Monday, January 17, 2011

Colvin and Blake

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Having skiied up Whiteface, this was my first real winter 46er experience and Colvin and Blake were a lot more difficult than I expected. Having to climb up over Colvin, then up Blake, then back over Colvin makes for more ascent than hiking Mt. Marcy and the mileage is about the same. Me, and a group of 46ers began the 14.8 mile hike an hour before sunrise at 6:30 and I didn't get back to the car until after dark at 5:00.

The entire day was a blur and due to cloud cover and snow, there weren't really any views. I started out with a group of 7 and two dropped out before we even made it to the trail intersection for Blake. A couple members of the group blazed down the trail at an inhuman pace, and the rest of us played catch up most of the day. The front of the pack would stop every half hour or so to make sure we were still plugging away and then at the sight of us they'd pop back into the woods, not to be seen again for another half an hour.

The trip was pretty uneventful up until the last steep pitch before the summit for Colvin. We all paused at the affectionately named "Colvin Step" and carefully made our way up the crack in the side of the wall. Then we walked over to the summit, saw there was no view, got cold, and kept hiking. Things got pretty quiet as we went down into the col between the two peaks, realizing every foot of steep descent would have to be made up twicefold.

We had to break out the trail to Blake. The snow was light and fluffy so breaking trail wasn't all that difficult, but it did mask the inches thick ice on the steep ledge, making things slow going. Eventually we acquired the ridge and things were pretty flat until we came ot a small opening with no view. There wasn't a summit sign, or even a disk. Just a carving into a tree, taunting us with the fact that Blake wasn't even 4,000' high. Lyon Mountain is higher! What a non-eventful summit.

We stopped for a couple pictures, then headed back at the same relentless pace we started with. Going through the col was pretty rough. My hands were freezing and I had to switch out my sweat soaked glove liners and put in handwarmers. At one point, I butt slid down a steep pitch only to have my snowshoe get caught on a rock or root under the snow and fling me sideways into a tree. And I could feel the toenail on my big toe and the skin on the front nuckles of my feet start to come off from being jammed up into the fronts of my boot.

We were surprised to run into four groups of people in the col. They allowed us to pass first and I imagine they enjoyed the free entertainment of us sliding down steep icy ledges and attempting to stick the landing at the bottom. When we arrived back at the "Colvin Step" things started to get pretty hairy.

The once fearless leader of the pack, stopped dead in his tracks and just stared at it for a while. The problem was we had to somehow climb down the ice covered crack in the rocks and step off onto a very thin ledge with nothing to hold on to. To the right of the ledge was a sheer drop. We all stood there for a while, and then one member of the group took out a piece of rope. We looped it around a tree, so that we could retrieve it from the bottom and one by one we improvised amateurish technical skills down the crack in the rocks, clinging to the rope for deer life.

Needless to say, we all made it and no one fell off the side of the mountain. One of the group said, and I'm paraphrasing out of politeness "now let's get off this mountain!" and we all mustered up heartfelt agreement. When we got back to the lake road, I collapsed onto my pack and took a deep gulp of water. I must have been covered in snow from the tree branches because a member of the group came over and said, "you're looking pretty frosty". I let out and deep breathe and said, "that felt good...".

It certainly wasn't a pretty day, but I think like we all felt like we really earned those two peaks. And masochistic as it may be, we all seemed to really enjoy ourselves. I can't say I'd be up for a repeat any time soon, but for the moment the cuts, bruises and blisters feel a tad bit satisfying, badges of my first true winter peaks. Trial by fire.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway

The tollhouse.

The Lake Placid turn. The Great Range can be seen in the upper left.

Mirror Lake from the Lake Placid turn.

The ski trails below.

A view from the "castle".

The staircase to the weather observatory and summit.

December 26th, 2010 - A 10 mile round trip ski up the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, with a short hike to the summit.

Partly cloudy with a high of 16 degrees.

