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
Wilderness Rescue: On October 30 at 1:09 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from two women who became lost while hiking in the High Peaks. The callers stated that their ordeal began when they spent an unexpected night at the Feldspar lean-to. From there they attempted to get back to the Adirondak Loj by hiking toward Lake Arnold. During their hike, the 59-year-old woman from Gloucester, Massachusetts, and 60-year-old woman from Colts Neck, New Jersey, decided to go back toward Lake Colden before taking a wrong turn and ending up on Mount Redfield. After speaking with Forest Ranger James Giglinto on the phone, the two women felt confident enough to hike back down toward Lake Colden while Forest Rangers Giglinto and Daniel Fox hiked in to meet the pair to ensure their safe departure out of the woods. Rangers Giglinto and Fox covered the trails that wrap around the east and west sides of the lake, found the hikers at the Lake Colden Dam at 7:13 pm, and proceeded to escort them back out to the Adirondak Loj. After reaching Marcy Dam, the hikers were given a ride out on an UTV using the truck trail to the Loj. All Rangers were cleared of the scene at 10:48 pm.
Town of Schroon
Wilderness Rescue: On November 1 at 1:35 pm, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 76-year-old male from Clifton Park overdue to meet his hunting party on Fraternal Land Road in Paradox Lake. Five Forest Rangers were dispatched to Paradox Lake to look for the hunter, arriving on scene at 2 pm. The Rangers searched the woods for roughly two hours and located the man at 4 pm. He advised Forest Rangers that he became disoriented and trekked through the woods before making his way out to a private residence on Letsonville Road. The residence had no cell coverage and the road was blocked by downed trees. He decided to try to navigate back through the woods to Fraternal Lake Road. The Rangers escorted the hunter out of the woods and reunited him with his hunting party. The incident concluded at 4:15 pm.
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On November 3 at 11:54 pm, ECO James Hunt received a call from a couple reporting their friends were overdue from hiking Gothics Mountain. The caller said the last communication received was a text message at approximately 12 pm, saying that the hikers were about half a mile from the summit. Per Captain John Streiff, a request was made to NYSP to check the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) parking lot at the Ausable Club. State Police reported that the hikers’ vehicle was still in the parking lot. Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus responded to assist, checking the Garden parking lot along Route 73, and down the AMR Lake Road with negative results. Ranger Mecus then performed a trail sweep up their original route to Pyramid and then to Gothics Mountain. At the same time, Forest Ranger Scott van Laer performed a trail sweep from the Garden parking lot up the Ore Bed Brook Trail to Gothics. Assignments were made for Forest Rangers Daniel Fox, Jamison Martin, Corenne Black, and Marie Arnold to check surrounding trails before Forest Ranger Mecus found the hikers on the Beaver Meadow Falls trail leading back down to the AMR Lake Road. The hikers said they had gotten off the trail when navigating around blowdown and were unable to find the trail again until the morning. Fortunately, the hikers were well prepared with the appropriate equipment to spend the night in the woods. Ranger Mecus assisted the pair down to the lake road where they were met by Ranger Fox and AMR security and given a ride back to the parking lot. The hikers were back to their car at 9:36 am on November 4, and all Rangers were cleared of the scene.
Town of Hope/Wells
Swiftwater Rescues: On October 31, Forest Rangers assembled a Swiftwater Rescue Team in preparation for the significant rain event affecting Central New York and the North Country. Many bridges and roadways were washed out during this storm event. The team was supported by the Hope and Wells fire departments, as well as the Town of Wells Highway Department. The heavy rain that fell Thursday evening into Friday morning caused many local rivers to flood. Rangers and local emergency personnel responded to several situations in the towns of Wells and Hope. Along flooded sections of the Sacandaga River, Rangers utilized an airboat to rescue four individuals stranded by rapidly rising flood waters. Swiftwater rescue techniques were used to evacuate another two individuals from a residence in Wells, also trapped by rising flood waters. Rangers also evacuated an elderly couple by all-terrain vehicle from a residence when the Sacandaga River washed out their access road in the town of Hope. In addition, the Swiftwater Rescue Team worked with Hamilton County Sheriff personnel to conduct welfare checks in remote areas inaccessible to local responders. Rangers assisted the New York State Office of Emergency Management response coordination at the State Emergency Operations Center in Albany and at county emergency operations centers to help coordinate response efforts. Over the course of the severe weather event, 57 Forest Rangers were involved in response efforts in counties across northern New York.
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.