New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers responded to 15 search and rescue incidents in the past two weeks 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
Search: On Sept. 26, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from Johns Brook Lodge requesting assistance in locating a 79-year-old woman overdue from her day hike. According to the woman’s son, the subject had planned to hike to the Howard lean-to near Johns Brook. The son was able to provide dispatch with track history information from a Spot Locator Beacon. Rangers located the woman in the area provided by the device and assisted her to the Howard lean-to, where she was reunited with her family.
Town of North Elba
Rescue: On Sept. 29 at 4:15 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Essex County 911 for a 42-year-old woman from Brockport who had fallen approximately 25 feet on Haystack Mountain in the McKenzie Wilderness Area near Ray Brook. The subject sustained serious injuries and required medical attention. Rangers on the ground reached the subject just southwest of the summit at 7:15 pm. She was packaged and carried down the mountain. Rope systems were used to lower the subject on steep parts of the trail. The subject was transferred to an all-terrain vehicle on the Jack Rabbit Trail to Whiteface Inn Road. From there, she was taken by Lake Placid Ambulance to Adirondack Medical Center-Saranac Lake for treatment. The incident concluded at 10 pm.
Town of North Elba
Rescue: At noon on Sept. 30, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a report of a consistent cry for help in the Avalanche Pass area in the High Peaks. Lake Colden and Marcy Dam caretakers were dispatched to investigate from their outposts while a Forest Ranger interviewed the reporting party for more information. At 12:55 pm, the Marcy Dam caretaker reported by radio that he located a 15-year-old female with a lower leg injury. The subject was hiking the Boundary Trail about 3/4 mile from the Lake Colden Outpost. The caretaker splinted the subject’s leg and, with Forest Rangers, carried the subject to Lake Colden outpost. New York State Police Aviation with a Ranger crew on board landed at the Lake Colden Outpost to transport the individual out of the wilderness.
Town of Wilmington
Search: On Sept. 30, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Plattsburgh University Campus security stating two Plattsburgh students were lost on Whiteface Mountain. Ray Brook contacted the subjects and obtained coordinates from the one of their cell phones. A Forest Ranger responded on Whiteface Memorial Highway, contacted the subjects by phone, and advised them which direction to travel. The Ranger used sound to attract the individuals to the road. Once roadside, the subjects were transported back to their vehicle.
Town of North Hudson
Rescue: On Oct. 1 at 6:08 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a woman whose father was in distress and unable to finish the hike down from Mt. Marcy. Essex County 911 obtained the caller’s coordinates and located the individual just below Phelps Mountain. One Ranger responded via an all-terrain vehicle and assisted the subject down to his vehicle at the ADK Loj.
Town of Keene
Rescue: On Oct. 8 at 5:36 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the High Peaks Information Center requesting assistance for a 61-year-old male from River Forest, Illinois, with a leg injury on Mount Jo. Rangers Dan Fox, Chris Kostoss, Robbi Mecus, and Scott Van Laer responded and located the subject. Rangers stabilized the injury and began carrying the subject to the trailhead in a litter with backpack carriers. The subject declined further assistance and stated he would seek further medical attention on his own.
Town of Moriah
Search: On Oct. 3, New York State Police contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a missing 78-year-old male last seen at his residence in Mineville. Rangers Jeff Balerno, Sarah Bode, Kevin Burns, Jacob Deslauriers, and Dan Fox responded and worked with the State Police, Essex County Sherriff’s, and a DEC Environmental Conservation Officer to check the immediate area. Two Rangers assisted by performing visual searches of the area with State Police Aviation. As word spread through the town, the subject was discovered to be staying with a family member for a few days. The family notified the State Police and on-scene units confirmed the whereabouts of the subject. No further assistance was needed.
Town of St. Armand
Search: On Oct. 3, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Franklin County 911 regarding a 64-year-old woman from Bloomingdale who was lost off Moose Pond. The subject entered the woods near her residence and lost her way. Rangers Jeff Balerno, Kevin Burns, and Megan McCone responded and attempted to use their sirens as an attractant. Due to the dense swampy area, the subject was unable to tell which direction the siren was coming from. Two Rangers entered the woods and established voice contact with the subject. She was then assisted back to her residence.
