ mile hike back out to Hwy 165.
The sheriff’s office had been unable to locate a vehicle at the castle that was related to any of the parties. The vehicle that they left parked was registered to a fourth unknown party, making it difficult to determine if the parties were actually still lost and in the area, or if they had self-rescued and left without notifying emergency responders.
CCSAR would remind everyone that it is important to let someone know your plans, your intended route, where you plan to park and a description of the vehicle that you are driving. Powering down cell phones or putting them in airplane mode can extend battery life significantly. While apps such as Google Maps can help a party determine their lat/log location, they are less useful in assisting in navigation for self-rescue. Apps like Terrain Navigator Pro, (TNP) actually display detailed topographic maps; however nothing can replace the printed map which is not dependent on cell signals and battery life.