CAMDEN — By 10 p.m., Oct. 10, a hiker who lost her way in the Camden Hills State Park, was safely down off the side of Megunticook Mountain, tired and scared, but safe, thanks to two rescue teams who scoured the trails for her.
The woman, 28, and of Bath, had parked her car late in the day at the Carriage Trail parking area on Mountain Street (Route 52) in Camden, and began her ascent to the summit of Mount Battie.
But, dusk came faster than she apparently anticipated, and she found herself lost, in the dark woods. Compounding the situation, she lacked food and water, warmer clothes, and her phone battery had but a 4 percent charge left to fuel it.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., she called Knox Regional Communications Center, in Rockland, for help. There, dispatchers advised her to stay put in her location, and called Camden Fire Department to initiate a search.
Dispatchers also pinged the location of the phone before advising the woman to turn it off and use only in case of an emergency. By then, she had 1 percent of the battery left.
A command post was initially established at the trailhead on Route 52, before Fire Chief Chris Farley moved it over to the gatehouse at the entrance to Camden Hills State Park, on Route 1. They did that in case the woman was injured and needed to be carried out to the Mount Battie auto road.
Meanwhile, two teams of three rescuers had already started hiking up the sides of Megunticook, in the dark, and tackling different trails.
One team, comprising Camden firefighters Jon Heath (home for the weekend from Air Force tech school before shipping off to Okinawa), Isaiah Backiel (who is with the U.S. Army and was home for the weekend from Fort Stuart), and Coastal Mountains Search and Rescue volunteer Jacob Erlinbach, hiked up the Carriage Trail, then along the Tablelands Trail to Ocean Lookout to the summit of Megunticook, across the Ridge Trail and came down to the Jack Williams Trail. (See trail map here)
The woman, who was halfway down the Jack Williams Trail, saw their flashlights and shouted to them.
The other team, consisting of Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Lowe, and firefighters Clint Beveridge and Wade Smith, had been climbing different trails.
According to Chief Farley, the hiker was able to walk out on her own volition, guided by the firefighters, and wearing a rescuer’s jacket for warmth.
With no moonlight, the trails were especially dark in the October night, and the air was cool.
When they reached the bottom, the woman got into her car, and proceeded toward home, said Farley.
In total, there were 10 firefighters assisting in the search, five volunteers from Coastal Mountain Search and Rescue, and one game warden.
“The Maine Warden Service has 10 pieces advice for hikers,” said Farley.
- Tell someone who is not hiking with you where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Know that conditions will vary significantly across the state, and at different elevations.
- Research your destination before you go. Hiking during muddy conditions can have lasting negative impacts on trails. Always respect closed trail signs.
- Roads may be impassable. Many roads to hiking areas are dirt that can become extremely muddy in the spring.
- Respect private landowners. Be a good land user.
- Dress for the weather and in layers.
- Be prepared for no cell phone service.
- Pack essential items. Always pack water, high-protein snacks, and a fire starter. Learn more in the You Alone in the Maine Woods booklet.
- Always leave the land as you found it, if not better. If you see trash that someone else left, pick it up.
- Always stay on the trail.
- Plan your day. Know how long the hike may take, and plan accordingly.
- Be prepared for no restrooms.
- Have a plan B. If the trailhead is full, head to your next option.
Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at email@example.com; 207-706-6657