Thursday, July 18, 2019

Unexpected Night In The Woods, Tired Hikers Turn Into Rescues

forest ranger logoNew 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
Wilderness Rescue: On July 13 at 11:45 pm, a call came in to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a group of overdue hikers on Mount Colden. It was reported that the party of seven had decided to climb the Trap Dike on Mount Colden in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. On the descent toward Lake Arnold their phones started to lose power. The callers were placed in contact with Forest Ranger Lt. Christopher Kostoss who requested that they stay together at Lake Arnold and wait for first light to finish their hike out in the morning. At 7:30 am on July 14, radio communications came in from Assistant Forest Ranger Evan Treadgold that the seven men from New Jersey were at the Marcy Dam Outpost and requesting assistance out to Adirondak Loj. They were complaining of being tired, cold, wet, hungry, and dehydrated from their two-day ordeal. Forest Ranger James Giglinto responded to Marcy Dam and transported three of the hikers who were in advance stages of dehydration. The remaining four hiked out back to Adiondak Loj. The incident concluded at 8:30 am.

Hamilton County

Town of Long Lake
Wilderness Rescue: On July 8 at 4:55 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County Emergency Service reporting an injured 71-year-old male hiker on Owls Head Mountain. The Baldwinsville man had apparently taken a fall just below the summit, dislocating his shoulder and hitting his head. The hiker continued to walk out until the pain forced him to stop. Forest Ranger James Waters responded with a member of the Long Lake Rescue Squad to intercept the hiker and provide first aid before walking him out to a waiting ambulance. At 6:18 pm, the hiker and all personnel were back at the trailhead, and EMS staff tended to the hiker.

Town of Indian Lake
Wilderness Rescue: On July 9 at 7:07 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a transferred call from a male caller from Binghamton who was on the summit of Blue Mountain in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest with his wife and two children, ages 10 and 6. The hiker’s concern was that the kids were too tired to continue back down the mountain. The subject requested permission to drive his vehicle to the summit to retrieve his family, but Dispatch informed him that this was not an option and transferred his call to Forest Ranger Jason Scott. Forest Ranger Scott decided the best course of action would be to drive to the summit where the Ranger would give the 44-year-old mother and 6-year-old daughter a ride back down the mountain while the father and 10-year-old hiked down. Forest Ranger Scott arrived at the summit at 7:45 pm, where he picked up the two hikers. He then proceeded to drive the pair to the trailhead where they met the rest of their party. At 8:50 pm, the father and son emerged from the mountain and Forest Ranger Scott was clear of the scene.

Washington County

Town of Dresden
Wilderness Rescue: On July 10 at 3:23 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker on Black Mountain requesting assistance. The caller reported he was close to Lake George, had lost his water, and was unable to make it back on the trail to his vehicle. Dispatch directed the caller to dial 911 to obtain his coordinates. Lt. John Solan, on boat patrol on Lake George, was closest and arrived at Black Mountain Point. The 30-year-old hiker from Hudson Falls was escorted down the trail to the boat and the hiker was transported to Hulett’s Landing, where he was turned over to a family member for a ride back to his vehicle by 4:51 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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20 Responses

  1. Jim S. says:

    Social media strikes again! Beginners in the trap dike, you can’t make this stuff up! Thanks again rangers.

  2. Paul says:

    How did anyone survive before cell phones?

    • Jim S. says:

      They couldn’t find their way into trouble without one.

    • Justin says:

      I don’t understand the trap Dike one. Basically the group just quit. I’d be embarrassed, no, I’d be ashamed. Grown men unprepared to complete their hike calling for food and water and a ride out. Just wrong. Accidents happen, stuff goes wrong, but that was just plain being unprepared and then quiting.

      • Paul says:

        I agree, that one is just nuts. Why even respond? I would just say “I can’t hear you – you are breaking up!”. Hang up.

  3. LAURIE SMITH says:

    Glad everyone ok… learning experience for them all. Rangers are the coolest people around.. 🙂

  4. Caroline Brooks says:

    The implication is they had no head lamps? Come ON, people.

