|Hikers Rescued From Mount Washington During Snowstorm |
|02:22PM / Wednesday, March 15, 2023|
|State Police and other rescue team members hiked through two feet of snow during Tuesday's Nor'easter to rescue to stranded men. |
MOUNT WASHINGTON, Mass. — Searchers struggled through more than 2 feet of snow on Tuesday to rescue two hikers lost in Mount Washington State Forest during one of the most powerful Nor'easters in years.
According to State Police
, two men, ages 47 and 53, had entered the forest on the Alander Trail and headed for a cabin on the mountain peak but became stranded when they could no longer see the trail markings and darkness was falling. More than a foot of snow had fallen across the region by Tuesday afternoon.
State Police at the Lee barracks were alerted at 7:48 p.m. when one of the hikers was able to call 911 and reached the Berkshire County Sheriff's Dispatch Center.
The caller told State Police they could not retrace their steps back out of the forest because heavy falling snow had filled in their tracks. They estimated that they were approximately two miles into the forest.
Troopers and emergency dispatchers told the hikers to stay where they were while they began assembling a search and rescue team equipped with snowmobiles. While dispatchers and state Department of Conservation and Recreation personnel worked to obtain and plot the exact coordinates of the hikers’ location, troopers from various State Police units, Egremont and Sheffield firefighters, state Environmental Police, and DCR Rangers responded to a command post at the Egremont Fire Department on Route 23.
Meanwhile, in order to get snowmobiles to the search team that would deploy from the command post to the state forest, first responders had to clear roads between the command post and the entrance to the forest trail. Those roads were blocked by trees and power lines knocked down by the storm.
Shortly before 9, a Troop B patrol supervisor, Egremont Department of Public Works personnel, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency began notifying public works crews, snowplows, and the utility company to respond to assist in that part of the mission. By 11:15 p.m., National Grid employees had shut power to downed lines so the road to the trail entrances could be cleared.
A short time later, a six-person search and rescue team on snowmobiles — consisting of two troopers from the Special Emergency Response Team, three Sheffield firefighters, and a DCR Ranger — departed from the command post for the trail entrance at the edge of the forest.
Because of 2-foot-deep snow, however, the snowmobiles were unable to drive onto the trail. Shortly after midnight, the rescue team began a two-mile walk into the forest to the hikers' coordinates.
It took them 2 1/2 hours to find the hikers. The two men were suffering from fatigue and cold temperatures but were not injured. The group of eight then began the hike back out of the forest.
More than two hours later, at 4:48 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the group reached the DCR headquarters building near the trail entrance. Southern Berkshire Ambulance personnel examined the hikers and transported them to an area hospital for evaluation due to their fatigue and cold weather exposure.
Troopers from the Lee barracks and a State Police K9 team also assisted in the response. All units were cleared from the command post by 6:20 a.m. Authorities did not identify the two men.