Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Search ongoing for man who fell into Ausable River; plus two Cascade incidents and another Allen rescue

forest ranger reportTown of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 27 at 8 p.m., two hikers called 911 requesting a helicopter ride down from Allen Mountain. Forest Rangers Martin and Quinn, and Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) Jackson advised that Rangers would hike up to help the pair. The 19- and 35-year-old hikers did not have headlamps, a map, a compass, or adequate food and water.

Rangers reached the hikers from Utica at 10:40 p.m., and found the pair hypothermic and dehydrated. It was raining with temperatures in the 40s. Rangers provided warm clothing and food, and helped the hikers down to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 12:45 a.m.

Allen Mountain is an approximately 20-mile round-trip hike. This was the pair’s first attempt at a high peak. Hikers are reminded to prepare before heading outdoors, including knowing their limits and gearing up for a 24-hour trip, even if the hike is not planned to be long. Learn more at DEC’s website.

Hikers rescued from Allen Mountain. DEC photo.

Town of Wilmington
Essex County
River Search:
 On Sept. 29, Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 reporting that a 60-year-old male fell into the Ausable River near the Flume Trail System. Local fire departments, EMS, and New York State Police responded and began the search. In the following days, State Police Dive and Aviation, K-9 units, and drone teams, as well as the Forest Ranger Swift Water Team and Wilmington and Saranac fire departments, worked to access pools and eddies by boat and utilizing rope systems to lower personnel into technical sections for underwater camera searches. The search is ongoing.

Forest Ranger Morehouse assists in the Ausable River search. DEC photo.

Ranger Swift Water Team searches the Ausable River. DEC photo.

Ausable River flume search. DEC photo.

Village of Lake Placid
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 1, Ranger Evans received notification of an injured hiker on the Street Mountain and Nye Mountain Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. The hiker had an unstable leg injury. After splinting the ankle, responding Forest Rangers coordinated a carryout with an Assistant Forest Ranger and Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks to Heart Lake where the hiker was given a canoe transport to the Lake Placid Ambulance for medical transport.

Rangers Baldwin, Evans, and other rescuers conducting a carryout in the High Peaks Wilderness. DEC photo.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescues:
 On Oct. 2, two separate incidents on Cascade Mountain were reported to Ray Brook Dispatch a little over an hour apart. At approximately 11:43 a.m., the caller reported a male hiker with a knee injury. Ranger Evans went to meet the injured hiker, but after splinting the injured knee, the hiker was unable to walk. At approximately 1 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a report from Essex County 911 of a subject that had fallen 80 feet from a cliff on Cascade. State Police Aviation assistance was requested to help evacuate the potentially injured hiker. Rangers boarded a State Police Helicopter and were inserted near the injured, but conscious, subject. The hiker was packaged and loaded into a litter, hoisted into the helicopter, and flown to a trauma center in Vermont. When that mission was complete, the helicopter was utilized to safely evacuate the subject with the injured knee. A long, labor-intensive carry out involving several Rangers was avoided, and the injured hiker was safely extracted to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

These back-to-back incidents are just two of many instances of the strong partnership between DEC’s Division of Forest Protection Forest Rangers and the New York State Police Aviation Unit. Almost weekly, Forest Rangers join forces with State Police to search for lost or missing persons or rescue injured people in the backcountry. When someone is injured in the backcountry, getting the subject to a hospital can be an arduous task. Many backcountry trails are not passable by 4×4 vehicles or ATVs, leaving rescuers to carry those unable to walk out of the woods. In some instances, as many as 20 Forest Rangers are needed to evacuate an injured person 10 miles over rough terrain. If weather conditions allow in a suitable location, for nearly two decades State Police helicopter crews working with specially-trained Forest Rangers have been undertaking some of DEC’s most difficult rescue and recovery missions.

Aerial rescue of injured hiker from Cascade Mountain. DEC photo.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NYAdirondack Backcountry Information, and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.

If a person needs a Forest Ranger, whether it’s for a search and rescue, to report a wildfire, or to report illegal activity on state lands and easements, they should call 833-NYS-RANGERS. If a person needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a Forest Ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for every Ranger listed by region.


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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.

21 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    “…requesting a helicopter ride.” Is there a helicopter shuttle to Allen now? Damn, I should have waited for that! Would have saved myself allotta walking.

  2. Bill Ott says:

    Dear Readers,

    Read Dan Crane, the “Bushwhacking Fool”.

    He is no fool. He wrote for the Almanack from 2011 through 2016. All hikers, campers, and bushwhackers can learn from him while enjoying entertaining reads. No preaching, Just experiences.

