Sgt. Heidi Murphy
June 5, 2023
Franconia, NH – On Saturday, June 3, 2023, at approximately 9:30 p.m., NH Fish and Game was notified of two hikers in distress. One hiker in the party was showing symptoms of mild hypothermia and didn’t think they could continue walking. Bryan Morse, 29, and his wife Samantha Nigro, 26, of Franklin, NH, had started hiking up Falling Waters Trail at 1:00 p.m. By 7:30 p.m., they had made it to the summit of Little Haystack and decided to continue onto the Liberty Springs Tent Site which was located two miles across Franconia Ridge. Approximately .25 miles past the summit of Little Haystack the pair began to succumb to the cold and wet conditions because it had been raining off and on all day. Eventually they became so cold they called 911 for assistance.
Conservation Officers and members of the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team responded to the Falling Waters Trailhead and began the three-mile hike to Morse and Nigro’s location. The rescue party arrived at their location at approximately 1:20 a.m. the following morning. Morse and Nigro had been able to make a fire and were equipped with a tent and sleeping bags. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep warm and dry due to their clothing, the weather, and their lack of experience. Their sleeping bags were soaked from the day’s rain. Both were wearing cotton which retains water, preventing them from staying dry. Rescuers provided the couple with warm clothing, food, and water. Once Morse and Nigro were warmed they started hiking out with the rescue party at 1:40 a.m. Morse, Nigro and the rescuers arrived back at the trailhead at approximately 6:00 a.m.
Events like these could be avoided by paying attention to weather continues prior to departing on an outing. There are several websites such as www.mountwashington.org that can predict weather conditions in the high elevations of the White Mountains. Hikers are asked to properly prepare for those conditions. For a list of the “10 Essentials” everyone should carry while enjoying the outdoors visit https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/outdoor-recreation/hiking-safety.html.