FSAR SAR Coverage at Chimney Pond in Baxter State Park
August 10-11, 2013 By Jim Logan
Pat C, Jim A, and Jim L represented Franklin Search and Rescue at Chimney Pond the weekend of August 10 and 11, 2013. They were at the Chimney Pond camping area from Saturday morning until almost three Sunday afternoon.
Many people passed through the area en route to climbing Katahdin from the various eastern ascents. Friday had seen a lot of rain and the Chimney Pond Trail was very wet. The weekend days, however, were bright with occasional clouds over Baxter Peak or neighboring high areas, and very strong winds (the Chimney Park Ranger estimated in the 45 miles-an-hour range on the Knife’s Edge). With heavy traffic, high winds, and wet trails, there was no telling what to expect.
We checked in with the Chimney Pond ranger and familiarized ourselves with the Crew Cabin and its procedures. After lunch we went to visit Pamola’s Caves, within a mile of the campground. This would show us something new and keep us close to the campground to allow us to be on call in the recommended 2:00 pm rage. Shortly before 2:00, as we neared the caves, we were called upon to assist a struggling hiker on the Cathedral Trail. We quickly made it back to collect our gear and get information from the Ranger. A young man was experiencing leg cramps and other problems near the First Cathedral. His party had sent a member down to the ranger and another stayed with him.
In less than an hour our group reached the hiker, who was affected by the cold winds even though he had a space blanket for some protection. FSAR volunteer Jim Albert provided him with a down jacket which quickly warmed him, and Pat Cyr applied a liniment which the Ranger had provided to help with the cramping. They were soon able to get the young man moving and assisted him in his slow trek over the boulder-strewn route and down to the ranger’s cabin by 5:00. From there, Wilderness Search and Rescue helped him to his family at Roaring Brook Campground. We remained ready for other calls but there were none that night.
The next day we checked in with the new ranger to remind him we were there and ready. We took a short trip to Blueberry Knoll in the North Basin and decided it was too windy to ascend Hamlin Ridge, especially at 10:00 am, so we returned to Chimney Pond. There we talked with the ranger, cleaned the cabin, and packed up for an early afternoon departure. At about 1:00 we decided to go back and actually see the caves. We returned at about 2:30 and, after checking with the ranger, we descended to our cars, reaching Roaring Brook at about 4:30, then headed to our homes.
We were called on just once and for a minor event, but it was apparent that the ranger and staff were happy to have us there, comfortable with our abilities, and pleased with our work in bringing down the young man. We increased our familiarity with the park and its procedures, and viewed the trip as a useful effort. Additionally, we got to know each other better, especially in a working environment. It was a good trip.