Rescue group announces two scholarships each year in memory of fallen hiker

Hua Davis was an avid hiker from Delaware who died in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park in March 2016. Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks is offering a scholarship in her memory. (Photo provided)

Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK), an all-volunteer nonprofit based in Saranac Lake, has announced the inaugural Hua Davis Wilderness Scholarship in memory of a hiker who died in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park.

On Friday, March 4, 2016 an avid hiker from Wilmington, Delaware named Hua Davis set out to scale MacNaughton Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Davis made it to the summit of the mountain, but died from hypothermia due to exposure later that same day.

New York State Forest Rangers were notified and searched the area for Davis. Her body was located the following afternoon. Davis’ clothes were soaked through, even though she had made an effort to light a fire. Davis was an experienced hiker. She had climbed all 46 Adirondack High Peaks in winter, hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail and completed the Saranac Lake Ultra 6.

Davis’ death was also preventable. She had a sleeping bag, snowshoes and other winter gear in her car, but she failed to take it with her, resulting in her death.

Davis’ daughter Echo, and son-in-law Steve, want to ensure that no one else perishes due to mistakes like Hua’s, so in that vein, Echo and Steve have set up a scholarship fund through Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks, an all-volunteer 501(c)3 group based in Saranac Lake.

The scholarship will provide financial assistance to search and rescue volunteers and members of the public who wish to increase their wilderness survival skills and medical training.

Two scholarships will be available each year. One will be open to the anyone so individuals can pursue learning in wilderness medical care, survival or mountaineering training. The second scholarship will be open to active volunteers on search and rescue teams that are part of the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams (FEDSAR).

Applications are due no later than close of business on Feb. 28, 2018 and the scholarship recipients will be decided by the SARNAK membership at its March meeting.

Completed applications can be emailed to or mailed to Davis Scholarship, SARNAK, PO Box 1116, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.

For more information, including the application and criteria, go