"A week ago, many Granite Staters may have been shaking their heads at the story of two young men who had to be rescued from the slopes of Mount Lafayette near Franconia Notch. The two had headed out on a brutally cold morning (winds would gust to 40 mph) not to hike but rather to run the trail loop while wearing trail-running sneakers. One of the two lost his sneakers in the deep snow. He then pushed on — barefoot.
They also lost the trail they were trying to hike in the blowing snow. They finally had to stop when their hands and feet froze.
The story has a much happier ending but sounds eerily similar to the one featured in New Hampshire author Ty Gagne’s book, “The Last Traverse.” In that case, two well-prepared winter hikers made mistakes in judging the unforgiving elements along Franconia Ridge. One of the two survived, thanks to a daring rescue effort including a N.H. National Guard Blackhawk helicopter. But the other perished.
Last weekend, a Guard helicopter was again employed, getting the two into the chopper by hoist lift shortly before the weather socked in, making such a rescue impossible.
As with the earlier incident, and too many others over the years, New Hampshire Fish and Game officers as well as Pemi Valley Search and Rescue sent teams up the mountain. Had the chopper been called back, those teams would have no doubt effected the rescue, possibly endangering themselves.
New Hampshire Fish and Game does a good job of its work and does well in summarizing rescue efforts such as this one. We wish, however, that it would make it a point to let the public know whether the hikers in these incidents possess a “hike safe” card, the cost of which helps defray the department’s expenses. And if there are no cards, Fish and Game should let the public know the outcome of efforts to recoup the cost of such rescues.
Oh, and it might be wise to make Ty Gagne’s book mandatory reading for people who wish to go off into the deep snow of a winter wilderness in their sneakers."