Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Drunk teens at Marcy Dam call for rangers on New Year’s Eve

forest ranger reportsRecent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:

Town of Forestport
Oneida County
Wilderness Search:
 On Dec. 27 at 2:41 p.m., Forest Ranger McCartney overheard a radio call for a search for a 14-year-old who had run away from her parents and into the woods. Rangers McCartney and Bills responded to help the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department. At 3:57 p.m., Ranger McCartney found the subject and walked her out of the woods to a waiting ambulance for further medical assistance. New York State Park Police and New York State Police (NYSP) assisted in this response.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Dec. 27 at 11:30 a.m., Forest Rangers were alerted to an ice climber with a possible leg injury on the Arm and Hammer/Tendonitis climbing route of Pitchoff Mountain. The 49-year-old climber from Pennsylvania fell approximately 50 feet. He was wearing a helmet, but injured both legs in the fall. A nearby guide saw the climber in danger. The guide, Roth, is a member of a DEC-trained volunteer climbing rescue team. Roth reached the climber at the cliff, performed a mid-face rescue, and lowered the subject to the base. Rangers Mecus, Lewis, Evans, Praczkajlo, and O’Connor accessed the base of the climbing area utilizing steep-angle mountaineering techniques. At 2 p.m., Rangers took the injured climber to a waiting Lake Placid Ambulance.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Dec. 31 at 1:24 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call for assistance at a location between Dial and Nippletop mountains for a hiker with health issues, including potential hypothermia. Forest Rangers Mecus and Lewis responded. The 34-year-old from Ballston Spa was with a hiking companion and was well prepared for a day hike, but concerned her symptoms would get worse as the pair hiked down and lost cell service. At 4:55 p.m., Rangers located the subjects on Lake Road and gave them a courtesy ride to their vehicle. The hiker stated she would seek further medical assistance on her own and the incident concluded at 5:20 p.m.

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Dec. 31 at 5:10 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County about a group of 19-year-olds at Marcy Dam reporting one member of their party was suffering from alcohol poisoning. Forest Rangers Evans, Mecus, and Lewis responded. At 5:55 p.m., Rangers determined three teens were intoxicated. Due to the potentially life-threating situation, Rangers assisted one of the teenagers to South Meadows Road and the Adirondak Loj where he was taken to the hospital by Lake Placid Ambulance. The remaining two teenagers were transferred to NYSP after their admission of using alcohol and hallucinogens. Resources were clear at 8:24 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.

15 Responses

  1. JB says:

    Rescued teens admitted to using alcohol AND hallucinogens. Seeing as hallucinogen use rates among young people in the U.S. are rapidy rising and currently stand at about 10x the rate of other developed nations, this type of situation is poised to become much, much more common. Some of the National Parks out west have a huge problem already. Some places in the Adirondacks currently run the risk of becoming hallucination destinations (many a camper has spent sleepless nights terrified by the bizarre behavior of his neighbors and can attest to this). It is inevitable that backwoods party spots are going to coalesce. But as drug use becomes more about “communing with nature” (with the help of extremely potent substances), it is imperative that we prevent forest preserve from becoming notorious destinations for such–for environment and safety alike. (When hallucinogens are eventually decriminalized in NYS, it would be insane not to insist that they are used in controlled environments.) Kudos to DEC for their essential work!

    • Boreas says:

      If the Ranger force was sufficient, cell phones could be used more often to report miscreants. But I could see this being used for good and bad. Best to have patrolling backcountry Rangers. We can only wish the force is increased. Perhaps the Marcy Dam outpost should be utilized again – especially on New Year’s Eve!

    • Balian the Cat says:

      JB – Probably off topic and not a great indicator of where my thinking goes, but your comments brought the “suicide forests” of Japan to mind. I then thought of Guy Waterman and the entire spectrum of our relationship with wild lands.

      • JB says:

        Balian, you touched on an interrelated phenomenon that is happening more in recent years. Last month, there was the body found in the woods off of Rt. 10 about 10 miles south of the Blue Line–a kid from NJ who was deemed a suicide. Earlier this year, there was an uptick in reports of people with “mental health issues” running off into the Adirondack woods–for example, the search and rescue in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness this past summer. Maybe it is still rare, but these types of incidents are increasingly on the collective radar–like the headline-grabbing disappearance of Gabby Petito. And as with any cultural phenomenon, most incidents do not make headlines; I’m aware of a few that did not even make the local police blotters.

