New Brunswick

2 hikers rescued from rockface on Fundy Footpath

Two hikers have been rescued from a rockface on the Fundy Footpath, according to the Joint Task Force Atlantic.

Men in their 20s, who were stranded overnight, uninjured, say RCMP

The Fundy Footpath is a 50-kilometre trail. Two hikers became stranded on a rockface east of St. Martin's on Wednesday and had to be rescued. (CBC)

Two hikers were rescued from a rockface on the Fundy Footpath east of St. Martin's on Thursday morning, after being stranded there overnight, according to the Joint Task Force Atlantic.

The co-ordinated rescue, which was initially hampered by the tide coming in, nightfall and heavy fog, involved the use of a Cormorant helicopter and all-terrain vehicles.

"Both hikers were safely rescued, uninjured," around 7:30 a.m., the RCMP said in a statement.

The hikers, both men in their twenties, got into trouble when they left a trail and attempted to climb a cliff, police said.

One hiker became stranded on the cliff face and was unable to climb up or down.

Ben Phillips, who is currently hiking the Fundy Footpath, working on an educational survival documentary, says he ran into the hikers on Tuesday night and they seemed to be "having a hard time."

"They planned to be done the trail on Thursday, today, so they had a long way to go," Phillips told CBC News.

They had a long way to go. So they were pushing it and they probably got way overtired and started making bad decisions.- Ben Phillips, conservation scientist

"So they were pushing it and they probably got way overtired and started making bad decisions."

Phillips, who is a conservation scientist with the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, suspects the men were trying to take a shortcut through the inner tidal zone.

"Which is possible in places and an easy way to make up time if you know what you're doing. But they obviously didn't have the right information to do what they were attempting."

The hikers became stuck on a rockface near Martin Head around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, according to District Fire Chief Eric Garland.

They had cell phones and were able to contact police, with Sussex RCMP responding around 9:30 p.m.

The hikers were located, but the conditions prevented responders from reaching them until daylight.

A helicopter was deployed and made contact with the hikers, but it also faced problems.

"It was very hard for the helicopters because it was foggy down there and it was hard for them to operate," Garland said.

The Sussex Fire Department, the Saint John Fire Department's high angle rescue team, a helicopter from the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre and Search and Rescue technicians all participated in the rescue effort.

The Fundy Footpath is a 50-kilometre coastal path of rugged, steep switchbacks and gruelling descents. The footpath winds through an old growth forest, beaches and streams.

The footpath has proved difficult for search and rescue teams in the past.

'You've got to do your homework'

Ben Phillips says the trail is beautiful and a wonderful experience, but hikers "need to understand what they're getting themselves into and have the right equipment."

He recommends hikers always carry a map and a guidebook and ideally, talk to someone who's done the trail before.

"You've got to do your homework, and that's one of the reasons we're making this documentary," said Phillips.

"I think that's the problem with a lot of people on the footpath is they have a lot of confidence and think they know what they're doing. Then they get out here and it's a really tough environment," he said.

"You have to climb and descend an elevation over three kilometres vertical, which is over twice the height of Mount Washington, over the course of your hike. And the trail is rooty and rocky. It goes over some tough terrain."

The trail is being extended through Fundy National Park. Once complete, it will be more than 60 kilometres long.


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