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Sgt. Wayne Saunders: (603) 788-3164
September 22, 2011

Hiker loses trail and spends the night near Mt. Isolation

A Kittery, Maine woman became disoriented off of the Isolation Trail in Sargent’s Purchase, N.H., while hiking alone on Wednesday, September 21, 2011. Susan Wiswell, age 56, called 911 at around 1:30 pm on Wednesday, after she apparently followed signs to a campsite off the Isolation Trail and could not find her way out. Conservation Officer Alex Lopashanski was able to establish cell phone communication with Wiswell and organize a group of Conservation Officers to do a hasty search of the area that she described. 

Officers conducted a search into the early morning hours on Thursday, hiking as far back as seven miles in an attempt to locate Wiswell.  The search party was unable to locate her in the high-probability areas, and without further communication, could not pinpoint her location.  All noisemaking techniques were unsuccessful.  The search party concluded the search and hiked out, arriving at the trail head at 2:00 am on Thursday, September 22.

The search resumed at 8:00 a.m. Thursday at the Rocky Branch trailhead, using the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands’ new mobile command center. Search teams located Wiswell at 11:24 am Thursday in the vicinity of the Rocky Branch Trail.  She was in good condition and able to hike out under her own power.

Volunteers from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Forest Service, and Androscoggin Valley Search & Rescue, along with Conservation Officers from around the state, participated in the search effort.

For information on being safe while hiking or pursuing outdoor recreation, including the list of ten essential items to have in your backpack, and to learn the hiker responsibility code, visit


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