Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Unprepared hikers get lost outside of Marcy Dam

forest ranger logoRecent forest ranger actions

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
 On June 2 at 9:14 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from three lost hikers from Rochester in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The hikers lost the trail about a mile from Marcy Dam. The hikers were immediately directed to call 911 to obtain their coordinates. The group had planned to hike Mt. Marcy, Skylight, and Gray, but were unprepared for the snow/alpine conditions and ran out of time before completing Gray. They became lost in the dark with only one source of light and one of the trio wearing shorts and tennis shoes. DEC’s Ray Brook Trail Crew, staying at the Marcy Dam interior outpost, responded to the coordinates obtained by Essex County 911, while Forest Ranger Andrew Lewis headed to the Adirondak Loj. Trail crew members Neilson Snye and Peter Price reached the lost hikers at 10:14 p.m., and brought the group to the Marcy Dam outpost at 11:03 p.m., where crew member Gary Valentine assisted in warming them. Ranger Lewis met the party at Marcy Dam at 11:48 p.m., and transported the hikers via UTV to their vehicles.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 1 at 1:50 p.m., Washington County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 45-year-old male hiker from Glens Falls was unconscious after suffering a seizure on the Shelving Rock Bay Trail. When Forest Rangers Callee Baker and Mark St. Claire responded to the scene, the man was conscious and alert. With assistance from the Fort Ann Fire Department, the hiker was evaluated and brought back to the trailhead using a wheeled litter and a six-wheeler. The subject refused further medical treatment.

Town of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 3 at 8:53 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a father and son from Oakland, New Jersey, who were hiking down the Tongue Mountain range when they requested assistance. The 20-year-old advised Dispatch that his 50-year-old father was about 600 yards behind him. Both men had run out of water and were feeling dizzy and nauseous. Coordinates provided by the hikers placed them about a half mile from Montcalm Point. Forest Rangers Chuck Kabrehl and Evan Donegan responded to Green Island and took a boat to Montcalm Point to assist. While awaiting Forest Ranger arrival, the pair contacted Dispatch to advise that they were beginning to shiver and that the father’s lips had turned purple. The pair had abandoned one pack up the trail, and another pack with dry clothing and sleeping bags close to their current location. The hikers were advised to go back to where the pack was until Rangers arrived. Forest Rangers Kabrehl and Donegan reached the two men at 10:50 p.m., escorted them to the boat, and gave them a ride back to shore. Once back at Green Island, the two men were given a courtesy ride back to their vehicle.

Town of Greenfield
Saratoga County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 4 at 10:23 a.m., Forest Ranger Lt. Chris Kostoss advised DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch that New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation in Albany was requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a hoist operation in Saratoga County. NYSP advised that at 10:14 a.m., Saratoga County 911 had made the request for aviation assistance for a man in Greenfield who injured his left leg while logging. While cutting a downed tree, one of the logs rolled back onto his left leg, crushing it. Forest Ranger Joe Hess responded to assist the injured 40-year-old man from Greenfield Center. Ranger Hess was lowered to the scene by NYSP Aviation where he was met by Community Ambulance Service paramedics providing on-scene care. With the assistance of EMS, Ranger Hess packaged the logger into a litter. The man was hoisted and transported to a waiting LifeNet of New York EMS helicopter on Humes Road for transport to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Caroga
Fulton County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 4 at 1:37 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Fulton County 911 reporting a 19-year-old man from Mohawk needing assistance for a foot laceration after he hit a rock while using a rope swing at Nine Corner Lake in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest Area. Forest Rangers Dave Nally and Melissa Milano responded to the scene along with the Caroga Lake Rescue. At 3:08 p.m., Rangers and EMS had the man out of the woods where he advised that he would seek additional medical attention on his own.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 5 at 12:35 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 46-year-old male hiker from Princeton, New Jersey, who was halfway up Bald Mountain with an unstable leg injury. Forest Rangers Aimee Bills, Lincoln Hanno and Matthew Savarie responded to the scene and located the hiker and his hiking party at 2 p.m. Rangers carried the injured hiker to the trailhead where they were met by Old Forge Ambulance. The injured hiker declined transport to a local hospital and would seek medical attention on his own.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Search:
 On June 6 at 12:45 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from two male hikers who became disoriented while hiking Giant Mountain. Coordinates provided by 911 placed the hikers above the Washbowl section of Giant Mountain. Forest Rangers Robbi Mecus and Megan LaPierre responded to assist. An Assistant Forest Ranger patrolling Giant was also alerted by Dispatch. Forest Ranger Mecus arrived and began coordinating search efforts as Forest Ranger LaPierre began searching the Little Dipper Area of the mountain. At 1:57 p.m., the Rangers located the 19-year-old and 21-year-old hikers from Niagara Falls. The pair was escorted back to the trailhead and the incident concluded at 2:45 p.m.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 6 at 5:10 p.m., a call came into DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a father and daughter from Theresa who were paddling on the Stillwater Reservoir in the Independence River Wild Forest. A strong storm came through and duo found themselves in dire need to make it to shore. They eventually got to a campsite and took shelter in an outhouse. The storm did not let up, so the paddlers called for Forest Ranger assistance. Forest Ranger Luke Evans responded to the Stillwater boat launch and using a motorboat, responded to assist the 58-year-old man and 28-year-old woman. At 6:05 p.m., Ranger Evans reached the pair and by 6:30 p.m., everyone was back to shore safely.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On June 7 at 1:12 a.m., Central Office Dispatch received a call from State Police advising that they received a call from a group of hikers lost on Dix Mountain. Coordinates provided by the hikers placed them on the Beckhorn trail heading toward Hough Peak. Forest Rangers Andrew Lewis and Logan Quinn responded to assist. Rangers were at the trailhead by 3:30 a.m., and located the group of four hikers from East Schodack at 9:16 a.m. After a preliminary medical check, Rangers began to escort the group back down the mountain. While hiking down, one of the hikers began to exhibit signs of exhaustion. Rangers Lewis and Quinn helped the hiker rehydrate, and gave the hikers something to eat and a chance to warm up and rest. The exhausted hiker’s gear was split between the two Rangers as they proceeded down to the base of the mountain where they were met with six-wheelers provided by Forest Ranger Art Perryman and Forest Ranger Lt. Brian Dubay. The group was driven the rest of the way to the trailhead and at 5:25 p.m., the hiking party and Rangers were out of the woods. The group left in their own vehicle.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