When I arrived at the toll house in the late morning, my car thermometer read 12. I thought briefly, do I really want to get out of my nice warm car and then I quickly jumped out, like ripping a band-aid off a wound. By the time I got my skis on, my hands were aching from the cold. I was worried that perhaps I'd have to turn around if I lost feeling in them but I thought I'd ski a safe distance up the road and then make a decision.

I flapped my fingers with every stride and by the time I had reached the first turn, they were warm and comfortable. Blue sky was starting to peak through the clouds and everything was covered in a beautiful layer of white snow. I caught up with an older man who had started out just before me and we played leapfrog as one or the other would stop to take a picture or catch their breath.

The first hour or so was rather uneventful other than the sound of crunching snow and a creaking ski pole. There was a nice, thick base layer of snow for most of the way. I'd ski for a while, then stop to take a picture and my hands would ache. Then I'd quickly get going again and flap my fingers until they didn't hurt anymore. It's amazing how warm cross country skiing keeps you. I actually had to unzip my armpit vents and take off a layer here or there.

When I got to the Lake Placid turn, the winds started picking up and the windswept road turned to mostly ice. I put up a ski mask and goggles for the last mile or two and the going was a little slower with snow drifts and the wind resistance. It very much felt like a different planet up there. At the Wilmington turn, I got a view of ant sized skiers on the groomed trails.

The "castle" and weather observatory looked very close but the road winded around so that it seemed like it took a long time to reach them. When I did eventually make it up the long, wind swept road and passed a sign marking where the handicapped parking was during the warmer months, I saw 4 pairs of skis. There was a group coming down, and the older man who I saw earlier was on the staircase to the summit.

I took off the skis and slipped on some microspikes and headed for the weather observatory. The stairs were covered in snow but they weren't very slippery. I brought poles but didn't need them, at times I even ran.

Up on the summit, it was freezing. The National Weather Service summit forecast for the next day said that the windchill got to -28 degrees in the afternoon.
I took out my camera to take a few pictures and when I went to put it away, my hands were so numb that I couldn't fasten the button on my pocket. Fearing frostbite, I did what any self-respecting man would do. I took off my gloves and put my hands down my pants.

I let my hands warm up to the point that they hurt again and I could move them around, then I headed back down the stairs from the weather observatory. Within minutes my hands were completely warm and no longer numb or tingly so I took a few more pictures and headed back down to the "castle".

I saw the older man one last time at the castle and joked about how cold it was. He said it was well worth the trip and I agreed, then I set off down the mountain. I'm not a very good skier so I was very careful around the bends. But I made very good time and I only made a couple real good face plants. I thought I still had half the highway to ski down when I saw a sign saying the tollhouse was half a mile ahead. I was soon back at my car loading my skis in to my trunk. When I got in, my car thermometer read 8.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sawteeth... almost

Two deer on the Lake Road.

The dam at the end of the Lake Road.

Raindbow Falls.

New growth on the slide to Sawteeth.

Signs at the col between Gothics and Sawteeth.

I believe this is Pyramid from Sawteeth.

The Great Range from Sawteeth. From left to right is Marcy in the far distance, Basin and then Saddleback.

Icy trail conditions. This is about where I turned around.

The Lower Ausable basked in sunlight.

I still get nervous before hiking one of the high peaks; I usually don't get much more than six hours of sleep. And when the mountains come into view on the drive down in the morning, my heart races. They don't look like places where people belong. And perhaps they don't. Afterall, it's a rather unnatural act to climb a mountain just for the sake of standing on top of it and then climb back down. To some degree, it seems like an arrogant large scale game of king of the hill where I'm competing against the earth itself. Yet, I still do it and I'm hardly the only one.

So why do people hike mountains? It's good exercise, there's a bit of adventure to it and there are great views. But the majority of the time it spent looking down at the ground, partially to plan out your foot steps and partially becuase of the unnatural weight of the pack on your back. I'm not so sure what portion of the will to hike a mountain is driven by a desire to get to the summit, and what portion is driven by a desire to get away from something else. Elevation gain seems to change much more than just a person's visual perspective on the world below.

