Monday, April 13, 2015

Hiker Rescued After Two Nights In Woods

Forest rangers rescued a lost hiker in Ray Brook early this morning after he spent two unplanned nights in the woods.

Claude Denev, a 54-year-old from Ray Brook, hiked to the summit of the 3,088-foot-high Scarface Mountain Saturday. By trail, the hike is about 3.5 miles one way. After reaching the summit and starting the descent, Denev apparently became lost, according to DEC Region 5 Spokesman Dave Winchell.

Scarface Mountain is located near the hamlet of Ray Brook, which is home to the headquarters for DEC Region 5, state police Troop B, and the state Adirondack Park Agency.

After losing his way Saturday, Denev called a friend at about 7 pm to alert them of the situation. He told the friend he would spend the night in the woods and find his way out in the morning.

But the following morning at 11:30 am, Denev realized he needed further assistance and called his friend to ask for help. His friend called state police, who contacted Denev and talked to him for about 30 seconds before the connection was lost.

State police contacted the DEC dispatch office in Ray Brook at 1:20 to alert them of the situation. A forest ranger went to the Scarface trailhead and hiked to the summit, looking for signs of the missing man.

The forest ranger was soon joined in the search by a larger contingent that included seven more forest rangers, a state police helicopter, a DEC environmental conservation police K9 unit and a state police K9 unit. The searchers were unable to locate the man Sunday.

This morning, searchers once again went into the woods at 7:30 am. This group included 14 forest rangers and 11 volunteers from SARNAK entered the woods around 7:30 am.

At 8 am, a forest ranger located Denev in the wetlands on the south side of Ray Brook. He was cold but able to move on his own. He walked out of the woods escorted by the forest ranger.

No further details were available as of 9:30 a.m. this morning.

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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

4 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    The trail up Scarface near the summit is very tricky. If you follow what looks like the most beaten path you can end up on the “scar” rather than the top. Probably should have some better markers where you have to go up over a steep pitch rather than around on a path that looks like the easiest way to go (I guess it is the easiest way – but the wrong way).

    Glad this guy is okay.

  2. Maureen Diaz says:

    The Rangers are wonderful. My son and his girlfriend got lost in Santononi
    Preserve last Wednesday in the snow. Ranger Dave was wonderful and he helped them hike out on their own.

  3. Chris Willett says:

    I was surprised how poorly marked the Saranac 6 especially in light of their proximity to the DEC.

  4. Bruce says:

    This is not intended as an indictment, but I’m amazed how many people take off into the woods in an oblivious manner, assuming all they need do is follow the trail back. This particular hiker apparently didn’t panic, he did that part right. Trails or no trails, it behooves each of us to constantly monitor our sense of location and surroundings whenever we choose to leave sidewalks behind. It’s called “staying found.” How many of us start out and never turn to look back, assuming the trail, or our own self assured sense of direction will be our guide? Cell phones (when they work and have service) can help with rescue, but batteries die, and isn’t “staying found” much simpler in the first place?

    You just never know, and those footsteps you hear behind you belong to a fellow named Murphy.

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