May 22, 2018
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Baxter State Park hiker found after a day and a half in the woods

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — A Massachusetts hiker’s military training, perseverance and strength were credited Friday with her surviving 1½ days on the Mount Katahdin tablelands.

Baxter State Park rangers had already begun searching for Sarah Pierson, 49, of Spencer, Mass., when she emerged from the thick woods at Abol Campground on Thursday afternoon with only minor injuries. Pierson was treated and released from Millinocket Regional Hospital late that night, Park Director Jensen Bissell said.

Pierson began heading south on the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin on Wednesday armed with a headlamp. She reached the mountain peak sometime Wednesday night but lost her way and traveled several miles over tableland trails before leaving the trails near boulders in a gully west of the Abol Trail, Bissell said.

Pierson continued hiking down what Bissell called “difficult and steep terrain” the rest of Wednesday night and most of the next day before finding the campground and some rangers late Thursday afternoon, Bissell said.

By then, six rangers and a fixed-wing aircraft piloted by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife workers had begun searching for Pierson. They became aware that she was missing early Thursday, Bissell said.

It was unknown whether Pierson had a park map, warm clothes, GPS system, extra food or a charged cellular telephone for emergency use, which park officials generally recommend.

Bissell credited Pierson for having the headlamp. It allowed her to keep hiking overnight.

“Park Rangers strongly recommend that all hikers recognize that their true destination for the day is a safe return to their car or campsite at the end of the day,” Bissell said in a statement. “Hikers should begin Katahdin hikes as early as possible and each hiking plan should include a predetermined turn-around time that ensures a safe return to roadside.”

For hiking information go to, or call 731-5140.

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