A Call Out, Mt. Lafayette
Its Saturday night right around 10:00 pm, and I’m in the process of getting ready for bed. I’m brushing my teeth when my phone starts ringing and on the caller ID it shows PVSAR, which is the acronym for Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue. Kind of late in the day for a call to come in but it is starting to stay lighter later, so people have a tendency to stay up on the mountains later and then when trouble hits it’s already dark. The call is of a 14 year old girl lost somewhere on Mount Lafayette, which is located on the Northern end of the iconic Franconia Ridge. Mount Lafayette stands at 5,260 ft and can boast some severe weather especial in the alpine zone.
The report from PVSAR states the the girl is somewhere between the summit and the AMC Greenleaf Hut. This section that I know well is 1.1 miles and most of it is in the exposed alpine zone. The call further states that due to the weather conditions on the mountain, that this has the potential to be a life and death. The temperature on the mountain is somewhere around 20-30 degrees, it’s also raining on and off with a high level of fog and wind.
I press the number 1 on my phone indicating that I would be responding to assist. I got dressed for the weather conditions while throwing on my Minus33 quarter zip. gathered my pack which contains items for the weather conditions and more, grab some food and water and head out the door. When I arrive at the Old Bridle Path/ Falling Waters Trail Head, I join a group of volunteers that had already arrived and getting their instructions from the team leader and Fish and Game. Our plan at this time is to hike up to the Greenleaf Hut and meet Fish and Game where they will give us instructions as to what they want us to do. We are a team of 12 now and start to head up the trail. Soon after we start we are informed that there are 5 more team members that will be joining us, and are on the trail behind us.
As we make our way up the mountain we make small talk. Making sure we all have the gear to be above tree line all night in the fog, wind and rain. We are now about an hour into our hike up the mountain, when we get word the the 14 year old girl was found on the summit off trail. And she is being taken down to the Hut. We all give a shout out of joy and thank the lord that she was found safe and alive. As a group and on the trail our team leader gives us a little talk or a little food for thought, about making sure that when we come out on these missions that we come prepared and we work as a team. This is a awesome group of women, men, young and old that I’m proud to be part of.
Back story of this incident is that this girl was from a large group of 40 students and 7 chaperones and that somehow 4 of them had gotten separated from their group and then she got separated and ended up off trail from the other three. Luckily she was found within a short reasonable time as the conditions on the mountain this night could have taken her life.