Town of Keene
Search: On Oct. 5 at 6:02 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 regarding two individuals hiking Giant Mountain. One subject, a 46-year-old female from Albany, was experiencing nausea, severe headaches, and weakness as the two hikers were descending. Coordinates placed them just above the Giant Washbowl. Ranger Jamison Martin was dispatched to assist the subjects and located them just below the washbowl at 7:28 pm. The subject was given water to rehydrate and the Ranger escorted her down the rest of the trail, reaching the trailhead by 8:30 pm.
Town of Keene
Rescue: On Oct. 6 at 1:15 pm, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker advising that a 51-year-old male from Central Square had possibly dislocated his knee .7 miles from the junction of Gill Brook on Mount Colvin. Thirteen Rangers were dispatched in anticipation of having to carry the subject back to the trailhead. After locating and evaluating him, the decision was made to utilize State Police Aviation to transport the subject to Saranac Lake AMC.
Town of Newcomb
Search: On Oct. 7 at 7:35 pm, a call came in to Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a 23-year-old female from West Chazy and a 24-year-old female from Morrisonville believed to be lost near the Macomb Slide. The two women were attempting to climb the five mountains in the Dix Mountain Range and had become turned around on the Macomb Slide. With darkness setting in, the subjects were having trouble following the herd path. Unable to establish further cell phone communications, Forest Rangers Jacob Deslauriers and Ben Baldwin were dispatched to the Elk Lake trailhead, where they located the subjects’ vehicle. The search continued through the night on Macomb Slide, nearby campsites, and area herd-paths with negative results. Additional Forest Rangers were brought in for the Sunday morning operation period. At 9:20 am, the two women were located in good condition on the Dix Trail about one-quarter mile from the Elk Lake trailhead. The two hikers had spent an unexpected night near the top of the Lillian Brook Trail, unable to locate its exact location.
Town of Saranac Lake
Rescue: On Sept. 25, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call transferred from Franklin County 911 regarding a 42-year-old woman who fell and sustained an ankle injury while hiking Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake. Three Rangers responded and worked with Saranac Lake EMS to stabilize the patient. Once stabilized, Rangers and Saranac Lake Fire and EMS carried the woman out to a waiting ambulance. The subject was then taken to Adirondack Medical Center-Saranac Lake for further medical treatment.
Town of Waverly
Search: On Sept. 25, New York State Police contacted Region 5 Forest Ranger Captain John Streiff regarding a missing 47-year-old woman in the town of Waverly. The subject was last seen the day before when she left her home around 6:45 pm. Rangers responded to the subject’s last known location and began searching the immediate area. The subject was located and taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Town of Warrensburg
Search: On Sept. 29 at 6:43 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from Warren County 911 stating that four 16-year-old subjects were lost on Hackensack Mountain. Subjects did not have lights, water, or food, and their only cell phone was dying. The call dropped off before a dispatcher could get more information. Rangers responded and an extensive search of Hackensack Mountain obtained negative results. Rangers covered the ridge trail, summited the mountain, and searched all trails in the town park with negative results. Rangers expanded the search to nearby snowmobile and lodging trails. The individuals were located at 12:19 am on Sept. 30, in good condition. The teenagers had become confused by a network of private all-terrain vehicle trails and were more than a mile north of the mountain. Rangers escorted the subjects to the road, where they were reunited with their families.
Town of Dresden
Rescue: On Oct. 8, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call requesting assistance for a 53-year-old male from Troy with a possible leg injury. The subject was descending a trail when he slipped. Rangers Ian Kerr and Evan Donegan responded with State Police Aviation while Rangers Jaime Laczko and Joe Hess responded on foot. The subject was packaged into a litter by the Rangers and local fire department personnel. The Rangers then loaded the subject into the helicopter. He was transported to a local airport, then to a waiting ambulance, and finally to a local hospital.
In a related event outside the Adirondack Park:
Out-of-State Wildland Fire Assistance
This week, three Forest Rangers returned from assignments assisting with wildland fire suppression in western states over the last two weeks. Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus, from Essex County, was a Resource Unit Leader trainee promoted to Plans Section Chief trainee for the North Pelican Fire in the Freemont/Winema National Forest in Oregon. Forest Ranger Michael Thompson from Fulton County served as the Crew Boss, and Forest Ranger Evan Donegan from Warren County was a Squad Boss for a 20-person interagency crew from several northeastern states assigned to the Moose Peak Fire in Montana.
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.