Lake Superior rescuers

Hiker rescue at Lake Superior Provincial Park

We’re proud of our entire Ontario Parks team, but every summer, we hear stories of staff who’ve gone above and beyond.

This year, four members of our Lake Superior Provincial Park team pulled together to rescue an injured hiker, who wrote us this letter of thanks:

Dear sirs,

I am writing to let you know of the kind competence of two of your park wardens and two of your park maintenance staff who responded to evacuate me from the Coastal Trail between Barrett River and Barrett Island last Sunday, July 26, 2015.

My daughter Emily and I were camped at one of the backcountry sites at Barrett River, enjoying the coastline of Lake Superior Provincial Park as we do every summer on my annual visit. We planned to stay three nights and enjoy some of the beautiful day hiking the Coastal Trail has to offer. We had a lovely hike past Barrett Island and were heading back to camp when I had a mishap and broke my ankle.

My daughter hiked out and drove to the Visitor Centre at Agawa Bay for help. Two fellows from Maintenance, Jordan Danielewicz and Benjamin Polowich, responded with my daughter to help us out. They were kind, and reassuring that they would get me out although knowing the terrain that I had to get back over, and the severity of my injury, I wasn’t sure how that would happen. Ben wrapped my foot competently and it felt secure for the trip out.

At the bottom of the forest trail, Park Wardens Matthew Fitton and Matt Kloosterhuis met up with us, and the problem-solving began. I had assumed a boat could be called to facilitate the evacuation, but we were quickly informed that the only boat in the park was stationed at the north end of the park, and therefore not available to us. Again your employees were calm, competent and logical and decided that I would have to be piggybacked out.

Lake Superior trailsI invite you to look at this section of trail so you can appreciate what a feat it was to piggyback a 160-pound woman with a broken ankle over cobblestones, boulder-hopping up and down the granite that personifies this trail. A 160 lb backpack would have been challenging enough, but 160 lbs of dead sprawling weight is another story.

Was I nervous? Not a bit! Your men worked together and I felt safe and secure each step of the way. They worked as a team with one man on either side of the man who carried me becoming spotters in case of a slip. Another man was in the front guiding the best route.  Although one of the wardens packed me out most of the way, the other warden had his turn as well, as did Jordan and Ben when they carried me seat-style sinking into the pebble beach.

There was never a slip, a doubtful word, or anything that would put me under stress. These men worked competently and cooperatively always with a smile and encouragement while checking in with me to see how I was doing. I have enclosed a photo from when we got back to the car after the few hours of hard work getting me to safety.

If you can please update my rescuers that that night we drove to Sudbury where my daughter lives, arriving around 3:30 AM and I had surgery the next evening inserting a screw in my tibia and a plate on my fibula. Thanks to them there was no more damage or complications. The surgeon says that I should be back hiking next summer!!! That is great news for this 62 year old!

If it were not for the incredible skill and strength of these men, there could have been a different outcome for me, or for them, as they put themselves at risk as well in order to ensure that I was evacuated to safety.

I am forever grateful to Matthew, Matt, Ben and Jordan. You are very lucky to have them. Please pass on my thanks to these men. I want to wish them all the best.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Dudinsky from Edson, Alberta & Emily Lemieux from Sudbury, Ontario