Sergeant Glen Lucas
August 5, 2021
Thompson and Meserve’s Purchase, NH – A Texas man was assisted off the mountain during the early afternoon of Wednesday August 4, 2021, after spending the night in a spot where he was not able to hike up or down, due to darkness and ill preparedness of not having a headlamp the night before.
Jimmy Doug Simpson, 66, of Whitney, Texas, was attempting to summit Mt. Washington on Tuesday August 3, 2021 via a Presidential traverse. Simpson started his hike at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday from the 2-mile mark of the Auto Road and planned to follow the Appalachian Trail (AT) southbound, over the Presidential Mountains, and be picked up at the summit of Mt. Washington. As Simpson reached the first junction, he made a wrong turn and went further into the Great Gulf Wilderness instead of following the AT up Osgood Trail to the summit of Mt. Madison.
As Simpson made his way into the Great Gulf Wilderness, he attempted to navigate his way to the summit of Mt. Washington using only a cell phone app. He did not possess a map or compass to assist in his navigation. It was reported to Conservation Officers that Simpson followed his cell phone app to a location off trail where he became stranded and could not hike up or down. This location was determined to be near Mt. Clay.
This issue was compounded by the fact that Simpson also did not possess any source of light. Darkness overcame him and a call for assistance was subsequently made by his partner. A Conservation Officer was contacted at approximately 9:17 p.m. on August 3, 2021, for the incident. With all the facts and circumstances, a decision was made to have Simpson stay the night and hike up to the summit in the morning when the sun came up.
At approximately 6:30 a.m., on August 4, 2021, Conservation Officers were called and asked to respond to Mt. Washington for a hiker who was not able to hike up or down in the area of Mt. Clay and had activated an emergency personal locator beacon. It was confirmed that this call was in fact Simpson, in the same location from the night before. Personnel from New Hampshire State Parks assisted in the search for Simpson in the morning hours of August 4, 2021. A park guide searched Gulfside Trail and Clay Loop Trail. When Simpson was not located on these trails, the park guide assisted COs in locating Simpson at updated coordinates.
Conservation Officers responded to the Auto Road and plotted the GPS coordinates that were given from the PLB. A Conservation Officer hiked towards the location of the GPS coordinates via the Gulfside Trail from the summit of Mt. Washington. The CO was able to make voice contact with Simpson, who was determined to be over a 1/10th of a mile off trail. However, it was determined that Simpson could not be hiked up the headwall towards rescuers. The CO scaled down the headwall to a safer location in an attempt to hike up to Simpson and assist him back down to the Great Gulf Trail.
While the CO was attempting to find a safe route to Simpson, volunteers from Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team were called to respond with ropes and harnesses in case both the CO and Simpson were unable to traverse the slope back to the Great Gulf Trail safely.
Simpson was subsequently assisted, by the CO, back to Great Gulf Trail and to the summit, arriving at approximately 1:30 p.m.
Because of his lack of essential items and poor choices throughout the entirety of Simpson’s hike, it has been recommended that he be billed for the expenses associated with the rescue.