Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adirondack Search and Rescue Highlights (April)

DEC Forest RangerState Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks and statewide. 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. Here’s a list of incident that occurred in the Adirondacks during the month of April. The info was provided by DEC.

Distressed hikers on Hurricane Mountain

Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook at about 1 p.m. on Friday, April 3, from two distressed hikers on Hurricane Mountain in the town of Keene. The 18-year-old male and 17-year-old female from Plattsburgh said they had become exhausted after post-holing through the snow and could no longer continue to ascend or descend the mountain. They had no snowshoes and no extra clothing. Forest rangers responded and reached the hikers at 3:36 p.m. The rangers provided the teens with warm footwear and snowshoes and escorted them back to the trailhead. No medical attention was required. The incident concluded at 5:38 p.m.

Lost hikers on Buck Mountain

Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook at 8:34 p.m. on Friday, April 3, from three lost hikers on Buck Mountain in Washington County near Lake George. Two 18-year-old males from Glens Falls and one 19-year-old male from Queensbury had lost the trail due to darkness and did not have lights, a map or compass to find their way back to the trailhead. Washington County 911 obtained the GPS coordinates of their cell phone. Forest rangers responded and located the men off the trail in a drainage area at 12:36 a.m. where they had started a campfire to keep warm. The rangers escorted them back to the trailhead. No medical attention was required. The incident concluded at 2:20 a.m.

Lost hikers on Prospect Mountain

DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call from Warren County 911 at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, reporting three females lost on Prospect Mountain in the town of Lake George. The 19-year-old woman and two 20-year-old women from Glens Falls, one of them with a possible leg injury, made their way from a trail to the first Prospect Toll Road Crossing with no flashlights. Dispatch advised them to stay on the road until forest rangers arrived. Rangers located the women at 8:54 p.m. and transported them to their vehicle. The injured woman said she would seek medical attention on her own. The incident concluded at 9:30 p.m.

Lost skier on Gore Mountain

DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook received word of a skier lost in the glades at the Gore Mt. Ski area On April 12, at 2:40 p.m. The 22-year-old man from Fulton called Warren County 911, who then contacted ski patrol. Warren County 911 obtained GPS coordinates from the man’s cell phone, which they relayed to responding forest rangers. Rangers located the skier by 4:15 p.m. They escorted him back to the ski area in good condition.

Hypothermic hiker on Chimney Mountain

DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 at 6:20 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, reporting a 26-year-old man from Malta lost on Chimney Mountain in the town of Indian Lake. State police received the initial call and obtained GPS coordinates from the man’s cell phone, which they relayed to responding forest rangers. Rangers located the hiker at 9:05 p.m., who showed symptoms of mild hypothermia. Rangers warmed him up before walking him back to the trailhead where the Indian Lake Ambulance Squad waited. The ambulance transported the hiker to Glens Falls Hospital for evaluation. The incident concluded at 11:55 p.m.

Overdue hiker on Iroquois Mountain

State Police received a call from the Canadian Provincial Police at 12:20 p.m. on Monday, April 13, reporting a 30-year-old man from Quebec, Canada had not returned from a hiking trip to Iroquois Mountain in Essex County. He was expected to return home on Sunday, April 12. Forest rangers located the man’s vehicle at the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead in the Town of Keene at 1:05 p.m. Additional forest rangers searched trails surrounding the area. At 2:05 p.m. the man walked out of the woods on his own. No further response was required and the incident was closed.

Unprepared hikers lost on Poke-o-Moonshine

DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call from three women reporting they were lost on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain at 7:50 p.m. on Monday, April 13. The women, a 20-year-old from Ballston Lake, 20-year-old from Clifton Park, and 21-year-old also from Clifton Park, had come down a trail and followed a gravel road to a dead end. They were not properly dressed, had little water and food, and no flashlights. Essex County 911 obtained GPS coordinates from their cell phone and relayed the coordinates to the responding forest ranger. The ranger located the women at 8:57 p.m. He transported them back to their vehicle and the incident concluded at 9:15 p.m.

Hikers lost in Pilot Knob area

DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook received a call at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, reporting an 18-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman, both from Albany, lost on private lane in the Pilot Knob area in Washington County. Warren County 911 provided coordinates which placed the pair on the trail to Warner Bay in Lake George. Forest rangers responded to the Pilot Knob Area and contacted the hikers by cell phone. Rangers told them to walk downhill toward the water. Crews located them at 12:15 p.m. on Pilot Knob Road, a quarter-mile from the trailhead. Forest rangers transported them back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 12:30 p.m.

