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Hadley range hikers make own way off mountain after calling for help



Staff Writer
Thursday, February 23, 2017

By SCOTT MERZBACH

HADLEY — Slippery conditions on trails at Joseph Allen Skinner State Park prompted exhausted hikers to call for help as they descended the mountain Monday afternoon, but in the end they didn’t need assistance from responding police officers and firefighters.

“They came out on their own,” said Hadley Police Sgt. Kenneth Hartwright. “Everybody’s fine, no one was injured.”

The Hadley police and fire Departments were summoned along with South Hadley Fire and Rescue crews to the mountain that straddles the town lines at 2:49 p.m. after the hikers weren’t sure they could make it back from the woods onto a road. Emergency personnel reached the scene just as the hikers emerged, Hartwright said, only having gone about one-tenth of a mile into the woods.

Even with recent mild weather, Hartwright said temperatures remain colder at higher elevations. The recent thaw-freeze cycles have left icy spots that can be challenging for hikers to navigate.

Hartwright said there have been fewer responses to Skinner State Park this winter, with the last call coming in October, when rescue personnel used ropes and a stokes basket — a stretcher with raised sides — to bring an injured hiker to safety.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com