  5. Tim says:

    Severe dehydration in the High Peaks? You gotta be kiddin’.

    • Boreas says:

      With water all around, they must have taken the giardia precautions quite seriously…

  6. Todd Eastman says:

    Does discomfort require rescue?

    It does seem that billing for non-critical rescues might be a valid next step. Billing should be directed to the individuals and not to a rescue insurance or license fee programs.

    I want people to be able to learn from errors in judgement, but the current situation where rescue is called for before other, traditional self-reliant options are tried, is not sustainable for land supervisors of the maintenance of the wilderness ethos…?

  7. Tim riley says:

    Being charged for the unnecessary rescue would teach a valuable lesson. Now they just know they can quit halfway through because they are tired and thirsty or afraid of the dark and we all pay for it.

  8. Boreas says:

    “…tired, cold, wet, hungry, and dehydrated…” Just add blackflies to the mix and isn’t that what hiking is all about?? That was an average trip for me. I collapsed once because of dehydration sickness and was forced to spend an unscheduled, fair-weather bivouac somewhere in the col between Couchs and Santanoni decades ago (not much water up there), but still felt chipper enough the next morning to watch the sunrise from Santanoni over a sea of fog then hike out. Guess I was lucky. One of my most memorable hikes!

    • Jim S. says:

      I hope it happened before the camping was outlawed above 3500 feet. You could be fined!

      • Boreas says:

        Jim S.,

        I don’t recall, but I believe it had recently gone into effect. I rolled the dice. If Pete caught me, he would have had a field day – even though I was wearing no cotton. It was a hot, 3 quart day and I only brought 2 quarts. I dropped 2 quarts just trying to scramble up 4 or 5 different herd paths on Panther.

  9. Vanessa says:

    Ok ok, fine, that trap dike story *is just a bit too silly. isn’t that a technical climb? and it’s a long trail to get out there! unless you’re in ridiculously good shape and hellbent on peak bagging, (as in, able to just fly over the designated trail), i don’t think anyone with a reasonable assessment of that hike would believe it to be a day trip. 🙁 (then again i don’t think marcy or the whole great range is a day trip either, but people do it.)

    Lots of people underestimate the “Adirondack mile.” Further, people underestimate their endurance, which is also key for a good high peaks experience.

    • Suji says:

      The Trap Dike isn’t a technical climb, although it requires considerably more expertise than this bunch of doofuses evidently were up to. If they made it out to Marcy Dam they could have spent the night there, perhaps uncomfortably, boohoo, and continued on at daylight. Tired? Cold, wet and hungry? (Dehydrated? There’s no lack of water, an entire lake full of it.) Isn’t that what hiking is all about?

      The Range is a day trip. Along with a bunch of other ATIS kids I did it at age 15–Haystack, Little Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, Gothics, Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaws. We started from the trail to Haystack and were back at the Ausable Club porch, where our mothers were waiting for us, well before dark. Of course, being 15 helped–I certainly couldn’t do it now. These days I’m content with my yearly walk up Baxter.

      • Vanessa says:

        Ahhh at 17 it would be a day trip for me too! But I have not really seriously started hiking until late 20s, and unfortunately even by then there is some catching up to do…

  10. Steve B. says:

    They made it’s as far as Marcy Dam and gave up ?., with 3 getting a ride ?.

    I’ve major troubles with this. Give them water, give them extra water bottles to carry and point them to the trail. Or charge them a fee for the rescue.

    I was dehydrated and very tired when I went up Owls Head 2 years ago on a hot day. I took it very slow, made it back to the car, drank some Gatorade and was better. I discovered my Camelbak lid wasn’t shut, but was reminded to carry mor water then I ever think I’ll need. Not once did I consider calling for rescue.

  11. Kevin says:

    I wish the Rangers would focus more on Search & Rescue and less on writing tickets.

    • John Warren says:

      You should realize that makes exactly the opposite of sense. Search and rescues are the end result of lack of enforcement.