Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Lost hikers on High Peaks trails and Catamount

forest ranger logoRecent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 5 at 7:45 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting two hikers lost off the Street and Nye Mountains Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Forest Ranger Lewis responded and located the hikers from Rochester at 9:51 p.m. before starting the trek back to the trailhead. At 11:18 p.m., Ranger Lewis and the couple arrived back to the trailhead at the Adirondak Loj and were cleared from the scene.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 6 at 2:30 a.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call reporting a couple that were overdue from a hike in the Santanoni Range. The caller indicated he did not think they had the proper gear for an overnight stay. Forest Ranger Quinn responded and located the hikers from Schenectady at 7:09 a.m. The hikers explained that they ran out of light before darkness fell and built a fire to spend the night. Ranger Quinn and the hikers proceeded back to the trailhead and by 9:30 a.m., the incident concluded.

Town of Black Brook
Clinton County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 6 at 5:24 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from lost hikers from Watertown on Catamount Mountain. The hikers were descending from the summit when they lost the trail and found themselves on ledges. Forest Rangers Evans and Russell responded to assist. With conflicting coordinates given by 911 and a hiker’s cell phone mapping application, Ranger Russell requested the hikers contact 911 again. Rangers ultimately made voice contact with the hikers at 8:39 p.m. and located them shortly thereafter. The hikers were assisted off the ledges and escorted back to the trailhead.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 10 at 10:28 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a passerby stating that three kayakers overturned their boats. Two of the kayakers were able to right themselves but the third was still struggling in the water. Forest Ranger Evans and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Woughter responded. AFR Woughter arrived first on scene and was able to get the 35-year-old man from the Bronx out of the water and to shore to begin treatment for moderate hypothermia. Ranger Evans was able to drive to their location and transport the man back to his vehicle where he refused further medical treatment.

Town of Tupper Lake
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 11 at 12:54 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of hikers on Coney Mountain in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, reporting a hiker with a head injury. Forest Ranger Evans responded along with Assistant Forest Rangers Wroughter and Bowler. At 1:56 p.m., they located the 61-year-old woman from Tupper Lake, began treating her injury, and escorted her out of the woods. At 3:38 p.m. Rangers turned the injured hiker over to the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad for transportation to a local hospital for further medical attention.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Oct. 12 at 1:45 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch was notified that Assistant Forest Ranger Leff was with a 17-year-old hiker from Schenectady on the Algonquin Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness who was suffering from slight hypothermia and asthma. Rangers LaPierre and Mecus responded to assist. AFR Leff gave the hiker warm clothes, food, and water and they proceeded to slowly begin hiking back down the trail. At 4:07 p.m., Rangers LaPierre and Mecus met up with them on the trail and did an additional medical assessment of the hiker. At 4:58 p.m., they were off the mountain and back at the Adirondak Loj where Ranger LaPierre contacted the hiker’s family.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NY and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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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.

11 Responses

  1. Zephyr says:

    I don’t know what the solution is, but a high percentage of “rescues” are due to people getting lost. I assume they are not carrying a map, guidebook, and compass, which would easily solve their problems. Or, maybe they just don’t know how to use them? Obviously, they do carry cell phones which they use to call 911, so maybe one answer might be to make downloadable/offline usable maps very easily available via trailhead signage and other means. I’ve been hiking many peripheral areas that are poorly mapped, and many times this summer I have had to consult some horrible photographed map, but having that map was extremely useful. Another thing that seems to be happening is the creation of more and more herd paths to nowhere as people get lost and tramp their way off trail and back on, leading to ever-more plausible looking false routes.

    • rsyhome says:

      I think you are right about the herd paths. Also these herd paths may be more difficult to follow now since leaves have started to fall. I would agree that maps could be provided at trailheads. I also notice that more hikers seem to get lost on the descent rather than the ascent. Therefore one thing that I would suggest as well is an increase in the number of signs indicating distance and direction to the trailhead. With less rescues, it would probably pay for itself.

      • Zephyr says:

        Just adding more trail markers might do the trick on many trails, and/or making them reflective. I know that might not fit in with the idea of “wilderness,” but it seems that some trails are well marked and others not so much. I was on one the other day where the official markers were often far enough apart that finding them felt a bit like a treasure hunt since the fallen leaves had really obscured the footpath. I could easily imagine wandering off the trail and getting lost, though of course I had a map with me. Also, there was a trail junction that would have been nearly invisible if the sign had been missing, which it has been in the past.

  2. Boreas says:

    More hikers + more trails = more Ranger rescues

    More Ranger calls + no increase in Rangers = more rescues becoming recoveries

    Insufficient Ranger force to cover popular hiking areas isn’t going to go away despite Basil Seggos’ mantra that our current force is adequate. With an insufficient force, emergency calls will need to be triaged due to severity and dispatches handled accordingly. If a low-risk S&R is already underway, these personnel could be re-dispatched to a higher-risk call. Imagine being told ‘Help is on the way’, and 2 hours later getting a call saying, ‘Well, it may be be 8 hours or so. This may be a good time to tap a Will into your smartphone before the battery dies. Stay happy!’

    In the meantime, during our peak hiking season, DEC employees are often being sent out west to help with wildfires. Does this make sense? I recently read an article in Outdoor magazine suggesting to hikers that to avoid crowds, they should simply consider hiking at night. Really? Injury and lost calls are already too high – we need to add an infinitely higher risk hiking practice spreading Ranger response calls over a 24-hour period? This suggestion needs to be a no-starter, at least until Ranger numbers are increased substantially. Either that or hikers need to be responsible to provide their own S&R responders. This is done in many places around the world where there is insufficient or non-existent manpower for S&R operations. We need a plan Mr. Seggos, before these rescues become recoveries.

  3. MountaynMan says:

    Somehow they should post signs at trailheads notifying these newcomers that hunting season has started so we dont start reading reports of why are people shooting or worse yet some horrible preventable accidents

    • Balian the Cat says:

      I completely understand hunting/hunters and support hunters rights to access on public lands, but hunters who set watch on hiking trails are exercising poor judgement in my opinion.

    • Boreas says:

      Not a bad idea, but oddly enough, it has never been much of a problem. I assume this is because hunters avoid areas with numerous, noisy, hikers.

      • Zephyr says:

        Unfortunately, not all hunters are as careful as they should be and bullets can travel a long way. During hunting season I was startled when a rifle went off with a loud bang only a few yards from where I was getting my stuff out of the trunk of the car at a trailhead near Lake George. I’ve seen tree stands put up only a few yards from hiking trails. Deer use the trails too.

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