Rescues involving personal locator beacons are rare in the Adirondacks, but one played a key role in the search-and-rescue of a 47-year-old Long Island woman on Mount Marcy during whiteout conditions in early February.
Maria Nobles had been hiking with a group of six people on February 6 when she lost her way near Schofield Cobble on her way to Marcy’s summit, which is less than a mile away. Realizing she was in trouble, Nobles sent a distress signal on her locator beacon.
A dispatcher at the state Department of Environmental Conservation office in Ray Brook received the distress signal at 12:46 p.m. and initiated a rescue. The coordinates put her northwest of Schofield Cobble. A dispatcher sent a text to Nobles’ phone, who replied she was lost but not injured.
Forest rangers responded to Mount Marcy while the Lake Colden Caretaker Katie Tyler headed to the area where the spot locator coordinates were provided. After about 45 minutes of searching in Schofield Cobble area, Tyler located Nobles at 4:45 p.m. about 1,000 feet off the trail.
“I’ve never been so happy to hear someone yelling in my life,” Tyler said.
Tyler said Nobles was in good condition when she found her. She had proper winter gear and clothing. She simply got lost in difficult whiteout conditions caused by high winds. Once Nobles got off the trail, she had difficulty walking because of spruce traps, despite wearing snowshoes.
Tyler and responding Forest Rangers evaluated Nobles at the Four Corners intersection of the Van Hoevenberg trail and then escorted her to the Lake Colden Outpost where she spent the night.
The following morning, they escorted her back to Lake Arnold where she was reunited with the rest of her party who was camping at that location.
“She totally did the right thing,” said Forest Ranger Joe LaPierre, who was in contact with Nobles via cell phone during the rescue. “She realized that she was lost. We tell everyone stop, sit down, think, observe and plan.”
LaPierre, who has been stationed in Saratoga County the past few years, said that this was his first rescue involving a locator beacon. There have been a handful others in the High Peaks in recent years.
LaPierre said the only thing that the group didn’t do right was stay together and act in an organized fashion. The group actually didn’t realize Nobles was missing until they arrived back at camp at Lake Arnold and she didn’t show up.
Photo by Mike Lynch: Lake Colden Caretaker Katie Tyler.