Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Recent Forest Ranger Search and Rescues

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in 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 Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.Essex County

Town of Keene
High Peaks Wilderness
Distressed hiker: On September 20, 2016 at 2:40 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiking party near the summit of Gothics reporting a 44-year-old man from Harbourton, NJ in medical distress. Dispatch advised the hiking party to stabilize the man and wait for New York State Police Aviation to arrive with DEC Forest Rangers. New York State Police Aviation transported Forest Rangers to Johns Brook Lodge landing zone, but winds prohibited a summit hoist operation.  An Assistant Forest Ranger met the hiking party at the summit and helped them begin the descent into Johns Brook.  At 9:15 pm the hiking party and Forest Rangers reached Johns Brook Lodge.  The man declined further medical treatment. The incident concluded at 11 pm.

Town of North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Injured hiker: On September 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 requesting assistance for a 25-year-old woman from Montreal, QC, CA with a lower leg injury approximately one mile from the Marcy Dam outpost.  The woman’s hiking party carried her out to the Outpost where the Marcy Dam Outpost Caretaker assessed the injury.  From there, a DEC Forest Ranger responded on utility terrain vehicle and transported the woman back to the trailhead.  She said she would seek medical attention on her own.  The incident concluded at 7:02 pm.

Town of North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Injured hiker: On September 24, 2016 at 7:02 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from a DEC Forest Ranger reporting an injured 25-year-old man from Syracuse, NY.  A DEC Forest Ranger responded on utility terrain vehicle and transported the man back to the trailhead. He said he would seek medical attention on his own. The incident concluded at 7:42 pm.

Town of Keene
Hurricane Mountain Wilderness
Lost hikers: On September 26 at 3:44 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from The Rooster Comb Inn reporting that a 65-year-old male from Milton, DE had contacted them and stated he and his companion were lost between Big and Little Crow Mountains. DEC Dispatch was able to make cell phone contact with the man and obtained GPS coordinates from Essex County 911. DEC Forest Rangers responded and were able to locate the men off trail near Jones Brook. They were escorted down Leslie Gay Lane back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 6:15 p.m.

Town of Keene
High Peaks Wilderness
Lost hiker: On October 1 at 7:05 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Essex County 911 from a 73-year-old male from Dixson, TN who was lost on Blueberry Mountain along with his two hiking companions, a 35-year-old male and a 27-year-old female, both from Montreal, QC. The group had lost the trail while descending due to darkness. They did not have flashlights or headlamps. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and located the party at 8:04 p.m. and escorted them out to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 8:15 p.m.

Hamilton County

Town of Indian Lake
Blue Mountain Wild Forest
Overdue fisherman: On September 19, 2016 at 9:15 am, a concerned party contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a 50-year-old man from Bolton Landing, NY who did not return from a fishing trip in the Adirondacks the night before as expected.  DEC Dispatch advised all field staff in the Adirondacks to be on lookout for the missing person’s vehicle.  At 11:27 am, Warren County 911 reported a ping on the man’s cell phone hit the Blue Mountain Lake cell tower, narrowing the search area.  At 12:10 pm, crews located the vehicle on O’Neil Flowage Road in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest.  After searching the adjacent pond without any results, additional DEC Forest Rangers and New York State Police Aviation responded to assist.  At 2:30 pm, a DEC Backcountry Steward located the man on Gooley Club Road in the town of Newcomb, approximately 12 miles from his vehicle, in good health.

Town of Indian Lake
Siamese Ponds Wilderness
Injured caver: On September 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man reporting that his caving partner sustained a head injury while caving in Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain. Eight DEC Forest Rangers responded to Chimney Mountain to retrieve the injured 24-year-old man from Waterville, NY.  New York State Police Aviation and two Advanced Life Support (ALS) medics also responded from Lake Clear to a staged location in Indian Lake.  The team rescued the man from the cave using technical rope system operations.  Once removed from the cave, Forest Rangers and ALS medics evaluated the man and carried him out via litter to the NYSP Aviation pick up point.  From there, the helicopter flew him to the University of Vermont Medical Hospital in Burlington, VT.  The incident concluded at 8:02 pm.

Town of Indian Lake
Blue Mountain Wild Forest
Lost hikers: On September 25, 2016 at 5:19 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 reporting a family of five from the Bronx, lost on the Blue Mountain Lake Snowmobile Trail off the Rock Lake Trail.  DEC Forest Rangers, a member of the Hamilton County Sherriff’s Office and New York State Police responded.  They located the family’s vehicle at the Rock Lake Trailhead.  Forest Rangers then utilized sirens to determine their location in the woods.  Forest Rangers located the family at 8:57 pm and assisted them out to their vehicle.  The incident concluded at 9:07 pm.

