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October 15. 2012 8:31PM

Darkness creates problems for hikers, Fish and Game during weekend

CONCORD — It was another weekend of heightened search and rescue activity for New Hampshire Fish and Game Department conservation officers.

On Friday at 8:30 p.m., the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department was notified that Mathew Morrill of Danvers. Mass., 39, was lost in the dark on Mt. Chocorua in the White Mountain National Forest. Morrill had hiked up the Champney Falls Trail to the summit. He accidentally descended the wrong side of the mountain, believing he was on the Liberty Trail, and was overcome by darkness. Fish and Game conservation officers responded, first checking the Liberty Trail, where Morrill had reported his location. After searching several trails in the area, rescuers eventually found him on the Beeline Trail and brought him out to the trailhead at about 1:10 a.m. Morrill was unharmed.

Tamworth Police Department assisted in the rescue. Morrill did not have overnight gear or lights with him, according to Fish and Game’s Alex Lopashanski.

On Saturday at approximately 6:45 p.m., Fish and Game was notified that two hikers, Suzanne Young and Kenneth Kiel, both 50 and of Hull, Mass., were disoriented in the dark on a mountain trail in the Waterville Valley area. They had hiked up the Downes Brook Trail and reached the summit of Mt. Passaconaway about 6 p.m. after hiking for several hours to get there.

They had made their way a short way down from the summit when they were overcome by darkness and called for help. Searchers determined their coordinates from the 911 call, and Fish and Game officers hiked in approximately 3.8 miles, reaching the pair about 10:40 p.m. The rescue team got them back out to the trailhead at 1:46 a.m.

The hikers had no overnight gear, lights, maps or other navigational equipment.

“With less available daylight, it’s more important than ever for hikers to keep track of the time they’ve been walking and make a conscious decision to turn back in time to return to the trailhead before dark if they are not equipped with lights and gear to be out overnight,” said Lopashanski.

In other weekend incidents, an injured trail runner was carried to safety on the East Pond Trail by New Hampshire Fish and Game officers and volunteers from the Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team on Sunday; and a 62-year-old kayaker was located and assisted after becoming stranded on Moon Island in Squam Lake in Holderness on Friday.

To review safe hiking tips and the 10 essentials to have in your pack, visit http://www.hikesafe.com.


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