Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Adirondack Search and Rescue Highlights (August)

DEC Forest RangerForest rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, forest rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the backcountry.

August missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks include:

Medical emergency at Johns Brook Loj
On August 1, 2015 at 8:44 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch overheard traffic on the radio from John’s Brook Loj in the High Peaks Wilderness reporting a 22-year-old man from Deruyter in medical distress at the facility. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Garden in John’s Brook Valley and entered the Southside Trail on ATVs. DEC Forest Rangers reached the man at 12:20 a.m. on August 2. They evaluated and treated him before loading him into a litter and transporting him out by ATV to Lockwood Field. Rangers transported the man to a Keene Valley Ambulance, which took him to Elizabethtown Hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 3:20 a.m.

Lost hiker on Spruce Mountain
On August 2, 2015 at 6:20 p.m., Washington County 911 contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a lost 19-year-old female hiker from Huletts Landing on Spruce Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest. Vermont State Police relayed the information about the hiker to Washington County 911. The woman had reached the summit and lost the trail while descending. DEC Forest Rangers responded. Her family located her in good health at approximately 8:20 p.m. and walked her out to the trailhead where a Forest Ranger waited. The incident concluded at 9:00 p.m.

Lost biker in Jay Mountain Wilderness
On August 9, 2015 at 5:02 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from a 42-year-old male biker from St. Basile Le Grande, Quebec, lost and injured somewhere off Jay Mountain Road in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Seventy Mountain area of the Jay Mountain Wilderness. DEC Dispatch advised the biker to shout so he could be located. Forest Rangers located him at 7:05 p.m. He reported he was biking in Elizabethtown with his brother whose bike had a mechanical failure. The man planned to bike back to the private campground in Wilmington where they were staying so that he could return with a car, but the GPS directions he followed got him lost. Forest Rangers transported the man back to the campground in Wilmington at 8:30 p.m.

Lost kayaker on Union Falls Pond
On August 9, 2015 at 7:44 a.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call reporting a 40-year-old male kayaker from Ballston Spa became lost while paddling on Union Falls Pond in the town of Franklin. The female caller reported that she received a text from the kayaker at 6:30 p.m. on August 8, indicating he was lost. At 9:30 p.m. she received a second text from the man saying he was on Franklin Falls Flow where he planned to spend the night as he did not have a flashlight or map. She called for help after not receiving any further communication. Four DEC Forest Rangers, a DEC Assistant Forest Ranger, a DEC Backcountry Steward and New York State Police began a search but could not find the kayaker after an extensive search of the waterway and woods along the shore. At 11:56 a.m. the kayaker called Franklin County 911 and they obtained coordinates for his location. Searchers followed those coordinates and located the kayaker at 12:17 p.m. on the east shore of Union Falls Pond. Forest Rangers evaluated his health before transporting him by boat back to his vehicle at 1 p.m.

Overdue hikers near Sampson Lake:
On August 9, 2015 at 12:30 a.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a call reporting a 26-year-old man and 24-year-old woman from West Islip were one day overdue while hiking in the West Canada Lakes. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded and located the pair’s vehicle at the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead in the West Canada Wilderness. The Rangers searched the trails leading from the trailhead and eventually located the pair in good condition near Sampson Lake. The hikers reported that while hiking on the Northville Placid Trail on the first day they mistakenly turned off onto the West Canada Lakes Trail toward the Moose River Plains. They encountered another hiker who advised them they were heading in the wrong direction, so they turned around and hiked back to Brook Trout Lake where they spent the night. They continued hiking on the second day and made it to Sampson Lake where they spent a second night. The Forest Rangers escorted them back to the trailhead, arriving at their vehicle at 9:00 a.m.

Head injury at Roaring Brook Falls
On August 11, 2015 at 5:10 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 20-year-old woman with a head injury at the top of Roaring Brook Falls in the Giant Mountain Wilderness. The woman’s companion reported that she was currently resting in her tent but needed help. DEC Forest Rangers responded to Roaring Brook Falls, located the woman at 6 p.m. and carried her down to a waiting Keene Valley Ambulance. The ambulance transported her to Elizabethtown Hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 7:15 p.m.

Hikers stuck on Hanging Spear Falls
On August 11, 2015 at 12:21 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a woman on a satellite phone reporting she and her group of six people were stuck on Hanging Spear Falls, which they had accessed through the Flowed Lands in the High Peaks Wilderness. The group from SUNY Cortland’s Camp Huntington consisted of three men and three women ranging in age from 21 to 27. DEC Forest Rangers hiked the two miles into Hanging Spear Falls and found the six individuals trapped at the base of the falls. Rangers used a system of rope riggings and harnesses to bring each person out of the canyon and to the top of the falls where they were given blankets to stay warm. Once rescued, Rangers released the group back to their campsite. The entire rescue operation lasted eight hours. The incident concluded at 8:30 p.m.

