CAMDEN — Camden firefighters, Coastal Mountains Search and Rescue volunteers, and a crew from North East Mobile Health Services were at it again Monday evening, searching for a hiker who had called 911 after the sun had set, and was lost in Camden Hills State Park.
This is the second time in just more than one week that Camden Fire Dept. had been called to help find a lost hiker on the trails of Megunticook Mountain, after dark and in the deepening cold. Both hikers were alone, and unfamiliar with the area. (See Firefighters, mountain rescue volunteers locate, escort lost hiker down dark Camden Hills State Park trail)
According to Camden Fire Chief Chris Farley, the Oct. 18 woman hiker, in her 20s, had set out in around 3 p.m. after parking her car at the start of the Carriage Trail on Mountain Street (Route 52), and began walking up a trail to the summit of Megunticook. It was on her way back down when she ran into trouble.
From Hampden, the hiker had recently relocated to Maine, and was looking forward to exploring the hiking trails. She was equipped with water, and unlike the situation with the previous hiker who requested help Oct. 10, this time the hiker’s phone was adequately charged.
That proved much more vital to the eventual rescue of the Oct. 18 lost hiker.
She started out same place, Carriage Trail, off of Mountain Street, around 3 p.m., and after reaching the summit, she began her descent. But when she reached the first fork in the trail, she took a right onto the Jack Williams Trail, instead of taking the second right.
This sent her on the way to Maiden’s Cliff, further west along the mountainside, and away from her car parked at the bottom.
As dusk settled in, the almost-full moon had yet to rise, and the hiker became disoriented. Just after 6 p.m., she called Knox Regional Communications Center in Rockland. There, dispatchers advised her to stay put, called Camden firefighters, and began to establish the hiker’s location via her cellphone.
“She had 71 percent battery life,” said Chief Farley, “so she was able to do two things: Locate herself on a map app and a compass app.”
The hiker began communicating with Farley directly, while 18 firefighters and Coastal Mountains Search and Rescue volunteers assembled on Route 52.
Using her map app, the woman snapped a screen shot of her general location and texted it to Farley.
She then used her compass map, which indicated her latitude and longitude, snapped a screen shot of that, and sent it to Farley, as well.
The moon began to appear over the mountain, as she remained in her spot, almost three quarters of the way to Maiden’s Cliff, near one of the blue markers that are painted on the trees to help hikers stay on the established trails.
Two teams of two firefighters: Jake Stukenberg,and Wade Smith, and Dylan Cautela and Brandon Graffam, set out on the trails around 6:30 p.m., and eventually, it was Stukenberg and Smith who found the hiker and escorted her back down the Maiden’s Cliff trail to its outlet, also on Route 52.
“She was frightened,” said Farley. “She was unfamiliar with the trails and the signage at intersection could definitely be improved. It was getting chilly, and we chatted with her most of the time.”
He said Camden Hills State Park leadership had committed to improving the signage on the trails for next season. (See attached PDF for the trail map of the park)
Farley stayed on the phone with her as the night settled in. Firefighters eventually found her around 8 p.m., and walked with her out to the trailhead, for she was evaluated by a North East Mobile Health ambulance crew.
She then got in her car, and headed home.
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