What follows is the March-June Forest Ranger Activity Report for DEC Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack region. Although not a comprehensive detailing of all backcountry incidents, 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), WSLP (93.3) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at approximately 7:42 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from women from Hawaii requesting assistance for her grandson, Hans Kern, 20, of Annandale on Hudson, NY. Mr. Kern was on the summit of Mt Marcy and was not prepared to spend the night.
Three DEC Forest Rangers responded. In direct cell phone conversations between Mr. Kern and one of the forest rangers it was learned that Mr. Kern was cold and tired, and wanted to be retrieved from the mountain. The forest ranger further learned that he was wearing jeans and a cotton “hoodie” sweatshirt, that he had a stove with no gas, snowshoes that he wasn’t wearing, and no water but he did have a flashlight. The Forest Ranger directed Mr. Kern to put on the snowshoes and begin walking back down the trail, both to shorten his stay on the mountain and to warm his body with physical activity. The three Forest Rangers met Mr. Kern on the VanHovenberg Trail at 10:42 pm and assisted him in walking out of the woods.
This hiker was fortunate to have escaped his predicament without any bodily harm. Other than carrying a flashlight he was completely unprepared for any hike, let alone a hike in the High Peaks during winter conditions. The DEC website provides information on how to safely plan, prepare and complete a hike at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28708.html
Town of Newcomb, Goodnow Conservation Area
On Saturday, March 26, 2011, at approximately 5:22 pm, while on routine patrol a DEC Forest Ranger heard the Newcomb Fire and Rescue being dispatched to a snowmobile accident on conservation easement land. The Forest Ranger responded to assist and located the snowmobile off the groomed trail and down a log road. A snowmobile operated by James Case, 51 of Greenfield, NY, had hit a log bridge, throwing him forward over the snowmobile. The impact resulted in Mr. Case receiving several injuries. He was extracted by snowmobile and rescue sled to the road, transferred to Newcomb Emergency Medical Service ambulance and transported to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment. Use caution when snowmobiling on unfamiliar trails.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Saturday, May 7, 2011, at approximately 10:03 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook was notified that Debbie DiMaggio, 45, of Niskayuna, NY was overdue from a hike to Allen Mt. Five DEC Forest Rangers responded along with ATVs and chainsaws because of the high water conditions and snow bridges. The Forest Rangers began searching the area for Ms. DiMaggio but were unable to locate her. Plans were made to return in the morning to search further. At 8:00 am the following morning, as forest rangers were beginning their search assignments, Ms. DiMaggio came walking out of the woods in good condition. She reported to that a bridge on her planned route had washed out so she had to take another path. She spent the night walking around, searching for the path, but had difficulties because of the darkness. In the morning light she was able to find the path and walk out. Always carry a flashlight, extra food and water and other supplies to comfortably spend an unexpected night in the woods.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Saturday, May 14, 2011, at approximately 11:35 pm, DEC Central Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 reporting a missing hiker on Mt. Marcy. A member of a hiking group that had included Jim Browning, 52, of Birdsboro, PA, reported that at 4:30 pm, the group had began descending the summit of Mt. Marcy to get supplies from their base camp at Marcy Dam. Mr. Browning was descending behind them as he moved a slower pace than the other three members of the party. After obtaining the needed supplies the three hikers headed back up the VanHovenberg Trail but after hiking for an hour did not encounter Mr. Browning. The three hikers returned to Marcy Dam and called for assistance. It was learned that Mr. Browning was dressed properly and had some food and water with him. Two Forest Rangers began searching the trails on and around Mt. Marcy but after hours of unsuccessful searching in heavy rains decided to try again in the morning.
Five DEC Forest Rangers responded early the next morning and once again began searching the trails around Mt. Marcy. At approximately 12: 15 pm, Mr. Browning contacted one of the other members of his group by cell phone indicating that he was at the intersection of the Phelps Trail approximately 0.6 mile below the summit of Mt. Marcy. He was instructed to wait there for Forest Rangers. When they arrived just minutes later, Mr. Browning was found cold and wet but otherwise in good condition. He was escorted down to the Marcy Dam Outpost where he was warmed up and fed before being transported back to trailhead. Mr. Browning reported that he had taken his glasses off because they were fogging up in the rain. He mistakenly took the Phelps Trail down to the Slant Rock Lean-to where he spent the night. In the morning he attempted to continue out towards Johns Brook Lodge but was unable to cross Johns Brook due to high waters. He returned up the Phelps Trail and when he reached the intersection with the VanHovenberg trail he was able to get cell phone signal and call his hiking partner. Groups should always remain together and never leave a group member alone. Always be prepared to spend a night in the woods.