Girls lost near Lake Placid

Essex County 911 contacted DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook Dispatch on Tuesday, April 28 at 6:50 p.m., reporting two teenage girls lost in the vicinity of the railroad tracks near the Lake Placid fire house. The two girls, both from Lake Placid, had been walking on the tracks toward Ray Brook at approximately 3:30 p.m. when they veered off the tracks following what they believed to be a trail. Forest rangers responded to the area. The girls had a disposable phone, so emergency crews could not obtain exact GPS coordinates. At 8:30 p.m. Forest rangers located the girls near the base of Seymour Mountain, approximately one mile down the tracks. Rangers escorted the girls, who were in good condition, back to the Lake Placid fire house where they were released to their parents.

Injured hiker near Ausable Club

DEC Forest Ranger, on patrol in the High Peaks Wilderness, encountered an injured hiker at 6:40 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29. The 71-year-old man from Chaddsford, Pennsylvania slipped on an ice slab near Rainbow Falls injuring his leg. The man walked out on his own to his vehicle, which was parked at the Ausable Club parking area. No further action was required. The incident concluded at 7:05 p.m.

Hiker lost near Indian Lake

A 52-year-old Latham man contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch at 2:10 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, reporting he was lost on the Rock Pond and Rock River Trail in the Blue Ridge Wilderness in Indian Lake without any food or water. Forest rangers responded to the area and determined the man was lost on a snowmobile trail. They advised him to follow the trail markers and located him at 3:07 p.m. The rangers escorted him back to his vehicle. The incident concluded at 3:30 p.m.

Hikers lost in St. Lawrence County

Two hikers contacted DEC’s dispatch office in Ray Brook at 1:37 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, reporting that they had gotten lost while attempting to locate the fire tower in Wanakena in St. Lawrence County. The 62-year-old woman and 75-year-old man, both from Ticonderoga, had apparently lost their way on one of the many logging roads in that area. DEC advised them to call St. Lawrence County 911 and request the coordinates of their location. Forest rangers located the pair at 2:52 p.m. in good condition and escorted them back to their vehicle. No further action was required. The incident concluded at 4:00 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 mike@adirondackexplorer.org.

5 Responses

  1. James Fox Jim Fox says:

    Can cellphones reach 911 throughout the backcountry of the Adirondacks? What are the restrictions on cellphone towers within the Park?

  2. Hawthorn says:

    Cell phone signals are basically line of sight, so if you are on or near the top of a mountain you are likely to reach someone, though it might be in Vermont! Down in the valleys in the High Peaks there are many dead spots. There are large swaths of the Adirondacks that are out of reach of 911 or even ordinary cell service. The coverage maps were all recently “upgraded” by the major carriers to make it look like more area is covered because coverage is king, but they are overly optimistic. My sister lives within a solid color patch on one of the major carriers indicating full LTE signal, yet you are lucky if you can make a call standing at the end of her driveway with maybe 1 bar of signal.

    • Paul says:

      Yeah, that coverage map is pretty bogus when it comes to parts of the Adirondacks. Maybe they are talking about if you have a big antenna and and amplifier and you climb to the top of a 100 foot high tree!

  3. Bruce says:

    All these incidents in just one month, one involving deep snow. I’m happy they all turned out for the better, with no deaths and only a few minor injuries.

    Cell phones seemed to play a part in the listed rescues, but as Hawthorn pointed out, there are just too many places in mountainous terrain where they don’t work, including at our camp on Sixth Lake near Inlet.

    We were boating on the lake a couple years ago when folks from shore started hollering at us. When we got close enough to hear what they said, a boat which we had seen drifting in the lake earlier and assumed was someone drift-fishing was a woman who couldn’t get the motor restarted. Her pontoon by that time had drifted out of the channel and into stump and rock laden water near shore. We gingerly went in, tied up to her boat and pulled it back out into safe water, where her husband came out from their camp, and got the motor going again.

    The reason she was out there alone was because a cell signal could be had in the middle of the lake and she wanted to make a phone call. Her phone didn’t work to call her husband until we had reached the middle of the lake again on the way to their camp. Sixth Lake is almost exactly halfway between the Old Forge and Blue Mountain Lake towers.

    What does this say about depending upon cell phones as rescue equipment…maybe yes, maybe no.

    • Paul says:

      That is why in the Adirondacks (like it used to be and still is in a lot of places) folks look out for each other. Sounds like maybe her husband fell asleep in the hammock!

      Also I think that by law if a boat sees another boat in distress they must come to their aid. Can’t tell you how many boats I have towed over the years (and been towed a few times myself).

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