NH F&G URGES HIKERS TO PROPERLY PREP

by Christian Mower on October 9, 2013

OFFICIALS WITH THE NEW HAMPSHIRE FISH AND GAME DEPARTMENT ARE URGING HIKERS TO PROPERLY PREPARE FOR THEIR HIKES AFTER TWO RECENT SEARCH AND RESCUE INCIDENTS.

CONSERVATION OFFICER MATT HOLMES SAYS ONE INCIDENT STARTED MONDAY AFTERNOON, WHEN TWO HIKERS FROM VERMONT WERE CAUGHT BY A SEVERE STORM WHILE ON THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT MADISON.

HOLMES SAYS 27-YEAR-OLD STEPHANIE WATKINS AND 28-YEAR-OLD RAYMOND BARNARD OF BROWNSVILLE WERE SOAKED BY HEAVY RAINS AND WINDS OF NEARLY 90 MILES PER HOUR THAT FORCED THEM TO TAKE SHELTER AGAINST ROCKS ON THE TRAIL. THE COLD AND WET COUPLE CALLED 911 FOR HELP ABOUT 7 P.M. MONDAY AS DENSE FOG REDUCED VISIBILITY AND TEMPERATURES BEGAN TO DROP. CONSERVATION OFFICERS WERE JOINED IN A RESCUE PARTY BY A COUPLE OF MEMBERS OF THE ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM AND THEY HIKED NEARLY FOUR MILES UP MADISON ON THE VALLEY WAY TRAIL AND STARTED SEARCHING THE PINE LINK TRAIL.

THE RESCUE GROUP FOUND THE COUPLE SHORTLY AFTER 1 A.M. TUESDAY, ABOUT A QUARTER MILE FROM THE MADISON SPRINGS HUT. THE PAIR WAS PROVIDED DRY CLOTHING AND TALKED TO THE RESCUERS. HOLMES SAYS THEIR USE OF SLEEPING BAGS AND A TENT RAIN FLY MAY HAVE SAVED THEIR LIVES.

RESCUERS WALKED THE COUPLE OUT AND REACHED A PARKING LOT ON ROUTE 2 IN RANDOLPH SHORTLY AFTER 4:30 A.M. TUESDAY. HOLMES SAYS THE COUPLE WAS PREPARED FOR A MULTI-DAY HIKE WITH SLEEPING BAGS AND A TENT AND PAID ATTENTION TO TRAIL SIGNS AND MARKINGS, WHICH HELPED IN THEIR RESCUE, BECAUSE CELL PHONE COVERAGE WAS SPOTTY AND PROVIDED INCORRECT GPS LOCATION COORDINATES.

HE CAUTIONS RAIN GEAR MAY FUNCTION WELL UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS BUT MAY NOT BE SUFFICIENT UNDER EXTREME CONDITIONS LIKE WHAT THE COUPLE EXPERIENCED. AND HE SAYS THE APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB AND THE RANDOLPH MOUNTAIN CLUB HAVE CLOSED UP MANY OF THEIR BACKCOUNTRY SHELTERS AND REDUCED STAFF WITH THE APPROACH OF THE WINTER SEASON, MEANING HIKERS SHOULD BE MORE SELF SUFFICIENT AND EXPECT LONGER RESCUE TIMES.

ANOTHER RESCUE MISSION MONDAY SUCCESSFULLY LOCATED A 23-YEAR-OLD A SPECIAL NEEDS MILL RIVER, MASS. MAN AFTER HE BECAME SEPARATED FROM HIS PARTY WHILE HIKING MOUNT SUNAPEE.

OFFICERS CAUTION ABOUT THE SHORTER HOURS OF DAYLIGHT AND THE NEED TO BRING A FLASHLIGHT, THE NEED TO CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST AND STAY WITH YOUR GROUP – AND THEY URGE HIKERS TO CHECK THE RESPONSIBILITY CODE AND TIPS AT THE WEBSITE www.hikesafe.com.

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