    All nine pages of Dan’s articles, including all the comments, are instantly available above. Finding this stuff is only possible because of how well this rag is run. It is now run by Melissa Hart. One can find her name way at the bottom below the toilet bowl. It should be near the top, somewhat above or below the “DONATE” button. It is so easy to push.

  3. Joseph Van Gelder says:

    Dan Crane owes me, my family and close friends an apology although I doubt he’s man enough to give it.

  4. As Ranger Lewis says “Broken Arrow”

  5. JB says:

    In response to the environmental emergency of resource depletion, we create the Forest Preserve. In response to the national emergency of a global pandemic, the headlines fill with stories about recreationists flocking to wildlands. Now, growing numbers of recreationists are in seemingly constant need of rescue.

    It is obvious that something is not right with this picture. But the common response is to find anything to blame other than the actual cause, promising a quick resolution. Emergency solutions are what got us here in the first place. Or, maybe it should be said: emergency solutions are what place those doing everything right at the front lines while insulating others from consequences.

    The problem is not an unfortunate coincidence of exacerbating factors, it is not that recreationists are “uneducated” about proper utilization of the backcountry, and it is not even that DEC and APA are mismanaging resources.

    The real problem is that our collective perception of “wilderness” as a place of solitude — a place “to get away” — is unsustainable. Wilderness is about community, cooperation, and responsibility just as much — if not more so — than any aspect of society. Going on a hike to get “back to basics” is the farthest thing from basic or simple that one can possibly do. It’s chasing after the end of a rainbow.

    Society needs to evolve in this area, just as it has in others. To do that, we need to get back to basics for real: we need to turn the mirror on ourselves. Then, we can ask questions like: Why do millions of people now feel it necessary to travel great distances to climb the same mountain? The point is not that recreationists need to be “dispersed” (they already are dispersing, and the problem remains). The point is that we, as a society, have created a massively effective machine for perpetuating unsustainable attitudes, and wildlands become the coal-car.

  6. Balian the Cat says:

    JB – I normally follow your thoughts with agreement and identification, but I think we part company on this suggestion. I say “I think” because I am not 100% sure I understand what you are saying. IF you are stating that the definition of big W Wilderness as as established by legislation needs to somehow evolve to accommodate the perception people seem to have that they are entitled to follow their phone into the natural environment until it or they get tired and then someone will come and “rescue” them, I’m sure I don’t agree. Wilderness legislation was fought for precisely because more and more people wanted more and more access to a finite resource and that was unsustainable. The non-anthropocentric values of wildlands have been described by hundreds of people more capable than me. I have spent most of my adult life researching where to go and how to get along in remote/wild places because it is essential to my soul to be reminded that I am but a part of the vast biotic web. It is sustaining to me to rely on my skills and wits to thrive safely in places where I can only be a visitor. I do not crave “alone together” and I do not want the backcountry tamed so that it becomes pasteurized and safe like the front country. I think about risk tolerance and “what if” every time I head down the trail or turn off of it. I care more about the restorative qualities of nature than I do about the economy, propping up communities that can’t survive any longer in areas where the industries they grew up around have failed, or the endless need of everyone to have a “badge” proving their woods cred. Now, that certainly says more about me than it does the problems of overcrowding or preparation on the part of recreationists, but the notion that we should surrender our place in the environment so that society doesn’t have to be inconvenienced by the fact that some activities assume risk is anethma to me.

    Now, getting back to the distinct possibility that I misinterpreted what you said, allow me to add this: I am very open to the idea that the High Peaks no longer fit the definition of Wilderness. Sad as it makes me I think I would support an effort to shrink the backcountry and fortify most hiking opportunities so that the masses could enjoy them more safely. That does not mean I would surrender true Wilderness – I view it as essential that there be a point beyond the end of the trail, past the last Starbucks, where the cell coverage ends and the swimmer assumes her own risk.

    Thats where you’ll find me.

    • JB says:

      Hey Balian,
      I’m glad that you point this out. I actually agree with everything that you’ve said.

      Where I’m predicting that we may disagree is on the broader meaning behind the concept of “solitude”. As you’ve nicely summated, legislation should not evolve to “accommodate the perception people seem to have that they are entitled to follow their phone into the natural environment until it or they get tired and then someone will come and ‘rescue’ them.” …Or until any excursion into “wilderness” finds us “alone together”. This contradicts the concept of wilderness in my view. It also contradicts wilderness as defined in the Wilderness Act and the APSLMP, and both of them list solitude as a primary criteria for wilderness.

