Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Rangers conduct two overnight Search & Rescues

Recent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Mar. 25 at 5:14 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting he was concerned that his 18-year-old friend was lost after the pair were separated on the trail for Mount Marcy in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. After speaking with the caller, Forest Ranger Praczkajlo advised that he and Forest Ranger O’Connor were responding to assist. Once on scene, Ranger Praczkajlo notified Dispatch that he and Ranger O’Connor made contact with the reporting party at Marcy Dam. Ranger Praczkajlo continued up the trail to locate the lost hiker while Ranger O’Connor began to escort the friend out of the woods. Lt. Burns advised that Ranger Lewis would respond to the Garden parking lot and begin to hike up the Mount Marcy trail from Johns Brook Valley.

Ranger Lewis was forced to posthole while walking with snowshoes. At 12:46 a.m., the lost hiker from Southbury, Connecticut, texted Ray Brook Dispatch, advising that he was on the yellow trail that leads to the Adirondak Loj. The subject also provided his coordinates. At 2 a.m., Ranger Lewis located fresh snowshoe tracks leading to the lost hiker. The hiker was suffering from exposure due to the high number of stream crossings. Two additional Rangers also responded but were turned around by high water levels and deteriorating trail conditions while attempting to reach the Johns Brook interior outpost. Ranger Lewis provided the subject with warm clothing, food, and water. Together the Ranger and the subject reached the outpost safely at 6:15 a.m. After resting for a few hours, the Ranger and the subject hiked back to the trailhead and the hiker was released to his parents at 10:45 a.m.

Photo: Rescued hiker walking in unsafe conditions on Mt. Marcy trail/DEC

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Mar. 28 at 3:45 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch was contacted by a 39-year-old hiker from Gansevoort reporting that he was lost and confused on the ridge between Santanoni Peak and Panther Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness Area. The hiker provided coordinates from his cell phone, plotting him at an approximately 4,300-foot elevation and six miles from the Bradley Pond trailhead. Ray Brook Dispatch provided cell phone coordinates (pings) that allowed Ranger Sabo to track the hiker’s movements on a map. Ranger Sabo contacted the lost hiker and made numerous attempts to assist him in using his own map and compass to locate the trail. The hiker was then instructed to stay at that location and shelter from the wind and rain until Rangers arrived. At approximately 5:30 p.m., with poor weather conditions and less than favorable trail conditions, Rangers Dicintio and Quinn departed for the ridge on Sanatoni Peak via the Bradley Pond trail. Ranger Sabo remained in the Newcomb area to coordinate rescue efforts and assist with communications. At 11 p.m., Rangers located the hiker a short distance off the path leading to Santanoni Peak. The hiker utilized a whistle to alert Rangers to his location. After conducting a medical assessment, the group began their descent back to the Bradley Pond trail. All parties were clear of the scene at 2:30 a.m.

Town of Edinburg
Saratoga County
Wilderness Search:
 On Mar. 28 at 5:15 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Saratoga County 911 for help locating two lost hikers on a snowmobile trail in Edinburg in Saratoga County. Ranger Baker responded and quickly located the pair in good condition and walked them out of the woods and back to their vehicle. The incident concluded at 7:20 p.m.


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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.

4 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    I can speak from experience that late March and early April is a very dangerous time to hike up high. Warming air temperatures are tempting, but the rotting snow pack and increase in running water all work against even experienced and properly-prepared hikers. Note the comment about the Ranger post-holing WITH snowshoes.

    I recall an “easy” hike to Street/Nye around 40 years ago where we went from beautiful spring conditions at the trailhead to swimming in 8 ft.-plus drifts near the summit WITH snowshoes. Temp was around 30 degrees up high. It was extremely exhausting – pulling ourselves along on our bellies in sections using the available trees. We were well clothed in wool, but it really wore us out. A learning, scary experience, but we made it.

    Often, there is flowing or pooled water under those drifts. Add wet feet, clothes, or a sudden cold snap and the danger increases dramatically. We were the only hikers on the mountain that day, so no hope of getting help. Same with a wet cell phone today – add water and they become nothing more than a brick!

    I would consider March/April the most dangerous months up high in the ADKs. Kudos AGAIN to the Rangers who risked life/limb to rescue these hikers.

  2. Todd Eastman says:

    Regarding the Santanoni/Panther debacle…

    … can stupid ever be adequately fixed? ?

    • Boreas says:

      He was smart enough to have a whistle! I will give him that. I always carried one on a lanyard around my neck – that also had my compass. Spruce-holes can be man-eaters in spring.

      Article didn’t mention if he had snowshoes, but even with snowshoes, in certain conditions, heading back uphill to get back to the ridge trail can be nearly impossible once you have started downhill – especially if you are stuck in the middle of a 12-foot drift. Heading downhill without a trail is also daunting. In his position, he likely did the right thing and was extremely lucky his phone and whistle were still operational. But this is a stellar example of why to hike with a minimum party of 3 in winter.

  3. Nancy Deitch says:

    Way to go Ranger Rob Praczkajlo.

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