Friday, February 6, 2015

Adirondack Search and Rescue Highlights (January)

DEC Forest RangerForest rangers and other emergency organizations responded to search and rescue incidents throughout the Adirondacks in January. Incidents occurred on Lower Wolf Jaw, Lyon Mountain, and several other trails.

The biggest search occurred after two hikers got lost on Mount Marcy. The pair survived an unplanned night in the woods before being found by forest rangers. One of the hikers shared their story with the Alamanack. Below are summaries of each of the rescue incidents.

Lost Hikers in Dix Mountain Wilderness
The father of a 34-year-old woman from Schenectady, notified a Lt. forest ranger at 7:15 p.m. on January 1, that her daughter and her hiking companion, a 54-year-old man also of Schenectady, had attempted to climb the Dix Range in the town of North Hudson. He said the hikers called to tell him they had missed several turns and were not at their intended destination. An additional forest ranger and the lieutenant drove to the trailhead, hiked in two miles, and located the pair on the trail. The rangers escorted the pair back to their vehicle.

Distressed hikers on Prospect Mountain
DEC dispatch in Ray Brook received a request for assistance at 5:15 p.m. on January 1 from four hikers who were near the summit of Prospect Mountain in Lake George and were unprepared for the conditions. Dispatch gave the hikers, a 55-year-old man, a 55-year-old woman, a 25-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman, all of Macungi, Pennsylvania, directions to Prospect Mountain Road. Two forest rangers on snowmobiles traveling up the road, located the hikers at 6:47 p.m., and transported them down the mountain to the parking lot. They were evaluated and released at 7:17 p.m.

Distressed hiker on Dial Mountain trail
DEC dispatch in Ray Brook received a call at 2:53 p.m. on January 10 from a distressed hiker on the trail to Dial Mountain in Keene. The 51-year-old man of Honeoye Falls, stated he was unable to continue down the trail but was otherwise uninjured. Essex County 911 provided his location coordinates to dispatch. Eight forest rangers responded, along with state police helicopter. A forest ranger lowered himself from the helicopter on to the summit of Dial Mountain. Rangers located the hiker uninjured but in need of medical attention. He was hydrated, warmed up and escorted down the mountain. Additional forest rangers met the hiker at the trailhead and transported him by snowmobile down Lake Road where he was evaluated by the Keene Valley Fire and Rescue Squad and released at 8:30 p.m. Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue members assisted with the incident.

Distressed hikers on Santanoni Mountain
DEC dispatch in Ray Brook received a call at 9:04 a.m. on January 11 requesting assistance for two hikers lost on Santanoni Mountain in Newcomb. A 32-year-old man from Schenectady and a 51-year-old man from Amsterdam said they were following a stream down the Express Trail and believed they were .3 miles from Bradley Pond. Three forest rangers responded via the Upper Works trailhead, with one forest ranger proceeding in by snowmobile. Rangers located the hikers a few miles from the trailhead at 10:45 p.m. in good condition. Rangers transported the party out by snowmobile and arrived at the trailhead at 11:20 p.m.

Injured boy scout on Blue Mountain trail
DEC dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 at 3 p.m. on January 17 about an injured Boy Scout hiking on the Blue Mountain hiking trail in Blue Mountain Lake. The Boy Scout group secured the 17-year-old boy and began bringing him down the mountain. Forest rangers and members of the Blue Mountain Fire Department located the group on the trail at 4:57 p.m. They placed the injured boy in a Stokes Litter, brought him down Blue Mountain to a waiting Blue Mountain Lake Ambulance Squad at the trailhead. He was then transported to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 6:15 p.m.

Injured snowmobiler in Moose River Plains
DEC Forest Rangers responded to a snowmobile accident in the Moose River Plains in Indian Lake on January 19 at 1:44 p.m. A member of a snowmobile party called DEC dispatch in Ray Brook, informing them that a
30-year-old man from Hamilton, New Jersey, struck a tree while riding a snowmobile trail. Indian Lake Fire and Rescue Department also responded. Responders, including Indian Lake Fire and Rescue Department, reached the injured man at 2:30 p.m. and administered first aid. Crews brought him out to the nearest trailhead by rescue toboggan behind a snowmobile. The Indian Lake Ambulance Squad transported him to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 3:44 p.m.

