By MIKE LYNCH
A lost hiker was found by a forest ranger early Friday morning after getting wet and disoriented on the trail to Mount Marcy.
Forest Ranger Andrew Lewis found the Connecticut man at 2 a.m. Friday morning on a trail in the Johns Brook Valley, after finding fresh snowshoe tracks leading to the lost hiker. That came a little more than an hour after the lost hiker had texted Ray Brook Dispatch, providing them with his GPS coordinates.
The hiker was suffering from exposure due to the number of stream crossings he encountered, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
After finding the hiker, Lewis provided him with warm clothing, food and water. The pair then made their way to the Johns Brook Valley interior caretaker’s cabin, arriving at 6:15 a.m. After resting for a few hours, the two hiked back to the trailhead and the hiker was released to his parents at 10:45 a.m.
The final walk out of the woods came after a long night for searchers. The DEC was alerted to the situation at 5 p.m. Thursday after the man’s 18-year-old hiking partner called the DEC, telling a dispatcher that the two hikers had gotten separated and he feared his friend was lost.
Forest rangers Rob Praczkaijlo and Hannah O’Connor responded to the situation and found the caller in the Marcy Dam area, which is a little more than two miles from the trailhead at the High Peaks Information Center.
The man was wet after falling into water on the trail. O’Connor helped the caller out of the woods while Praczkajlo continued searching for the caller’s lost friend on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, which leads from the info center to Mount Marcy.
DEC’s report on the incident described the challenging conditions that Lewis had to navigate. This time of year, the snow can be wet and heavy and unable to hold people afloat even if they are wearing snowshoes. That’s what happened to Lewis as he trudged through three to four feet of snow on the way to finding the Connecticut man.
Adirondack Mountain Club spokesman Ben Brousseau said Friday conditions in the High Peaks right now are not good for hiking. He said stream levels are very high in the High Peaks due to melting snow and now are worse with Friday’s rains. He said that even small drainages near the Adirondak Loj are flowing with lots of water.
“They are higher than I have seen them in a mud season before,” he said.
He said places like Indian Falls and Phelps Brook, which are on the trail to Marcy from the info center, are impassable right now.
In addition, the trails in the higher elevations have several feet of “rotten” snow. He recommended that people stay away from the High Peaks this weekend.
“It’s not a good weekend to be hiking up to any High Peaks,” said Brosseau, noting that most trails require a stream crossing.
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Hiker was lucky. Water and cold are a dangerous combination. Kudos AGAIN to the Ranger force!