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Lost soccer players spend night in woods

— Bjorn Lickteig and Nick Jenny had a warm breakfast of scrambled eggs and hot cocoa on Tuesday morning. It was a breakfast the Steamboat Springs High School seniors likely will remember for the rest of their lives.

“It was mind-boggling to me that I could get lost in those woods,” Lickteig said Wednesday. “I kept thinking, ‘Is this real?’ I’ll never forget it, but I had a feeling we’d make it through. I was really glad Nick was with me.”

The pair was on an overnight trip in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area with the varsity soccer team. Head soccer coach Rob Bohlmann said he has used the trip as an effective means of conditioning and team bonding during the second week of preseason for the past 12 seasons. Players have returned from the trip with “nothing worse than blisters and sore legs.”



Not this time.

After setting up a base camp Monday afternoon at North Lake, approximately six miles southeast of the Seedhouse Campground west of Clark, Bohlmann led the team on a hike up to the Wyoming Trail along the Continental Divide for a series of fitness runs.



On the run back to camp, Lickteig and Jenny were bringing up the rear of the pack and missed the turn back down North Lake Trail.

“I’d been on the trip twice already, and it looked familiar, so we just kept going down and thought that if weren’t back by sunset, something was wrong,” Lickteig said.

They soon realized they had missed the trail and they decided to try to make it down to the trailhead before sunset by continuing along the trail they were on. What they didn’t know what that the trail connected with the longer Three Island Lake Trail. Sunset eventually forced them to make camp along the trail with nothing but “T-shirts, shorts, one fleece, no food and two empty CamelBaks.”

Lickteig said they stayed warm by huddling together under pine branches. They took turns wearing either the two T-shirts or the fleece.

“They said it was 30 to 36 degrees out,” Lickteig said. “We were shivering and freezing our butts off, but Nick had taken some winter survival courses and knew what to do.”

Back at camp, Bohlmann organized his team in to search parties that went back up to the trail until dark, and then kept a fire and watch going while he and two other players went down the trail into Clark to contact parents and Routt County Search and Rescue, who advised Bohlmann to hold off a full-scale search until the morning.

At sunrise, Lickteig and Jenny’s unlucky streak ended. They hiked down to Seedhouse Road and found a canteen full of water. They then sought out Jim and Bonnie Hidy, the Seedhouse Campground hosts who fed the boys and contacted authorities at about 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“In hindsight, you never wish for this to happen,” Bohlmann said. “But this team has proven to me that they can rally in the worst of circumstances. :The two boys did an exceptional job keeping their wits and staying warm. It was also positive to see every team member up all night, taking on their roles, reacting to a challenging situation.”

– To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129 or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com


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