Conservation Officer Jonathan Demler
October 19, 2020
Lincoln, NH – On Thursday, October 15, Fish and Game Conservation Officers received a 911 call from two hikers at the summit of Mt. Liberty at approximately 7:30 p.m. reporting that they had no lights, no water, and very little cell phone battery left and were asking for help to get down. Having none of the essential gear needed to survive in the high terrain of the White Mountains at this time of year and with falling temperatures and rain forecast to begin in the early morning, the decision was made to send rescuers in to locate and assist the hikers.
Two Conservation Officers started hiking in at 9:15 p.m. on the Liberty Springs Trail.
At 10:25 p.m. the hikers were located on the Liberty Springs Trail 1.6 miles from the bike path. The hikers identified as Helaina Zahn, 25, of Allentown, PA and Sydney Solomon, 24, of Boston, MA had managed to descend from the summit of Mt. Liberty, locate Liberty Springs Trail, and with what light they had left, made it down the trail until their cell phone battery died.
The hikers were thirsty, but were uninjured. They were provided water as well as lights by the officers. After a short rest they were led down the trail by the CO’s arriving at 11:30 p.m.
An interview revealed that both hikers had started at the Basin Parking lot in Franconia Notch State Park at approximately 2:00 p.m. with the intention of hiking up the Flume Slide Trail to the summit of Mt. Flume. Once they summited they realized that the Flume Slide Trail was too steep to attempt to go back down. This is when they called 911. This was a very ambitious hike by two self-admitted novice hikers, attempting a 7-mile hike with no supportive gear and no lights, starting the hike with only 4.5 hours of daylight left.
Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are reminded that being prepared with essential gear, such as a headlamp or flashlight, could mean the difference between making it out on your own or calling for help. For safe hiking tips and a list of essential gear, visit hikesafe.com.
Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to purchase a Hike Safe card at wildnh.com/safe. The card helps support Fish and Game Search and Rescue activities.