Unprepared hikers keep rangers busy at Acadia National Park

Posted Jan. 01, 2009, at 7:44 p.m.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — About a dozen people braved gusting winds and frigid weather Thursday morning to watch the sun rise on the first day of 2009 from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Most of the people were prepared for the cold, but a few were not, and they kept park rangers busy early on New Year’s Day.

Rangers got a call from the Maine State Police about 5:30 a.m. from two hikers from Alabama reporting they were lost. According to park dispatchers, the hikers had parked their car at one of the park’s lots and tried to get to the West Face Trail to hike up Cadillac Mountain.

The hikers were not dressed for the weather Thursday morning and got lost. They told the state police they had no idea where they were and were freezing cold.

Park rangers formed a search party, but when they reached the parking lot, the hikers’ car was not there. When the sun came up, the hikers had figured out where they were and made their way back to the car.

They called in to report they were safe.

In another incident, a man was arrested after he tried to drive over a locked gate to reach friends who were cold on top of the mountain. According to park dispatchers, the group had hiked to the top of the mountain, but were not prepared for the cold weather. They called friends whom they asked to drive to the mountain and pick them up. The dispatchers said the hikers told the friends that the gates were closed but that they should just drive over them.

Although the gates were locked, snow had been plowed up against them forming a ramp of sorts. The friends arrived and Timothy Ratliff, 23, of Kittery Point attempted to drive over the gate at the entrance off Route 233. He didn’t make it, according to dispatchers, who had no further details about the attempt.

Officer Tom Tardiff of the Bar Harbor Police Department arrested Ratliff on charges of driving without a license. Ratliff was released on bail at the Bar Harbor police station.

Rangers drove the cold friends down the mountain.

Rangers also stood by while a group of about 10 people took an early morning dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Sand Beach in celebration of the new year.

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