New Hampshire Outdoor Council

Outdoor News

October 7, 2008

MULTIPLE HIKER RESCUES IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS FALL HIKING CALLS FOR INCREASED SAFETY AWARENESS

CONCORD, N.H. -- Two hiker rescues in New Hampshire's White Mountains in recent days underscore the need for heightened awareness of safe hiking practices as people get out to enjoy the fall foliage over Columbus Day weekend and the rest of the autumn.

"At this time of year, the daylight is growing shorter, so you should definitely bring a flashlight. Trails are littered with leaves, making them harder to follow and at times treacherously slippery," said Lt. Todd Bogardus, hikeSafe program coordinator for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. "In addition, it might be warm and sunny at the trailhead, but you may encounter winter conditions at higher elevations."

Early this morning (Tuesday, October 7, 2008), a 69-year old woman, Dorothy Blanchard of New Castle, Maine, was rescued off Mt. Huntington in the White Mountain National Forest. Fish and Game had been notified at around 7:00 p.m. last night of a hiker with a disabling injury who was unable to get off of the mountain without assistance. The search team included 25 rescuers from N.H. Fish and Game and the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team.

Searchers located Blanchard off the Hancock Notch Trail and were able to litter-carry her out the 3 miles to the Kancamangus Highway, arriving at 3:00 a.m.

Blanchard was well prepared for a day hike. She is an accomplished "peak bagger" who has already climbed the top 100 highest peaks in New England and is now working on the top 100 in New Hampshire. She was hiking with a companion on Mount Huntington, a remote peak in Lincoln, N.H. While descending, she was injured, and her hiking companion hiked over two hours out to the trailhead for assistance.

Rescue crews had to search for Blanchard, who had been bushwhacking. "Her exact location was not known, but her companion did have good woods knowledge and used map and compass, which put us in the right area," said Bogardus. After the rescue, Blanchard was taken to Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth to have her injury evaluated.

In another incident on Saturday (October 4), rescuers escorted two hikers off the Liberty Springs Trail in Lincoln, N.H. The hikers failed to stay with their group and then were overcome by darkness while descending the Flume Slide and Liberty Springs trails in Franconia Notch State Park. Nan Yang, age 30, of Boxborough, Massachusetts, and Christine Hou, age 35, of Arlington, Massachusetts, were hiking with five companions on the Flume Slide Trail. On the way down, they went on ahead of the group, hoping to reach the trailhead first. Overtaken by darkness and not having any lights or other essential gear, they lost the trail and called 911 for assistance from their cell phone.

Two volunteer members from the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team located the two women off the trail about a quarter of the way up the Liberty Springs Trail from the Franconia Notch Bike Path in Lincoln. While rescuers were preparing to search for the two, their 5 companions, who were prepared with gear and lights, emerged at the trailhead in good condition.

"The need for this rescue could have easily been avoided and demonstrates the need for people to follow the hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code and carry the hikeSafe Ten Essentials," said Bogardus. "These two hikers failed to stay together with their group and also were not carrying appropriate gear, such as a simple flashlight."


For further information on being safe while hiking or pursuing outdoor recreation and to learn the Hiker Responsibility Code, please visit hikesafe.com.