So on the morning of November 12th, I slept in past sunrise to try to get 6 hours of sleep. Ironically, the forecast called for temperatures in the 50's, about the same temperature it was the morning I set off for Marcy in July. I got to the trailhead well after sunrise and walked in to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve gate. The gravel of the Lake Road was frozen solid and a thin layer of icy snow covered the ground. I was sliding around a bit already and I hadn't even climbed anywhere. At the end of the long, monotonous hike down the Lake Road, I was rewarded by seeing two deer standing in the road just beyond where it becomes private property.

I hiked down to the dam and across the bridge, mindful of my footing. Then I started the immediate uphill climb of the Alfred E. Well trail to the col between Gothics and Sawteeth. At this point, I still wasn't sure which peak I'd attempt. Earlier I wanted to do Sawteeth, Pyramid and Gothics but I probably wouldn't have enough time with my late start.

The trail was messy. It wasn't quite snow or quite ice covering the ground and because it was so thin it would break and slide around. It was a bit like climbing up sand. Knowing I was planning a rather ambitious hike by my standards, and wanting to be back to the Lake Road by sundown so at least I'd be on flat ground in the dark, I had written down all the distances listed in the guide book so I could track my progress. I knew it was only 0.3 miles to a lookout above Rainbow Falls.

I arrived there much sooner than I expected and enjoyed the great view and the humorous sign warning, "Stay back from edge, don't be a dropout". When I came to the "old grown-in side" it did not look like a slide at all as it was completely covered in dense, thin newgroth trees. At this point the snow was a few inches deep, making footing much more secure. At the slide the trail evens out a bit but it was mostly a steep hike to the col between Sawteeth and Gothics.

I came to the col and there were signs pointing to Sawteeth and Gothics. Sawteeth was only 0.5 miles away with 500 feet of elevation gain and Gothics was labelled as a mile away with about 1.000 feet of elevation gain. Eager to get at least one peak in before heading back down to the Lake Road, I decided for Sawteeth.

Quickly the trail to Sawteeth got quite steep and the snow filled trail turned to a flowing river of ice. With the help of some tree branches, I slowly made my way up the steep pitches, slipping a bit even with microspikes. I stood sideways, and quickly snapped a picture of the great range as the footing was not great. Then I came to a cleft with cascading ice and no solid tree branches to hold on to. I stood here and contemplated things for a bit.

If I slipped back down, I would probably umble for a while. There was a bit of blowdown which I would have to climb over, and if it gave way and slid down the ice while I was on it, I would be going for quite the ride. I went back and forth on whether or not to attempt it. I had hiked nearly 7 miles and I couldn't be much more than 0.2 miles away from the summit. I took my pack off and set down my hiking poles. Then I grabbed hold of a chunk of ice and rocked myself back and forth, readying myself for a lunge forward. Then a thought hit me.

I might be able to get up this cleft, but how would I get back down? The microspikes were doing little for traction on the steep ice and I they were all I had. If I tried to butt slide down it, there was a good chance I'd get tangled in the blowdown or tumble end over end when I attempted to slow myself down. I sat there for a moment, struggling to come up with some kind of excuse to keep going - some nonexist piece of mountaineering knowledge or piece of equipment that I didn't have which would make the descent safe. Then I turned around.

I'm usually a pretty optimistic person, but I was upset with myself. I was tired from the lack of sleep and the anxiousness as well as the climb itself. Even though I had turned back before the steep cleft, I was still struggling to make my way down the steep, ice chutes of the trail. I fell a couple times, only adding to my frustration. At first I started to feel sorry for myself. This was the third time in my last four trips that I did not summit. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I had made the right decision.

I thought about how it was only a couple hours from nighttime and then the temperatures would plunge into the 20's. If I was stuck injured near the summit, it would be windy with temperatures nearing 0 and even though I had left instructions on where I was going and signed in at the trailhead, I wasn't sure how long it would take someone to find me.

