By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Grand Teton National Park rangers were busy over the weekend attending to three separate injured hikers on Saturday.
According to a news release, the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call regarding an injured hiker above the 3-mile junction on the Surprise/Amphitheater trail around 2:15 p.m. on Saturday.
Jeremy Fraser, 31, of New York City was hiking when he had a misstep and injured his lower leg and was unable to move on his own. A backcountry ranger in the area responded, attended to the injury and determined Fraser would have to be transported to the Lupine Meadows parking area by trail wheel litter.
Additional rangers arrived on the scene around 3:30 p.m. with medical gear and equipment. Fraser was secured in a wheel litter and transported to the trail head. His hiking partner transported him to St. John’s Health in Jackson.
A few hours later on Saturday, dispatch received another emergency call around 7:30 p.m. regarding an injured hiker who fell around 500 feet down steep snow on the east slops of the Paintbrush Divide.
Samantha Edgcombe and Mackenzie Finton, both 19 and from Grand Blanc, Michigan, were hiking from Cascade Canyon to Paintbrush Canyon over the divide when they each slipped on snow and slid, crashing into large rocks.
Another hiker in the area called for help and used a GPS location to track their location. Initially, it was believed only one of the women was injured, but both were. Each hiker was short-hauled to Lupine Meadows and then transported via park ambulance to St. John’s Health in Jackson.
Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual, often with gear, is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.
The park reminded backcountry hikers and climbers to be prepared for their respective recreational activity, including knowledge about the current conditions, required skills and experience and wayfinding skills to safety navigate the route.
Hiking areas such as the Teton Crest Trail, Alaska Basin, Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop, or any other loop involving higher elevation mountain passes still involve a large amount of snow travel. Appropriate footwear and an ice axe are mandatory.