Injured snowmobiler in Watson

A caller notified DEC dispatch in Ray Brook at 12:30 p.m. on January 17 at 12:30 p.m. about a snowmobile accident three miles east from the intersection of McCarty Road and Stillwater Road in Watson. Three forest rangers and Lewis County Search and Rescue responded to the location. They discovered an injured 45-year-old female from Clifton Park, who they assessed and stabilized for transport via rescue toboggan behind a snowmobile to a waiting ambulance at the intersection of Stillwater Road and Number 4 Road. The injured snowmobiler was taken by ambulance to a
helicopter and then flown to Syracuse Hospital for treatment at 3:30 p.m. The Webb Police Department snowmobile patrol assisted in the rescue.

Lost hikers on Mount Marcy
State Police advised DEC Central Dispatch at 1:33 a.m. on January 20th of two overdue hikers in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness in Keene. The 21-year-old hikers, a man and woman from Quebec, Canada, had signed in at the Adirondack Loj to hike Mt. Marcy for the day but did not return as scheduled.
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., forest rangers on Mt. 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 helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit in 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.
The hikers reported they had become disoriented on the summit of Mt. 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. Forest rangers escorted the hikers to Elk Lake, where they were reunited with family members at 2 p.m.

Slide climber injured on Lower Wolf Jaw
DEC dispatch in Ray Brook received a call at 10:40 a.m. on January 24 requesting assistance for an injured hiker below the slide on Lower Wolf Jaw in Keene. Hiking partners reported a 21-year-old man from Greensburg, Pennsylvania had lost his footing and slid down the slide, injuring his lower leg. Seven forest rangers responded, and one forest ranger was lowered into Lower Wolf Jaw by a state helicopter. Rangers assessed and secured the hiker. State police hoisted him out and flew him to Marcy field where a North Country Life Flight medic was picked up. The helicopter transported the hiker to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 12:40 p.m.

Distressed hiker on Lyon Mountain
DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker at 12:50 p.m. on January 24 , stating that a hiking partner, a 75-year-old man from Plattsburgh, was in medical distress. The caller reported the location of the group to be at the junction of the old Lyon Mountain trail and the new Lyon Mountain trail in Dannemora. Three forest rangers responded and reached the hiker at 1:54 p.m. Rangers assessed the hiker and transported him down the mountain by snowmobile where the Lyon Mountain EMS met them. The incident concluded at 2:30 p.m.

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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 [email protected]

5 Responses

  1. Wren Hawk says:

    Mike, It would be interesting to know how rescue statistics, or reports of lost or disoriented hikers compare over the years. A lot of folks seem to believe that fewer people are appropriately prepared for hiking in the Adirondacks, or, that some folks don’t have the awareness of the level of wilderness they are entering – especially in the High Peaks in winter. Should ADK, DEC, and tourism centers be delivering a more direct preparedness message? Or are the numbers not really changing that much and this is the status quo?

  2. Hawthorn says:

    My guess is that the numbers haven’t changed much, though today’s reporting on the incidents is much better. In the past one only heard about the bad ones when they ended up in one of the local papers. Also, in the past I suspect that more people self-rescued for the simple reason they didn’t have cell phones and couldn’t call for help. Also, in the past there were some high-elevation leantos that provided some measure of shelter when things went wrong. My guess is there are more High Peaks winter rescues, possibly due to the advent of better snowshoes and spiked footgear.

  3. jay says:

    Here we go again-what did this failure to prepare cost taxpayers?

  4. Scott van Laer scottvanlaer says: Download the Forest Rangers Annual report, page 49 or 50 shows number of incidents since 1960’s

  5. John Tiernan says:

    This is not to condemn anyone, but I’m interested to know whether any of those rescued was required to pay for the service.

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