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First date turns into Search and Rescue operation in Wasatch County mountain trails

An SUV sits stuck on a snowmobile trail near Midway on Tuesday.
Credit Wasatch County Search and Rescue
An SUV sits stuck on a snowmobile trail near Midway on Tuesday.

While the arrival of spring has made some mountain trails accessible for non-winter recreation, a stranded Salt Lake City couple learned the hard way that local trails still aren’t ready for cars.

Tuesday night between 9 and 11 p.m., Wasatch County Search and Rescue retrieved a couple who drove a Chevy Suburban about six miles up a snowmobile trail above Midway. The crew delivered the pair in good health to family in Heber City.

Search and Rescue Captain Kam Kohler told KPCW drivers make this mistake about ten times a year, which not only damages trails, but also racks up costly fees and can put them in serious danger.

“Get the word out: If you see snow on the road, stop,” Kohler said.

The driver, a man in his mid-20s, and a female passenger were on a first date test-driving a car they didn’t own, according to Kohler. The car had snow tires on, and they were testing its four-wheel-drive capability. They were on a trail near Snake Creek north of Midway and Soldier Hollow.

A major risk for people stranded on roads covered in snow is the possibility of losing cell coverage and having no way to call 9-1-1. While that wasn’t the case for these people, Kohler said the driver will probably face a citation, along with other financial consequences.

“I’m sure it’s a minor misdemeanor, but the big cost is going to be to pay a track tow truck to go all the way up,” he said. “My guess is, it’ll probably cost them about $500 to tow their car out.”

Kohler also mentioned the damage cars cause to trails is problematic for snowmobilers who pay fees for them to be groomed regularly.

Lower-elevation trails in the area will open to non-winter recreation as early as the coming weeks. Trails usually open when the mud dries out.

Upper-elevation trails are expected to open in mid to late June when there is no more snow on them.

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