My emotions went from one end of the spectrum to the other. I became nostalgiac about my other hikes and contemplative about all of the major life changes I've experience since July: blessings and curses and blessings in curses. I thought about how fortunate I was to be where I am now and where I would be when I completed the 46 peeks. I was in a daze and didn't pause for a rest until I was at the lookout over Rainbow Falls.

I was surprised to see that the snow below Rainbow Falls had mostly melted. The trail looked much different with tree roots and leaves. I stopped at the dam and had something to eat. The sun was low in the sky and it covered Indian Head and Blake Peak in golden sunlight. The Lower Ausable was so still that if I looked at it upside down, it would look as if the reflection of the mountains were the mountains themselves. I could make out individual clouds in the water.

Then I set out back down the Lake Road. Less than a mile from the gate I came across the only people I saw all day. When I singed out at the trailhead I saw that they had listed "a short hike" as their destination. Walking through the Ausable Club, I saw 5 more deer on the golf course. Deer are smart and they probably know that hunters aren't allowed there. I had read that elk out west migrate towards forest preserves where hunting isn't allowed in the winter.

The walk back to the car didn't feel any different than it would have it I had summited. On the way up a mountain my senses are always heightened and my muscles strain. On the way back down, everything is easy and my senses are free to wander. It's a very peaceful and gratifying feeling. What's a couple 10ths of a mile anyways? It just means I'll get to come back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adirondack Toughness

That was the topic of a recent article in the Adirondack Almanack by North Country historian Lawrence P. Gooley. It details harrowing stories of survival by everyday people in the early 1900's Adirondacks. One such story:

In most jobs where dynamite was used (mining, farming, lumbering), it was kept frozen until needed, since freezing was said to render it inert. Thawing the explosives was extremely dangerous—accidents during the process were frequent, and often deadly. A “safest” method was prescribed by engineers (slow warming in a container that was placed in water), but many users had their own ideas on how it should be done.
In November 1901, Bill Casey of Elizabethtown was thawing dynamite to use for blasting boulders and stumps while building logging roads on Hurricane Mountain. Fire was his tool of choice for thawing, and the results were disastrous. From the ensuing explosion, Casey’s hat was blown into a tree; his clothes were shredded; his legs were lacerated; his face was burned and bruised; and he was temporarily blinded by the flash and deafened by the blast.

Then came the hard part. He was alone, and nearly a mile from the logging camp, so Casey started walking. When he encountered other men, they built a litter and began carrying him from the woods. The discomfort for both Casey and his rescuers must have been extreme. There were eighteen inches of snow in the woods, and when he couldn’t be carried, they had no choice but to drag him along on the litter.

When they finally reached the highway, they were still five miles from the village. A doctor tended to his wounds, and Casey was brought to his home in Elizabethtown where his wife and five children helped nurse him back to health.

The rest of the article can be found here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cascade and Porter

The trail to Cascade.

The first good view.

The last stretch to Cascade's summit.

Not much of a view from up there.

On my way to Porter! Look how happy I am to be hiking.

Porter's anti-climactic summit.

The trail to Keene.

On my way back to the Cascade/Porter intersection.

October 31st, 2010 I hiked Cascade and Porter from Rt-73. The round trip mileage was 6.2 miles and it took approximately 3.5 hours to complete.

Cloudy with a high of 38 degrees. Both peaks were immersed in clouds.

Not knowing what kind of conditions to expect in the higher elevations, I decided to do a shorter hike. I brought snowshoes just in case becuase I last time I was in the high peaks, I had to turn back due to heavier than expected snow. I slept in becuase I'm lazy and didn't get to the trailhead until quarter after noon. I thought about dressing as a white tail deer for Halloween but then I remembered that I promised by girlfriend I'd be careful.

I started up Cascade and the trail quickly became a mud pit. As I continued the trail became more of a slushy and there was more and more snow. There were a few downed trees across the trail and I thought about trying to move one of them but then I remembered that I promised by girlfriend that I'd be careful.

