Captain John Wimsatt: 603-271-3129
Lt. Heidi Murphy: 603-271-3127
Jane Vachon: 603-271-3211
May 5, 2014
Snow and Ice Remain on High Elevation Trails, Authorities Caution
Maine Hiker Rescued in N.H.'s White Mountains
This incident is the third this week in which hikers have ventured onto high elevation trails, where significant snow and ice conditions prevail, and gotten into trouble. "There is still upwards of two feet of snow on the ridges and summits," said Fish and Game Captain John Wimsatt. "And as temperatures warm, the runoff from small streams can be unpredictable and dangerous."
Fish and Game Conservation Officers are urging spring hikers anxious to hit the mountain trails to be patient and cautious before venturing into high elevations. Those that do so should be fully prepared with sufficient food, equipment, clothing and overnight gear.
"People are taking on arduous hikes in difficult conditions without the appropriate gear and preparation," said Wimsatt.
How do you assess a trail for spring hiking safety? "Heed weather reports; check conditions at the summits through reports provided by the Appalachian Mountain Club, local weather stations, and the Mount Washington Observatory," says Wimsatt.
In today's incident, David Humphrey of Falmouth, Maine, age 75, was rescued after a harrowing night on the summit of Bond Cliff. He had set out yesterday (May 4, 2014) at 5 a.m. from the Appalachian Mountain Club hostel at Crawford Notch on Route 302, intending to cover the 21 miles to the Lincoln Woods Trailhead in one day -- over a route that crosses several 4,000-foot summits. He encountered snow depths of up to two feet, icing conditions and rain. He was equipped only for a day hike, carrying no overnight gear.
Wet, cold and fatigued, he was still on the trail at 9:30 p.m. (May 4) and called 911 indicating he was in distress. He called again at 1:30 a.m. (May 5) reporting that he was very cold, wet and in poor condition. His location was established, however, he was 8.8 miles from the nearest trailhead (Lincoln Woods). A rescue team set out at 3 a.m. to reach him, assisted by a U.S. Army National Guard helicopter.
Conservation Officers reached Humphrey and helped him hike down below the inclement weather ceiling. The National Guard helicopter crew was able to hover overhead and lower a penetrator (cable with seat) and lifted Humphrey and the two officers into the helicopter. They were flown to the Lincoln Woods Trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway in Lincoln, N.H., arriving about 1:00 p.m. Humphrey suffered some symptoms of hypothermia due to prolonged exposure. His wife picked him up at the trailhead.
Other recent incidents involving spring hikers unprepared for the elements included an incident on Friday, May 2, 2014, in which five teenagers from southern New Hampshire attempted to traverse the Flume Slide Trail up to Franconia Ridge, cross the ridge, and come down the Liberty Spring Trail. They encountered significant snow and ice along the way. They had inadequate footwear and clothing for these wintry conditions. They called for help and were instructed to descend the Flume Slide Trail while reporting to Conservation Officers monitoring their progress. "They were able to make it out on their own, but it could have ended differently," said Wimsatt.
Earlier in the week a young Massachusetts man backpacking in the Franconia Ridge area had to be rescued after injuring himself with a knife. Rescuers had to deal with snow-covered trails and stream crossings to bring him to safety. More details on this incident are available at wildnh.com/Newsroom/2014/Q2/SR_Franconia_knife_injury.html.
For more information on safe hiking, visit http://www.hikesafe.com.
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