North Country
10:08 pm
Sat November 30, 2013

Lost In The Presidentials: Solo Hiker's Saga

UPDATE: By early Sunday afternoon two members of the Fish and Game rescue party were still working their way through the tangled and challenging, Dry River drainage, trying to reach a road, said Lt. Wayne Saunders.

A solo hiker missing in The Presidentials walked out on his own late Saturday afternoon after teams of rescuers and a helicopter spent a rugged day searching for him.

The search began on Saturday morning for Michael Niles 31 of Bradford Massachusetts.

Niles had planned to cross the Presidentials from the Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch, said Dave Kelly a member of the Mountain Rescue Service of North Conway, one of the groups involved.

But Niles never made it and his wife called for help, according to a news release from Lt. Wayne Saunders of Fish and Game.

The search included a Black Hawk helicopter from the New Hampshire Army National Guard.

Saunders said the helicopter located some tracks in the snow but could not follow them due to the wind covering them with snow.

But conservation officers could still pick them out and followed the trail.

Late Saturday afternoon - as the search continued - Niles walked out of the woods onto Route 302 and  a passerby gave him a ride to the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch.

Saunders said the Niles reported becoming lost in a whiteout near The Lake of the Clouds Hut Friday afternoon and so he hiked down below tree line. When he failed to build a fire he kept walking to stay warm.

Niles reaching safety was good news but a two-person Fish and Game team that had been tracking him was still facing a challenge: getting out.

“It is impossible to go back where we came. There are steep ledges. It is impassable,” one officer radioed.

Saunders said that team wasn’t expected to get out of the woods until morning.

Safety experts routinely caution hikers that hiking alone is unsafe.

Audio for broadcast courtesy of Broadcastify.com