What follows is the July and August Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. These reports are issued periodically by the DEC and printed here at the Almanack in their entirety. They are organized by county, and date. You can read previous Forest Ranger Reports here.
These incident reports are a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.
The Adirondack Almanack reports current outdoor recreation and trail conditions each Thursday evening. Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.
Town of Newcomb, High Peaks Wilderness
On Saturday, June 26, 2010, at approximately 10:15 pm, a DEC Forest Ranger received a call reporting a group had not returned from a hike of the three mountains in the Santanoni Range. The group included Matt Winslow, 38, Bootie Bush, 37, Mandy Bush, 35 and a 12 yr old female, all of Newcomb, NY and Denis Thibodeau, 52, of South Glens Falls, NY. The DEC Forest Ranger made plans to meet the caller at the Bradley Pond Trail Head and drive the road into the interior trail head. DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook contacted the forest rangers while he in route to the trail head, and informed that they had received a call reporting another pair of hikers was overdue from hiking the Santanoni Range – Roger Norton, 52, of Bellenham, MA, and Shawn Duarte, 37, of Rohobick, MA. The forest ranger located both groups while driving to the interior trail head. All individuals were in good condition but progressing slowly. Know the difficulty of the hike and the physical abilities of your party, plan trips accordingly.
Town of Newcomb, High Peaks Wilderness
On Sunday, June 27, 2010 at approximately 10:40 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a cell phone call from a hiker reporting that his hiking partner, Gregg Briggs, 46, hometown unknown, was missing and last seen at 12:30 pm on Saturday, June 26, 2010. The caller indicated that he and Mr. Briggs had planned on camping at the Henderson Lake lean-to, but found it occupied when they arrived. Mr. Briggs remained at the lean-to while he began searching for a place to camp. When he returned to the lean-to, Mr. Briggs was not there. He searched into the night, but could not locate his companion. In the morning he hiked out to get help. He was very concerned for Mr. Briggs well being because he had a chronic health condition and hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours. Six DEC Forest Rangers, a helicopter from the New York State Police Aviation Unit, the Eagle Valley Search Dogs and volunteers from the NYS Federation of Search and Rescue all responded. The ground search began around the lean-to and trails leading up various peaks in the area. At 1:07 pm, the State Police helicopter located Mr. Briggs near Duck Hole, a pond approximately 3.5 miles away from where he was last seen. The helicopter set down, picked up Mr. Briggs and flew him back to the command post. Mr. Briggs reported that he been looking for a campsite, got lost and spent the night under a ledge. In the morning he started walking down steam, which led the trail to Duck Hole. Mr. Briggs health was assessed and he was released by 2:30 pm. Always carry a map and compass and use them. Otherwise, don’t leave the trail unless you know the area well.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness
On Tuesday June 29, 2010, at approximately 12:11 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Camp Dudley reporting a camper injured at Avalanche Lake. The 12 year old male camper from New York, NY, was unable to bear much weight on his ankle. A DEC Interior Caretaker responded from Lake Colden and stabilized the boy’s ankle. He then rowed the boy across Avalanche Lake in a boat and escorted him to Marcy Dam. A DEC Forest Ranger met them at Marcy Dam and transported the boy on an ATV to South Meadows Road via the Marcy Truck Trail. The camper was turned over to Camp Dudley staff at 4:58 pm, and transported back to Camp Dudley for further medical attention. Know how to obtain assistance if you or a member of your party is injured or sickened. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness
On Wednesday, June 30, 2010, at approximately 2:30pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Camp Southwoods reporting one of their counselors had suffered a lower leg injury on Cascade Mountain. DEC Forest Rangers requested the assistance of a helicopter from State Police Aviation and then hiked in to locate Chelsea Thieneman, 22, of Louisville, KY. Forest rangers stabilized Ms. Thieneman’s leg and prepared her for transport. She hoisted into the helicopter and flown to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid for further medical care. Always carry a first aid kit, even on day hikes.