I ran into half a dozen groups on my way up. All of them had microspikes accept for one and they were visibly upset trying to make their way back down over the icy rocks. There were lots of dogs and as usual, it was mostly French Canadians out hiking. Either they're really outdoorsy or Americans are just lazy.

By the time I got to the turnoff for Porter, there were snow drifts over a foot high. I thought about testing one but then I remembered that I promised my girlfriend I'd be careful. When I got above tree line on Cascade, I felt like I was on Mt. Everest. It was really windy, the summit was covered in ice and snow. I don't do much winter hiking but it was a lot of fun.

I shared the summit when a French Canadian couple. After we offered to take each other's pictures, we headed back down. There was one steep ledge on the way down where I had to slide on my butt. The woman behind me stopped at the ledge and said something to her hiking partner in French. After his response, she said "that's the best way?" and pointed to me, as if she was unconvinced.

When in doubt, butt slide.

I got back to the intersection with Porter and this time went the other way. I was surprised how flat the trail was. It was the easiest time I've ever had of hiking one of the high peaks. I had the trail all to myself and I was happily bopping along. I was surprised when I came to the summit. I hardly had to go uphill at all and it was just a little outcrop of rocks surrounded by trees. Again, no view but it was even more windy than Cascade. I could feel the snow sticking to my beard.

On the way back to Cascade I could hear a tree hissing and cracking as if it was about to fall over under the weight of the snow. I thought it would be really cool if I got video of myself karate chopping it down but then I remembered that I promised by girlfriend I would be careful.

I was again bopping along carelessly when I heard heavy footsteps and loud grunting noises coming down the trail towards me. I stopped and waited to see what was about to come around the corner and thought what it waste it was to be so careful only to end up being a bears last snack before hibernation. But it turned out just to be a really enthusiastic Canadian.

The rest of the hike was rather uneventful. The further I went, the clearer the sky went and the quieter the wind got. It got to be really peaceful and there was no noise at all. At one point I was romping down the trail and I came around a corner to see a wide eyed hiker stopped in his tracks. Maybe he's scared of bears too.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The High Peaks Are Being Wasted!

Last week, a columnist for the Press Republican wrote a pretty entertaining piece about the High Peaks which can be found here. I was rolling my eyes when he suggested charging people to hike and paving the trails. But by the time he got to his suggestions of adding Burger King and L.L. Bean stores along the trails, I was laughing.

Doesn't sound all that different from Vermont where you climb their highest peak, Mt. Mansfield, and be greated by hordes of tourists in shorts and t-shirts who took the gondola up the other side.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Forest Rangers Activity Report - September/October

Every month or two the DEC releases a cautionary incident report for Region 5 - which includes 3/4ths of the Adirondacks and much of northeastern New York. I find them interstesting to read through and every once in a while, they have a valuable lesson. Here is their report for the months of September and October 2010.

Essex County

Town of Wilmington, Private Lands

On Wednesday, September 22, 2010, at 12:09 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a report that a man had collapsed on the trail near the base of High Falls Gorge. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the scene and located James McCrann, 73, of Hicksville, NY, sitting on the side of the trail. Mr. McCrann was alert and conscious and was able to walk out the quarter mile to the awaiting Wilmington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Ambulance. Mr. McCrann was provide same basic care and released at his own request without any further medical treatment. Know your physical limitations and always carry food and water.

Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness Area

On Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm, a DEC Forest Ranger and DEC Interior Caretaker on routine patrol received word of an injured hiker on Phelps Mountain. Mari Anne Raimville, 19, of Montreal, QC, had sustained a lower leg injury while descending Phelps Mountain and was unable to proceed. The Forest Ranger and Interior Caretaker responded and carried Ms. Raimville to Marcy Dam. Another Forest Ranger had responded to Marcy Dame with an UTV and transported woman on the UTV to the trailhead via the Macy Dam Truck Trail. Always carry a first aid kit, even on day hikes.

