SAN MIGUEL COUNTY — Rescuers with San Miguel and Dolores counties have rescued and airlifted a hiker suffering from unknown medical complications this afternoon on Lizard Head Trail located high in the San Juan Mountain wilderness.
At 11:15 a.m. a 911 call scrambled San Miguel and Dolores county search and rescue personnel after a couple hiking the Cross Mountain Trail near the Lizard Head Trail said they came upon a man who they thought was suffering from a heart attack.
According to San Miguel Sheriff Bill Masters the man was “incoherent, had difficulty breathing and was non-verbal.”
The man was camping along the trail which was located in Dolores County. Masters said he was not from the area but a emergency contact number in his phone dialed his wife, who was visiting the Telluride area.
A command center was set up off Colorado Highway 145 as EMTs with Telluride EMS and Fire hiked for an hour-and-a-half to reach the hiker, a male in his 20s, and had to “cut him out of his tent,” according to Masters.
When EMTs arrived along with ATV equipment, Masters said the man became combative.
Masters said the man continued with his non-verbal communication, appeared confused and suffering from a medical emergency, which could have been compounded by the effects of the high altitude.
A Flight for Life helicopter from Mercy Hospital in Durango was dispatched to aid in the rescue. At about 3:30 or 4 p.m., Masters said, the man was airlifted from the landing zone at a bout 11,500 feet.
“He was alive when we last saw him,” Masters said. “He’s really fortunate that people found his camp site.
Lizard Head Trail is described as one of the top hikes in the Telluride area with moderate difficulty. The trial can take hikers to base of Lizard Head peak with an elevation of 13,113 feet and to a pair of 14,000-foot peaks Mount Wilson at 14,245 feet and Wilson Peak at 14,017 feet. Gladstone Mountain at 13,913 feet, is also accessible from the trail.
“It was a complicated operation. If you fall out of your car there is usually two or three people to help you. If you collapse in the high country, it’s really time consuming,” Masters said.