October 31, 2014

Baxter State Park completes study of Search and Rescue incidents in the Park

(posted with permission from the Friends of Baxter State Park)

Baxter State Park recently released a study of search and rescue (SAR) activities in the Park over the past 22 years. The report reveals trends in the types of injuries, ages of the victims, and causes leading to the injuries. Studying these trends will help park staff prepare for the incidents they are most likely to encounter, and educate visitors on how to avoid problems in the Park.

The majority of SAR incidents in Baxter State Park are related to hiking.
Lower extremity injuries topped the list of issues at 26%. 
Exhaustion was the second highest at 16%. 
Fatigue was a major precipitating factor to serious injuries.
Several other interesting trends emerge from the data:
Men comprise 60% of the individuals requiring SAR;
women comprise 40%.
Hikers over the age of 60 are more likely to require SAR.
These visitors comprise 8% of park use, but 18% of SAR incidents.

The vast majority of SAR incidents happen while descending a mountain, rather than on the climb.
Dehydration, exhaustion, and underpreparedness were secondary factors in many incidents.
According to the report, it is important to understand the difficulty of the hike, trail conditions, weather predictions, and your own physical condition before setting out on a hike.

Katahdin is one of the most strenuous day hikes in New England. Nutrition, hydration, proper footwear, and appropriate clothing are very important.

The Friends of BSP publishes a brochure called Know Before you Go, with tips on how to be prepared for a trip to the Park. Click here to download a copy of this brochure, and stay safe out there!

October 9, 2014

From a recent FSAR Team Member Survey:

What are your favorite outdoor activities? 

day hiking2083%
backpacking (overnight hiking)1563%
section hiking521%
through hiking14%
fishing (spin casting)313%
fly fishing 1354%
Geo cashing14%
Whitewater (any type)625%
rock climbing938%

October 2, 2014

FSAR At Baxter Sept 2014

Baxter, September 27 & 28, 2014
By FSAR Team President, Steve Yates

I arrived at the Togue Pond Bunkhouse at dusk just as teammates Jim A. and Melissa were dragging themselves out of the Subaru.  They spent Thursday night camping in the park and connected with their client before sunrise that Friday morning. They guided a client up, over, and back down Katahdin for the last 12 hours.  The three of us exited the park just long enough for dinner at the River Drivers Tavern.  Arriving back at the bunkhouse, we found Paul, Evie, and two interns Dan and Tanja, from the Yale University School of Medicine, unloading their vehicles.  Paul, Evie, Dan, Tanja, and I set up our tents in the pines over looking Togue Pond while Jim and Melissa vied for the bunks.

      Saturday morning dawned clear and mild.  Through my tent screen, I had a stunning view of the south side of Katadhin with the lower slopes dressed in every shade of red and orange imaginable.  Jim and Melissa had  coffee, pancakes, and hardboiled eggs for all that were interested.  We spent the morning getting acquainted with Dan and Tanja, perusing maps and sorting though packs as we waited for Pat and Karen to arrive.

    We settled on a mission for the day after some deliberation.  Evidently Stuart (park director) had expressed safety concerns in and around the Little and Big Niagara Falls.  We caravanned into Daicy Pond pausing to check out the facilities; I definitely see myself and Alice spending some time there next summer! From Daicy, we hiked south on the Niagara Trail for 30 minutes to the first set of falls.  The rope techies surveyed our surroundings and found rocks, ledges, and water that could present a hazard to hikers and sightseers.  This was our training scene for the next few hours.  After unsuccessfully scouring the rock for cracks that would support the cams and nuts needed for support, two trees were selected as anchors.  A belay line was set up, then a lowering line.  Paul demonstrated the rigging plate and Melissa demonstrated the scarab.  Tanja jumped at the chance to be lowered, grinning the whole time.  Once at the bottom of the slope, Pat reconfigured the system for ascending with a 3/1 ratio and then added a pulley for a 9/1 system.  It was an enjoyable afternoon of learning, lots of time for questions and discussion, brilliant sun, blue sky, water rushing past us, and temps in the mid 70’s.


     Jim created the perfect dinner ambiance with a single candle on white granite in the center of the picnic table.   Dinner was pot luck: beans and franks, lasagna, salad, steak, and spaghetti.  No one left the table hungry.  After eating, Dan and Tanja spoke of their experiences in Africa.  Dan worked in South Africa primarily with victims of AIDS and Tanja was at ground zero of the ebola outbreak in Liberia.  Their stories were heartbreaking, giving us a personal and unbiased perspective that we do not get on the evening news.  The images that they conveyed are still with me a week later.  

      On Sunday, Dan and Tanja made an early departure from Togue to hike Kathadin.  The rest of us did a short hike leaving Roaring Brook Rd., around Rum Pond, and back to Tote Rd.  We did perform a rescue as we helped repair a flat tire on the Tote Road.  Back at Togue Pond, we took down our tents, cleaned up the bunk house, and vacated the park by 1400. 

Respectively Submitted,
Steve Yates

Baxter Crew:  Jim A, Melissa S, Paul and Evie M, Pat and Karen C, Steve Y.  Interns: Dan and Tanja