ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — A hiker on Cadillac Mountain ended up with something unexpected to be thankful for last week after rangers helped her down the mountain, according to park rangers.
Ranger Richard Rechholtz said Monday that the woman, who is 52 years old and from the Mount Desert Island area, was hiking alone on the North Ridge Trail on Thanksgiving Day when she experienced a “cardiac issue.”
Because it was a medical call, Rechholtz declined to identify the hiker.
Rechholtz said it was around 4 p.m. and nearly dark when the woman used her cellphone to call rangers for help. She had parked at the end of the trail along Park Loop Road and was on her way back down the mountain when she stopped about a quarter-mile away from where she had parked, he said.
“This lady is very lucky,” he said.
Members of the Bar Harbor Fire Department and rangers hiked up the trail to find her and then helped her walk back down the trail to a waiting ambulance, Rechholtz said. From there, she was taken by ambulance to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor and then was transferred by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Rechholtz said he did not know whether the woman was still at EMMC or what kind of condition she might be in.
The ranger said it was fortunate that the woman was able to walk back down the trail. If rescuers had to carry her out in a litter, it would have taken longer and the lack of visibility would have become more of an issue. Ice was starting to form on the lower part of the trial, he said.
“It’s a totally different type of rescue when you’ve got a headlamp on and it’s dark,” Rechholtz said.
He said the hiker also was lucky that she was able to get cellphone reception, which often is difficult to do in the park.
Rechholtz said it is always a good idea to hike with someone else and to leave a note on your car so, if a ranger sees it parked at night by a trailhead, they know where to look for you.
He said at this time of year, there are fewer people and rangers in the park. Hikers should carry headlamps and extra clothing with them in case their return is delayed, he added.
Response times can be slower in the winter, too, according to Rechholtz, because rescuers have to bring more gear and because of trail conditions. An injured hiker who cannot make it down the trail on his own might have to wait for help to arrive, he said.
“You might be sitting there for 30 minutes,” Rechholtz said.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.