Friday, March 6, 2015

Adirondack Search and Rescue Highlights (February)

DEC Forest RangerForest rangers and other emergency organizations responded to search and rescue incidents throughout the Adirondacks in February. Below are summaries of each of the rescue incidents.

Personal locator beacon activated in High Peaks
A dispatcher in DEC’s Ray Brook office received a report at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday, February 10, that a personal locator beacon had been activated in the High Peaks Wilderness. The coordinates placed the hiker at the intersection of Hopkins Trail and the Van Hoevenberg Trail on Mount Marcy. As a forest ranger was responding, the PBL’s coordinates changed to indicate the owner was still on the trail and heading to Marcy Dam.

The ranger arrived at Adirondack Loj and headed up the trail to Marcy Dam. He located the the man who activated the beacon in good condition, past Algonquin Junction. The 41-year-old male from Westchester, Pennsylvania and his companions; a 40 year-old male from Boyertown, Pennsylvania and a 45 year-old male from Melberne, Pennsylvania, stated they had started snowshoeing from the Garden trailhead in Keene Valley and got turned around on the Hopkins Trail on the way up Mount Marcy. They activated the beacon and then decided to follow signs and ski out on the Van Hoevenberg trail. They decided to activate the beacon because they were concerned that they would not get to shelter that evening, and were tired, wet, and cold. While they weren’t lost, they felt an emergency was imminent. After being located, rangers escorted the party out to the Adirondack Loj trail head and provided transportation to the party’s lodging location in Keene Valley. The incident concluded at 9:30 p.m.

Hiker injured on Wright Peak
Essex County 911 contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 15, requesting assistance for a hiker who had fallen and suffered a lower leg injury on Wright Peak in the High Peaks Wilderness. Forest rangers located the 31-year-old New York City resident three-quarters of a mile down the junction to Wright Peak on the Algonquin Trail above MacIntyre Falls. Forest rangers responded to a staging area at Adirondak Loj. Rangers used snowmobiles to get in as far as they could and then snowshoed the rest of the way, reaching the climber at 5:48 p.m. His was stabilized and carried a distance to the waiting snowmobiles, and then transported via sled to the Adirondak Loj. He was taken by the Lake Placid Ambulance Squad to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid. The incident concluded at 7:35 p.m.

Campers reported overdue after trip to Avalanche Lake area
A dispatcher at DEC’s Ray Brook office received a call at 7:10 p.m. Sunday, February 15, regarding two overdue camping in the High Peaks Wilderness. A 29-year-old from Arlington, Virginia, and a 29-year-old from Washington, D.C. signed in at the trail registry for two-day camping trip to Avalanche Camps. During their stay, they planned to hike to Avalanche Lake and climb the Trap Dike. After they were reported overdue, four forest rangers began to search for the men. Two forest rangers used snowmobiles to access Avalanche Camps. Fresh foot prints believed to be those of the hikers, helped the rangers locate the men at 9:45 p.m. near their vehicle parked at the Adirondack Loj. The men told rangers that weather hindered their hike and delayed them significantly from packing up at Avalanche Camps and hiking out. One of the men transported himself to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid for evaluation of possible frostbite on his hands. The incident concluded at 10:00 p.m.

Snowmobiler injured on Perkins Clearing Easement
Hamilton County 911 advised DEC Ray Brook Dispatch that a 50-year-old woman from Clifton Park hit a tree on a snowmobile on Perkings Clearing Road in Speculator. Two forest rangers and EMS responded to the scene and secured the woman, who had sustained a lower leg injury, for transport. She was carried out, loaded into an ambulance, and taken to Nathan Latour Hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 1:55 p.m.

Lost hiker on Pitchoff Mountain
A dispatcher in DEC’s Ray Brook office received a call at 6:30 p.m., February 20, from a hiker who was lost on Pitchoff Mountain in the Sentinel Range Wilderness in Keene. The 56-year-old-male from Corning stated that after coming from the north summit of Pitchoff Mountain he had lost the trail due to heavy snowpack. DEC investigators obtained location coordinates by having the hiker contact 911 at 6:41 p.m. Six forest rangers responded. As they reached higher elevations, three-foot-deep snowpack, wind, snow drifts, and subzero temperatures limited the responders’ speed to a .5 mile per hour. The rangers located the hiker at 11:15 p.m. in good condition, and he was able to snowshoe back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 1:25 a.m.

Snowmobile accident in Webb
A dispatcher at DEC’s Ray Brook office was notified at about 11:30 p.m. on Friday, February 27, of a snowmobile accident in the Independence River Wild Forest in Webb. The rider, a 48-year-old man from Paramus, New Jersey, was having shoulder and lower leg pain. Big Moose EMS responded to the scene. They transported the man to the trailhead, where he was taken by ambulance to the Lewis County Medical Center.


Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues.

Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.

From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake.

Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at mike@adirondackexplorer.org.




4 Responses

  1. Hawthorn says:

    Apparently nobody carries a map, compass, and the knowledge to use them anymore.

  2. TrailOgre says:

    “They decided to activate the beacon because they were concerned that they would not get to shelter that evening, and were tired, wet, and cold. While they weren’t lost, they felt an emergency was imminent. After being located, rangers escorted the party out to the Adirondack Loj trail head and provided transportation to the party’s lodging location in Keene Valley. The incident concluded at 9:30 p.m. ”

    So they had cold fingers and that was an imminent emergency?
    WOW

  3. April Cosey says:

    They should have fined and or arrested for falsely reporting an emergency.

  4. Eric R says:

    It’s seems that the number of rescues, compared to the sheer number of folks heading into the backcountry, is relatively small. For me, every trip has been a learning experience and even seasoned explorers can quickly get over their head. Unfortunate that fellow hikers regularly feel the need to vent and scold over these situations. If the need to comment is overwhelming, how about offering friendly, constructive criticism instead? Hostility just might make the next lost hiker reluctant to seek assistance, with tragic consequences.