BARTLETT — Members of state Fish and Game and Mountain Rescue Services spent Monday in the woods searching for three lost hikers from New York City. Following a more than six-hour search, the three hikers were found, cold and wet but uninjured in the in near the Moat Mountain and Red Ridge Trail in Bartlett.

According to a release issued Tuesday afternoon by Fish and Game Lt. Bradley Morse, Ryan Elkassem, 21, from New York City, was hiking with his 18-year-old brother and 16-year-old stepbrother on Monday, planning to venture out on the the Moat Mountain Trail and Red Ridge Trail and concluding at Diana’s Bath on West Side Road.

“The group departed the Moat Mountain Trail at approximately 3:30 p.m. and anticipated it would take approximately 3-4 hours to complete the 8.7-mile hike,” according to the release from Morse. “When they did not arrive at the intended pick up location at Diane’s Bath by 9:30 p.m., Ryan’s father called for assistance. Conservation officers arrived shortly before 11 p.m. and began searching the trails for Ryan and his companions.

“At approximately 5:30 a.m. on (Tuesday), Ryan called his father who requested he call 911 to determine their location. 911 dispatch was able to acquire the hikers’ coordinates. Conservation officers were within 0.4 miles of their location and quickly located them. They were cold, wet, thirsty and tired but otherwise in good spirits. They had lost cell signal while on the Red Ridge Trail and went off trail after it got dark. They were able to construct an emergency shelter with their ponchos and spent the night out of the rain. When they got up shortly after sunrise, they were able to get cellphone reception and call for assistance.”

Fish and Game encourages the hiking public to purchase a Hike Safe card. The cards are $25 per person and $35 per family.

“The card is valuable for anyone hiking, paddling, cross-country skiing or engaging in other outdoor recreation,” the Hike Safe website states. “People who obtain the cards are not liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued. An individual may still be liable for response expenses if the actions that created the need for the emergency response meet criteria set forth by legislation (RSA 206:26-bb).”

Fish and Game also reminds hikers to “prepare themselves before venturing out into the wilderness, including packing the ten essential items: map, compass, warm clothing, extra food and water, headlamp, fire starter, first aid kit, whistle, rain/wind jackets and pants and a knife. For additional information, please visit hikesafe.com.”

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