Women rescued from snowshoe trail in northern Cape Breton

Two women had to be rescued Sunday while out snowshoeing near Ingonish Ferry, N.S.  (Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit)
Two women had to be rescued Sunday while out snowshoeing near Ingonish Ferry, N.S. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC - image credit)

Two women were rescued from a snowshoe trail in northern Cape Breton over the weekend after their winter adventure went awry.

The pair were on a snowshoe trail in Ingonish Ferry at about 4 p.m. when one of them, a 60 year old, was injured and called 911.

Matty Lisowski, a mountain rescuer who works at Ski Cape Smokey, was out on the trails when he heard about the incident.

Lisowski and two friends then trekked into the woods to find the women and help guide first-responders to their location about three kilometres away from the trail's entrance.

"To me they were well prepared," Lisowski said in an interview with CBC Nova Scotia's Maritime Noon.

Deep snow on trail

"They had very good snow shoes, very good warm clothes. And yes, they were well prepared for that trip, but nobody is prepared to stay a few hours in –12 at night in the forest."

Lisowski said the women, who were not from Cape Breton, were located in a forested area near the top of the mountain. One woman had an injured back, while the other woman, a 71 year old, was pacing to stay warm. The rescuers lit a fire and shared warm clothing with the women.

Freezing temperatures

"It was extremely crucial, even for us, because we were freezing to death out there," said Lisowski.

RCMP said officers from the Victoria County detachment were called to the snowshoe trail near Ski Cape Smokey, along with local fire departments and Emergency Health Services.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Marshall said officers tried driving snowmobiles on the trail, but became bogged down in heavy, fresh snow.

"It's designed for snowshoeing, so we were able to get a certain distance and then it narrows fairly significantly and we couldn't pass through," said Marshall.

With the help of a community member, RCMP were able to reach the women using a snowmobile with longer tracks. The women were then transported to the top of the ski hill, where paramedics and firefighters were waiting to transport them down the hill by gondola. They were later transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. 

RCMP said people who are heading out on Nova Scotia's trails should tell someone their plans or not travel alone. Marshall said people who are traveling in areas with limited cell coverage may also want to  purchase a satellite phone.