Town of Minerva, Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
On Wednesday, July 14, 2010, at approximately 8:53 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a request from State Police for assistance from DEC Forest Rangers to locate a group last seen near the mines on the Northwoods Road. The Boy Scout group consisted of two leaders: Tom Martini, 47, of Elmira, NY, and Karen Wirimer, 49, of Newerk, NY, and three scouts, two males from Macedon, NY, one 13 and the other 14, and a 14 year old male from Elmira, NY. The group had been exploring caves in the area. Forest rangers searched the trails and wooded areas adjacent to the caving site throughout the night without success. The next morning additional forest rangers were assigned to the search. A forest ranger located the group in good condition in the largest of the five caves in the area at approximately 7:25 pm. According to Mr. Martini, the group had moved through a 100 foot “squeeze” section and into the main portion of the cave. After exploring the main cave for a period of time they could not locate the passage way back out. They could hear searchers calling for them during the night but were unable to make themselves heard to the searchers. The cave had reportedly checked by another Scout group the night before, but the forest ranger decided to check the cave to be sure. In caves use string or other markers to help find your way back. Remove the material on your way out.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness
On Friday, July 16, 2010, at approximately 12:20pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from a hiker requesting assistance on Mount Colden. Dr. Andrew Orosan-Weine, 46, hometown unknown, and his 12 year old daughter were having trouble proceeding after hiking up the Trap Dyke and getting caught in the rain. The Trap Dyke is steep gorge which serves as the main drainage for the west side of the mountain. While it is a safe path for experienced, physically fit hikers in dry weather, with the heavy rains forecast for July 16, it was sure to contain significant amounts of fast flowing water. A DEC Forest Ranger attempted to contact the pair with his cell phone for three hours before finally reaching them. The forest ranger provided instructions on how to return to the Trap Dyke to Doctor Orosan-Weine and his by then cold and wet daughter. When the pair reached the Trap Dyke it was filled with water cascading down through it. The pair then tried to ascend up to the marked hiking trail, but could not proceed through the heavy rains. They then sought shelter under a rock overhang until the rains lessened. Forest rangers advised Dr. Orosan-Weine that the weather prevented the use of a helicopter and therefore it would be hours before forest rangers could reach them. When forest rangers were once again able to contact the pair at 4:40 pm, Dr. Orosan-Weine reported that when the rain had stopped they had ascended to the marked hiking trail, began proceeding out and no longer needed assistance. Learn about the area you plan to hike and always check the weather before going out – plan accordingly.
Town of Keene, Private land
On Thursday, July 22, 2010, at approximately 3:33pm, a DEC Forest Ranger heard a radio transmission that Keene Fire Department was being dispatched to a possible drowning on the Ausable River at Hulls Falls Road. The forest ranger responded, requesting additional forest ranger assistance. The forest ranger arrived at the scene and observed a 12 year old boy from North Miami, FL, trapped underwater in a hydraulic below the falls. The forest ranger and a Keene fireman were able to dislodge the boy and pull him from the water. CPR/Rescue breathing was performed while the subject was prepared for extraction up a steep embankment. The boy was taken to a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit and flown to the Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid. The boy was transferred to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington where later died. New York State Police conducted an investigation of the incident. Be aware of the power of waterfalls, cascade and other fast flowing waters.
Town of Newcomb, Lake Harris Campground
On Sunday, July 26, 2010, at approximately 9:25 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a report from staff at Lake Harris Campground of two kayakers overdue from a trip on the Hudson River. David Bridegroom, 44, of Johnsonville, NY and his 11 year old son, had started down the Hudson River from the pumping station off Santanoni Drive at 6:45pm, but had not arrived at the pickup point at the bridge on Campsite Road. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and began a boat based search up river from Campsite Road. He located the father and the son one mile up river between two areas of rapids. The first rapid had been too difficult for the pair, so they brought the boat ashore before dark and waited. Neither of them had shoes on and both were wearing shorts. They were safely escorted out of the woods and returned to the campground by 1:00am. Know your abilities and the conditions you will be facing. Always carry clothing and supplies for an unexpected night in the woods.
Town of Keene, Dix Mountain Wilderness
On Monday, August 9, 2010, at approximately 12:52 pm DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from a man reporting that his wife had fallen while hiking on the Round Pond Trail. Mary Stonor-Saunders, 46, of Chicago, IL was hiking with her family in an area known as “The Bucket” when she fell and hit her head on rock. She had received a head injury and was unable to move. Six DEC Forest Rangers and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded. Mrs. Stonor-Saunders was found responsive but with diminished ability to move her left leg. Forest Rangers packaged her in a back-board and hoisted her up to the helicopter at approximately 3:00 PM. A seventh forest ranger, who is also a certified emergency medical technician, was picked up at Marcy Field in Keene Valley to assist with administering aid to Mrs. Stonor-Saunders. She was flown to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for further evaluation and treatment. Know how to obtain assistance if you or a member of your party is injured or sickened. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness
On Thursday, August 12, 2010, approximately 1:30 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting that a man had fallen and injured himself on the summit of Iroqouis Peak. Paul Langhammer, 55, of East Greenwich, RI, was temporarily stunned after falling 10 feet. He broke an arm and received numerous lacerations on his arms and legs. Due to a medical condition Mr. Langhammer was unable to use of his other arm. Three DEC Forest Rangers, the Algonquin Mountain summit steward and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded. First aid treatment was provided to Mr. Langhammer’s injuries. The State Police helicopter touched down on the summit of the mountain, retrieved Mr. Langhammer and transported him to the Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid at approximately 2:56 pm. Always carry a first aid kit, even on day hikes.
