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 Westport
Wildland Search: On Oct. 12 at 6:32 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 46-year-old Burlington, VT, man reporting he was lost on Split Rock Mountain. Essex County 911 determined the man’s location to be about 2,000 feet off the established trail. As it became dark, the hiker became concerned he could not exit the forest before nightfall. Forest Ranger Jamison Martin called the man and was able to guide him to the trail. Once on the trail, the hiker went in the wrong direction. Ranger Martin determined that the hiker needed to stay at one location and be assisted out. Once on scene, Ranger Martin located the hiker within an hour, provided basic first aid, and assisted him back to his car by 9:50 pm.
Town of Westport
Wildland Search: On Oct. 14, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch were notified by State Police of an overdue 73-year-old Middlebury, VT, man hunting in Split Rock Wild Forest. Forest Rangers used gun shots to encourage the lost hunter to respond in kind. Within a few shots, a reply was heard and Rangers quickly located the hunter and escorted him back to his vehicle without further incident.
Town of North Elba
Wildland Search: On Oct. 15, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a woman concerned about her 75-year-old female friend from Onchiota who was hiking McKenzie Mountain. When Forest Rangers called the hiker, she indicated she was lost. She was instructed to call 911, who could determine her approximate location from the cell phone call. Two Rangers used all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to gain access to the higher elevations of the mountain. From there, they hiked until they found the subject and escorted her back to her vehicle.
Town of Indian Lake
Wildland Search: On Oct. 10 at 2:53 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 regarding a lost husband and wife, both 64, from Syracuse. The couple had hiked Castle Rock and lost track of the trail markers while descending. Forest Rangers Jen Temple and Jason Scott arrived on scene at 3:35 pm, and located the couple within 20 minutes. The subjects were escorted back to their vehicle and both Rangers were cleared of the incident by 4:22 p.m.
Town of Harrietstown
Wildland Rescue: On Oct. 13 at 2:49 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 46-year-old Rochester woman who sustained a lower-arm injury while descending the steep terrain on Ampersand Mountain. The hiker was quickly put in touch with Forest Ranger Peter Evans, who instructed her to slowly continue down the mountain. Once Evans met her on the trail, he splinted her arm to prevent further injury. At 4:16 pm, she was back at the trailhead, where she was provided further medical care by Saranac Lake Rescue Squad.
Town of Harrietstown
Wildland Search: On Oct. 13 at 8:02 pm, Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a lost hiker on Baker Mountain in McKenzie Mountain Wilderness. The 23-year-old Saranac Lake man became separated from his hiking companion and had no flashlight to travel at night. Forest Ranger Robert Praczkajlo was dispatched and found the vehicle at the trailhead. However, just as Praczkajlo started down the trail, the two hikers arrived in another vehicle. They had found each other, hiked off the wrong side of the mountain, and managed to get a ride back to their parked vehicle.
Town of Stratford
Wildland Search: On Oct. 10 at 10:52 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Fulton County 911 requesting Forest Rangers to help find two lost hunters. One of the men had called his wife to let her know he was lost. Rangers Mike Thompson and John Ploss assisted Fulton County Sherriff’s Deputies to use a siren as an attractant. Dispatch called the man to determine their location. By 12:20 am, the Rangers located the two men, and within an hour, the subjects were back at their vehicle.
Town of Brasher
Wildfire: On Oct. 15, DEC Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Kevin Riggs informed Forest Ranger Wil Benzel of a wildfire on Brasher Hill State Forest that had started from a burning pile of garbage. Benzel and the Helena Fire Department were able to contain the fire to 0.3 acres despite high winds in the area. An investigation into the dumping of garbage and the start of the fire is continuing.
Town of Montague
Wildland Search: On Oct. 14, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified of a missing small game hunter. The 69-year-old Rochester man became disoriented while hunting, broke his compass, and was unable to make a cell phone call for help. Within a short time, four Forest Rangers located the hunter and assisted him back to the road with no further assistance needed.
Town of Hadley
Wildland Rescue: On Oct. 12 at 1:28 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Warren County 911 about a 50-year-old Latham woman with an ankle injury on Hadley Mountain in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. The injury became non-weight-bearing as the subject attempted to “self-rescue” with her husband’s assistance. He then returned to the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and called for help. Seven Forest Rangers responded, administered back-county first aid, and carried the woman to the trailhead. At 6:11 pm, the couple were back at their car and able to seek medical attention on their own.
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.