Rescue crews endured rain, the threat of lightning, and dangerously slippery conditions during an overnight rescue on New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain last weekend.
Shortly before 9 p.m. on Friday, July 14, New Hampshire Fish and Game officers were made aware of an injured hiker near the Kinsman Ridge Trail on Cannon Mountain. The solo hiker reported that he had lost the trail and as he was trying to make his way back to the summit of Cannon Mountain so that he could find the trail he fell off a ledge landing on rocks 20 to 30 feet below. During the fall the hiker suffered serious upper body injuries.
The injured hiker said he was located on another rocky ledge that was too steep to move in any direction without falling further. Conservation Officers with ATVs and volunteers from Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team responded to Cannon Mountain.
Able to access the summit by ATV, the first team of rescuers started towards the hiker’s location on foot at 10:45 p.m. By 11:15 p.m., the team had made voice contact with the hiker, but due to the steep thickly vegetated terrain the team did not actually get to the hiker until around midnight.
While situated precariously on the ledge, the team was able to stabilize the injured hiker’s injuries and eventually able to place him in a harness so that they could safely lower him by rope to the more stable ground below.
Officers said the hiker was able to summon the energy to bushwhack with assistance the 500 feet back to the Kinsman Ridge Trail and the final half mile up the Kinsman Ridge Trail to the summit of Cannon Mountain. State park personnel had arrived at the mountain and sent a tram car to the summit to help bring supplies up and the hiker back down the mountain. Just before 3 a.m., the entire rescue team arrived at the tram building and were safely at the bottom shortly thereafter.
Visibility was quite poor during the entirety of the rescue as thick clouds, rain and lightning had arrived at the start of the rescue and were present throughout. The injured hiker was taken by Littleton Fire Rescue to Littleton Regional Healthcare for evaluation of his injuries.
The 21 year old Marlborough, Massachusetts man was identified as Matthew Blessing. Matthew is a self-described inexperienced hiker who learned of this hike from a coworker. Officers said he was not well equipped for a day hike and lacked a map, light source and rain gear.