Every year, Curtis Culver and his brother plan a backpacking trip to Grand County, Colorado. Culver’s dog, Stella, usually tags along. This trip was the 20th year so far, but it was the first year they encountered dangerous weather conditions. The three of them had to evacuate to escape a harsh snowstorm, but when help arrived, Stella bolted in fear. Culver panicked as he was forced to leave her behind.
Being a smart and resourceful pup, Stella survived five days in the snowy Colorado mountains. But when help finally arrived, she was relieved and ready to take the longest nap of her life.
Adventure Gone Wrong
Culver and his brother knew there would be some snow on their adventure. But what was supposed to be three inches turned into six to ten. So, they called for help, and rescue officials came as quickly as they could. But amid all the commotion, Stella ran off in fear. The weather conditions were too risky for Culver to stay and look for the pup.
“My brother and I weren’t confident enough in our fire starting and maintaining abilities in the 18-degree weather forecast,” Culver said. “It was just the emptiness you feel inside knowing you are not leaving with all the lives you came with.”
So, the search and rescue team brought the brothers to safety but had to leave Stella behind. Then, after necessary preparations, the team returned to the mountain and started hiking the 14-mile trail, looking for Stella along the way.
Stella Protects Herself
It took rescuers about four hours to reach the campsite Culver had stopped at. Five days after Stella ran off, the team found her not far from the campsite. She seemed to be doing well despite all she’d been through.
When Culver saw her for the first time in five days, he was overjoyed. He rushed over to her and showered her with hugs and kisses. Now, she’s back in the comfort of her home, getting pampered as much as possible. She’s also getting plenty of well-deserved rest.
“I love her,” Culver said. “If I could take her everywhere I go, I would, honestly.”
While Stella was alone, she was wearing a backpack that had her food and snacks inside. Culver believes that she found a way to access the food during her time alone. It’s amazing what dogs can do when faced with a tricky situation!