Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Recent Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Operations

DEC Forest RangerNew 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 North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Distressed hikers: On Oct. 25 at 7:05 am, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was forwarded a call from Essex County 911 from a 29-year-old male from Schenectady, a 26-year-old male from Latham, and a 22-year-old male from Delanson, who were near the summit of Mt. Marcy. The hiking party had set out on an overnight camping trip but stated they were “very cold and unprepared for winter conditions.” The trio requested assistance in finding a nearby shelter, indicating that they had awoken to find their gear, boots and clothing frozen in a whiteout. Essex County 911 provided coordinates that confirmed the group’s location. Dispatch established text contact with the men. They were instructed to begin the descent while DEC Forest Rangers began to hike in. The Rangers traveled by all-terrain vehicle to Marcy Dam and then proceeded on foot. The Rangers located the men at 11:45 am approximately three miles from Marcy Dam, warmed them, and assisted them off the mountain and out to the Adirondack Loj. They were advised to seek further medical care but declined. The incident concluded at 2:30 pm.

Hamilton County

Town of Hope
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
Overdue hiker: On Oct. 25 at 11:40 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Warren County 911 for a 25-year-old female from Colonie overdue from a hiking trip. The woman had advised her family she planned to hike near Stony Creek in Warren County and return that day. Her family called 911 after she failed to return by that evening. DEC Forest Rangers and New York State Police Road Patrols were dispatched to look for her vehicle at trailheads in the Stony Creek Area and additional trails in Hamilton and Saratoga counties. Her vehicle was located at Hope Falls Trail in the town of Hope on Oct. 26 at 10:55 am. Additional Rangers were dispatched to Hope Falls, one Ranger responded from the Harrisburg entry point, one Ranger checked the Wilcox Lake area, and New York State Police Aviation assisted from the air. The woman was located at Wilcox Lake Outlet on the trail to Willis Lake. She and her dog were escorted out to Harrisburg Lake and shuttled back to Hope Falls, where she was reunited with family. She informed Rangers she had taken a wrong turn the day before and had proceeded in that direction for a few miles. She turned back once she realized her error. She made the decision to spend the night in the woods after being overcome by darkness. The next morning she continued to walk back out but at a slow pace as her dog was having trouble walking. The incident concluded at 9:30 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.

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7 Responses

  1. Mitch Edelstein says:

    I was speaking with a DEC Forest Ranger the other day. I told her about back when I was in college and a group of us went on a overnight trip to the High Peaks. As we were descending Algonquin, I slipped and sprained my right ankle. I tightened my laces and limped into camp. The next day our group split up, with the majority heading to Lake Tear of the Clouds. My group of three took the next two days to hike (limp) to Marcy Dam and ADK Loj. At no time would I have thought of calling for help or Ranger rescue.

    Part of backpacking, hiking, water craft, climbing etc. is being trained, prepared for predicted or unpredicted situations. Sometimes people are unlucky, but mostly they are unprepared. What exactly does it take to bring a flashlight along with you?

    • Boreas says:

      I would actually like to know is how many people do the same thing twice?! Do people really learn from “Ranger escorts”?

      Us old-timers were typically taught to be reasonably self-sufficient in the woods, whether hunting, hiking, fishing, etc.. But I gather many of those basic skills are no longer passed down and are simply being lost. Scouting for younger people is falling be the wayside. Emergency gear is now a cell phone. This is my main reasoning for requiring backcountry/hiking licenses on state land. I feel it is the best way to at least assure people have been made aware of the basics of backcountry preparedness. Trailhead signs aren’t cutting it.

  2. JoeB says:

    If I go on a 1 mile or a 10 mile day hike , I always go prepared, thinking that I could end up spending an unexpected night in the woods. Some in my hiking party question why I bring enough for two days and I tell them why.

    Its amazing the number of people I see on the trails in street clothes, wearing flip flops, sneakers carrying just one bottle of store bought water or , I kid you not, I have seen a hiking group ,no back packs of any kind, but one person was carrying a guitar. Yep. That will save you .

    There is no way you can stop people who are unprepared from going in to the woods , everyone is responsible for their own personal safety , but maybe a little education board at the trail heads that tell these people that this is not a “town park trail ” and let them make their own decision if they want to proceed .

    • Boreas says:

      JoeB,

      That type of signage at the trailheads has been there for decades. Many just aren’t paying attention because they don’t have to.

  3. Alan Vieters says:

    The report here is not clear to me. Was this group camped near the summit? Which is illegal.