Town of Keene, Giant Mountain Wilderness
On Tuesday, August 16, at 6:12 pm DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County Emergency Services reporting that a rock climber had fallen while climbing the Upper Washbowl Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, Town of Keene. Dennis Murphy, 35, of Lake Placid had finished a climb with a companion on this cliff across from Chapel Pond on Route 73. The climbers were traversing to another location to rappel back down the cliff when Mr. Murphy slipped and fell, landing more than 200 feet below. DEC Forest Rangers, Keene Valley Fire Department and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded to the scene. Upon locating Mr. Murphy it was clear he was deceased. State Police and the DEC Bureau of Environmental Crime Investigation unit were contacted and documentation was made to assist in the investigation of the incident. The climber’s body was packaged, carried over rough terrain to a nearby location and hoisted to the helicopter. The body was transported to Marcy Field where the Essex County Coroner Walter Marvin declared him dead at 8:41 pm.
Town of North Hudson, Dix Mountain Wilderness Area
On Wednesday, August 18, 2010, at approximately10:30pm, two people stopped at a DEC Forest Ranger supervisor’s headquarters to report to family members overdue from a hike up Macomb Mountain. Bruce Bunky, 59 and Margaret Bunky, 18, both of Worcester, MA, had not yet returned from their hike. The forest ranger supervisor and another forest ranger began a search of the hikers’ intended route back from Macomb. Forest rangers located the pair approximately 3 miles from the trailhead, tired but otherwise in good condition. They were escorted back to their family at 2:30 am. Know the difficulty of the hike and the physical abilities of your party, plan trips accordingly.
Town of Harrietstown, Saranac Lake Wild Forest
On Saturday, June 26, 2010, at approximately 1:41pm, DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Franklin County 911 reporting a group lost near Lower Saranac Lake. Chris Dirosa, 26, and Justine Valenvuela, 26, Yorktown Heights, NY, Shea Schnell, 30, of Plattsburgh, NY, and Naresh Francois, 27, of Goshen NY, had been camping at the DEC Saranac Lake Islands Campground. They went for a short hike in the afternoon and became lost. DEC Forest Rangers responded and were able to locate the group at 2:26 pm using the GPS coordinates of their cell phone had been provided by Franklin County 911. The group’s members were in good health and returned without further incident to their campsite. Always carry a map and compass and use them. Otherwise, don’t leave the trail unless you know the area well.
Town of Indian Lake, Siamese Pond Wilderness
On Sunday, July 18, 2010 at approximately 2:03pm DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from a hiked with an injured ankle near the summit of Chimney Mountain. DEC Forest Rangers and volunteers from the Indian Lake Fire and Rescue Department responded. Sue Fuller, 59 of Syracuse, NY was unable to walk because of the injury. Ms. Fuller’s ankle was stabilized and she was carried out on a litter. At 5:40 pm, she was transferred to an ambulance waiting at the trailhead and transported to the Glens Falls Hospital. Know how to obtain assistance if you or a member of your party is injured or sickened. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of Wells, Siamese Ponds Wilderness
On Tuesday, August 10, 2010, at approximately 2:30 pm DEC Forest Rangers received a report from the Hamilton County Sheriff Department of an injured man at Auger Falls, on the Sacandaga River in the Town of Wells. Michael Torres, 21, of Middle Grove, NY reportedly had slipped on sloping ledge rock and fell into river gorge below first set of this popular falls. He was able to pull himself up onto ledge below overhanging rocks in the middle of gorge. Unknown witnesses of the incident drove to Speculator to report it. DEC Forest Rangers, Hamilton County Sheriff Department, NY State Police, State Police Aviation Unit, Wells Ambulance and Rescue Squad, Speculator Ambulance Squad and Piseco Ambulance Squad responded. Mr. Torres had suffered a deep gash above his right eye, a swollen right knee, possible broken toe on his left foot and contusions to the knuckles of his left hand. Mr. Torres was provided first aid treatment, packaged into a litter and lifted out of the gorge using a high ropes system. He was transported by helicopter to the Albany Medical Center.