      But I don’t think that the use of “solitude” here exists solely because the ideological architects of the Wilderness Act craved solitude. Any one of us can go to a large industrial park late at night and find plenty of solitude (even if solitude here means “freedom from the physical presence of other people”). But obviously this is not wilderness. The overriding idea, I think, is that wilderness must exist in its inherently “natural” state.

      For example, Zahniser quoted a passage from Bob Marshall in his testimony before Congress for the Wilderness Act: “The dominant attributes of such an area [a wilderness] are: first, that is requires any one who exists in it to depend exclusively upon his own effort for survival; and second, that it preserves as nearly as possible the primitive environment. This means that all roads, power transportation, and settlements are barred. But trails and temporary shelters, which were common long before the advent of the white race, are entirely permissible.”

      While I can’t speak to the original intentions of either of these men, I’d like to think that the primary sentiment is to preserve (and respect) the “primitive environment”, and that the solitude and effort necessary for survival come as a consequence of that, and not the other way around.

      I think that the problem today is that we *do* have it the other way around: we prioritize the consequences instead of the causes. Thus, wilderness becomes solely about an ultimately unachievable ideal of “solitude” — “solitude” as the man with the axe pitting himself against his environment, or the man in the Jeep commercial driving on an amazingly remote and perilous road, or the woman in the REI commercial, etc.

      What is missing from all of these narratives is the prequel. What happens before the camera starts rolling? Nobody in the examples above has much need to be keenly aware of the complexity of the natural world. While this, we must remember, is fiction, that does not stop people from believing it to be reality. But had we lived in a society that did exist in a wilderness, as Marshall puts it, “before the advent of the white race”, this rugged individualism would seem ridiculous. Only in a society that has all of the trappings of modern civilization, and in the most extreme way, can such “greatness” be achieved by solitary individuals.

      And this belief — of “solitude” as individual exceptionalism — pervades thinking about ecosystems as well. This is where I take particular issue with the “back to basics” mentality. Basics, I think, are good (more than good). But not if “basics” means simple. As an extreme example, living in wilderness for an indefinite period of time and depending “exclusively upon” one’s “own effort for survival” is the most complicated thing that a modern human being can do — not the least because one would be doing it in solitude, with no cultural understanding to help mediate between them and the natural world in the new lifestyle that they have chosen, and to protect themselves and environment alike.

      Finally, I’d be remiss if I did not mention that I believe that all human beings must have an inherent freedom to seek solitude, just as we all must have the inherent ability to live in a natural way. But, as a seeker of solitude myself, I sincerely hope that we all gain a better understanding of why we may (or may not) want to seek solitude. I hope that we can find a concept of “solitude” that does not merely exacerbate the problems that make us want, or earnestly need, to seek solitude in the first place — until it becomes harder and harder (and more dangerous) to actually find.

      • Balian the Cat says:

        Much food for thought. I am delighted that I misunderstood and appreciate your clarification. Our parting of company was brief indeed.

  7. JBF says:

    Forbid cell phones in the wilderness and many of the problems go away.

  8. louis curth says:

    There are many aspects to consider in this story. The most urgent need is to have an in depth discussion that leads somewhere positive, and also relieves the intolerable burden that the ranger force is struggling with. The term “broken arrow” is new to me, but the plethora of emergencies that today’s rangers are struggling to deal with has been building up for a long, long time.

    • Richard Monroe says:

      The term “broken arrow” is an important (both currently and historically) military codeword. During the Vietnam war, it was used by ground unit commanders whose positions were being overrun by enemy forces. When the commander’s call “Broken Arrow, Broken arrow. It is my call.” came over the radio, all available air support immediately diverted and dropped their remaining ordnance on
      the friendly unit position being overrun. This was most famously done by Lt General William “Bill” Carpenter, my 1st Division Commander with 10th Mountain. He received the distinguished Service Cross for making that call to save his unit (as a then Captain I believe) during Vietnam. He also made a name for himself as “the Lonesome End”, playing Army football during his time at West Point. Currently the term “Broken Arrow” is used to refer to an inadvertently lost nuclear weapon, detonation, or incident. I’m not sure what relevant context it is being used in here.

      • louis curth says:

        Richard, Thanks for your clarification of “broken arrow”. Now it makes sense to me that the term has been picked up by the current forest rangers who are feeling the effects of relentless stress from increasing emergency response demands falling upon too few personnel.

        On a personal note, I miss reading your wonderful stories. I wish you good health and success in whatever endeavors you are up to. Such light as yours should not be hidden under a proverbial bushel basket.

        • JB says:

          I agree! I miss Richard’s stories as well and wish him well!

