New Hampshire officials say a hiker who had to be rescued in the White Mountains on Saturday was unprepared for the winter conditions currently dominating the region.
At roughly 10:30 p.m. on Friday, November 23, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials were notified about an overdue hiker in the Lincoln Woods area. Garrett Simon, 22, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, left from the Lincoln Woods parking area to go on a day hike at 5:30 a.m. that day. His plan was to return to the parking area no later than 5:30 p.m. He left his agenda with his parents, and after they did not hear from him for many hours after his expected return time they called authorities.
Searchers looked for Simon on the trails leading from the Lincoln Woods parking area into the early hours of November 24 but did not find him. Multiple search teams were organized to hike the trails that were on Simon’s agenda on the morning of November 24. While teams were travelling to their search areas, 911 received a call from Simon requesting assistance in getting out of the woods. GPS coordinates were obtained from the 911 call and it was determined that Simon was on the Garfield Ridge Trail near Garfield Pond.
Fish and Game Officers made phone contact with Simon. He said he was cold and wet and had run out of food and water and he thought he would need assistance in getting out. Fish and Game officers were able to give Simon instructions on what trails to take to get back to the road. At the same time Fish and Game officers started in on the trails to meet Simon with food, water, and clothing to assist him in hiking out.
At around 11:30 a.m Fish and Game Officers made contact with Simon on the Garfield Trail and assisted him in hiking out to a snowmobile where he was transported to a parking area off Gale River Road. Simon was uninjured. He told rescue personnel that he encountered deep snow that slowed him down and he eventually became too fatigued to continue and had to spend several hours resting during the night. He did not bring snowshoes on his hike because he did not expect to encounter conditions in which he would need them.
Officials said the incident is a classic example of how hikers sometimes underestimate winter hiking conditions and the challenges they can create. Winter hiking in the White Mountains can be extremely challenging even for experienced hikers. Proper preparation and the correct gear for a hike are of the utmost importance.
New Hampshire Fish and Game officials encourage hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts to purchase a voluntary Hike Safe Card at wildnh.com/safe. The card helps support Fish and Game Search and Rescue activities. For safe hiking tips and a list of essential gear, visit hikesafe.com.