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In three separate incidents, out-of-state hikers call for help during ‘Wild Wednesday in the Whites’

  • Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue volunteers as well as NH Fish and Game Conservation Officers were able to carry 73-year-old Elaine Hedstrom of New Jersey down from the Falling Waters Trail on Wednesday. Chris McKee / Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 5/20/2021 2:10:31 PM

In three separate incidents, wilderness rescuers were called to help out-of-state hikers from Indiana, Michigan and New Jersey who were in distress in the White Mountains on Wednesday.

All three incidents happened in the town of Lincoln in what rescuers called a “Wild Wednesday in the Whites.”

The first incident involved a hiker who was separated from his group and didn’t return to his campsite on Mount Garfield the night before.

Cal Zeizler, 20, of Indiana, embarked Monday morning with a brother and three cousins to hike the 31-mile Pemigewasset Loop, which starts and ends at the Lincoln Woods trailhead and traverses eight of the state’s 48 tallest mountains, known as the 4,000-footers. It was the group’s first trip to the White Mountains, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Around 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Zeizler had become exhausted and couldn’t keep up with his group as they neared Garfield Pond. His family members went back to find him and took his backpack to try and assist him to their tent site, but he never arrived, Fish and Game said.

After a call for help was made at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, conservation officers and an Appalachian Mountain Club hut construction crew set out to look for Zeizler. At 7:30 p.m., he was located about one tenth of a mile from the Garfield Ridge Tent site, uninjured and able to hike.

Flume Gorge

At around 12:40 p.m., Fish and Game received a report of a 50-year-old woman who was unable continue hiking along the two-mile Flume Gorge Trail in Franconia Notch State Park after suffering from difficulty breathing and cramping.

Erin Demoss of Michigan, was assisted by State Park staff off the trail back to her vehicle where she was evaluated by the Lincoln Fire Department.

Falling Waters

The third call came in close to 5 p.m., when Fish and Game was notified of a 73-year-old woman who was in distress while on the Falling Waters Trail, a steep three mile path that leads to the 4,780-foot summit of Little Haystack Mountain.

Elaine Hedstrom, of New Jersey, was located approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead and was carried back to the parking area by Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue volunteers as well as Fish and Game conservation officers. The group carrying Hedstrom in a litter made it back to the trailhead around 8:20 p.m. where a Linwood Ambulance assisted with medical evaluation.

The trio of calls for assistance prompted a warning and a reminder from New Hampshire Fish and Game.

“With the warmer weather it is important to bring water and hydrating drinks on your trip. Pay attention to how much you are drinking and actively take sips even if you don’t think you are thirsty,” Fish and Game officials said. “Additionally, follow the Hiker’s Code so that you and your hiking partners safely enjoy your outdoor adventures.”

They urged hikers and visitors to the White Mountains to remember the following principles:

■Learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and necessary equipment before you start.

■Leave your plans with someone else, including where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you’ll return and your emergency plans.

■Stay together as a group, hike as a group, and pace your hike to the slowest person.

■Know when to turn back due changing weather or fatigue.

“Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day,” Fish and Game officials said. “Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.”

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