26 Responses

  1. AdkAck81 says:

    Should’ve left the Chads from Rochester in the woods. Absolutely ridiculous.

  2. Bill Ott says:

    This is the most rescues I have seen listed (9) in a long time. Each one involves forest ranger involvement. Rangers are very special people. They are being called on to do many things now outside of the forest. Stretched Thin.
    Now is the time for those who read these pages make sure that they do not end up on these same pages. I have become much more aware of backwoods dangers since I began reading the Adirondack Almanack some ten years ago. One may have to do 10, 50, or 100 little things to prepare for a little trip, but at the bottom of that list should be the phone. Please do what you can to help our forest rangers through these hard times by making special care that you will not need them because you were not prepared.

  3. Anita Dingman says:

    If the city people would stay out of the forest the rangers would have a lot less to do. We would be just as lost if we were in NY City but we don’t often go there.

    • Suzanne says:

      In NY City one can ask for directions and a crowd of helpful strangers will assemble to offer help.There are cops, cabs, bus drivers, maps in the subway, etc. Remember maps? Compasses? The guidebook? Apparently the doofuses attempting to climb Marcy (wearing shorts and sneakers, yet, in snow) never heard of such things. Why carry a map when you can call 911? Why bring flashlights in case it gets dark? As for the two getting lost above the Giant’s Washbowl, I just can’t imagine how that happened. At that elevation there is no snow, and the trail is well marked with plenty of lookout spots and probably the most heavily used anywhere around. So, yes, Anita.

    • Boreas says:

      Getting lost is one thing – being unprepared and unrealistic is another. What I found odd about the Rochester group who got lost a mile from Marcy Dam was the dispatch was taken at 9:14 PM. How long were they lost?? What time did they leave the Loj?? Did they leave in late afternoon expecting to summit and back? Gotta wonder…

      • Sula says:

        It’s not very clear, but it would be my guess that they may have abandoned their overly ambitious programme (Skylight, Gray and Marcy in the snow) and returned back toward Marcy Dam when the cold and dark overtook them. I too am interested. I’ve done a few stupid things in my younger dayz, but back then there were no cell phones to call for help.

  4. Steve B. says:

    “Hello and welcome to DEC Ranger Rescue, please enter the credit card number at the prompt, and pease note all Ranger rescues are $250 per hour, 8AM to midnight, $400 per hour after – Beep”.

  5. RC Streb says:

    I find that I have learned much from reading about these rescues. I greatly admire the work that the rangers do including rescues and I would guess that the rangers are proud of these moments when they can help others. At the same time, I’m sure those rescued are grateful and have learned a valuable lesson.