Town of Wilmington, Whiteface Mountain Intensive Use Area

On Saturday, October 9, 2010, at 5:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Olympic Regional Development Authority staff requested assistance from DEC Forest Rangers at the summit of Whiteface Mountain. The elevator to the summit had broken down and several persons with disabilities from the Essex County ARC were trapped on the windy summit. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and assisted ORDA staff and public volunteers carry several individuals down from the summit along the catwalks to the castle at the top of the Whiteface Memorial Highway. All the individuals were safely brought down the mountain with no further incident by 7:20 pm. Know how to obtain assistance in emergency situations. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.

Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness Area

On Sunday, October 10, 2010, at 1:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County 911 reporting a hiker needing medical assistance. Doug Roy, 53, of Ottawa, Ontario, was having a medical emergency on the Rooster Comb Mountain trail. DEC Forest Rangers and members of the Keene Volunteer Fire and Rescue and Keene Valley Volunteer Fire and Rescue located Mr. Roy approximately a 1/2 mile from the trailhead. Mr. Roy was extremely weak, but still conscious. Emergency Medical Services volunteers from the fire and rescue units provided medical care. Forest Rangers and other volunteers carried Mr. Roy back to the trailhead where he was placed in an ambulance at 3:30 pm for transportation to Adirondack Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment. Be aware of your medical and physical condition and carry prescribed medications with you.

Town of Newcomb, High Peaks Wilderness Area

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 3:43 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from a woman requesting assistance in locating her husband in the vicinity of Moose Pond. Mathew Crowell, 29, of Syracuse, NY, had been hunting in the area for several days and reported his location each morning and evening using his Spot Locator. Mr. Crowell had not reported in since 10:00 am on Saturday. Mrs. Crowell became concerned that her husband might be injured after learning of the presence of snow in the higher elevations. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and located Mr. Crowell’s car at the Moose Pond Trail Head and started to search the 6 miles of trail into Moose Pond. At 6:05pm the Forest Ranger heard a shot and found the subject in good shape, at the last spot location he had sent to his wife. According to Mr. Crowell, he had sent his wife points from the Spot Locator throughout his trip but obviously the signal didn’t get out due to the steep drainages. Always provide someone at home with your itinerary and when you expect to return. Electronic devices are useful in providing information and communicating with people outside the backcountry – be aware of their limitations.

Town of North Elba, Adirondack Loj Lands

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 8:00 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the Adirondack Loj reporting two hikers overdue from a hike up Mt. Jo. Alice Langlois, 44, of Atlanta, GA, and Leanne Mardngon, 44, of Montreal, Canada had left late in the afternoon to with two companions to climb the mountain. After reaching the summit Ms. Langlois and Ms. Mardngon decided to take the long trail back to the Loj while their friends took the short trail. As darkness approached the friends became concerned since neither of the women had headlamps or were prepared to spend the night in the woods. A DEC Forest Ranger responded to the call for assistance and located the subjects at 8:45pm on the long trail. They were safely returned to the Adirondack Loj by 9:30 pm. When hiking in groups keep together.

Town of Keene, Giant Mt. Wilderness

On Friday, October 22, 2010, at 7:12 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a report of a group of hikers on the Giant Mountain trail without flashlights. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and met the group of Boy Scouts from Lee Center, NY, a short distance up the trail. The Forest Ranger provided the group with extra flashlights and escorted them down the trail without incident. All subjects were out of the woods by 8:07 pm. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp. Remember that the sun sets earlier in the fall and plan trips accordingly.

Town of Ticonderoga, Pharoah Lake Wilderness, Lost Pond

On Sunday, October 24, 2010, at 11:08 am, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County 911 reporting a hunter lost in the vicinity of Lost Pond. DEC Forest Rangers, a DEC Environmental Conservation Officer, State Police and Ticonderoga Police joined in the search for Tom Santelli, 32, of Arlington, VT. Forest Rangers located Mr. Santelli at 4:30 pm approximately ¾ of a mile off the Lost Pond Trail. He was in good condition and was escorted out of the woods. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Franklin County

Town of Harrietstown, High Peaks Wilderness Area

On Saturday, September 18, 2010, at 4:21 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call reporting an injured person on the summit of Ampersand Mountain. Nathan Turplin, 28, of Ithaca, NY had fallen and injured his lower leg. DEC Forest Rangers and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded. Mr. Turplin’s leg was stabilized and he was hoisted to the helicopter. At 6:45 pm, Mr. Turplin was flown to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for further evaluation and treatment. Know how to obtain assistance in emergency situations. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.