Town of North Hudson, Dix Mountain Wilderness Area
On Monday, May 17, 2011, at approximately 10:00 pm, a visitor stopped by a DEC Forest Ranger’s headquarters and reported that his hiking partner, Ryan Doyle, 28 of Queensbury, NY, was in need of assistance on the trail below the summit of Dix Mountain. He stated that Mr. Doyle’s had become exhausted after attempting to carry his dog down the mountain after it had collapsed and needed to be carried off the mountain. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded, first making arrangements for the visitor to stay at a nearby lodging facility. The Forest Rangers located Mr. Doyle and his dog 1/4 mile from the Lillian Brook Lean-to. He was exhausted, but willing to walk to the nearby lean-to escorted by the forest rangers, who carried his dog. Once at the lean-to, Forest Rangers rehydrated and fed Mr. Doyle and the dog. By approximately 8:00 am, Mr. Doyle was able to travel slowly on his own power. Forest Rangers escorted him and the dog to the trailhead where they were reunited with the other member of the hiking party at 1:00 pm. Hiking in snow and cold weather is hard work (even when you are not carrying a dog). Eat plenty of food and drink plenty of liquids to keep up your strength.
Town of Chesterfield, Taylor Pond Wild Forest
On Sunday, May 22, 2011, at approximately 12:12 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook was notified of an injured hiker on Poke-O-Moonshine mountain. Megan Berry, 27, of Plattsburgh, NY was hiking on the trail to the fire tower when she slipped and fell, injuring her leg. A DEC Forest Ranger responded as well as volunteer Emergency Medical Services crews from Keeseville, Lewis and Willsboro fire departments. Ms. Berry was located about 1 mile from trail head. Her injury was stabilized by EMS personnel; she was packaged in a litter and carried out to the trailhead. She was transported by ambulance to Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh for further evaluation and treatment. Accidents can happen, always carry a first aid kit and know how to obtain assistance in emergency situations. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of Wilmington, McKenzie Mountain Forest Preserve
On Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at approximately 5:05 pm, DEC Dispatch at Ray Brook received a call from a group of hikers on the summit of Whiteface Mountain requesting assistance. Jesse Schickler, Alec Montalvo, Samantha Garbarino, Sean Winker, Thomas Iacono, – all age 20 and from Staten Island, NY, and Michael Winker, 22, of Brooklyn, NY had begun the hike from the Connery Pond trailhead at 10:00 am that morning and were not without food and water. A DEC Forest Ranger responded meeting up with the group at 8:20 pm and provided a ride back to their vehicle, dropping them off at 9:00 pm. Know the physical abilities of all the members of your hiking party and plan hiking trips that all are capable of completing in a reasonable time. Always carry more than enough food and water.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at approximately 5:11 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from a hiker stating that his two companions were stuck on the face of Mt. Colden. James Vize, 25, and Kirstyn Quinn, 21, both of Lake Placid, NY, had climbed up the Trap Dyke with a companion. The companion had climbed out successfully but Mr. Vize and Ms. Quinn were now stuck at the last slide on the right of the Trap Dyke. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded to assist along with local rock climbing rescue volunteer. Plans were coordinated with the State Police Aviation Unit to insert two Forest Rangers and the volunteer by the helicopter at the bottom of the Trap Dyke. At 7:20 pm they reached Mr. Vize and Ms. Quinn and slowly brought down the slide. All three subjects walked out and were back at their vehicle by 9:58 pm. Know your abilities and the difficulties of the hike or climb you plan to take. If your abilities don’t match the capabilities change your plans until your abilities have improved.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness
On Saturday, June 18, 2011, at approximately 2:30 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call stating a hiker had a severe leg injury was in need of assistance. Stephen Cahill, 51, of Peru, NY had hiked from the Adirondack Loj to Scott Pond, near Wallface Mountain, with a group of boy scouts when he sustained his injury. At DEC Forest Ranger responded to the location while ten others forest rangers were preparing to assist in the nearly 5 mile carry, which includes an 800 foot descent over a one mile stretch. The Forest Ranger reached Mr. Cahill at 4:30 pm and determined that due to the nature and severity of the injury, a carry out could worsen the injury. A helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit was requested. At 6:22 pm Mr. Cahill was hoisted into a State Police helicopter out of Albany and then transported to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of Keene, Giant Mountain Wilderness
On Saturday, June 18, 2011, at approximately 5:15 pm, DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received information from Essex County 911 that climber had fallen near Chapel Pond and was injured. Rebecca Martin, 28, of Winooski, Vt., was climbing on the Creature Wall with a partner when she reportedly fell 30 feet to the ground. DEC Forest Rangers and Keene Valley Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene. Ms. Martin was found to have numerous abrasions and a number of more serious injuries. She packaged into a litter and carried her to Route 73. At 6:20 pm she was placed in an ambulance a transported to Elizabethtown Community Hospital. She was stabilized there and transported to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, VT for further treatment. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.