A hiker from Massachusetts endured a long, cold night lost in the woods of Vermont, but was not hurt, the Vermont Department of Public Safety said.
Abadias Maleus, 24, of Medford became lost in Camel's Hump State Park in Duxbury late Sunday afternoon, Vermont search and rescue coordinator Neil Van Dyke said, noting that the case should provide the public with a reminder about preparedness.
"This is definitely a learning experience," Van Dyke told necn, adding that the lost hiker will not be fined for the costs of the search.
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Public safety officials said they spent more than 100 man hours looking for Maleus before he walked out of the woods on his own Monday morning. He took shelter during the night in a culvert, Van Dyke said, and was unhurt.
"He said it was not the most comfortable night he's ever spent," Van Dyke said. "But he was in good spirits and good health, and we're all glad he got out okay."
Van Dyke said Maleus made several classic mistakes he hopes other leaf-peeping hikers will avoid this fall.
First, he left too late in the day to complete his hike by the time it got dark, Van Dyke said. The hiker also became separated from his friends, the search and rescue coordinator added. Finally, he didn't have a flashlight, headlamp, or warm clothes aside from a leather jacket.
"It just gets much colder at night," Van Dyke cautioned. "It was a nice warm day yesterday as well, but temperatures were down into the low 40s yesterday with rain during the nighttime hours."
Hikers should start their days early and give themselves plenty of time to complete their hikes, because the days are getting shorter, Van Dyke said.
Tim Janicki and Michele James of Watertown, Massachusetts also visited Camel's Hump State Park Monday.
"We're just going for a hike; enjoy the scenery," Janicki said.
The hikers said they came ready with snacks, extra layers, and a light, though they planned to be done with their hike well before they'd ever need it.
"We usually check to see when the sun's setting before we head out on a hike, just to get a heads-up on how much daylight you're going to have," James said.
Neil Van Dyke said he certainly wants people to explore Vermont's natural beauty, especially with the foliage so vibrant right now. He said he just wants them to be prepared.
If hiking at higher elevations, it's important that hikers now prepare for potential winter-like conditions, Van Dyke said in a recent news release. Waterproof boots, not sneakers, with added traction, extra layers of warm clothes, a headlamp, map and compass may become necessary for a safe and successful hike. Consider turning around if you are not properly equipped or if travel and route finding becomes difficult, he warned.