Town of Saranac Lake, Saranac Lake Wild Forest

On Saturday, October 2, 2010, at 4:01 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a request for assistance from Franklin County 911 for a subject lost in the vicinity of Lake Colby. Ryan Noel, 24, of Saranac Lake, NY was walking along the railroad tracks in the vicinity of Lake Colby when he left the tracks and became lost. DEC Forest Rangers and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded. Mr. Noel was spotted by a forest ranger in the helicopter at 4:55 pm. Forest Rangers on the ground reached him and escorted him out of the woods. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Hamilton County

Town of Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Wild Forest

On Sunday, September 5, 2010, at 6:14 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 reporting two hikers lost on a trail off State Route 28 in the Town of Indian Lake. Sal Padronaggio, 56, and Lorraine Padronaggio, 54, both of Bohemia, NY, were unable to name the trailhead they had started at and could only describe their location as on a snowmobile trail close to a river. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Rock Pond trail head, which met the description provided, and located the subjects’ vehicle. A Forest Ranger on an ATV drove three miles to Rock River, eventually making voice contact with the two hikers. Mr. and Mrs. Padroaggio were located approximately ½ mile from the trail. They slowly made their way back to the ATV, due to a minor leg injury Mrs. Padronaggio had obtained earlier. They then were transported out on the ATV. They arrived at the trailhead at 9:20 pm, cold and wet, but otherwise in good condition. Learn about the area you plan to hike. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Town of Hope, Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

On Saturday September 18, 2010, at 7:24 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the DEC Sacandaga Campground reporting a camper overdue from a day of bear hunting. Arthur Foure, 49, of Selden, NY and his partner left the campground in the morning to hunt in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest off Creek Road. The pair went separate ways to hunt a five square mile area surrounded by roads, and planned to meet up back at their vehicle at 6:15 pm. When Mr. Foure did not return by 6:30 pm, his partner returned to the campground to report him missing. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and met up with the partner, instructing him to return to the trailhead and wait for Mr. Foure, while he went the other way following the roads that surrounded the area. The Forest Ranger located the Mr. Foure at 8:25 pm along Old State Road, approximately 2.8 miles from the trailhead. He was returned to the trailhead and reunited with his hunting partner. Learn about the area you plan to hike. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Town of Indian Lake, Jessup River Wild Forest

On Sunday, October 10, 2010, at 2:00 am, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the DEC Lewey Lake Campground reporting 3 overdue hikers. David Ciaccia, 23, and Samantha Ciaccia, 22, both of Conshohocker PA, and Abagail Kite, 23, of Owins Mills, MD, had not returned from a day hike of Watch Hill. DEC Forest Rangers responded and searched through the night, covering most of the ground around Watch Hill while repeatedly calling out the names of the three hikers. At 8:30am, the Rangers located the subjects in good condition. They reported that it had gotten dark as they were returning to the campground and they did not have flashlights, so they lost the trail. When asked if they could hear Forest Rangers calling for them, they said they had but stated that “growing up in the city you never holler back”. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp. Remember that the sun sets earlier in the fall and plan trips accordingly. If lost, help searchers found you by staying in one place; starting a fire or make noise; and answer searchers calls.

