From New Hampshire Fish and Game: N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers were called to Mount Garfield in the Town of Bethlehem on Thursday, December 30, 2014, to rescue two hikers who were unprepared for winter conditions.
At 4:00 PM that afternoon, two hikers called 911 from their cell phone to report that they were unsure of their location and did not have equipment that would assist them to travel after dark or spend the night. The two hikers had left from Lafayette Place Trailhead in an effort to hike the Falling Waters/Bridle Path Loop. On the summit, the pair encountered strong winds, and they mistakenly took the Garfield Ridge Trail from the summit. Once they realized they would not make it out by dark, they called for help.
Conservation Officers were able to direct the hikers to continue on to the Garfield Trail, where the COs could then assist the hikers down. Conservation Officers were able to travel several miles by snowmachine before they encountered water crossings that were not frozen, forcing them to travel the rest of the way on foot. At 7:20 PM, Conservation Officers located the pair and safely relayed them to the trailhead. The two hikers were identified as: Tyler Walsh and Michael Granger, both 19 year olds from Saco Maine.
Though it seems like varying fall-like conditions are occurring in many parts of the state, the White Mountains and higher elevations have had winter conditions for some time. The trails are covered in snow and ice, and temperatures remain low. At this time, however, the streams and rivers are not frozen, which can make for treacherous crossings that are not advisable. Due to quickly changing conditions, Fish and Game Department officials cannot express strongly enough how important it is to pack for winter conditions and be prepared for the worst.
The circumstances which lead to Tuesday’s rescue occurred because two people ventured out unprepared. That case is being evaluated to determine if reimbursement for the search will be requested. This is just one of several recent rescues necessary due to unprepared hikers.
Visit http://www.hikeSafe.com for tips on safe hiking. Remember than when hiking in New Hampshire, there are ten essentials that you should/must carry:
Map – and knowledge of how to use it
Compass – and knowledge of how to use it
Warm Clothing (Sweater or pile jacket, long pants – wool or synthetic, wool hat)
Extra Food and Water
Flashlight or Headlamp
First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
Rain/Wind Jacket & Pants
Pocket Knife or portable saw
While hiking in the winter, you should add the following gear to the ten essentials you bring with you: extra warm clothing, insulated parka, extra mittens, balaclava, insulated boots, overmitts and snowshoes. If above treeline, you should also carry crampons, face mask, ice axe, and goggles.
Hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to purchase a voluntary Hike Safe Card online at http://www.wildnh.com/safe. The card helps support Fish and Game’s search and rescue activities.