Pickup truck abandoned on Colorado 14er hiking trail finally extracted – for a hefty fee

Culebra peak is a mountain in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains
The brand new GMC spent over a week at nearly 14,000 feet (Image credit: nick1803)

A brand new GMC Canyon AT4 pickup truck that mysteriously appeared on a high altitude hiking trail in Colorado has finally been removed after remaining there for over a week.

The truck, with Arkansas plates, appears to have been driven up the trail leading to Mount Lincoln, a Colorado 14er, by it's confused owner, who apparently hadn't realized the mining roads he had been driving on had become hiking trails. At nearly 14,000 feet, his back tire slid off the trail and he was unable to continue or turn around. He hiked down to Alma seeking help.

The truck's owner, believed to be stationed with the Air Force in Colorado Springs, initially balked at the price of having the truck extracted by Vail-based Mountain Recovery. Instead, he enlisted the services of Colorado 4 X 4, a non-profit recovery service, who shared in a Facebook post that their team of eight volunteers were unsuccessful despite a massive amount of manpower.

"Overall, our team put in a total of 132-man hours and drove a total of 1,480 miles to assist the owner of this vehicle."

"They were eventually able to maneuver the vehicle onto several traction boards, and then made the decision to attempt to drive one of the recovery rigs around the stuck vehicle to be able to conduct a pendulum recovery."

This type of rescue vehicles using combination of equipment and winches to “swing” the vehicle via a “pendulum” back onto the trail. However, the team was unable to successfully fit the recovery rig around the truck. After many hours of working at high altitude and running out of daylight, they decided to abandon the recovery for that day.

Driving Steep Backcountry Mountain Road

At nearly 14,000 feet, his back tire slid off the trail and he was unable to continue or turn around (Image credit: Adventure_Photo)

In the meantime, the Vail Daily reports that the truck's owner became tired of waiting, and returned to Mountain Recovery on September 1 to ask for help. That company was able to extract the truck using their track machine – a 12,000 lb Bobcat vehicle that drives on two 8-foot-long tracks rather than four wheels and can be driven almost anywhere off-road in Colorado.

The owner of Mountain Recovery, Charlie Stubblefield, did not disclose the exact invoice that the truck owner was sent, but said that such services begin at a hefty $1,600. We're guessing after all the media attention on this incident, the owner was happy to draw a line under things, and get his shiny new truck back on the tarmac. He might want to get himself a good pair of hiking boots for his next high altitude adventure.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.