How did this start? Well let me tell you.
In early August 2013, around 10pm MTN on a weeknight, Craig was browsing Facebook in his downtown Denver 1-bedroom loft. On the locally formed (now disbanded) Facebook group, Crawlorado Jeepers, a call for help went out. There had been a couple over landing in their overland built early 90s Jeep Cherokee on top of Red Cone Trail. While traversing the darkness with their dimly lit lights shining across the tundra, their vehicle started surging as they made the final ascent to summit. They never made the ascent.
The vehicle lost all forward momentum and for a split second held steady before recklessly crashing back down to the smooth green tundra below. As the vehicle blindly bounced in the no longer lit night, the vehicle came to rest in an endless void. The current temperature was 23 degrees F. There were no lights and the motor was not running but everyone was ok.
The husband tried to crank the motor but the Jeep would no longer crank. He pulled out his small flashlight to check the engine bay only to discover broken motor mounts. There was the couple; above 12,200 ft in freezing temperatures, six miles from asphalt, with a broken Jeep. Now this is where you, the reader, are thinking “Don’t ever wheel alone”. And you’d be right! Had they had another vehicle with them, the story would have gone totally different! But they we’re prepared to wheel alone, they had everything in that jeep to fix the common problems. They also had all the gear needed to spend the night. But the most valuable tool they had was called a DeLorme. A DeLorme is a 2 way satellite communication device. It was solely designed for situations like this.
The text went out on shortly after 10pm requesting help. The receiver of the device sprang to action and did the only thing he could think of. He posted to the local group of 1000+ 4×4 wheelers, Crawlorado Jeepers. Craig worked nights at the time but had the night off. He was up talking ‘offroad stuff’ to his wheeling buddies. Craig had never wheeled Red Cone, but his friend Jesse had. AS luck would have it, Jesse worked with Craig and also had the night off! This was the exact situation that got the ball rolling on Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery. The idea that everyone has different schedules, some can help on weekends and some can help on week days. Kaleb had work the next day but he wanted to help out and assist. Kaleb lives in the surrounding area and had wheeled that trail many times before. Cody and his father also lived in the high country. Worried that the couple would freeze to death, the team loaded up and headed out for the first documented recovery.
2 hours and 30 minutes after the text was sent, joy warmed the couples hearts as they saw light bars and KC day lighters fighting away the darkness as they crested the horizon. The temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up enough to where they were unable to light a fire. They sat up in absolute darkness with only heat from their twin burner Coleman cooking stove. It’s alarming to think of how close this couple could have come to death if they weren’t already prepared to stay the night. What if they had to walk out? Being a weekday, it could easily have been 3 days before another rig would pass their vehicle. But they were in bright spirits and even had some mac and cheese cooked when the team got there! Kaleb used a flare burning at 1600 degrees to get a small fire going to warm them up(and us) while repairs were attempted on their vehicle.
Repairs were unsuccessful as you can imagine. The couple loaded up their jeep for the cold tow back down the mountain. The only other carnage was a broken brake line on Jesse’s Jeep. Luckily, Cody and his dad had the correct part to fix the brake line back at their house. Everyone reached the trail head just before dawn. A quick fix to Jesse’s jeep and with everyone down the mountain, we all headed home. Kaleb pulled over on his way home for a quick snooze in his jeep. Craig got back to his little loft in downtown Denver just before 5am.
That is where the idea was born. An idea that people have different schedules but at some point they might be available to recover someone and just maybe keep them out of harm’s way. We are a group of wheelers, we have to look after each other.