New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers had a busy weekend rescuing hikers who became lost or injured while out enjoying New Hampshire’s fall foliage. The following incidents all occurred on Sunday, October 7, 2012.

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 7, 2012, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department was notified that hiker Andrew Heasitz of Cambridge, Mass., had sustained a lower leg injury while he and his wife were descending the Gale River Trail after a multi-day backpacking trip. Located below the summit of Galehead Mountain on the Gale River Trail, Heasitz was injured and unable to walk.

Fish and Game Conservation Officers and rescuers from the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team responded to the Gale River Trailhead parking area in Bethlehem to assist with the rescue effort. Rescuers started hiking up the Gale River Trail at 11:00 a.m. and reached Heasitz at 12:45 p.m., after hiking approximately 3.25 miles from the trailhead. Once rescuers reached Heasitz, they were assisted by two members from the Appalachian Mountain Club. Rescuers provided Heasitz with first-aid treatment and splinted his lower leg. Once the leg injury was stabilized, Heasitz was placed in a litter and carried over 2 miles down the Gale River Trail. An ATV was used to transport him the final 1.25 miles, with rescuers reaching the Gale River Trailhead at about 4:00 p.m. Heasitz was transported to Littleton Regional Hospital in Littleton, N.H., for further medical evaluation.

Heasitz and his wife were prepared for their backcountry adventure and had all the necessary clothing and equipment for a fall backpacking trip. According to Conservation Officer Robert Mancini, “Recent rain in New Hampshire’s White Mountain’s created adverse trail conditions for hikers. Today we experienced very wet, muddy and slippery surfaces throughout the carry-out. Fortunately, the carry-out went smoothly and we were able to get Mr. Heasitz, along with all rescuers, safely down the mountain without any further incidents.”

In another incident on Sunday, October 7, a 12-year-old boy hiking with his mother and younger brother on the Piper Trail on Mt. Chocorua in Albany, N.H., became separated from them and was missing for several hours. On the way down, the boy went on ahead and took a wrong turn onto the Champney Falls Trail. After a 911 call for assistance, Fish and Game Conservation Officers responded, along with Carroll County Sheriff’s deputies and personnel from the Conway and Tamworth fire departments. Rescue officials talked to all the hikers on the Chocorua trails. At last, a hiker coming down the Champney Falls Trail reported that he had seen the boy, who had befriended another group coming down the mountain. Officers went up the trail to meet them, and the boy was located at 6:34 p.m. A Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy accompanied the boy to be reunited with his family.

As the Chocorua incident was wrapping up, Fish and Game officers were notified of two lost hikers in Bartlett. Bucknell University students Scott Berges, age 22, of Meridan, Conn., and Jeff Madrak, age 21, of Meshoppen, Pa., were camping with friends off Bear Notch Road in Bartlett, N.H. The young men decided to bushwack to the top of Bear Mountain. They made it to the top, but as they were coming down, realized they were running out of daylight. They were not equipped with headlamps or extra clothing or food.

At 6:24 p.m. on Sunday, October 7, 2012, they called 911 for help. Rescue officials were able to get their GPS coordinates from the call and initiated a search. However, the young men did not stay at the location they had called from. Instead, they made one last attempt to get out to the road by heading due south, moving as rapidly as they could through the woods. They were soon overtaken by darkness and had to stop. Night descended, and it was a cold one, with temperatures dropping to 35 degrees, a cold rain commencing for about 3 hours, and a dusting of snow arriving on the White Mountain peaks. Conservation Officers and New England K-9 Search & Rescue volunteers searched through the night for the young men, focused on the area of the 911 coordinates, but the hikers had moved quite a distance from that location.

At daybreak on Monday, October 8, 2012, the young men made their way out to Bear Notch Road and were found at 7:15 a.m. by a New England K-9 Search & Rescue team. They were cold and hungry, but in good health. “Had they stayed put at the location they called from, we may have found them sooner. It was a long cold night for them,” said Sgt. Brian Abrams of Fish and Game. “These young men were humbled by the experience and very grateful for the efforts of the search teams who worked through the night to find them.”

“Autumn is a beautiful time to get out and enjoy New Hampshire’s outdoors, but hikers should be prepared for mountain temperatures to change dramatically from day to night,” said Sgt. Abrams. “Be prepared with extra clothing and food. Having a light source is especially important as the days grow shorter. And those beautiful leaves can be wet and slippery when they cover the trails, so watch your footing and consider using hiking poles for extra stability.”

Learn more about safe hiking and the ten essential items to have in your pack at