Hiker shares lesson learned the hard way
An Aspen man who broke his leg while hiking the Lost Man loop up Independence Pass Friday afternoon admitted he was not adequately prepared for the outing.”I was stupid,” declared Terry Hale, 63, who was brought out by an Aspen Mountain Rescue team that included 14 rescuers who took turns carrying the litter that bore Hale. He wanted to tell others about his experience as a “public service,” to help visitors and residents avoid a similar fate.Hale and his wife, Joanne Stern, were heading down after reaching the second lake on the trail because the weather had already started “getting iffy,” with clouds rolling in and a noticeable drop in temperature.Then, shortly after noon, his foot slipped on the wet, snowy trail, and in a slow, twisting fall, his leg broke in three places.The Hales were about a 1.5 miles up the trail, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Hale was hiking in a T-shirt and shorts and said that neither he nor his wife had packed adequate foul-weather gear. In fact, they had only a small fanny pack stuffed with a small amount of food.After Hale fell, and a passing group of hikers promised to go for help, the couple settled in to await the rescue party. Soon after it began to rain, and then hail on them. A series of fast-moving squalls dumped hail and rain until the clouds broke up at about 4 p.m., Hale said, causing fears of hypothermia.”I knew I was going to survive a broken leg, but you don’t always survive hypothermia,” he remarked. “We were saved because the weather let up on us.”The couple was becoming concerned about their situation and was discussing the idea of Joanne heading down the trail when Mountain Rescue showed up at 4:15 p.m.”I’m retiring my fanny pack,” Hale said this week, recovering from surgery with a metal plate and two screws stabilizing the worst of the three breaks. “It’s foolish to use a fanny pack; they just don’t have enough room.”He urged all backcountry hikers not do what he did. Rather, he advised carrying at least a full suit of light but rainproof gear, preferably lined for warmth, and a pair of waterproof gloves.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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