ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — A 19-year-old woman who wasn’t dressed for the conditions had to be rescued Tuesday morning from Cadillac Mountain.
Supervisory Park Ranger Richard Rechholtz said the 911 call came in around 7:30 a.m. that a woman was “kind of conscious, not alert and had some heart issues.”
Rechholtz and a paramedic from Bar Harbor Fire Department headed up the mountain by snowmobile, but reached the hikers just moments after a LifeFlight helicopter from Bangor was able to land.
The woman and a male from her hiking party, neither of which were wearing proper footwear, were taken by helicopter to Bar Harbor. The woman, who was from Florida but whose identity was not being released, was transported to MDI Hospital, the ranger said.
Her condition was unknown as of noon Tuesday.
“On New Year’s, a lot of people will hike up to the summit of Cadillac to see the sunrise,” Rechholtz said. “I’m guessing there were probably 40-50 people up there this morning.”
He credited other hikers with keeping the woman as warm and stable as possible until emergency responders could make their way up the mountain.
One of those who helped keep the woman warm was David Burgess of Orland. Burgess, scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 102, was hiking Cadillac with 10 kids and six leaders from his troop and from Venture Crew 1102 from Bucksport.
“We stopped before we got to the top because the wind was really howling,” Burgess said, adding that he had given the woman and the male she was with some hot chocolate. “They said they were going to start heading back down the mountain [but] we came back about a half hour later and she was curled up on a rock in the fetal position.”
One of the adult leaders with Burgess had a sleeping bag and got the woman in it and upright so she was marching in place to produce body heat. She was wearing long underwear, skinny jeans that Burgess said were soaked above the knee, wool socks and furry dress boots that had no insulation value.
“They just got in over their heads,” he said. Burgess and the other leaders in his group sent the majority of their party back down the mountain to their vehicles while they waited with the two struggling hikers.
“We didn’t [want to] end up with more victims,” he said. Burgess noted that he never saw the third person that Rechholtz said was in the woman’s hiking party.
Rechholtz said the three hikers had ascended up the more difficult North Ridge Trail instead of taking the Park Loop Road starting around 4:15 a.m.
“The snow is very, very deep in the park right now, especially at the higher elevations,” he said, noting that in one spot, there was at least a 4-foot snowdrift.
“They didn’t have the proper gear, they just weren’t ready for the conditions at all,” he said.
While Rechholtz said New Year’s Day rescues atop Cadillac aren’t typical, he recalled three years ago having to transport several hikers down who weren’t prepared for the extremely low temperatures at the summit.
“The biggest problem we see is that people are doing it that aren’t prepared for the elements,” Rechholtz said. “When you get in trouble, it’s not like a ranger’s going to show up in five minutes. You really need to bring a pack with you with extra clothing and so forth. You get sweaty fast hiking up, and then once your clothes get wet, you’re in trouble.”