BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — When the call reporting an injured hiker came in Thursday, Campground Ranger Gardner Waldeier actually was farther up Mount Katahdin than the hiker was — and that was only Gardner’s first rescue of the day, his supervisor said Friday.
Waldeier was among 22 rescuers who helped carry David Goliger, 46, of New York off Mount Katahdin by 1 a.m. Friday after Goliger reported having breathing difficulties on his way down the mountain after reaching the peak, said Ben Woodard, the park’s chief ranger.
Waldeier helped rescue another hiker from the same area earlier Thursday. All told, the two rescue efforts took about 11 hours to complete, Woodard said.
“They had a long day,” Woodard said Friday of the rescuers.
The first of the two incidents began about 2 p.m. Thursday, when rangers received a secondhand report of a hiker who had hurt his leg in a fall in the Hunt Trail section of the Appalachian Trail about two miles up Mount Katahdin from Katahdin Stream, Woodard said.
At that time, Waldeier was about a mile higher up the mountain, Woodard said.
The hiker “was very fortunate that [Waldeier] had picked that day to do a summit patrol,” Woodard said. “He was coming back down when the call came in.”
Abol Campground Ranger Bill Martell took the injury report from a park visitor who drove in to Abol Campground. Per standard procedure, Martell told a supervisor, Park Ranger Mike Winslow, who radioed Waldeier with the hiker’s approximate location.
The hiker, whose name was not available on Friday, suffered a left ankle injury, according to the assessment Waldeier did when he reached the man about 2:30 p.m. Martell, Winslow and Waldeier helped the hiker make it to Katahdin Stream at 4:30 p.m. The hiker left the park on his own, Woodard said.
About 20 minutes later, state police dispatchers in Orono relayed a cellphone call they received from Goliger. Although cellphone reception in the park is generally sketchy, Woodard was able to reach Goliger and verified the account relayed by the 911 dispatchers and Millinocket firefighters.
Goliger had hurt himself in a fall but was able to walk with the 22-member carry-out team until about 8:40 p.m. Thursday, when he asked to be carried the rest of the way. He and his rescuers reached safety at 1 a.m., Woodard said.
Goliger had started his ascent to the mountaintop at 6:30 a.m. and made it at noon. It was probably too punishing a pace, Woodard said, and serves as a good warning for other hikers intent on reaching Mount Katahdin.
“Know your limits,” Woodard said. “The summit shouldn’t always be an objective. The objective should be to come home safe.”
The two rescues are among three since the summer season started last month. A hiker was found about two weeks ago after getting lost in a snowfield on Saddle Trail and calling for help, Woodard said.