Conservation Officer Matthew Holmes
June 9, 2019
Thompson and Meserves Purchase, NH – Shortly before noon on Sunday, June 9, 2019, rescuers responded to the Capps Ridge hiking trail to assist a hiker who had been cut with an axe.
At the time of the accident, Michael Blair, 52, of Pepperell, Massachusetts, and some hiking companions were on a volunteer work detail to maintain the trail. At approximately 11:35 AM and at a location approximately three quarters of a mile up the trail from Jefferson Notch Road, Michael’s axe glanced off a tree that he was cutting and struck him in the leg. As a result of the blow, Michael sustained a serious but non-life-threatening injury.
Immediately following the accident, Michael utilized a first aid kit that he had in his pack to start treating the injury. Using supplies from the kit and his wilderness first aid training, Michael was able to perform first aid on himself and stabilize the injury. Not knowing exactly how severe the injury was, another member of the group called 911 to alert authorities to the situation.
As a result of the call for help, members of Twin Mountain Fire and Rescue, along with a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officer, responded to the scene. Rescuers utilized an ATV to access the Capps Ridge Trailhead via Jefferson Notch Road (the road is currently closed due to spring conditions). At 12:35 PM, rescuers located Michael and his hiking companions at the Capps Ridge Trailhead. Michael explained that he had monitored the injury, but had been able to walk back down the trail to his current location. Michael was subsequently transported out of the woods via ATV and assessed by ambulance personnel once roadside. Michael was ultimately taken to an area hospital via private vehicle to seek further evaluation and treatment.
This incident highlights the need for hikers and other backcountry visitors to be self-sufficient. This accident occurred nearly five miles from the nearest drivable road, but did not turn in to a dire situation because the individuals involved were prepared with the proper gear and knowledge to deal with such a situation. New Hampshire has a great network of skilled professional and volunteer rescuers, but the knowledge and preparedness of the individual is often times the difference between a rescue and a recovery.