Seven backcountry rescues this past week

The last week has been busy for state forest rangers. They performed seven backcountry rescue operations in the Adirondacks, in addition to hiker education and enforcement of state regulations over the past weekend, which with peak fall foliage and blue skies was widely considered one of the busiest ever on Adirondack mountain trails. These are some of the highlights.

Helicopter rescue on Baker

On Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 12:10 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an injured 64-year-old hiker from Dyer, Indiana, on Baker Mountain, in the Essex County town of St. Armand just outside the village of Saranac Lake. The hiker went off the trail, fell and injured his right leg. Forest Rangers Evans and Sabo responded to assist.

Once on scene, Evans provided first aid for the subject’s unstable knee and ankle. Due to the extent of the injury, New York State Police Aviation was requested along with backup rescuers including members of Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks in case of a possible carry-out involving a high-angle rope technique on steep terrain. NYSP Aviation, with Forest Ranger Benzel as hoist operator, completed the helicopter rescue off the mountain at 4:18 p.m. The hiker was transported to a local hospital for further medical treatment.

Dislocated shoulder on Phelps

On Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 3:15 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a call from a group of hikers reporting that a 60-year-old woman from Bath had dislocated her left shoulder on the trail for Phelps Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness, in the Essex County town of North Elba. The caller believed the subject’s shoulder was back in the socket and that they had tied a belt around the injured woman’s shoulder to keep it in place.

The group continued down to Marcy Dam, where they were met by Forest Ranger Lewis, who provided a sling for the injured shoulder and escorted the hikers to the outpost, where they were given a ride back out to their vehicle. The injured hiker advised that she would seek further medical treatment on her own.

Medical rescue on Whiteface

On Thursday, Sept. 24 at 10:30 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a request for forest ranger assistance regarding a 60-year-old man from Warren, Connecticut, who had a medical issue on the Stag River Trail on Whiteface Mountain in the Essex County town of Wilmington.

Forest rangers responded to the hiker’s location and arrived on scene at 11:08 a.m. Rangers transported the subject to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, where he was evaluated by Whiteface medical staff and transferred to the Wilmington rescue squad for transport to a local hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 12:15 p.m.

Helicopter rescue at Ouluska lean-to

On Friday, Sept. 25 at 6:50 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a request for assistance from SPOT Locator Services for a 60-year-old Ballston Spa woman with a non-weight-bearing knee injury at the Ouluska lean-to on the Northville-Placid Trail. Due to the remoteness of the area, Rangers contacted State Police Aviation to assist in performing a hoist operation to extract the injured hiker.

Forest rangers and the State Police helicopter crew extracted the woman and flew her to a local hospital for treatment at 10:35 a.m., while rangers using UTVs drove to Ward Brook to meet the subject’s husband. The man was given a ride out to the gate and a courtesy ride to his vehicle at the trailhead.

Hiker carried off Blueberry trail

On Friday, Sept. 25 at 1:05 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch from a pair of hikers on the Blueberry Mountain trail in the town of Keene reporting a 76-year-old hiker from Katonah with a non-weight-bearing ankle injury.

Forest Rangers Lewis and van Laer and Assistant Forest Ranger Raudonis responded to assist. Once on scene, rangers splinted the injured ankle, and the hiker attempted to make his way out with crutches but was unsuccessful. The Keene and Keene Valley fire departments’ Backcountry Rescue Unit responded with a litter and backpack carries to assist with the carry-out with Rangers Gliddi and Evans. The responders carried the hiker to the trailhead, and he advised he would seek further medical assistance on his own.

Ankle injury on Whiteface

On Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a request for assistance for a 26-year-old hiker from Queensbury with an ankle injury on Whiteface Mountain just below Hoyt’s High ski trail in the Essex County town of Wilmington.

Forest Rangers Lewis, Burns, and LaPierre responded to assist, arriving on scene at 3:34 p.m. The rangers quickly reached the hiker on the ski trails and began to carry her down the mountain to an all-terrain vehicle. After loading the hiker onto the ATV, the rangers continued down the mountain to the meet the Wilmington rescue squad, waiting to provide additional medical treatment. A 7:15 p.m., all resources were cleared of the scene.

Hiker falls on Pitchoff

On Saturday, Sept. 26 at 5:15 p.m. DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of hikers on Pitchoff Mountain in the Essex County town of Keene, reporting that one of their group had fallen, hit her head and cut her leg.

Forest Rangers Praczkajlo, LaPierre, Sabo, van Laer, and Evans responded to the East Trailhead. Upon arriving on scene, the rangers determined the woman was unable to walk out on her own. Rangers requested assistance from the Keene Valley Backcountry Rescue for assistance. With the bleeding stopped, rescuers started the rugged carry-out and arrived back at the trailhead at 9:32 p.m. The 51-year-old hiker from Westport was turned over to the Keene ambulance squad for further medical treatment.


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