Helicopter rescue in High Peaks
On August 15, 2015 at 1:18 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for an injured 19-year-old man from State College, Pennsylvania at the Upper Phelps junction on Mount Marcy. One DEC Forest Ranger, one Assistant Forest Ranger, and a Summit Steward responded to organize a carry out plan. As the carry out was prepared, the weather broke and Forest Rangers decided the best course of action was a hoist evacuation by helicopter. One Forest Ranger was inserted and prepped the man to be hoisted out at 4:00 p.m. He was transported to AMC Saranac Lake for treatment at 5:06 p.m. The incident concluded at 5:30 p.m.

Injured hiker in Johns Brook Valley
On August 15, 2015 at 5:15 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from John’s Brook Outpost reporting an injured 60-year-old New York woman located one mile up from the Slant Rock Junction on the Shorty Short Trail in John’s Brook Valley in the High Peaks Wilderness. An Assistant Forest Ranger responded from John’s Brook outpost. The Ranger hiked all the way to the junction of Basin and Haystack but could not locate the injured hiker. Two additional Forest Rangers were dispatched at 6:15 p.m. to travel by ATV to John’s Brook to follow the Assistant Forest Ranger towards Slant Rock Lean-to. Another hiking party later reported that the injured woman was not on the Shorty Short trail but was above the Slant Rock Lean-to on the red trail (Phelps) but before the Little Haystack/Little Marcy Junction. The Assistant Forest Rangers located the woman at 9:35 p.m. Rangers evaluated and stabilized her with a plan to hoist her out by helicopter at first light. On Sunday morning, New York State Police Aviation and Forest Rangers managed to extract the woman and transported her to AMC Saranac Lake without further incident.

Wallface climber rescue
On August 17, 2015 at 3:06 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting a 23-year-old male climber from Carmel hanging from a rope on Wallface Mountain Cliffs, on the diagonal climbing route, after falling 60 to 80 feet. A separate group climbing just above the fallen climber rappelled down and provided basic first aid. Twelve Forest Rangers, two volunteer climbers and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit stationed at the Lake Clear Airport responded to the incident. A Forest Ranger and one of the volunteer climbers were inserted via hoist, operated by another Forest Ranger from a State Police helicopter, hovering in the Indian Pass Canyon. The helicopter lowered the pair onto a precarious sloped accumulation of broken rocks (scree) at the base of the cliff. The Forest Ranger and the volunteer then climbed a 200 foot vertical cliff with a 5.5 difficulty rating on the Yosemite Decimal Scale (5.0-5.15) rating system to a small ledge where they located the injured climber. They assessed the injured climber’s medical condition and developed plans to get him off the cliff. The helicopter then lowered another Forest Ranger and volunteer climber to the same scree slope with a litter. The injured climber’s climbing companions helped the four rescuers raise the litter to the crowded small ledge. While one Forest Ranger packaged the injured climber into the litter, one of the volunteer climbers built anchors with artificial protection. They rigged a technical rope system and the rescuers on the ledge attended the litter as it was lowered 200 feet to the scree slope. Four additional Forest Rangers hiked 4.5 miles from Upper Works Trailhead, arriving as the litter reached the bottom of the cliff. They attended the litter with the injured climber down the scree slope to an open area. At 8:00 p.m. a Forest Ranger steadied the litter as it was hoisted up to the State Police helicopter. The Helicopter transported the injured climber to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. The Forest Rangers, volunteer climbers and the initial responding climbers hiked out to the Upper Works Trailhead and were transported back to their vehicles in Lake Placid. Phil Brown has written more about this rescue here.

Overdue hikers on Giant
On August 20, 2015 at 9:44 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a report of two overdue hikers. A 21-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man, both from Los Angeles, CA, had left the previous day from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve to hike Giant Mountain. As neither had access to a vehicle, it was assumed the pair departed from the nearby Roaring Brook Trailhead. Two DEC Forest Rangers initially searched the other trailheads to Giant Mountain with no results. At 12:15 p.m., as additional Forest Rangers responded, the pair were located hiking along Route 73 between Chapel Pond and Ausable Road. They reported they had started late from the Mossy Cascade Trailhead. The female hiker had gotten stuck in the mud in a swampy area for a period of time. Later, the male hiker developed physical issues that slowed him down. With darkness approaching they decided to hike to the Giant Mountain Lean-to where they spent the night. At day break, they hiked up and over Giant Mountain, and down the Ridge Trail to the Giant Mountain Trailhead along Route 73. After checking them out, Rangers gave the pair a ride back to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The incident concluded at 12:45 p.m.

