On Saturday (October 22), a woman set out for Peninsula State Park for a relaxing afternoon of hiking. Home to 20 miles of hiking trails, the Wisconsin State Park has something for everyone. Even the tamest of trails, however, come with an inherent level of risk, especially on fall evenings, when the sun slips below the horizon far faster than in the long days of summer.
It’s unclear how long she had been hiking. However, sometime during her trek through Eagle Trail, the 32-year-old woman lost her footing near Eagle Tower. Far too close to a ledge, the hiker plummeted from the cliff, falling 30-40 feet below the trail.
Bystanders who witnessed the fall immediately rushed to rescue the injured hiker. And though they were unable to remove her from the state park safely, they were able to direct first responders in their dangerous rescue mission.
“The bystanders down below who saw her, or if it were her friends, they made their way up to her,” Fire Chief Andy Bertges explained to Fox 11. “I don’t know how they found this trail or how they created this little trail to get to her. But they made their way to her, and then from there, they had people waiting for our first responders and led them up to her, which cut off a lot of time in the operation.”
Rescue Crew Members Detail the Difficult Mission at Peninsula State Park
It’s extremely fortunate that the woman’s fellow hikers were able to assist in the rescue mission. As first responders weren’t contacted until 5:30 p.m., they had precious few moments of daylight remaining once they arrived at the park.
To make matters worse, the hiker wasn’t on a designated trail. She had fallen onto rough, unstable terrain, making the rescue “extremely challenging,” according to Gibraltar Fire Rescue. Unable to save her by themselves, first responders used a Mutual Aid Box Alarm to request assistance from other rescuers.
“Very labor intensive. This wasn’t a one- or two-man operation,” said Fire Chief Justin MacDonald. “We were looking at four to five to six to eight guys in lines being with the patient and moving the patient along.”
“It was very difficult,” Bertges agreed. “The terrain posed issues. There was dead and downed (trees), loose rock. The shelf itself wasn’t flat at all.”
“They had to decline to another edge, which dropped, I think 20 to 30 feet,” he continued. “And then the terrain from where it landed, we had a low angle, so then that dropped another 20 or 30 feet as well. The rescue in general was real tight. It was at night. It was just very technical.”
Three hours after the initial call, rescue crews successfully transported the injured hiker from the state park by boat. She was then transferred to an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
At this time, the extent and nature of her injuries remain unclear. As of Monday morning, however, the woman is said to be in stable condition, according to Door County Emergency Services Director Aaron LeClair.