NH: Two Miane hikers rescued on Mount Chocorua in N.H.’s White Mountains

CONCORD, N.H. — Two hikers caught by darkness after taking a
wrong turn on Mount Chocorua in Albany, N.H., last night (Monday,
December 12, 2011) called 911 for help and were grateful to be
escorted to safety by rescuers a few hours later.

Joshua Hayes, age 26, and Emily Smith, age 27, both of
Shapleigh, Maine, drove to New Hampshire yesterday to hike Mount
Chocorua, the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range in New
Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. They started out about
10:00 a.m. on the Piper Trail and reached the mountaintop about
2:30 p.m. At that point they realized that they didn’t have a lot
of time remaining before dark, so they headed back down the
mountain. Along the way, they missed a turn and ended up on another
path, the Brook Trail, which, unbeknownst to them since they had no
map, took them in the direction of the Liberty Trailhead — not the
trailhead where their vehicle was parked.

Hayes and Smith never got to the Liberty Trailhead on their own,
though. By 4:50 p.m., it had gotten quite dark, and they had no
lights with them. It was cold, too. Realizing they needed help,
they used a cell phone to call 911. Luckily for them, there was
cell phone coverage in the area and a 911 operator was able to get
their GPS coordinate from the use of their cell phone. N.H. Fish
and Game Department Conservation Officers were alerted and began a
rescue effort. Fish and Game Sgt. Brian Abrams contacted the lost
pair by cell phone, telling them to stay where they were and to try
to build a fire to keep warm for a few hours until rescuers could
reach them. Hayes did get a small campfire going.

Abrams and Fish and Game Conservation Officers Alex Lopashanski
and Brad Morse reached the appreciative young couple about a
half-mile from the Liberty Trailhead. The officers hiked Hayes and
Smith down to the trailhead, arriving about 7:10 p.m., and provided
a ride back to their vehicle at the Piper Trailhead.

“They were lucky,” said Abrams. “They didn’t have a map and
compass, a GPS unit or a headlamp. Making a fire was a good choice,
though, and the fire could have helped them survive the night if
they needed to.”

Abrams advised that hikers have to remember that it gets dark
very early now, and the temperature drops very fast when the sun
goes down. Hikers should plan extra time and bring warm clothing in
case something goes wrong. Be sure to have the essentials with you,
including headlamps, fire-making equipment, extra batteries and a
map.

The biggest thing, says Abrams, is to plan a little extra time
and let someone back home know your itinerary. And don’t count on
using your cell phone to call for help. “The 911 signal is a great
tool, but don’t rely on it,” he advises. “In many parts of New
Hampshire’s back country, there is no cell phone coverage.”

For information on safe hiking, visit
http://www.hikesafe.com.

 

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