Town of Indian Lake, Hudson Gorge Primitive Area
On Thursday, August 12, 2010, at approximately 11:50 am, DEC Forest Rangers patrolling rafting operations at the confluence of the Indian and Hudson Rivers were informed by a rafting guide of two rafters that had been thrown from their raft and injured. Greg Hogan, 25, and a 15 year old male, both of Warwick, RI had been ejected from the raft they were on when it had taken a large wave sideways. The young man had aggravated a preexisting shoulder injury while swimming and Greg Hogan had injured his lower back when he became pinned between the raft and a rock. They were being walked out by a guide from the Hudson River Rafting Company, whose raft they had been on. The forest rangers requested Indian Lake Fire and Ambulance to respond to the Gooley Club Road. They then bushwhacked through the woods to intercept the guide and the two rafters. Forest rangers and the ambulance crew placed Mr. Hogan on a backboard and carried him to the waiting ambulance. The young man was able to walk to the ambulance on his own. Both were transported to the Glens Fall Hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
Town of Inlet, Moose River Plains Wild Forest
On Thursday, August 12, 2010, at approximately 9:26 pm, DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the Limekiln Campground reporting that a group of campers had not returned from a late afternoon hike. Angel Whaley, 21, Margo Whaley, 39 Jody Whaley, 42, Shane Peckham, 23, a 16 year old female, a 17 year old female, a 14 year old male and a 3 year old male, all from Smyrna, NY, had gone hiking with four others on snowmobile trail north of the campground. About a half mile into the hike four members of the group turned back due to difficult trail. The others continued down the trail which became an unimproved cross country ski trail that parallels the north side of Limekiln Swamp. DEC Forest Rangers and began searching the area around the swamp. At 10:30 pm, one of the forest rangers made voice contact with the group, though they were approximately a mile away at the other end of the swamp. At 11:45 pm forest rangers located the group in good health. They were escorted out of the woods and returned to their campsite by 2:00 am. Always carry a map and compass and use them. Otherwise, don’t leave the trail unless you know the area well.
Town of Lake Pleasant, Moose River Plains Wild Forest
On Friday, August 15, 2010, at approximately 6:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call reporting two paddlers overdue from a canoe trip on the Cedar River. Bob Howard, 47, and a 16 year old male, both from South Glens Falls, NY, had began their trip at Wakely Dam and planned to finish 12 miles downstream at Route 28/30. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began searching the river in sections five miles below Wakely Dam. At 8:52 pm, one of the forest rangers stopped on Cedar River Road by a vehicle containing the two canoeists. Mr. Howard reported that their progress was very slow due to the low water level of the river. At the five mile mark they abandon their canoe and walked out on a snowmobile trail on the south shore of the river. They had walked four miles to the road where they were able to find a ride. Scout waters before starting a trip.
Town of Indian Lake, Hudson Gorge Primitive Area
On Saturday, August 15, 2010, a DEC forest ranger on his day off was kayaking the Indian and Hudson Rivers.
While on the Indian River he witnessed Michael Baranowski, 30, of Washington DEC, flip his kayak and exit into the water. The off duty forest ranger responded, assisted Mr. Baranowski to shore and then retrieved his boat. Both then continued down the river, but a short while later Mr. Baranowski again flipped his kayak and exited it into the river. The ranger again rescued him and retrieved his kayak. However, this time, out of concern for his safety, the ranger persuaded Mr. Baranowski to abandon his planned trip. The ranger contacted the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook and made arrangements for Mr. Baranowski to be transported to North Creek where his wife was waiting for him. Mr. Baranowski admitted that his only experience paddling a kayak was in the flat water of the Potomac River. Know your abilities and the conditions of the water your plan to paddle. Scout waters before starting a trip.
Later that same day, at 2:14 pm, the ranger was paddling on the Hudson River near North Creek when he was summoned to a raft. A 16 year old female from Greenfield Center, NY, was suffering from severe abdominal pains. The ranger contacted DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook and requested the Johnsburg Ambulance to meet the raft at a nearby location. The young lady was transported by ambulance to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment.
Governor David Paterson was on a rafting trip that day with an area outfitter that was close by during both of the incidents. People on the governor’s raft had shouted words of congratulations and encouragement regarding the ranger’s actions. You never know who you might meet in the Adirondacks.
Town of Morehouse, Ferris Lake Wild Forest
On Wednesday, August 18, 2010, at approximately 2:55 am, DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 reporting two kayakers overdue from a kayaking trip on West Canada Creek. James Leuthauser, 49, and Chad Leuthauser 19, both of Cicero, NY, had driven from their hometown with their new kayaks. Five DEC Forest Rangers responded and searched the waterways. The pair were located on the South Branch of West Canada Creek at 6:30 am; cold, wet and tired but otherwise in good condition. They had planned to paddle downstream to Noblesboro where they had left bicycles for transportation back to their vehicle. However, the water levels preventing them from kayaking, so they pulled their kayaks from the water and then were overcome by darkness. DEC Forest Rangers returned them to their vehicles and retrieved their bicycles. Know your abilities and the conditions of the water your plan to paddle. Scout waters before starting a trip.