Lost Paddler near Saranac Lake
On August 20, 2015 at 11:54 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Franklin County 911 reporting a stranded paddler whose cell phone GPS coordinates indicated she was on Cold Brook near Owl Pond in the High Peaks Wilderness. The 25-year-old woman, from Saranac Lake, was headed to Lower Saranac Lake and got turned around after going through the locks on the Saranac River. After her canoe could go no further up Cold Brook she left it and began seeking a trail through the woods. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded by boat from the DEC Second Pond Boat Launch. They went to shore, followed the brook to her canoe and began tracking her. At 2:06 p.m. they obtained voice contact with her on the opposite side of Cold Brook from where she had left her canoe. They met up with her and escorted her back to her canoe. At 2:30 p.m. they escorted her back to the main channel in the Saranac River where she stated she could proceed on her own from there.

Injured hiker on Prospect Mountain
On August 20, 2015 at 3:52 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a hiker on Prospect Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest with a lower leg injury. The 62-year-old man from Queensbury sustained the injury while hiking on the trail up the mountain. A Forest Ranger responded and located the injured hiker about 100 feet off the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, being assisted by other hikers. The Forest Ranger assisted him to the highway where an emergency medical technician from the Lake George Emergency Squad Ambulance examined him. The incident concluded at 5:04 p.m.

Hikers stranded in dark
On August 20, 2015 at 10:10 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a phone call to DEC Central Dispatch. The caller, a 48-year-old woman, reported that she and her companion, a 37-year-old man, both from Rome, NY, were stranded hikers at Indian Falls on the Van Hoevenburg Trail on Mount Marcy. She said their flashlights were dead and they were unable to see the trail. A DEC Forest Ranger was dispatched to Marcy Dam with a UTV while an Assistant Forest Ranger at Marcy Dam hiked up to Indian Falls. The Assistant Forest Ranger reached the pair at around 1:30 a.m. and provided them with lights. She escorted the pair of hikers back to Marcy Dam at a slow pace due to physical problems the woman experienced. They arrived at Marcy Dam at 3:30 a.m. and the Forest Ranger transported them to the Adirondack Loj Trailhead concluding the incident at 4:00 a.m.

Injured hiker on Pharaoh Mountain
On August 21, 2015 at 12:27 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 52-year-old man from Middletown who had injured his lower leg while hiking down from the summit of Pharaoh Mountain in the town of Schroon. The hiker had attempted to continue down the mountain and further aggravated the injury. Nine DEC Forest Rangers and an Assistant Forest Ranger responded to the mountain. The first group met the injured hiker at 1:41 p.m. a short distance below the summit of Pharaoh Mountain. They stabilized his injury and carried him more than two miles to a waiting UTV. They transferred the hiker to the trailhead and then to the Schroon Lake Ambulance Squad, which took him to an area hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 7:00 p.m.

Sick camper in West Canada Wilderness
On August 22, 2015 at 9:53 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting an 18-year-old woman from New York City with a previous medical condition was very ill and in need of assistance. The woman was with a group from Hamilton College at the West Canada Creek Lake Lean-to, on the shores of Mud Lake, along the Northville-Placid Trail. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded to the area. Two of the Rangers drove UTVs to the lean-to while another Forest Ranger accompanied an Adirondack Life Flight Paramedic on a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit stationed at Lake Clear Airport. The Forest Ranger on the helicopter scouted for a suitable landing zone nearby. A spot was located 200 yards from the lean-to on the shoreline of the lake. The paramedic, with assistance from a Forest Ranger, evaluated the young woman and determined she was in medical distress. They escorted her to the helicopter, which flew her to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 12:56 p.m.

Sick camper on Long Lake
On August 22, 2015 at 10:16 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call seeking assistance for a 40-year-old man from Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, with a medical emergency. The man was at Rodney Point Lean-to on the shores of Long Lake along the Northville-Placid Trail. A DEC Forest Ranger and a State Police Trooper traveled by boat to the lean-to. The man was provided basic treatment and then assisted to the boat. The Rangers transported him to the DEC Long Lake Boat Launch and then to a Long Lake Rescue Squad ambulance, which transported him to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 12:45 p.m.

