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Thread: Rescue in the Franconia Notch area

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    Rescue in the Franconia Notch area

    Hiker stranded due to high water conditions in the Cascade Brook Trail area.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Was following this over on Facebook. Not a lot of info in the article but it appears on the surface that there isn't much to defend. Seems like a pretty stupid decision all around. Hopefully there will be more info.

    P.S. He was rescued. Was an update there in a news story.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Joe

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    I felt bad last night as I ran across one of the responding CO's at the store in Bethlehem as he was grabbing extra snacks. I was happy to see him to say Merry Christmas, but of course had to start off sarcastically; "Hi Matt, why aren't you on Mt. Washington rescuing some foolish person."...."Because Andrew, I'm on my way to do that in Franconia Notch, but at least it's not Christmas Day or Eve."

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    Sadly Andrew you probably a few days early in your comments

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Rain and melting snow.... If he had gone out a day or two before, maybe he did not know the rain and warm temps and the melting snow would be such an issue. Glad we had a decent ending.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    They had been forecasting Friday accurately for at least a week.

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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Unless you are local, or do a LOT of research, it's hard to know exactly what river crossings are going to be a problem, at exactly what time of day, after a certain exact amount of snow melt and rain.

    I have not been in that area, but a quick look at the map shows that the AT crosses Whitehouse and Cascade Brooks there. The WMUR article doesn't say anything about where the hiker was from, which way they were going, are there bridges or not, how high are the bridges, how fast do those particular brooks rise, or any of the hiker decision making. So I can't really assess what happened until there is a LOT more information. Just the fact that it was going to warm up and rain doesn't mean anything, by itself.

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    Generally flood warnings are a good indication. All of NH was under a flood warning.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Unless you are local, or do a LOT of research, it's hard to know exactly what river crossings are going to be a problem, at exactly what time of day, after a certain exact amount of snow melt and rain.

    I have not been in that area, but a quick look at the map shows that the AT crosses Whitehouse and Cascade Brooks there. The WMUR article doesn't say anything about where the hiker was from, which way they were going, are there bridges or not, how high are the bridges, how fast do those particular brooks rise, or any of the hiker decision making. So I can't really assess what happened until there is a LOT more information. Just the fact that it was going to warm up and rain doesn't mean anything, by itself.
    The trails mentioned are well described in AMC Guide and mention the numerous crossings, missing bridge at one particular crossing, etc. It would not have taken much research at all. And all those trails either start along or are very close to the Pemi in fairly steep walled valleys so the high water levels would be very apparent minutes into the hike even if you did zero research.

    I'd still like to know where they started from and what direction they were going. The area they were stuck in is surrounded by crossings which were likely a problem in the AM as well so I wonder why they couldn't back track. They would have had to cross one of these rivers to get where they were and the trail segments aren't very long, maybe a mile on each leg of the "triangle" so did the water rise that fast? Did they push their luck crossing once and decide it was too risky to cross back? Definitely could use more information on this one to understand.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 12-22-2018 at 08:13 PM. Reason: grammar
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    The Pemi gauge in Lincoln from Friday looked odd. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?c...ate=2018-12-21

    The snowpack can absorb some rain, but once it's saturated, it runs off. It's quite possible that the brooks rose a foot in an hour, making the crossings objectively dangerous.
    | 63.0% W48: 19/48
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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    Most likely one of these 2 crossings of Cascade Brook is my guess. No idea of the amount of research said hiker did but the crossing of Cascade Brook have been being discussed on hiking forums and FB for years. Judging by the width of the body of water in the rescue photo, it looks like the first photo. 2nd is of the washed out bridge. Irene?





    This is a question for the knowledgeable. Lets say you did this hike thinking the rain was not going to be bad, or just plain didn't look at the forecast. OK, no one here would probably do that. Lets for arguments sake, say you did. So you now know you screwed up and the well documented (dangerous in high water) crossings below are going to be a problem. Would Fishing Jimmy have been a better option? Is the crossing of Cascade Brook at 3600' Bad in high water as well? I can't even recollect them meaning to me they are inconsequential. Heck, I don't even have a picture of them and I take a picture of everything. Just curious about that option even though it would have meant a 1.5 mile walk back to the car.
    Joe

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    "Heck, I don't even have a picture of them and I take a picture of everything"

    Wait a minute...say what?!?! (I guess we know what your next hike should be.)
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    Unless you are local, or do a LOT of research, it's hard to know exactly what river crossings are going to be a problem, at exactly what time of day, after a certain exact amount of snow melt and rain.

    I have not been in that area, but a quick look at the map shows that the AT crosses Whitehouse and Cascade Brooks there. The WMUR article doesn't say anything about where the hiker was from, which way they were going, are there bridges or not, how high are the bridges, how fast do those particular brooks rise, or any of the hiker decision making. So I can't really assess what happened until there is a LOT more information. Just the fact that it was going to warm up and rain doesn't mean anything, by itself.
    I'd say these crossings would be similar to the Hudson crossing for starting Allen or Adams or Skylight Brook crossings, or Wallface (the brook you cross for Street and Nye) Brook where some of these like their NH cousins have lost bridges historically under heavy rain and snowmelt.

    Not sure guidebooks and online resources give equal weight to stream crossings as they do for Alpine Hazards. They probably do when you are in the old mainstream hiking season. More and more people are hiking all year round, while the majority may still think of the "hiking season" being Memorial Day to Columbus Day in the Northeast, the minority has grown quite a bit and some probably have pushed beyond their learning curve. While FB boards may have discussion boards, I have a feeling that FB and certainly Instagram are more focused on the pictures than they are on the hardships one might encounter on reaching the picture location. Twenty plus years ago, I thought perhaps places like VFTT and AMC's electronic presence would catch up with teh new hikers then. With the increase the last few years, I was quite nave.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  15. #15
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    If you have been hiking long enough in the Whites, you can take a forecast and predict fairly accurately which routes to avoid. This also includes the understanding of snowpack, temperatures and a timeline for the rising of rivers and streams. To be fair to the guy rescued, this knowledge took me personally a fairly long time to acquire. I had more then one person pm me from FB sites asking me for recommended routes given the rainfall, which I provided. All that being said, I'm willing to bet most of the hikers in said FB groups, might lack this skillset. I'm also willing to bet, the guy rescued now has another arrow in his quiver.

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