A husband and wife from Farmington Hills, Michigan, were rescued early Friday morning after becoming stranded on an old snowmobile trail near Moose Mountain in the western Upper Peninsula’s Baraga County.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officers Dave Miller and Cole VanOosten received a call around 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, from DNR and Negaunee regional dispatchers, who reported that two snowmobilers were stranded in the Three Lakes area.
The couple – a 52-year-old woman and a 58-year-old man – had been snowmobiling and stopped to eat dinner. Departing from the Cozy Inn, located along U.S. 41 near Nestoria, they began their ride back to their motel in Michigamme.
The couple mistakenly followed an old snowmobile trail up and around Moose Mountain that is no longer maintained. Riding in fresh snow along an ungroomed path, the two became stuck in a frozen swamp area on the opposite side of the mountain.
Baraga County Search and Rescue and Michigan State Police provided Miller and VanOosten with coordinates of where the couple might be located. The COs were advised to enter the old Trail No. 8 from Lake Ruth Road. Riding their snowmobiles about 200 yards, the officers reached a line of telephone poles and saw snowmobile tracks nearby.
Miller and VanOosten followed the tracks about a mile in roughly 4 feet of fresh snow when they came across the couple, having been advised by dispatch to abandon their snowmobiles and start walking out the same way they had entered.
The couple had been walking about eight minutes when they met up with Miller and VanOosten, who used their DNR snowmobiles to transport the husband and wife, following the original tracks.
“It was intense riding,” Miller said. “The snow was very deep. If you stepped off the sled, the snow was up to your chest.”
On the ride back up the mountain, the snow became too deep for the officers to continue riding with their passengers. Walking was difficult in the deep snow, too, so Miller smoothed a path by driving his snowmobile up the mountain and then walked back to assist the others in walking up the incline. The conservation officers were able to help the couple up the path to easier terrain and back onto the snowmobiles to continue the ride out.
Miller and VanOosten delivered the couple to Baraga County Search and Rescue, who transported them back to their hotel in Michigamme. Both in good condition, the husband and wife refused medical treatment. The search and rescue was completed around 4 a.m. Friday.
“I am proud that Miller and VanOosten were able to collaborate with local agencies to safely return the two snowmobilers,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Our officers are equipped with skills and resources to locate individuals in difficult-to-reach areas, for situations just like this.”
Michigan DNR conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.