WASHINGTON PLANTATION – Deep snow and a steep trail made conditions challenging for rescuers this morning after a 40-year-old hiker injured his knee near the summit of Bald Mountain.
Fire Chief Wallis Tyler of the Weld Fire Department was helped down the mountain by six of his own crew after he “blew out his knee,” said Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Farnham. “He was almost at the top, just below treeline when we got to him.”
Rescue crews from Weld, Wilton and Farmington fire departments received the call at 10:35 a.m. that a hiker needed help getting down the fairly steep trail. The approximate mile-long trail to the 1,300-foot summit of Bald Mountain starts from a pullout on Route 156, about 8 miles from Wilton heading towards Weld.
Tyler, snowshoe hiking with two people, was prepared for the 15-20 degree temperatures, Farnham said, when he attempted to “hobble down” on his own when they caught up to him. The rescuers tied Tyler to a hard plastic board the Wilton department had brought. Ropes were attached in front, back and sides to guide the portable sled down the trail.
The trail itself was hard-packed from snowshoe traffic, but difficulty came for the crew members on the sides who had to wade through knee deep snow off trail to keep the sled steady. They walked out from the trail at 1:15 p.m.
Tyler was driven to the hospital to get his knee evaluated. NorthStar responded, along with Tom Jacobs of the Maine Warden Service to help out. The Franklin High Angle Rescue team was called to standby but “when it was determined what was going on, they didn’t call them out,” Farnham said. “Everybody did a good job.”
“He was lucky that his cell phone worked at the top of the mountain,” he added. “Communication is an issue in these mountains.”