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.
Town of Keene
Rescue: On Feb. 8, Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus encountered a rock and ice climber that fell 50 feet at Rhiannon Climbing Route near Chapel Pond in the town of Keene. The 47-year-old climber is a licensed guide who was instructing another climber when he slipped and fell. The client was able to assist the instructor to the trailhead, and Mecus administered first aid and transported the injured climber to a local hospital, where he was treated with non-life threatening injuries.
Town of Ticonderoga
Rescue: On Feb. 11, NY State Police requested Forest Rangers to support their dive team search for two missing Vermont snowmobilers that were presumed to have gone through the ice on Lake Champlain along the New York-Vermont state line near Ticonderoga. Vermont State Police used sonar to find the two snowmobiles submerged in New York waters. Three Rangers brought a DEC airboat to assist divers with the recovery on Sunday. By dusk, neither of the men were found. Operations were cancelled on Monday due to a severe winter storm but are planned to resume on Tuesday.
Town of North Elba
Rescue: On Feb. 12 at 12:18 p.m., Essex County 911 center transferred a cell phone call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch from three lost hikers on Algonquin Mountain in the Eastern High Peaks region. Two separate cell phone location coordinates were obtained from Essex County, which placed the three hikers slightly southwest of the summit of Algonquin and northeast of the Lake Colden Trail. High winds and low visibility caused the hikers to lose the trail, and they found themselves in an unfamiliar area on the east side of the mountain. Four Forest Rangers began the hike to Algonquin while another maintained cell phone contact and provided a route for the three to self-rescue. The Lake Colden Outpost Caretaker was assigned to monitor the Algonquin Mountain Trail. At 3:38 p.m., the caretaker made voice contact with the three hikers and helped them to the Outpost, where they spent the night recuperating.
Town of Tupper Lake
Search: On Feb. 6, DEC Forest Rangers assisted NY State Police to locate two brothers, 63 and 67 years of age, from Blasdell who were reported missing after a night of snowmobiling. Cell phone records indicated the men’s phones were last used the night of Saturday, Feb. 4. Eight Region 5 and seven Region 6 Rangers were dispatched to the scene. By 9 a.m., a NY State Police helicopter with two Ranger observers located both men deceased on Raquette Pond, several hundred yards west of the village of Tupper Lake. Region 6 Rangers brought their airboat, as did the state police and their dive team, and recovered the men, but severe cold and blowing snow made the operation long and dangerous.
Town of Lake Pleasant
Rescue: On Feb. 9 at 3:54 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Hamilton County 911 for a snowmobile accident in the Jessup River Wild Forest. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded to Mason Lake Trailhead to assist Hamilton County Sheriff, Speculator Volunteer Fire Department, and Speculator Volunteer Ambulance Corps in the rescue of a 21-year-old male from Brooklyn. The rescuers traveled five miles on snowmobiles to reach the injured young man by 4:35 p.m. The snowmobiler had been traveling toward Mason Lake when he left the trail, traveled through some trees, and came to rest on the ice of Mason Lake Outlet. Basic first aid was administered and the young man was packaged for travel. Forest Rangers assisted in transporting him back to the trailhead, where he was transferred to a Piseco Ambulance vehicle. He was brought to a landing zone where he was transferred to a Life Net helicopter and flown to Albany Medical Center for further treatment of his injuries. The incident concluded at 7 p.m. The young man was subsequently ticketed for imprudent speed.
Town of Fort Ann
On Jan. 31 at 6:03 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Washington County 911 stating that there was a 16-year-old male who had not returned from his hike on the Lake George Land Conservancy’s Schumann Preserve Trail off Pilot Knob Road. The subject became separated from the rest of his group during the hike. After an hour of waiting, the group called 911 for help. Three Forest Rangers responded to the trailhead parking area and began searching the immediate area. Another Ranger was driving to the trailhead when he located the subject walking down Route 9L. The Ranger picked up the subject and brought him back to the parking area where his group was waiting for him. All units were clear by 8:30 pm.
Town of Johnsburg
On Feb. 4 at 3:14 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Gore Mountain Ski Patrol requesting assistance for two skiers who got lost off the Black Mountain Brook run on the back side of the Chatiemack Trail. The two 16-year-old boys were able to send coordinates from their phones to DEC Dispatch. The subjects hunkered down behind a large log with food and proper clothing. Two Rangers responded and began hiking in while two additional Rangers staged at the trailhead. The Rangers were able to locate the subjects in good condition. The Rangers assisted the subjects back to the Gore Mountain Lodge. All units were clear by 7:18 pm.
Town of Keene
On Feb. 4, at 3:11 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the Adirondack Loj caretaker reporting that two women hiking with their dogs on Algonquin Mountain had lost the trail. Subjects encountered white-out conditions and could not find the trail off the summit back to Lake Colden. The hikers continued to walk downhill trying to find the trail. The two women had snowshoes but minimal equipment. Four Rangers with snowmobiles headed up the Indian Pass Trail toward Scott’s Clearing. Four additional Rangers were requested and responded to the Loj. At 8:53 pm Ray Brook received a radio transmission from the Rangers stating they established voice contact with the subjects. Ray Brook received another transmission at 8:58 pm that they located both subjects in good health. The Rangers brought the subjects to Scott’s Lean-to to rehydrate them. They were then assisted to the trailhead via Ranger snowmobiles. All units were out of the woods at 11:11 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.