Jefferson County

Town of Brownville
Perch River Wildlife Management Area
Lost hunter: On September 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm, DEC Central Dispatch transferred a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from a lost 36-year-old hunter from Watertown, NY.  The man reported he was off Route 12 (Bradley Road) in Watertown. He was on his way out of the woods when he became turned around and did not have a map, compass or flashlight. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and used her siren to attempt to help the hunter out of the woods, but that did not work.  The Forest Ranger then went into the woods, located the man at 5:56 pm and escorted him out. The incident concluded at 6:19 pm.

Warren County

Siamese Ponds Wilderness
Town of Johnsburg
Distressed hiker: On September 27 at 2:47 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Essex County 911 for a 24-year-old male in medical distress near 13th Lake. DEC Forest Rangers responded via boat and located the man. He was transported to shore to an awaiting Johnsburg EMS ambulance, where he was evaluated and released. The incident concluded at 5:30 p.m.

Washington County

Town of Dresden
Lake George Wild Forest
Lost hiker:  On September 25, 2016 at 4:36 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 28-year-old man from Sherburne, NY lost on Black Mountain. A DEC Forest Ranger responded, located the man and escorted him out of the woods. He was provided with a courtesy ride via Ranger vehicle to the Hog Town Parking lot. The incident concluded at 6:25 pm.

Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.

Related Stories

Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.

8 Responses

  1. Bob Meyer says:

    It’s about time to at least fine anyone who does not have the minimum equipment necessary whenever being in the woods!
    Every time i read these search & rescue reports most of them m
    say NO light, NO map, NO compass.
    We should all be tired of our tax dollars being used to rescue these irresponsible people. It’s time they start paying us back!
    Rant over. 🙂

    • Taras says:

      I hear you but if you’re referring to the lost hunter, his hunting license fee represents his contribution to the state’s coffers.

      This is the issue that was raised in New Hampshire. Hunting and fishing licenses contributed to the cost of rescuing hunters and fisherman yet hikers accounted for the lion’s share of rescue incidents. After much debate, they implemented the Hike Safe card. In a nutshell, it’s “rescue insurance” for backcountry users. Your rescue is covered even if you are found to be negligent (no flashlight, compass, etc) but NOT if you are deemed to be reckless (like heading into the teeth of a storm with a known medical condition).

      If you require rescue and don’t have a Hike Safe card and are NOT negligent, you’re NOT charged for a rescue.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        i’m not referring to any specific incident, just the overall increase in irresponsible behavior and unprepared users of the woods. In almost all cases there are NO consequences for their actions which, among other things, put 1st responders and rescue folks at risk and over tax our understaffed DEC forest rangers.
        this needs to change.

        • Taras says:


          According to the DEC’s own stats for the High Peaks, they rescued ~100 people in 2015.

          The last census of hiker traffic in the High Peaks (~1998) indicated ~150,000 hikers.

          100 out of 150,000 is a microscopic percentage.

          Like fire-fighters, rangers are called upon to save lives and put themselves in harm’s way. It’s part of the job description.

          Certainly no one wants to see them risk their lives needlessly but a doubling over ten years (50 to 100) isn’t terribly dramatic (especially if one assumes hiker traffic level todays exceeds 2005 levels). Plus one needs to see the stats for rescue levels in the intervening years. Was there a steady increase or was 2015 a peak-anomaly?

          • Bob Meyer says:

            i understand the job description as including rescue.
            it is my understanding that rescues have been going up steadily in recent years. i know it’s a small percentage of the recreational public.
            none of this changes the fact that a larger and larger percentage of these folks are going into the woods unprepared which is irresponsible.
            as one who has been going into the woods for 60 years i know this was not the case in decades past.
            a cell phone is not adequate preparation.

            • Boreas says:


              I agree. A cell phone is no substitute for knowledge and backcountry preparation. They may help keep people alive, but certainly add more emergency calls to the DEC switchboard – something that obviously was not present before cell phone coverage in the Park became more ubiquitous. As minor as the call may seem, it still ties up limited DEC resources that could be put to better use – even if the call doesn’t result in a rescue.

              In the past hikers had to rely on others in their party, fellow hikers, and a trip itinerary left with someone to help them out of situations. Today, too many people rely on this technology instead of common sense preparation.

              I do not feel NYS taxpayers should be shouldering the bulk of this S&R cost, which is why I support the inception of some form of hiking license, the proceeds of which would go specifically to DEC staffing on the ground as well as insuring a minimal amount of backcountry education. Taras mentioned the lost hunter’s contribution was his license fee- why not hikers? After all, who uses emergency DEC resources more in the HPW?

              As a side note, I would like to see this column add a list of total distress calls to the DEC dispatchers weekly that don’t involve S&R. It would add some additional insight into the the behind the scenes use of DEC resources.

              • Bob Meyer says:

                you and i are basically in agreement.
                i hiker’s licence may well be the best way forward to deal with the cost of S&R etc much like Taras has mentioned for hunters.

  2. Joe Bergen says:

    I don’t understand the helicopter call where the man declined further treatment-it must’ve sounded serious for aviation to be used and then he says “nah”??

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