Town of Lake Pleasant, Moose River Plains Wild Forest

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 1:10 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a cell phone call with a very poor connection from a hunter reporting that one of his hunting partner had not returned from a morning hunt. Based on information provided before the phone transmission was disconnected William Parker, 50, of Jefferson, NY, and his hunting partner had reportedly been hunting along the Cedar River, near Blue Mountain, in the Town of Indian Lake. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began to search the trailheads on Route 28 & 30, but could not locate the hunter’s vehicle. Another phone call was received later in the day describing the hunting party’s location as the first lean-to on the Cedar River Flow. A Forest Ranger then began searching the Northville Lake Placid trail and located the hunting group at 3:45 pm on their return to Wakely Dam. The other hunters in the group had found Mr. Parker ten minutes earlier and were sending him out by canoe. According to Mr. Parker he had become lost in a large swamp early in the day and took most of the day to return to the Cedar River Flow. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Town of Indian Lake, West Canada Wilderness Area

On Tuesday, October 19, at 4:15 pm, DEC Forest Rangers were requested to assist in the evacuation of a hiker on Snowy Mountain. A 60 year old man from Sydney, Australia had injured is leg approximately 2 miles from the trailhead. Members of the Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the Indian Lake Emergency Medical Services, along with four forest rangers, carried the injured man over several difficult stream crossings and through steep sections of the trail. The man was placed into an ambulance around midnight and transported to a hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Always carry a first aid kit, even on day hikes.

Town of Long Lake, Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

On Sunday, October 24, 2010, at 5:09 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 requesting DEC Forest Rangers assistance in the evacuation of a hiker on the Owl Mountain Trail. Jesica Burnside, 20, of Utica, NY had injured her lower right leg while returning from the summit. DEC Forest Rangers responded and located Ms. Burnside moving slowly just a short distance up the trail. She was transported to the trailhead on an ATV and turned over to Long Lake Emergency Medical Services at 6:30 pm. Back country hiking trails can be rugged and rough, wear a hiking boot or hiking shoe appropriate for the hike.

Warren County

Town of Thurman, Private Land

On Saturday, October 16, 2010, at 3:13 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call reporting an overdue hunter. Dillian Greeno, 23, of Hudson Falls, NY had been hunting the drainages that lead away from the hunting camp on Shanahan Road. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began searching the drainages. At 5:21 pm, Mr. Greeno was located in good condition approximately ½ mile from the camp. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Town of Bolton, Private Land

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 6:19 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from tw hikers reporting they were lost on Cat Mountain. Ming Zhou, 27, of Dewitt, NY, and Amanda Selvam, 26, of Syracuse, NY had followed a red marked trail east but lost the trail and needed help. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began searching the trail system in the area. At 11:30pm, Mr. Zhou called the Dispatch Center and reported that they saw lights and heard the voices of the searchers. Forest Rangers located Mr. Zhou and Ms. Selvam at 11:35 pm. They were escorted to the Edgecomb Road and transported back to their vehicle by another Forest Ranger at 1:30 am. Know the area you will be hiking. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Washington County

Town of Fort Ann, Lake George Wild Forest

On Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Washington County 911 reporting a group of lost hikers on the east shore of Lake George, in the vicinity of Shelving Rock. Paul Ziemba, 56, of Lancaster, PA, Cathy Ziemba, 28, of Williamsville, NY, and Karen Ziemba, 27, of Rochester, NY were on the shore of the lake and were planning to stay put until help arrived. A DEC Forest Ranger started to search the lands along the shore in the area of Shelving Rock, while another Forest Ranger searched the from the water in boat. At 5:13 pm the forest ranger in the boat located the group in good health and relayed them back to their vehicle. Know the area you will be traveling. Always carry a map and compass and use them.

Town of Dresden, Lake George Wild Forest

On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 7:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a phone call from Warren County 911 reporting two lost hikers. Peter Urban, 19, of Waterford, NY and a 17 year old female from Clifton Park, NY became lost after hiking to the summit of Black Mountain and attempting to return on the loop trial. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and contacted the two hikers directly. After determining their location based on the information provided by the hikers, the forest ranger directed them to a known location. The forest ranger hiked to the location, met them and escorted them back to their vehicle by 11:00 pm. Know the area you will be hiking. Always carry a map and compass and use them.