Injured hiker on Chimney Mountain
On August 23, 2015 at 12:35 p.m., the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a hiker with a possible lower leg injury at Chimney Mountain in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded with Hamilton County Sheriffs Deputies,State Police Troopers, Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department members and Indian Lake Volunteer ambulance members. The 62-year-old woman from Syracuse slipped and injured her leg while descending the Chimney Mountain Trail. Rescue crews transferred her to the Indian lake Volunteer Ambulance at 3:30 p.m., which transported her to the Glens Falls Hospital.

Injured High Peaks hiker
On August 23, 2015 at 12:53 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call reporting an injured hiker on the col between Blueberry and Porter Mountains in the High Peak Wilderness. The 28-year-old man from Keene had fallen, injuring his lower leg on a sharp rock. The injured man patched up the injury but was unsure if he could continue on his own back to the trailhead. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded. The first Ranger reached the injured hiker at 2:27 p.m. The Ranger assessed the injury and provided additional medical attention. The second Forest Ranger arrived a short time later and joined the first in assisting the injured hiker back to Marcy Field at 5:30 p.m. The hiker declined further medical treatment.

Lost youth in Chester
On August 24, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Warren County 911 from a 15-year-old lost male from Gormley, Ontario, Canada. The boy, vacationing with family nearby, had gone for a run and gotten lost on logging trails on private property in the town of Chester. A DEC Forest Ranger used GPS coordinates from the teen’s cell phone to locate the boy in good health at 8:45 p.m. The Ranger returned him to his family at 9:30 p.m.

Lost hiker on Buck Mountain
On August 25, 2015 at 11:36 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Warren County 911 from a 51-year-old woman from Buffalo lost on Buck Mountain in the Lake George Wild Forest. She left from the Pilot Knob side of Buck Mountain at 10:30 a.m., and became lost at 11:20 a.m. The woman then directly called Ray Brook Dispatch with coordinates and elevation bearings from her cell phone, which placed her near the Butternut Creek on Buck Mountain. Dispatch told her to wait there, while two DEC Forest Rangers responded to the area. One Forest Ranger entered Buck Mountain through the Pilot Knob side while the other Forest Ranger entered through the Inman Pond Trail. They located her near Butternut Creek at 1:50 p.m. and escorted her back to her vehicle. The incident concluded at 3:01 p.m.

Hiker rescued from Algonquin Peak
On August 27, 2015 at 4:50 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from a 39-year-old woman in medical distress on top of Algonquin Peak in the High Peaks Wilderness. A DEC Forest Ranger spoke to the woman and determined an aviation rescue was necessary. New York State Police Aviation inserted a Forest Ranger to access and prepare the woman for hoist. At 6:39 p.m., they hoisted her off the summit and transported her to Adirondack Health Center in Saranac Lake for further medical treatment.

Distressed hiker in High Peaks Wilderness
On August 27, 2015 at 5:00 p.m., DEC Ray Brook received a radio call from Johns Brook Loj reporting a 77-year-old woman from New York City in medical distress approximately .5 miles from Johns Brook Loj in the High Peaks Wilderness. Hikers who encountered the woman along the trail reported her status to Loj staff members. Loj staff members assessed the woman and assisted her back to the Loj. New York State Police Aviation transported two DEC Forest Rangers into Johns Brook Valley. The woman was airlifted to Marcy Field where she was transferred to Keene Valley EMS and taken to Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical treatment.

Lost hikers on Shelving Rock trail system
On August 30, 2015 at 7:13 p.m., Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from a male hiker, lost with his 18-year-old daughter on the Shelving Rock Trail System in the Lake George Wild Forest. A DEC Forest Ranger made direct contact with the father and located the pair at 10:38 p.m. The Ranger escorted them out of the woods and back to their vehicle at 11:06 p.m.

Hikers lost on Whiteface Mountain
On August 31 at 10:20 p.m. DEC Central Dispatch was notified of a 22-year-old male and 22-year-old female from Montreal, Quebec lost on Whiteface Mountain. The pair had taken the Whiteface Mountain Gondola up the mountain and then bushwhacked to the top of the mountain. They reached the summit late in the evening and were not prepared to hike in the darkness. A DEC Forest Ranger responded to the Whiteface Memorial Highway and met the two approximately one mile up the road. They were transported back to their vehicle at Whiteface Mountain Ski Area at 2:00 a.m.


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.




2 Responses

  1. peter says:

    Getting lost on a pond deserves some reflection.