Marie-Pier Leduc, 21, and Miquel Martin, 20, both of Kirkland, Quebec, spent Monday night by a campfire in Panther Gorge in the High Peaks Wilderness.
The hikers told state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers that they had become disoriented on the summit of Mount Marcy. They then bushwhacked into Panther Gorge, where they spent the night with a fire to keep warm. At first light, they followed a drainage and eventually crossed the Elk Lake-Marcy trail, where they encountered forest rangers searching for them.
Forest rangers escorted the hikers to Elk Lake, where they were reunited with family members at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
A search for the hikers was initiated at 1:33 a.m. that night after one of the hiker’s family members called state police to report them missing. State police then conducted a search and found their vehicle still in the Adirondack Loj parking lot. State police then called DEC. The pair had planned to make a day trip up Mount Marcy, starting at the Adirondack Loj trailhead.
After being alerted to the missing hikers, fourteen forest rangers responded to the incident. One team traveled through more than three feet of snow and reached the tree line of Mt. Marcy just before 7 a.m. Additional teams approached the area from the Panther Gorge, Johns Brook Valley and Newcomb entrances.
At 8:25 a.m., the forest rangers on Mount Marcy located fresh tracks leading from the south side of the Marcy bowl into Panther Gorge, a remote, steep, crag-filled area of the High Peaks where overnight temperatures had dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Based on this information, a state police helicopter from Lake Clear was called in to assist with the search. Half an hour later, the helicopter crew, which included a forest ranger, spotted the hikers walking in the direction of Marcy Swamp. The helicopter inserted the ranger to the location to assess the hikers’ well-being. The Ranger determined both were in good health.
DEC said the pair of hikers did not have skis or snowshoes, a map, compass or GPS unit with them. Although snowshoes or crosscountry skis are required in the Eastern High Peaks when there is at least eight inches of snow, neither hiker received a ticket. However, DEC said in a statement that it urges all hikers to have proper gear with them for winter trips.
Photo provided by DEC: Marie-Pier Leduc (second from right) of Quebec walks out of the woods on snowshoes after being rescued by forest rangers Tuesday.