Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Snow/rain complicate 16-hour Phelps Trail rescue, hikers treated for mild hypothermia

forest ranger reportTown of Black Brook
Clinton County
Wildland Fire:
 On May 15 at 6:45 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a wildland fire in Black Brook near the intersection of Turnpike and Goodrich Mills roads. Ausable Forks and Saranac Lake fire departments also responded to the 30-acre fire. Rangers and other firefighters sustained fire suppression efforts for several days. On May 17 at 6:45 p.m., the fire was declared 100 percent contained. The fire remains in patrol status.

Town of Broadalbin
Fulton County
Water Rescue:
On May 18 at 6:36 p.m., Forest Ranger Thompson responded to a radio report of an angler in a capsizing rowboat on the Great Sacandaga Lake. Several people nearby used paddle kayaks to bring the subject a life preserver. The angler was sitting on top of the overturned boat. Ranger Thompson borrowed a kayak, secured a throw bag on shore, and paddled out to the 27-year-old from Amsterdam. Once Ranger Thompson secured the subject with a life ring, Broadalbin Volunteer Fire Department personnel pulled them ashore using the throw bag. Ranger Thompson and the Good Samaritans then pulled the boat ashore. The subject’s friend took him to the hospital. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Broadalbin Fire, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and New York State Fire also responded. Resources were clear at 7:40 p.m.


Hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On May 20 at 1:19 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a hiker bleeding profusely after a dog bite. The 29-year-old was hiking with her mother and their two dogs on the Northville Placid trail when one of the dogs bit through her hand. Ranger Scott made it to the subject by 3 p.m. A Good Samaritan was already helping the hiker. Ranger Scott administered first aid and assisted the pair back to their vehicle. The subject said she would seek further medical attention on her own.


Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On May 20 at 8:01 p.m., an emergency beacon was activated by a hiking party of three on the Phelps Trail, east of Little Marcy. Forest Rangers Foutch and Mecus started hiking in to find the subjects. Rangers were unable to make phone contact with the party, but at 1 a.m., after six miles of hiking, Rangers located the subjects on the trail and treated them for mild hypothermia. Three to four feet of snow combined with rainy conditions overnight significantly slowed the rescue. Rangers Lewis and O’Connor hiked up to help get the subjects and their gear down the mountain. At 8:50 a.m., the group reached the Johns Brook outpost, where Rangers continued to warm the hikers before continuing to the trailhead. No further medical treatment was required. Resources were clear at 12 p.m.

The hikers were on a three-day trip, but had not checked the weather forecast and did not turn around when they encountered more snow than they were prepared for. As Memorial Day weekend approaches and more people head outdoors, hikers are encouraged to look at the weather and know their limitations before venturing outdoors. Learn more at DEC’s website.

Phelps trail rescue

Phelps trail rescue. NYS DEC photo.

Phelps trail rescue.

Phelps trail rescue. NYS 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.

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