        • Richard Monroe says:

          Mr. Curth (& JB), I struggled all night to craft an adequate response. In that endeavor, I failed. I sincerely miss sharing my stories & engaging in the positive, uplifting, life enhancing discourse I experienced here with most readers. But I don’t miss the snipers. There were just far too many of them. I felt alone and outnumbered. A writer’s story stands as an easy target, out in the open, heart fully exposed. Just too much hateful sniping. I’m just one lone Ranger, admittedly imperfect, living in the day I am in, trying to share one life’s adventures, experiences and stories with others, doing my best to answer the call “Broken Arrow”, without, in the process, actually becoming one myself. Thank you (& JB) for your kind response. I’m glad I was able in some small way to be helpful. I hope the Forest Rangers’ distress call is answered. Be well.

  9. Charlie Stehlin says:

    JB says: “Why do millions of people now feel it necessary to travel great distances to climb the same mountain? ”

    There’s a few reasons for this JB. One answer is what you have noted in your same above missive, ie.. “we, as a society, have created a massively effective machine for perpetuating unsustainable attitudes…” that machine being mass entertainment which has a stupefying effect on our thinking and which has become popular culture, or to a larger extent…. a popularity contest. There’s a lot of unreasonable thinking going on out there JB and who knows what ‘automaton’ society will produce next. We’re all killing time; some of us doing it in a way which Carl Jung described as ‘archetypal’, or utilizing our inherited thoughts, which date back to the stone age. That is…. thoughts which could only be derived from the experience of having very little while being surrounded by a very lot of wilderness, where rubbing two sticks together were what are now considered innovation and survival instinct. And though those days are far-removed, some of us are very much aware, or subconsciously aware, of this archetypal instinct innate in all of us.
    Every ‘thing’ else is mere shadows or imitation! There’s hardly any originality left, hence the ‘archetypal’ thinking which Jung proposed, and which makes much sense to me; it is a thing very few of us are even conscious of! To our own detriment I will add.

    Our (society’s) thinkers are fueled by mass media, by a thousand objects coming at us per each 15-seconds. This may be an overly-excessive opinion, but what does it matter whether it be a thousand objects or a hundred per each 15-seconds? We’re being fueled by such whenever it is we allow a television to watch us! Either way this has a stupefying effect upon our minds, it makes us insensible, it deadens our drive to be more than what we could, or should, be.

    This may sound like I am drifting from the theme of traveling great distances just to climb a mountain (which is nothing really new), though I am not, and there is a connection as all things are linked together. Mass entertainment, even if it be obscured truth (or outright lies), and full of darkness, keeps us away from our loneliness, it is an escape from ourselves; and so society latches-on as is so evident by what we witness in the masses day in day out, we see the effects of it…. the lethargy, the lack of curiosity, the social distancing, not identifying and so turning our cheeks the other way, being less considerate of, or having no, or a reduced, affinity towards others; and worse….displaying violent tendencies towards others.

    Fortunately, this isn’t wholly the case with today’s society, but it sure as heck seems to be a more frequent visitor to our way of doing business. It’s a shame really as it doesn’t have to be this way! We have only ourselves to blame, by way of either inciting such due to our own selfishness and/or ignorance, or putting up with it in the first place, sitting back in our easy chairs and not speaking up, or putting our foot down…..allowing it to happen!

    That ‘massively effective machine for perpetuating unsustainable attitudes’ you mention is ‘right on’ more-so than even you may realize. It is the reason why millions of people feel it necessary to do what everyone else is doing! It is having a perverse effect on us as a society. It is why school shootings (which started in this “Great” (?) country of ours) are the new fad. It is why one can hardly climb a mountain anymore and expect to enjoy what little solitude is left on this planet, as everyone else, propelled by an electronic device, has the urge to do the same………………………………………….. All is a spectator sport anymore!

    • JB says:

      Charlie, that’s a great start to an answer to my question. And, while all of this may seem to be drifting away from the topic at hand (consider yourself warned), I agree that it is all a relevant part of a necessary discussion to have.

      Your focus on “imitation” is spot on. I call it “performance”, and I believe that there are indeed “original performances” that are a fundamental part of human nature. But, unlike the modern understanding of “performance”, these are performances that are not done for an audience. The best way to explain would be with examples: singing to oneself, reflexive motions or speech, the prayer of a truly pious man. In the light of this conversation, we could call this “solitary performance”.

      On the other hand, you could say that there is another type of performance that is happening today. It could be argued, maybe in the Jungian sense, that the social media influencer is performing instead for an audience and that that audience is then affected, initiates their own performance, and so on (all of this tracing back to some Jungian archetype). But, to me, this isn’t a terribly useful train of thought in 2022. Isn’t this just a description of a normal human cultural process?