    It’s disheartening to read comments that tear down folks who call for help. Many of these comments are purely “uppity”, insensitive and don’t shine a bright light on the folks who write them. I guess they’ve forgotten that humans aren’t perfect.

    • Suzanne says:

      Nobody is perfect–I should know, having made some pretty dumb mistakes myself. However, making excuses for people who make no preparation for an arduous hike isn’t particularly constructive, either. There is enough literature and advice available for those who have sufficient common sense to do a little research before starting out. The Rangers are overburdened, underpaid and understaffed. They deal with real life-and-death emergencies and their resources are stretched thin. I, too, hope those three kids have learned a lesson and the next time they go out they will remember to have flashlights to “shine a bright light.”

      • Boreas says:

        I agree. When I was a neophyte, it was difficult to find much information about High Peaks or other trails, and this usually required the purchase of a not-inexpensive guidebook that included a map. Trail condition reports and seasonal advice was minimal. Gear was largely terrible and heavy Army surplus canvas and wool. Actual hiking shoes were rare and expensive – usually imported from Europe. Synthetics were nonexistent. Simple trail navigation often required skill. Suzanne, I believe some of us older hikers can be at least partially forgiven our lapses and trespasses. Today, with free knowledge everywhere, how difficult can it be to be properly prepared?? I can’t buy the “they didn’t know any better” excuse.

        • Suzanne says:

          We hiked with pack baskets–ever bushwhacked up Allen’s 1950’s blowdown with a pack basket? It wasn’t pretty, and neither were we when we finally staggered back down to our leanto on the Opalescent. Travel navigation involved climbing a tree in some places. We were three 14-year-old girls, whose parents thought nothing about letting us go off in the woods for three days, only saying “Have fun, kids!” We did have fun, although these days our parents would probably be busted for child abuse and we’d be turned over to foster care. The next summer, we went over to Saranac and I bought one of those army surplus back packs, the canvas ones with the heavy exterior metal frame, and considered it high tec. I think it cost six bucks. I had a wool sweater and was given a new pair of Wrangler jeans every summer from Crawford’s general store in Keene Valley, my aunt complaining about how expensive ($3.95) they were. I must sound like Homer Simpson’s grandpa: “We used to tie onions on our belts . . .”

          • Boreas says:

            “…ever bushwhacked up Allen’s 1950’s blowdown with a pack basket? It wasn’t pretty, and neither were we when we finally staggered back down to our leanto on the Opalescent.”

            As Grace H. often commented to me, “Strong back, weak mind”.

            • Suzanne says:

              Indeed, who knew? Now there is plenty of information so fewer excuses. Grace, an inspiration, not just to women, but all who love the wilderness. I’ve lost her letters, but still have the letter from Nelson Rockefeller congratulating me on completing the 46. I was 18, and this was a special birthday gift.

              I notice Grace in pictures was not carrying a pack of any sort, and also wearing shorts!

    • Steve B. says:

      I started hiking in the Daks around ’72, or so. I diligently read and took to heart the opening pages in the guide books, which you pretty much HAD to buy and read in order to figure out where to go and how to get there. Those opening pages were clear as to preparations – wear wool, wear proper hiking boots, bring extra clothing and rain gear and extra food, be prepared to spend a night in the woods if something unforeseen happened.

      This same advise is available to anyone currently yet far too many choose to not read or take the heed. Thus we have rescues like the Marcy-Skylight-Gray rescue. If I was able to plan and equip myself and not get into similar trouble, 50 years ago, its easier today. Thus I really have trouble coming up with any empathy for this group.

  6. RC Streb says:

    No one has to have empathy.
    But cutting down people who you don’t know doesn’t do any good.
    I guess I’m more of an educator who believes you start educating at the level of your student. It seems as though these students hadn’t a clue. Perhaps the rangers educated them.

  7. Sula says:

    I’ll bet they did! I was once educated by a Ranger back in the days of my careless youth and have never forgotten it.

    When your students are at first grade level, as these kids seem to have been, they need to be educamacated before they take off for potential disaster.

