Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Rangers assist unprepared Whiteface Mt. hikers, Dix Mt. hikers in blizzard conditions

forest ranger reports graphicTown of Wilmington
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On March 9 at 4:20 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiking party reporting an individual with an ankle injury near the summit of Whiteface Mountain. When Rangers reached the three hikers from Quebec, they found that although the injury was not serious, the hikers were ill-prepared for conditions. Only one of the three had traction for their boots and all were wearing leggings without additional pants layers. In addition, the hikers didn’t have headlamps or navigational tools and were out of water. Rangers helped the trio back to the trailhead through the pouring rain before providing a courtesy ride to their vehicle. Rangers educated the hikers about preparedness and checking the weather before their next adventure. Resources were clear at 6:55 p.m.

Town of North Hudson
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On March 9 at 6:40 p.m., the Elk Lake Lodge caretaker called for Forest Ranger assistance for hikers in distress at the Slide Brook lean-to. At 7:20 p.m., Rangers determined the hiking group was actually in the Dix Mountain Wilderness and one of the hikers, a 29-year-old from Rochester, was suffering from nausea. Rangers reached the hikers at 10:25 p.m. and helped them through blizzard conditions back to the trailhead. Resources were clear at 11:50 p.m.

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.

15 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    I used to love hiking in warmer winters with only gaiters and light or heavy polypro underwear (“leggings” weren’t a thing back then). But you certainly need a windproof/waterproof shell and/or a good non-absorbent insulating layer for survival. One set of spikes? That is just silly. Glad all made it out with appendages intact.

  2. adkack says:

    you can’t fix stupid

  3. Ruth Gais says:

    Having read a constant stream of reports of Forest Rangers’ rescues, I marvel at the Rangers’ dedication and bravery and I have only the highest praise for them. On behalf of all of us who love to hike and climb in the Adks and sometimes, in our zeal are not as wise as we might be, I offer the Rangers my deep gratitude. Thank you!!!!

    • Boreas says:

      Hopefully the new DEC Commissioner will significantly add to the force within the Park so they aren’t working so much overtime. Stupidity seems to be on the rise. Usage of the Forest Preserve certainly isn’t dropping.

      • Boreas says:

        Let me restate that. I don’t want to be too harsh on people who don’t have the knowledge to prepare properly for an outing in the woods. But if you are heading out in late-Winter/Spring conditions, it can be deadly in the peaks – even WITH proper preparation. Hike in well-prepared groups with old-school gear. Maps, compasses, spikes, synthetic clothes or wool, extra clothes, food, water, bivouac gear, etc., and HEADLAMPS – even for a day hike. Smart phones are for selfies and if you are lucky, you may be able to use one for an emergency call. You shouldn’t RELY on a smart phone for anything for anything!

        • Sreve B says:

          It amazes me that so many of these unprepared folks actually are surprised to learn they have no or spotty cell service. You would think they would know that the cell companies cannot provide wall to wall service in remote areas. How they do not know that and expect service is just beyond my ability to understand how stupid they are. Maybe charge a “stupidity” fee for rescues such as this and call it that.

      • Paul says:

        I didn’t see anything in the reporting on any sort of budget increase for something like this. Maybe it’s in there.

        It looks like there is a somewhat desperate move in NYS budgeting on things like affordable housing and some new (or bringing back) crime prevention. This administration is desperate to figure out how to stop people from leaving NY.

        What I would do if I was the new commissioner is try to get some sort of way for people like these folks from Canada to pay more for hiking in NYS. It’s insane that we got to pay for this.

        • Boreas says:

          Yeah, especially when you consider what it costs to do stuff in Canada. We need to charge much more for OOS fishing and hunting licenses as well as camping fees. I think we charge less for these fees than any state in the nation.

  4. Jeannine says:

    No matter how much reading one can prepare oneself for…You can’t fix stupid!

  5. Bill Keller says:

    State forest rangers have rescued or found more people from the Adirondacks High Peaks Wilderness than any other area in New York over the last decade. More than twice the number of people have been rescued from the High Peaks than any other state land area in New York over the last 10 years, data shows. Maybe it’s time to require a mandatory “back country” training requirement for this region only. The high peaks attract a lot of nimrods that are not prepared and cause others to haul their butts out.

    • Boreas says:

      You have MY vote! But be prepared for a crap-storm of opposition…

    • Boreas says:

      I will also add that DEC heads show no sign of wanting to change the status quo WRT hiker education and preparedness other than signage. In the past, patrolling Rangers dispensed an enormous amount of instruction, caution, and chastisement directly to people on the popular trails they happened to meet. Pete Fish and his contemporaries were an excellent example of this. The Rangers were there for reasons OTHER than rescues. They were there to prevent them. Simple concept.

      Perhaps DEC has allowed smart phones to take over the safety of hikers, but you can’t learn from a cell phone the way you can by speaking with a Ranger. Peak and Trail Stewards help, but not year-round. IMO, there needs t be a constant, routine, back-country presence in the HPW by Rangers (or Assistant Rangers) year-round – ESPECIALLY in the shoulder seasons. They should have the official capacity to ticket individuals who are blatantly breaking the rules such as postholing and insufficient preparedness. I expected to meet a Ranger on every trip in the HPW. Perhaps we need more of that – rather than summoning them in an emergency.

      But DEC will need to commit $$ to add extra personnel, and the previous commissioner was reluctant to boost the manpower sufficiently. Perhaps the new commissioner will make this a priority. There are ways to help defray the costs, but there is major resistance to most of the methods. More status quo.

      • Paul says:

        Boreas, are you sure you are being fair here to the current ranger staff. I have not hiked a lot recently in the HPW, and I do remember encounters with the legendary Pete Fish, who seemed to be hiding behind every tree! But I remember encounters and with other rangers as well. Do we know what the current patrolling is now versus then in the HPW. I would just want to make sure we acknowledge the current folks that are out there. These rangers all have the capacity to ticket people for offenses. I was guilty of a few in my day, and even Pete Fish never gave me a ticket. So that is not a new thing in my view. He chewed you out, which it sounds like these rangers did – “educated the hikers”! We never had summit stewards decades ago.

        The real mistake in my view over the years was adding tons of new land for rangers to be responsible for with no plan to manage it. For example all these conservation easements the rangers are stuck dealing with new violations all over the place – easy ATV trespass etc. for example. The state decided to give money to the Nature Conservancy to buy land instead of to the rangers to manage it. All the time this was cheered on by the “so called” environmental community.

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