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Authorities reminding you to be careful when traveling in the backcountry

Outdoors

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The following is a news release from Fremont County Search and Rescue.

ST. ANTHONY – On four separate occasions during the past two weeks, Fremont County Search and Rescue has been dispatched to assist stranded drivers on impassable roads due to heavy snowfall.

Authorities are reminding you to use common sense when traveling on a non-plowed road. The farther you travel away from the plowed road, the deeper the snow may become, and the more difficult it will be to turn around.

Typically, the farther away you are from a highway, the less likely you are to have adequate cell service or the ability to call for help. Even if you drive a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle, it does not mean you are able to travel everywhere. Know your equipment and its limitations.

Too many people go a little too far, and instead of being able to turn around and get themselves out, they end up getting stuck in the deep snow. Consequently, they have to rely on others to help them get unstuck or brought back out. Search and Rescue’s responsibility is to rescue individuals. They are not required to retrieve vehicles, and sometimes it necessitates leaving a vehicle in the back country.

If you become stuck on a road during winter, please do not attempt to walk out. Your vehicle will shelter you from the elements. Make sure you carry a winter survival kit with dry clothing, blankets, or a way to get warm if your vehicle will not start.

If you run your vehicle for warmth, be sure you roll your window down half an inch to an inch for fresh air and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you decide to leave your vehicle to get better cell service, walk only within eyesight so you can easily return.

Be sure you let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return, and help will be on its way shortly after you’re reported overdue.

After Thanksgiving, wheeled vehicles are no longer allowed on roads that are designated for snowmobile trails.
These are typically groomed trails, not made for wheeled vehicles. This includes the Mesa Falls Trail from Bear Gulch to U.S. Highway 20 near Harriman State Park, per Fremont County Ordinance 2004-02.

It is unlawful for any person to drive, operate, or be in physical control of any self-propelled vehicle other than a snowmobile on groomed snow trails in Fremont County. Any person who violates this ordinance is guilty of a
misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of no less than $50 nor more than $300, or by imprisonment for not
more than 90 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Click here for more information.

Click here for a trail map.

A reminder to anyone traveling backcountry areas whether skiing, snowmobiling hunting, fishing, camping, boating, using ATVs, trail riding, biking, or hiking:

  • Remember the time of year, exercising all backcountry cautions.
  • Take necessary equipment and survival gear when venturing into the backcountry. If you have a GPS and cell phone, be sure to take them with you, but do not rely on them entirely for a safe rescue if you find yourself in trouble or stranded. Avalanche Transceivers and equipment, knowing what the avalanche conditions are, and knowing skills to save lives are a must for everyone entering backcountry riding or traveling.
  • Plan ahead. Make sure you know the area you are heading into before heading into it.
  • If you find yourself in trouble, stop, take a look around you, and do not go any farther. The farther you go, the more complicated and dangerous it is to get yourself to safety, also making rescue efforts more difficult and dangerous. Make mental notes in relation to any physical features or landmarks that would assist in your rescue.
  • Make a plan, stick to your plan, narrow the riding area, and most of all let someone know WHERE you are planning to go and WHEN you are to return!

To check avalanche conditions, visit the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center website or the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center website.

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