New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the backcountry.
“DEC Forest Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation and technical rescue techniques are often critical to the success of their missions,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “Search and rescue missions often require Rangers to function in remote wilderness areas from rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and through vast forest areas from spruce-fir thicket to open hardwoods.”
Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks include:
Town of North Elba – McKenzie Mountain Wilderness
Lost Hiker: On September 24, 2015, at 8:45 p.m., Essex County 911 transferred a call from a lost hiker to DEC Central Dispatch. The 53-year-old man said he had wandered off the Haystack trail approximately a ½ mile to 1 mile from State Route 86. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the area, located the man and escorted him back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 11:00 p.m.
Town of North Elba – High Peaks Wilderness
Stranded Hikers: On September 27, 2015, at 11:38 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from two hikers stuck on a ledge on the Trap Dike, a popular climbing route on Colden. The 24-year-old woman from Cold Spring, NY and the 32-year-old man from Rochester, NY had attempted to exit the Trap Dike too early and became trapped on a ledge at 3400 feet in elevation. New York State Police Aviation inserted two DEC Forest Rangers into Lake Colden just after 1:00 p.m. They climbed up to the ledge and reached the hikers at 2:49 p.m. Rangers put the hikers into harnesses and slowly lowered from the ledge and down the Trap Dike to the base. The Rangers and hikers returned to the base at 4:47 p.m. The hikers then returned to their campsite near Lake Colden.
Town of Harrietstown – High Peaks Wilderness
Injured Hiker: On September 26, 2015, at 4:08 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call requesting assistance for an injured 66-year-old woman from Syracuse, NY. The woman sustained a lower leg injury while hiking down the back side of Donaldson Mountain on the Calkins Brook Trail. DEC Forest Rangers responded on a 6×6 and met the woman approximately two miles in on the Horse Trail. They assessed hear and transported her out. The woman said she would seek medical attention on her own. The incident concluded at 6:15 p.m.
Town of Arietta – West Canada Lakes Wilderness
Injured Hiker: On September 23, 2015, at 1:11 p.m., the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office advised DEC Ray Brook Dispatch of a SOS beacon call it received. The beacon call came from the shore line of West Lake. At 1:25 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the hiking partner of an injured 38-year-old woman. The caller advised that there was another hiker at the scene who had activated his SOS beacon. Dispatch notified a DEC Forest Ranger who was in the air with New York State Police Aviation in the town of Arietta. NYSP Aviation picked up an additional Forest Ranger at Indian Lake to assist in the rescue. Forest Rangers were inserted to the woman’s location and conducted an assessment. Ranger then packaged and hoisted the woman. The helicopter too her to Piseco Airport. Once there, the injured woman was transferred to local EMS for further medical treatment. EMS determined additional treatment was needed and transferred her to Albany Medical Center.
Town of Russia – Private Land
Missing Person: On September 22, 2015 at 6:10 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 reporting a missing 91-year-old male from Russia, NY, last seen at 5:30 p.m. State Police responded to the scene and requested assistance from DEC Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers. They located the man at 9:15 p.m. and escorted him out of the woods. Local EMS assessed him and released him to his family.
Town of Dresden – Lake George Wild Forest
Lost Hikers: On September 27, 2015, at 7:44 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call transferred from Warren County 911 from two lost hikers on Black Mountain. The 16-year-old female and 16-year-old male, both from Albany, had left at 4:00 p.m. from the Pike Brook Road to hike to the summit of Black Mountain and had become lost after leaving the summit. Warren County 911 provided an initial set of coordinates that placed the youths between the summits of Black Mountain and Sleeping Beauty. Dispatch immediately established text contact and directed the hikers to call 911 again to confirm the initial coordinates but the hikers were unable to do so. Two DEC Forest Rangers continued to the area of the initial coordinates given. At 10:54 p.m., the first Forest Ranger reached the location of the initial 911 coordinates but did not locate the pair. Dispatch directed them to call 911 again to try to re-bid coordinates. This third time, 911 was able to obtain cell phone coordinates that were 2.8 miles away from the first location and on the west side of Black Mountain, approximately 3/4 of a mile from Black Mountain Point on the shores of Lake George. A Forest Ranger overheard the radio traffic and inquired if the hikers had an iPhone. Dispatch was able to determine from the texts that the hikers did have an iPhone. Per the third Ranger, Dispatch directed the hikers to open the Compass application as it should also have coordinates. Dispatch had them send a screen shot of the compass app and plotted the coordinates, which confirmed the third and most recent 911 coordinates. The third Ranger then responded by boat to Black Mountain Point while the hikers were directed to hike downhill on the trail to Lake George. At 12:53 a.m. the hikers reached the Forest Ranger boat and were taken to a Forest Ranger vehicle at 1:30 a.m, which transported them to waiting family members by 2:30 a.m.