Summer is obviously the busiest season of the year in our region, visitor-wise. But that doesn't mean the arrival of October gives us our woods, lakes and streams free of traffic.
Parking lots of trails we have visited the last couple of weeks, outside the High Peaks, have been mobbed. I do a lot of research to find places that the masses either don't know about or don't make an effort to find, but there are days that we don't have time for a long drive or long hike, so we go to a local spot to get some bang for our buck.
So I have visited the Buck Mountain trailhead (Pilot Knob side) and Dacy Clearing parking lots on weekend days over the last month, and can say that it's not just the High Peaks that are getting pounded.
The popular hikes in the Lake George Wild Forest (Buck, Sleeping Beauty, Shelving Rock and Tongue mountains in particular) are bearing the brunt of the increase in hiking's popularity. Pilot Knob Road had 20 cars spilling out of the Buck Mountain parking lot one recent Sunday morning. We arrived at the trailhead before 10 a.m., and the lot was already full.
Columbus Day weekend is one of the busiest hiking weekends of the year, as colorful fall foliage and the impending cold weather and firearms hunting seasons bring out many looking to get some trail visits in before winter. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will have all hands on deck, as the weather forecast looks like it will prompt many to head outside.
State forest rangers and conservation officers will deal with plenty of activity this weekend and in the coming weeks, as when the number of hikers drops in the fall, hunters increase. And while hunters are generally better able to find their way out of the woods than the legions of unprepared hikers, search crews will still be called out for the hunters who get lost, hurt or aren't up to the rigors of pulling a deer out of the woods.
So be prepared when heading afield. It gets dark earlier this time of year, and when the sun goes down the chill sets in quickly. And park only where you are supposed to, no hiking outing is worth a fine to the local town court.
Below is the most recent forest ranger rescue report from last week, which clearly shows there are still a lot of people out on our Adirondack trails.
-- Don Lehman
Town of Keene
Wilderness Rescue: On Sept. 30 at 4:34 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiking party on the north side of Mount Colden reporting an 18-year-old female in the group fatigued and unable to walk. Through additional questioning by Rangers and Dispatch, it was discovered that the hiker had a pre-existing heart condition, that if taxed, causes circulation issues, fatigue, and an inability to walk. Forest Rangers Robert Praczkajlo and Robbi Mecus responded to Lake Clear Aviation to be transported by helicopter to the incident location. Once the hiker was located, a hoist rescue was performed and the woman from Mechanicville was airlifted to a local hospital for additional medical treatment. The two remaining hikers were supplied with headlamps and continued their hike out to the trailhead.
Town of Webb
Wilderness Rescue: On Oct. 1 at 7:57 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance rescuing a 59-year-old woman from Oneida who became stranded during heavy rains on the cliff ledges on the east side of Bald Mountain. Forest Rangers Matthew Savarie, Gary Miller, and Luke Evans responded and brought gear to execute a high-angle rope rescue. At 8:45 p.m., Forest Rangers located the woman and were assisted by Old Forge and Eagle Bay Fire Departments getting the woman and her dog the few hundred feet back up to the trail, where they were escorted back to the trailhead.
Town of Newcomb
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Wilderness Rescue: On Oct. 5 at 12:05 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man reporting that his ex-wife was injured while hiking in the Santanoni range. He stated that he received a text message from the woman saying she had fallen and hit her head. She reported bleeding and told him that she was on her way back to the trailhead. Forest Ranger Jamison Martin and Assistant Forest Ranger Brendan Jackson responded to assist. At 2:22 p.m., Forest Ranger Martin advised that they were with the 41-year-old hiker from Red Hook and on their way out. Once back at the Bradley Pond trailhead, they were met by Newcomb EMS, which transported the woman to a local hospital for further medical treatment. All units were clear of the scene by 3 p.m.
Town of Rochester
Wilderness Rescue: On Oct. 5 at 12:51 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to assist in a rescue for a woman who fell 60 feet into a crevasse next to the cliff face of Gertrude’s Nose trail in Minnewaska State Park. The woman was reported to be alert and conscious with back and ankle injuries. Forest Rangers Mark Brand and Howard Kreft responded to the scene to provide ground support while Forest Ranger Kevin Slade responded to the New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation hanger in Newburgh for transport by helicopter to the incident location. NYSP Tech. Sgts. Jim Leeder and John Bernardini piloted the helicopter while Slade operated the hoist. The 30-year-old female from Golden Bridge was successfully loaded into a litter and raised by a rope from the accident site. The helicopter traveled to a nearby landing zone in the park, where she was then transferred to Kerhonkson Accord Ambulance and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. A host of agencies assisted Rangers and NYSP with this rescue mission, including Mohonk Preserve Rangers, Minnewaska State Park Rangers, Kingston Fire Department Special Operations, Accord Fire Department, Kerhonkson/ Accord First Aid Squad, and Mobile Life Support Services.
Town of Inlet
Wilderness Rescue: On Oct. 5 at 1:25 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call requesting assistance for a 59-year-old female from Buffalo who dislocated her ankle while descending Rocky Mountain. Forest Ranger Robert Coscomb responded and located the woman, stabilizing her injury. Additional resources were requested. Lt. Scott Murphy, Gary Miller, and Matthew Savarie and members of the Inlet and Old Forge Fire departments arrived to assist. The woman was carried out in a rescue litter to the trailhead and transferred to Inlet EMS, where she was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.
Town of Webb
Wilderness Rescue: On Oct. 5 at 1:37 p.m., Herkimer County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch advising of a 73-year-old man from Central Square with an unstable knee injury on the Bald Mountain trail. Lt. Scott Murphy arrived on scene along with Old Forge and Eagle Bay fire departments and headed up the trail, locating him at 2:12 p.m. a quarter of the way up. The man was placed in a rescue litter and rope rescue gear was used to lower him down 100 feet of rock face. At the trailhead, the injured man was evaluated by Old Forge Ambulance and he refused further medical care.
Town of Humphrey
Emergency Response: On Oct. 5 at 4 p.m., Forest Ranger Wayne Krulish was flagged down by a motorist who stated that his girlfriend was stung by a bee and was experiencing a severe allergic reaction. The patient was experiencing difficulty breathing with shallow respirations and had hives breaking out on her arm. The pair were heading to a local hospital but were not sure of the exact route. Forest Ranger Krulish led the way with lights and siren, advising Cattaraugus County 911 Dispatch about the severe anaphylactic reaction. The Ranger requested a rescue squad meet the hikers along the route with epinephrine. On Buffalo Road, ALS ambulance personnel met the patient and administered epinephrine and transported her to the hospital for additional treatment.