First responders assist hikers at Maroon Bells |

First responders assist hikers at Maroon Bells

Staff report

Pitkin County first responders assisted three hikers in two separate incidents in the Maroon Bells Scenic Area on Saturday.

According to two Pitkin County news releases issued Sunday morning, one hiker injured her ankle after falling on the trail to Crater Lake, and the two other hikers took a wrong turn on a short hike and found themselves in the dark on the East Maroon Trail.

At 1:44 p.m. Saturday, the Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center received a phone call reporting an injured hiker who hurt her ankle and could not continue walking on the trail to Crater Lake, about a half-mile from Maroon Lake, the news release stated.

Pitkin County deputies and Aspen Volunteer Fire Department officials responded, locating the hiker and carrying her to a waiting ambulance using a Stokes litter.

Over three hours later, just as first responders were finishing assisting the first hiker to the ambulance, a paramedic with the Aspen Ambulance District on scene received a report of two overdue hikers at the Maroon Bells trailhead and contacted the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, county officials said.

Mountain Rescue Aspen sent search-and-rescue teams into the field, a second news release stated, and located the hikers around 7 p.m. on the East Maroon Trail beyond the junction with the Maroon Creek Trail. The hikers were reportedly attempting to hike to Maroon Lake from the East Maroon Portal.

In response to both Saturday incidents, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office urged locals and visitors to use caution when hiking this time of year, as many of the area Forest Service trails are difficult to navigate due to ice, snow and mud.

The Sheriff’s Office also said hikers should take the time to know their trail route before going out and to bring a map with them for assistance.