GRAND MESA, Colo. — A woman and her dog were found on Tuesday after spending the night lost on Grand Mesa, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) said.
Around 9:30 p.m., a family member called MCSO and said the 61-year-old woman, who was visiting from New Mexico, was overdue from backcountry skiing with her dog.
>> Video above: How to report a missing person in Colorado
A deputy found her car at the Mesa Top trailhead parking lot. From there, more deputies, Mesa County Search and Rescue’s Snowskipper Team and Careflight’s helicopter started to search for the woman.
"Three teams of snowmobilers searched for hours in temperatures nearing minus 15 degrees," MCSO said.
With fresh snow on the ground, MCSO said it was hard to track footsteps, the cold temperatures continuously froze crews' electronics, and one team became stranded.
When rescue teams arrived to save their stranded members, they found the woman and her dog alive several miles from the trailhead.
It was around 4:30 a.m. when the two were found.
"Search crews said it was a miracle not only she was found but also that she and the dog survived that long in the freezing weather," MCSO said.
She was in an area of dense trees, said MCSO, making it impossible to see her from a helicopter. Paramedics treated the woman for exposure, but MCSO said she was otherwise in good health.
MCSO cautions those venturing out onto winter trails that they look drastically different than in the summer, and offers these tips:
- Always let someone know what trail you are going to and when to expect your return.
- Even if you’re only planning a short trip, carry extra food, water, supplies to start a fire, and warm clothes.
- Temperatures can drop quickly and become very dangerous, especially in higher elevations.
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