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Hiker on ‘rogue’ trail at Middletown's Hartshorne Woods rescued with ropes, pulleys

Hiker on ‘rogue’ trail at Middletown's Hartshorne Woods rescued with ropes, pulleys

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MIDDLETOWN — A man who injured his leg while hiking Saturday in Hartshorne Woods Park needed the help of a technical rescue team, which lowered him down a steep slope to a boat waiting on the Navesink River.

The man and two other people were hiking down an unmarked or “rogue” trail in the Rocky Point part of the park about 11:30 a.m. when the man fell, said Karen Livingstone, spokeswoman for the Monmouth County Park System.

“They were new to Hartshorne,” she said.

The park has more than 14 miles of trails through its nearly 800 acres and is bordered to the south by the Navesink River. It may be situated in the suburbs, but it can be deceptively challenging, even treacherous.

A park ranger took rescuers from the Middletown Township Fire Department to the unmarked trail in a pickup truck. They walked a half mile along the rough trail before reaching the injured man.

Because of the steepness of the grade he was on, a technical rescue involving ropes and pulleys was the only viable option, said Capt. Mike Mittiga.

The injured man, who was in his late 50s, was in a lot of pain, Mittiga said.

“There was no way he was getting out of there without help,” he said.

The way he handled it, however, made the rescue easier, Mittiga said.

“He kept his composure throughout it,” he said. “The guy was a real trooper.”

Brush and loose soil on the slope, which Mittiga said was 80 degrees in parts, made it worse.

In one short stretch, it got even steeper. The team lowered the man, secured inside a stokes basket, down a vertical descent at one point of the operation, Mittiga said.

The only hitch came in the middle of the rescue when Mittiga’s team ran out of rope. They had to set up the rope-and-pulley system again.

Sea Bright Fire Rescue marine units were waiting at Black Fish Cove on the Navesink.

The steep incline led to the narrow beach of the cove, Mittiga said.

It took more than an hour to get the man down. He was lowered more than 100 feet.

Sea Bright transported him to a waiting ambulance, which took him to a local hospital. The victim’s name, his condition and the type of injury were unavailable.

The rogue trails, created by people or deer, are a problem at Hartshorne, Livingstone said.

“We’re constantly closing the rogue trails,” she said.

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