After he broke a snowshoe and high winds forced him off a trail on Franconia Ridge into chest-high snow, Evan Embrey wasn’t worried about surviving, but he did have an epiphany about hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

“I think I’m done with the Whites for now,” Embrey said from his home in Buxton on Saturday, the day after guides with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department had to rescue him near the summit of Mount Lafayette, bringing him a replacement showshoe and helping him find his way back to the trail.

Embrey, 24, said he is a careful hiker and set out late Friday morning from a Franconia parking lot after making his usual preparations. He had plenty of gear for camping in the woods and had three routes mapped out: a long one, if he felt strong and found the going relatively easy; a moderate route; and a “bailout route,” in case he had to abandon his overnight trek.

He said the White Mountains have always attracted him, for their proximity and the challenges they present.

The weather at first was good, Embrey said, and he wasn’t initially worried about breaking his snowshoe because he was headed above the tree line, where it was icy and he would be switching to crampons — ice cleats — anyway.

But by early afternoon, after he crossed the 5,249-foot summit, the winds began to pick up, gusting to about 60 mph.

Embrey figured he could continue on his trail for a bit and then descend, but a gust of wind knocked him off his feet and he was forced to move below the tree line to find shelter from the wind.

Instead, he found chest-high snow and, without his snowshoes, he couldn’t make his way through it. Embrey thought about using a GPS locator device that sends out an emergency aid beacon, but instead called his parents back in Buxton on his cell phone, explaining what had happened.

“My initial thought was, he’s experienced, let him work through it,” said Embrey’s father, Dana Rand, but he could hear concern in his son’s voice.

“He’s just one of those kids that I don’t worry about because he’s got his wits around him,” Rand said, but “for him to say he needed help, he needed help.” Rand called New Hampshire authorities, who sent out the guides who reached Embrey at about 8 p.m.

They led him out of the mountains and back to his car, where his parents were waiting.

On Saturday, Embrey said the experience left him “sore and pretty drained mentally” and he doesn’t plan on hiking alone again. He also thinks he’s going to spend more time hiking in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, where the weather doesn’t change as dramatically as it does in the White Mountains.

“I’ve had bad luck with the Whites and the weather changes so drastically,” he said. “Pretty much every time I go (to the White Mountains), I’ve never been able to finish the trips I’ve planned with my friends.” His father agrees, noting another recent trip with a friend that Embrey had to cut short.

“It’s White Mountains two, Evan zero,” Rand said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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