  8. toofargone says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how these rescue reports bring out the worst in people in droves. Like listining to the person who thinks they’re the smartest person in the room. It’s wonderful that they attempted Marcy, Skylight and Gray in June. Appears they exercised some good judgment by abandoning Gray, and that they were almost out of the woods. Sometimes it gets confusing in the woods at night if you’ve never been on that trail before, even with more than one flashlight. Come to think of it, I’ve gotten a little confused sometimes on trails I’ve hiked in past years, even in the broad daylight, because you can remember them slightly differently at certain points and junctions. In fact, if they were doing the loop and returning past Lake Arnold towards Marcy used-to-be-a Dam, there are two junctions that could be confusing, especially at night. It happens. Consider it a cheap lesson, and one that they’ll never forget. Regarding costs, that’s what ECO’s and Rangers get paid to do, like every other government employee, heroics aside. Helping one another is not too unusual in the backcountry, and most don’t have badges or patches, although there are some summit stewards and low-impact, leave no trace, trailhead welcoming and intelligence gathering committees, that have all sorts of knowledge and advice to offer that should make us all feel good, especially if you like patches and awards. If these young people get to be my age, good old New York State will have made plenty from each of them, just as sure as money in the State Comptroller’s hands, unless you shame-drive them back to Rochester, and they develop a complex and leave New York altogether. And as anyone who’s attempted these 3 peaks in one day knows, even if prepared, you can get in over your head for a variety of reasons. That’s why most people don’t like to hike them alone – or do you? Most seasoned and experienced hikers I know and hike with do not carry equipment for an enexpected night in the woods, even in the winter. I always do, but that’s my idea of preparedness. If you don’t, you may still think you’re prepared. How about being prepared for the threat of wild animals? But I forget that they don’t really exist here, so why bother raising another controversy, or conspiracy for those who are so inclined. And if you sprained or broke you ankle, it’d probably be because you were wearing tennis sneakers, right? But tennis shoes was the cherry on top of DEC’s fine reporting, together with shorts and assisting in warming them up. Personally, I think riding the UTV was the best part because it’s fun and illegal for everyone else these days. Maybe let’s have a forum on responsible footwear and socks. But I digress, since there are so much more important matters to give counsel and sage advice, like orange peels, apple cores and banana peels. No shortage of opinions here.

  9. AK67 says:

    Accidents happen and thank goodness for the skilled Forest Rangers, AFRs, care takers, volunteer S&R (and sometimes trail crews!) that assist people who are lost and/or injured. But those who enter the wilderness area unprepared and unwilling to listen to the sage advice given by those very rangers or experienced trail head stewards and summit stewards, shame on them. One can observe this at the Adirondak Loj hiker parking lots on a sunny weekend morning when people pile in by the car load. I’ve seen the glassy-eyes looks of people and heard the ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m in kind of a hurry’ response from folks who should be paying close attention to what’s being said to them. Plenty of opportunities to learn about the backcountry are out there if your mind and attitude are agreeable to it. People need to take responsibility for themselves.

  10. Jack B says:

    Having backpacked into Tirrell Pond countless times, prior to the cell phone and GPS convinces, I got turned around big time one night. It was winter with snow on the ground. I got off trail somewhere before the benchmark on the O’Neal trail. Luckily with the help of a map / compass and the ability to backtrack I was able to get back on track after a couple hours. Many times being in familiar territory I have had to stop in really thick cover to get my bearing. My point is, anybody can get turned around, I don’t care how experienced one may be. I remember these experiences because it’s embarrassing to me, being the “so called” experienced woodsman and all. I believe we are being a little too hard on these people who need rescue, we all have the “it can’t happen to me” attitude, just saying……

  11. Eli says:

    I survived my ‘stoopid’ days. I cringe at some of the stuff I did and the lack of proper gear I had. That said, I also started on easier trails and peaks and worked my way up to more challenging trails, bushwhacking and winter hiking on remote terrain. I usually hike alone and there are some people who think that, in and of itself, is foolish.
    I think a big part of the problem is social media and, before that (and still to this day), papers like the NY Times. They paint an unrealistic picture of the featured hike. I remember hiking Wittenberg and Cornell soon after the NY Times ran an article about it. I ran into a lot of people who clearly weren’t prepared for a 9 mile hike over rough terrain with a 2500′ + elevation gain. It was a hot day. I ran into people with no water, folks hiking in tennis shoes and sandals, etc. The articles never mention preparation. I hold the Times responsible for ruining the Peekamoose Blue Hole too. There are also ‘tour guides’ from the city who are irresponsible (I could expound on a lot of this but to cut to the chase, willful actions of those who know or should know better burn me up).
    Rangers are having to cope with an increased burden without increased resources. The Catskills and Adirondacks are being heavily promoted by the state. Politicians have their share of blame too.

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