Lieutenant Mark Ober
December 24, 2018
Lincoln, NH – On Friday, December 21, a hiker who was cut off from a trail crossing by a flooded river was rescued by a team consisting of New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Services (MRS), and White Mountain Swift Water Rescue (WMSWR).
Fish and Game was contacted by a relative of the hiker who had received a call from him requesting help. Joshua Kuntz of Dover, NH, was descending the Basin Cascade Trail Friday afternoon when he became stranded at a brook crossing and was unable to make it across. Heavy rains throughout the day had caused the rivers and streams in the region to swell to raging conditions making it impossible for Kuntz to cross safely. First responding Conservation Officers determined that a team of specialized rescuers was needed.
“Any time we encounter conditions like we had today, with raging white water and no other means to cross, we call on the White Mountain Swift Water Rescue Team and Mountain Rescue Services,” said Lt. Mark Ober of New Hampshire Fish and Game. “These teams are trained, equipped, and always more than willing to respond to these emergency situations.”
Officials said that Kuntz was in the worst possible position because he was in a location where there was no easy way out. Kuntz would have had to either cross Cascade Brook to the north, the Pemigewassett River to the east, or the Whitehouse Brook to the south – all were in a high-water state and there were no bridge crossings over any of these brooks. Waiting for the water levels to decrease to cross was not an option because Kuntz was soaking wet, and the temperature was near freezing.
MRS and WMSWR mobilized their teams, and were able to successfully extract Kuntz utilizing specialized kayaks to cross the river and by setting up a high line utilizing ropes and additional safety equipment. Kuntz was hauled to safety across Cascade Brook utilizing the high line.
After getting across safely, Kuntz was able to hike out under his own power. The rescue teams made it back down to the Basin parking lot at about 1:30 a.m.
The national weather service had forecast heavy rain and possible flooding for several days. Hiking in these conditions in the White Mountains was not advisable. New Hampshire Fish & Game Department Conservation Officers would like to remind hikers to pay close attention to weather forecasts to avoid conditions that could require a rescue response.
For safe hiking tips and a list of essential gear, visit www.hikesafe.com. Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to purchase a Hike Safe card at www.wildnh.com/safe. The card helps support NH Fish and Game search and rescue activities.