      I’d argue instead that performance only becomes problematic — as it has in the last half century or so — when it becomes detached from its “roots” in solitary performance. That is, performance becomes about imitating solitary performance — it becomes pure “imitation”. Since such performance can never fulfill its ultimate goal, we see an escalation towards extremes. It is neither done for the sake of an audience nor for the sake of the performer, but to fill a void resulting from an inability to reciprocate the need for unimpeded solitary performance — the need to be “true to oneself”, the need to have a sustainable concept of oneself to begin with.

      So, the problem becomes: what causes this inability?

      For one, we should definitely rule out what is not the cause: it is not a lack of actual solitude, at least in the sense of the absence of other people. We can choose, at least in the short term, to not allow the presence of others to compromise the “integrity” of our acts (for lack of a better word). Conversely, someone who lacks the ability to “perform” as if alone (to exist in a state of “integrity”, “naturalness”, etc) will still lack that ability in total solitude.

      But I do think that wherever there is a lack of opportunity for solitude today — for example, in a society where it is logistically impossible to be alone — this occurs for the same ultimate reason that is behind the inability to reciprocate basic human needs. Put simply, I believe that all of this does ultimately come about as a result of changes in physical circumstance. I would say, principally, those changes actually start with our own bodies and minds. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter where it starts: our bodies, our minds, our environment, our society — they all change in lock-step. The point is that we must talk about all of this — culture, mass media, psychology, perception — when talking about the environment, especially in a place like the Adirondacks.

  10. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “The term “broken arrow” is new to me….”

    Neil Young’s early group, Buffalo Springfield, did a song called “Broken Arrow.” A fine piece of old 60’s music which I haven’t heard in a few blue moons!

  11. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Balian the Cat says: “I have spent most of my adult life researching where to go and how to get along in remote/wild places because it is essential to my soul to be reminded that I am but a part of the vast biotic web.”

    And what better way to find spirituality? There is none in my book, even if we think we can go to an industrial park, as JB suggest, to find it. Too few of us will ever find Buddhahood thanks for your positive perspective anyway JB. And thank you Balian for reminding me of my place as a vital being before it becomes a dead body.

  12. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “What happens before the camera starts rolling?’

    I like your minds eye JB! This one line signifies, or what immediately came to mind when I saw it anyway, was how a very large quantity of society is effected by external objects, viz… a camera! In a ‘very large’ way it affects how sports are played on a field, how our politicos behave while a captive American audience is watching (ie… the arrogant behavior of Ted Cruz during the confirmation hearings of newly elected Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson…..he knew he was on television!), how a crowd can suddenly turn for the worse as soon as one of these instruments shows up on a crime scene……………….. Just an awareness is all!

  13. Charlie Stehlin says:

    JBF says: “Forbid cell phones in the wilderness and many of the problems go away.”

    You may be absolutely correct on this JBF! Without their phones many people wouldn’t even step onto a trail I would wager. It would be like stepping out your door wearing your birthday suit in the middle of winter…..not likely! We are lost souls, too many of us, without a handheld device firmly gripped in our hands! A study has been done on this, it is a reality which will prove to be just another step towards mummification.

  14. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “It could be argued, maybe in the Jungian sense, that the social media influencer is performing instead for an audience and that that audience is then affected, initiates their own performance, and so on (all of this tracing back to some Jungian archetype). But, to me, this isn’t a terribly useful train of thought in 2022. Isn’t this just a description of a normal human cultural process?”

    > Some of what you say is an extension of what I said but in different phraseology JB. I agree and I disagree with what you say, but I do think your perspective, as a whole, has meaning in a complex way. There’s nothing normal about the way we function. Nothing! Maybe in a modern, material-world sense yes, but most certainly not in the primitive sense which is a thing still inherent in all of us but which the collective unconscious is ignorant of, thanks in a large part to superego, plastic and other variables, including presently- mass media, which has a huge impact on psychology, or again… the collective unconscious. Is why a liberal education is important! Liberal as in receptive, tolerant, open, not narrow-minded!

    “our bodies, our minds, our environment, our society — they all change in lock-step.”

    > Nope! We’re all unique in our own peculiar ways JB, which makes me wonder why so many comply to things which lessen individuality, or things which go against collective, and oftentimes, our own self, -interests. Our compositions are different, our souls lead us to different paths; we’re not all in lock-step which makes for a lonely world sometimes, even in the midst of huge crowds!

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