New York State Department of Environmental (DEC) forest rangers came to the rescue of a father and daughter that had lost their way and were cold and shivering in the dark within the 8,000-acre Mohonk Preserve this past Saturday.
According to the DEC, they received a dispatch at 11:40 p.m. on November 12 for forest ranger assistance in locating two hikers — a 47-year-old man and his nine-year old daughter who had left around 3 p.m. but were not equipped to hike in the dark. A family member called 911 to report their concern, but could not tell the dispatchers where the two might be hiking.
Apparently, the two became lost. They attempted to bushwhack off trail to get to a road, but were blocked by a rapidly moving creek. The temperature was dropping and it had started to rain. The hikers did not have adequate clothing, or a headlamp and did not have any cell service where they were hiking.
DEC Ranger Rusher, along with five Mohonk Preserve rangers began to search trails and carriage roads until 3 a.m. At 4:15 a.m., the father had enough service to telephone his wife and Ranger Rusher was able to determine the hiker’s general vicinity and talked them through bushwhacking back to the closest trail. At 5:45 a.m., Rusher found the pair on Old Minnewaska Trail. According to the DEC, the subjects were “shivering and wet” and were provided with jackets, hats, headlamps and water before walking them out of the woods.
The DEC would like to remind hikers with the clocks being turned back an hour, darkness descends quickly and much earlier and that when hiking or recreating outdoors, people should always carry a headlamp or flashlight, even if they’re not planning to hike at night. A wrong turn or unexpected twisted ankle can make it hard to get back as planned and headlamps/flashlights can help guide people back. They also wanted to note that hikers should always tell a family member or friend where they plan to go hiking so that if something happens, their location is easier to ascertain.