Lt. James Kneeland
July 24, 2023
Franconia, NH– On Saturday July 22 at 11:00 p.m. NH Fish and Game was made aware of a Garmin In Reach activation on the Old Bridle Path in Franconia. Initially there was very little information to go on but the activation was followed up with a call to NH911 reporting that a 67 year old female had injured her lower leg while descending from Mount Lafayette and could no longer continue. A rescue team comprised of Conservation Officers and volunteers with the Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team responded and the first rescuer reached the injured hiker at 1:00 a.m., 1.5 miles from the trailhead. The injured hiker’s injury was stabilized and she was placed into a rescue litter for the carry out. The rescue team reached the trailhead just before 3 a.m. on July 2.
The hiker was identified as Kathleen Schnell of Wellsboro Pennsylvania. Schnell had been on a day hike with other family members to the summit of Mount Lafayette. A short distance from the summit Schnell slipped on rocks as she descended down the mountain at around 2:00 p.m. Family members aided her down the trail reaching the Greenleaf Hut just before 5 p.m. Staff at the hut provided care and Schnell and her family decided to descend the Old Bridle Path without placing a call for help. At around 10:50 p.m. the group had only covered half of the descent and they were all exhausted and unable to continue. They decided to activate the Garmin In Reach and a family member at the trailhead followed up with a call to 911 requesting help. Schnell was well prepared for a day hike and made every attempt to make it out without calling for help. She was taken from the trailhead by family for treatment of her injury.
Steady rain has fallen over the month of June and through July in New Hampshire. The rainy weather has caused slippery trail conditions which have led to many of the injuries seen by Conservation Officers recently. Appropriate footwear should be worn while hiking, hiking boots that provide support, protection and traction are recommended. 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.