Officials rescued two groups of hikers on New Hampshire’s Mount Major this weekend, including one group of 35 church members that included children as young as 3 years old.
According to a New Hampshire Fish and Game report, on Saturday July 19, at 7:55 p.m., 911 dispatchers received a call that two people were off trail and lost in the vicinity of Mount Major in Alton. Movva Rao Nageswara, age 48, of Switzerland, and his daughter Raasida Gaugier, age 19, of Medford, Massachusetts, began hiking Mount Major at approximately 4:15 p.m. hey summited Mount Major and then continued along the Blue trail until they found what they thought was a separate green-blazed trail that led down the mountain. However the green blaze was actually an old boundary line, and they eventually lost the green blaze and became lost, at which time they called 911 for assistance. Alton Fire Rescue responded, along with Alton Police, and eventually New Hampshire Fish and Game was asked to assist in the search.
Meanwhile, at approximately 8:30 p.m., 911 dispatch received a second call for lost hikers in the vicinity of Mount Major in Alton. A church group from Massachusetts, consisting of 35 hikers, including 16 children, some as young as 3 years old, had left the trailhead to Mount Major at approximately 4:00 p.m. to summit the mountain. The group reached the top of the mountain and took some time to enjoy the views and pick blueberries. When they departed the summit, they took the wrong trail, one leading away from the trailhead. By the time they realized their mistake, they were several miles from the trailhead and it was getting dark. The group had no lights or provisions, so they decided to wait at their current location and called 911 for assistance. Alton Fire Rescue and Alton Police were already on scene and initiated a second search for the lost group.
The search for the two groups was made difficult due to the lack of cell phone coverage and intermittent radio reception. Eventually, Fish and Game was called in to assist, with the first officers arriving at approximately 10:30 p.m. The priority was given to the group of 35 members, and they were eventually located at 1:37 a.m. the next morning by a member of the Alton Fire Department. The group was in high spirits, gathered around a fire singing songs. Lights and provisions were gathered and a rescue party consisting of Alton Fire-Rescue and Fish and Game personnel reached the group and escorted them to Alton Mountain Road, arriving at 3:13 a.m. The group was transported back to the trailhead, where they were returned to their vehicles.
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) Helicopter was asked to assist in the search for the pair of lost hikers first reported. At 3:45 a.m., the DHART Helicopter arrived on scene to begin a search using both FLIR and search lights. A Fish and Game Search party consisting of Conservation Officer Ron Arsenault and Conservation Officer Joe Canfield made voice contact with two lost hikers at 4:29 a.m. and DHART was directed to focus their search in the officers’ location, which resulted in the subjects being located at 4:36 a.m. The two hikers were assessed and guided to Alton Mountain Road, where transportation was awaiting to drive them back to the trailhead where their car was parked.
Fish and Game officials say both of these incidents could have been prevented by good planning and preparation. They ask that hikers remember to pack appropriate lighting, clothing, equipment, food and water while hiking. They say it is also always good practice to hike with a partner in case of a medical emergency. Hikes often take longer than anticipated, and weather is unpredictable. Having appropriate gear aides in safety. Please visit hikesafe.com for a list of recommended equipment.
Ten Essentials for a Summer Day Hike:
2. Warm Clothing
3. Flashlight or Headlamp
4. First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
7. Extra Food and Water
8. Matches/Fire starters
9. Rain/Wind Jacket and Pants
10. Pocket Knife