Thursday, April 9, 2015

Adirondack Search And Rescue Highlights (March)

State Environmental Conservation forest rangers respond to search and rescue incidents throughout the Adirondacks. 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. The following is a summary of their activity in March. It was provided by DEC.

Woman injured after slide on Cliff Mountain
DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call at about 12:30 p.m. March 1, about an injured hiker on Cliff Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness. A 20-year-old woman from North Grandby, Connecticut, fell and slid approximately 25 feet before hitting a tree. A forest ranger and the Lake Colden outpost interior caretaker responded. They reached the hiker at 2:15 p.m. and brought her to the Lake Colden outpost to warm up. At 3:43 p.m., additional rangers and state police prepared and removed the injured woman by helicopter. She was transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 4:15 p.m.

Skier injured near Marcy Dam
After clearing a search, two forest rangers encountered an injured skier at about 4:30 p.m., March 1, south of Marcy Dam, in the High Peaks Wilderness. They determined the 30-year-old woman from New Hartford could not travel out on her own. The rangers brought her out via snowmobile and took her to Adirondak Loj where she said she would seek medical attention on her own. The incident concluded at 5:45 p.m.

Snowshoer lost near Saranac Inn
The DEC dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call from a snowshoer at 8 p.m. on March 7, reporting he was lost on a trail near Saranac Inn in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. The 27-year-old man from Saranac Lake did not have a map or compass. He found his way to the railroad tracks but could not determine which direction led back to his vehicle. One forest ranger responded via snowmobile, locating the lost man and returning him to his vehicle at 9:10 p.m. in good condition.

Snowmobiler injured in Colton
Franklin County 911 informed DEC Ray Brook Dispatch of a snowmobile accident at about 10 p.m., March 7, on the Grass River Conservation Easement in the Town of Colton in St. Lawrence County. The accident happened on the 7A trail about 6 miles south of the snowplow turnaround on Massawepie Rd. One forest ranger and the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad responded. A 49-year-old man from Flanders was with two friends headed to the Long Lake area when his snowmobile veered off the west side of the trail, traveled down an 8-foot embankment and hit a small spruce tree. A member of the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad was on scene tending to the injured man when a DEC Forest Ranger arrived. They placed him on a backboard and covered him with blankets and heat pads. A trail groomer responded to the scene to evacuate the man, who was brought to an awaiting ambulance in the Town of Conifer at about 2 a.m. and then transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. Crews cleared the incident by 2:30 a.m.

Hiker injured on Lower Wolfjaw
The DEC dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call at 12:40 p.m., March 8, from the hiking companion of an injured man on Lower Wolfjaw in the High Peaks Wilderness. The 32-year-old Schenectady man slipped while descending the mountain, resulting in an injury to his ankle that left him unable to walk. Forest rangers responded and reached the injured man at 4:11 p.m. They put a splint around his ankle and transported him to the Lower Woljaw lean-to at approximately 7 p.m. to meet additional forest rangers on snowmobiles. The rangers placed the injured man on a litter and towed him by snowmobile through the south side of John’s Brook to Smith Way. At Smith Way, Keene Valley Fire and Rescue Ambulance met the party and transported the injured man to Elizabethtown Hospital for treatment at 9:16 p.m. The incident concluded at 10:20 p.m. Fifteen forest rangers assisted in the rescue.

Medical emergency on Baxter Mountain
DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a report from Essex County 911 at 3:20 p.m. on March 11, of a 61-year-old man from Townsend, Vermont in medical distress on Baxter Mountain in the Giant Mountain Wilderness. Forest rangers responded to the Route 9N trailhead of Baxter Mountain and arrived on scene at 3:44 p.m. The rangers, along with the Keene and Keene Valley emergency rescuesquads, reached the hiker at 4:30 p.m. They administered first aid and prepared him for transport. Once back at the trailhead, crews transferred the man to a Keene Ambulance and he was taken to Elizabethtown Community Hospital for treatment, then to Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburg for additional treatment. The incident concluded at 5:30 p.m.

Snowmobiler injured in Tupper Lake
DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was alerted to a snowmobile accident at about 6 p.m. on March 14 on conservation easement lands at Pitchfork Pond in the town of Tupper Lake. Members of the snowmobiling party were in the process of transporting the injured 31-year-old man from Tupper Lake out to the road. A forest ranger responded and reached the scene just as the group was approaching Pitchfork Pond Road. A Tupper Lake ambulance transported the man to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for treatment. A forest ranger and state police officer remained on scene to obtain accident information. The Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigation was notified due to an injury on Conservation Easement Land. The incident concluded at 7:22 p.m.

Skier injured on Klondike Trail
Essex County 911 transferred a call to the DEC dispatch office in Ray Brook at 1:20 p.m., March 15, from an injured skier on the Klondike Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. The 57-year-old man from Webster stated he had fallen and injured his leg, leaving him unable to continue down the trail. DEC instructed the man to dress in extra layers and stay in place to wait for assistance. A forest ranger immediately responded by snowmobile from the Adirondak Loj and reached the skier at 2:00 p.m. After splinting his leg, crews transported the man by rescue sled to South Meadow to the awaiting Lake Placid Ambulance Rescue Squad. The ambulance took him to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid at 3:35 p.m.

Overdue hikers in Dix Mountain Wilderness
The DEC dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call reporting an overdue hiking party at about 10:30 p.m. on March 16. A 35-year-old man from Cross River and the 35-year-old woman from Pattersonville started out from the Clear Pond Gate in Keene at 6:08 a.m. to hike Macomb, South Six, Grace Peak, Hough and Dix mountain in the Dix Mountain Wildernesss. At 5 p.m., the hiking party texted the caller stating they had completed three of the five peaks but had not heard from the party since. One forest ranger responding on snowmobile, located the couple at 12:30 a.m. They had to break trail while descending Dix, which slowed them down. TherRanger found the couple in good health and provided them a ride back to their vehicle. No medical attention was required and they were released. The incident concluded at 1:15 a.m.

Snowshoer lost near Lower Saranac Lake
The DEC dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call at about 6 p.m., March 20, reporting that a 78-year-old man from Saranac Lake was overdue from returning from an afternoon hike on a herd path going to Lower Saranac Lake. The hiking party began its snowshoe at 1 p.m. and the group was separated at approximately 2:30 p.m. while attempting to go around a blowdown. Three members of the group returned to their vehicles at 5 p.m. They called for assistance after realizing the missing member had not returned to his vehicle. The first forest ranger arrived on scene at 6:35 p.m. Three additional rangers also responded; two were already on snowmobile patrol in the area. Rangers located the lost snowshoer who was exhausted but otherwise in good condition. The batteries for his GPS device had died leaving him unable to navigate back to his car. Rangers returned him to his vehicle at 7:30 p.m.

Family rescued on Mount Marcy
DEC forest rangers, environmental conservation officers and state police worked together on Sunday, March 22 in extreme weather conditions to successfully rescue a mother and her two sons on Mt. Marcy in Essex County. Governor Cuomo recognized the search and rescue teams for the great work. Click here for the full report.

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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

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