        In these newer trends, there are major differences from the Guy Waterman story. He was an old man who spent a long time preparing for a planned death in a place that he spent his life championing. Virtually all of the newer psycho-wilderness incidents are involving younger people (under the age of 25) and they do not appear to be greatly premeditated nor involve seasoned wilderness enthusiasts. Rather than the wilderness acting as the focal point of a reckoning with the peripheral civilization, the psychological crisis of a modern society is spilling over into the periphery of the wilderness.

        I think that the issue here is related the the Aokigahara (“Suicide Forest”) in that respect; however, the two circumstances are inverse from each other. In Japan, suicide is cultural; but in the United States, suicide counter-cultural. Americans view suicidal ideation through the epistemic lens of the psychiatric system–as a chemical imbalance. In fact, we tend to view all human behavior that way. Accordingly, we regulate our daily mental status, more than any other country, through habitual drug use (medical or recreational); and we are increasingly carrying that concept to a telic end by adopting a chemical conception of spirituality (the modern “psychonaut” not only believes in chemical salvation, but even implies chemical teleportation to a dualistically higher realm).

        My point in all of this is that the American psychiatric system is not working very well by its own criteria. We are on par to overtake every other Western country in the world for highest suicide rate, whilst growing our lead as the most medicated. We are a self-described nation of mental illness–a condition which by definition limits our abilities to make basic decisions. We are also becoming a culture of counter-culture, and counter-culture often becomes counter-counter-culture–commercialized concerts, industrial cannabis and rare species trade. None of that bodes well for wilderness conservation.

        Maybe, as the old argument goes, through destigmatization we can create a new order that is better than both the culture doing the stigmatizing and the counter-cultural object of stigmatization–the best of both worlds. I believe that the largest flaw in that argument is that it assumes that culture is artificially constructed rather than organic. We may be capable of decriminalization and decommercialization in a legal capacity, but no amount of indoctrination (or de-indoctrination) will change the cultural perceptions that we carry (“you can take the boy out of the culture, but you cannot take the culture out of the boy”). The great thing about wilderness is that our perceptions are inherently irrelevant. It is in this regard that wilderness preservation values are possibly the highest achievement of any society (wilderness conservation follows close behind). Interestingly, the ideals of reverence–be it manifest in the wilderness preserves of industrial civilization or the sacred groves of hunter-gatherers–and the ideals of reciprocity–whether in modern conservationist stewardship or in paleolithic harvest rituals–these ideals are universally human. My hope is that this becomes our focus point–the universal over the individual instance.

  2. Zephyr says:

    Personally, I’m not too worried about drinking and drugs becoming a huge problem in wilderness areas. Most people do not want to lug copious quantities of booze deep into the woods. I suspect we’ll encounter more people smoking dope as it becomes more readily available, and it makes more sense as a backpackers drug of choice. Hopefully, those partaking will be careful not to start any fires. Might keep black flies away too!

    • JB says:

      Zephyr, exactly my point. You would need a floatplane to have a large drinking party out in the wilderness. But someone could probably carry the entire world supply of LSD in a small lunchbox.

  3. Tom Paine says:

    They carried a keg of beer to the last High Peaks kegger in 2015. Denial, is not a river in Egypt. Come on. All things are possible, even when your not in Albany.

    • Boreas says:

      I don’t think anyone is denying the incident happened. But ignoring a problem would be denial. In my experience, hallucinogenics do not cause acute alcohol poisoning. People tripping rarely have much use for alcohol.

      • JB says:

        Yeah, yeah…we have all seen the copious numbers of beer cans in high-altitude wilderness settings that are remarkably far from the motorized roadways. Luckily, beer is heavy or the problem would be worse, since alcohol consumption has been a standard cultural practice. As cannabis and, ultimately, hallucinogens become cultural mainstays (probably eventually overtaking alcohol), it would be denial to pretend that this will not reshape society and wilderness. Imagine if people could fit one billion cans of beer into their jacket pocket and it gave them hyper-acute vision and the ability to run marathons.

        • JB says:

          (Sorry Boreas, that was not particularly directed at you)

        • geogymn says:

          “it gave them hyper-acute vision and the ability to run marathons.”

          Or to make a spiritual connection to nature?

          Maybe some have started out as knuckleheads escaping to the woods to party only to learn to appreciate the wonders hidden from them due to society’s pace.
          Maybe a beat of a different drum revealed new wonders. Maybe this revelation develops into understanding and stewardship. Asking for a friend.

          • JB says:

            geogymn, I have often wondered if your pseudonym has anything to do with a wonderful little mushroom species that starts with ‘G—‘. Obviously, if so, you have answered your own question, possibly in a very big way.

            I think that the bigger picture is important here. On the most basic philosophical level, it is hard to justify some of the counter-culture burgeoning on the West Coast as psychedelics are decriminalized–can tripping on endangered desert or rainforest species bought, wrapped in plastic, from the pseudo-shaman next door really be considered “connection” with the very parts of nature that the act of consumption is destroying? And the scalable alternative: Can commercialization of the most difficult chemical substances for a postindustrial society to manufacture truly connect us with something so primal? What about the environmental destruction left in the wake of the impromptu counter-culture “nature get-togethers” (e.g., Rainbow Fest, etc,)–how do we reconcile or rectify these things? (A start would be to acknowledge that “going out into nature” to consume hallucinogens is a post-1950s phenomenon.)

            Psilocybin is the only notable exception to the above quandries in that it is both naturally-derived and scalable, but this has only become reality recently thanks to the pioneering sterile myco-culture techniques of the past 40 years–before that the Mexican military was blockading Maria Sabina’s village to keep the hordes of hippies out of an indigenous heritage site (and the appetites of those that stayed behind were rarely satisfied by chasing the rain and hunting ghosts). From a cultural anthropology standpoint, we should acknowledge that human use of psychedelics was completely outside of the Western cannon prior to the 1940s (with a few occassionally newsworthy mushroom “poisonings”). We could even argue that there is some sort of underlying incomptability there–maybe the ethnobiological utilization of serotonergic hallucinogens has been a cultural practice limited to pre-industrial, pre-ferro-metallurgy societies because there exist very hard and real barriers to cultural adoption in contrary societies (ecological, sociopoliitical, epistemological, etc.). If we are going to create our own cultural rituals for using these things, we need to do better, if that is even possible–psychedelic party culture has been an overwhelming failure, infantile New Age shamanism is going to die from its own growing pains, and psychedelic nature communionism is largely destroying its own raison d’etat; if we are going to imitate a cherrypicked selection of indigenous cultures that use “entheogens”, notwithstanding the ethical hurdles of cultural appropriation, then we need actually take the time to learn about those practices–and in doing so, we will learn that fostering a “connection with nature” or even with spiritual realms is not the underlying goal such rituals. After all, the most Judeo-Christian and Western aspect of modern psychedelic philosophy–the application of which those traditional religions take the most issue with–is the reductionist idea that spiritual salvation can be attained by swallowing a pill. (…Similarly to the reductionist modern conception of environmentalism as nature tourism.)

            • geogymn says:

              That is one arduous retort. Your articulation is impressive, intense and though provoking. Worthy of debate, however, I am not up to snuff both intellectually nor temperamentally.
              I have never experienced Gymnopilus spectabilis but am willing to experiment if you are willing to share.
              The pseudonym has more to do with seeing the world unfettered by societal norms.
              Simply put I was suggesting that some may use a method to down shift enough so that the both the rose and the thorn may be appreciated.
              If one can do that without any aid then they are blessed in some way(s).

  4. ADK Anne says:

    I’m just happy that I am old and don’t have to see some of the things that will happen in the near future. We didn’t even have pot when I was a teen. It was whispered that some kid in a town about 40 miles away did but I never saw any of my friends using it. I think the worst any of us did was to steal some corn from a farmer’s field and try to cook it in the woods. Our fire smoked and the fire department was called. We went into deeper woods and, when the fire dept. got there, we came out and asked what was going on. Even if we had succeeded cooking the corn it wouldn’t have been eatable. We found out out later that it was field corn-what the farmer fed his cows-not sweet corn but what would a kid know…..

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