Back in Niskayuna, rescued hikers begin recovery

Blake Alois and Maddie Popolizio are seen at the hospital Tuesday. Photo provided.Blake Alois and Maddie Popolizio are seen at the hospital Tuesday. Photo provided.

Zachary Matson
Gazette Reporter

The day after they were rescued from the top of Algonquin Peak, Blake Alois, 20, and Maddie Popolizio, 19, were continuing to recover from two days stranded in the bitter cold and three feet of snow.

Alois was dealing with frostbite on his feet and was likely going to have to spend the night at Ellis Hospital, his mom Doris Alois said Wednesday evening. Popolizio spent the day resting at her Niskayuna home, her sister Kate Popolizio said.

The couple, two Niskayuna graduates who have been dating for a year-and-a-half, was stranded after they lost the trail during a planned Sunday hike up Algonquin Peak, New York’s second tallest mountain. After falling 100 feet into stunted trees near the top of the mountain, Maddie Popolizio said in an interview Tuesday night, the couple hunkered down in the snow and waited to be rescued.

“We figured that if we just stayed put, you know, like somebody was bound to come find us,” Popolizio said.

The rescuers came nearly 48 hours later, pulling the couple off the mountain and airlifting them to a hospital in Saranac Lake on Tuesday afternoon, where they reunited with family. They were both released from the hospital later that night and returned home shortly after midnight.

Alois visited his primary care doctor earlier Wednesday, who told the family he should go to the hospital, where he could be treated for frostbite. His feet had swollen more over night and were oozing puss, his mom said.

During the interview from Saranac Lake on Tuesday, Popolizio said Alois’ boots were “frozen to his skin.” When she started to lose sensation in her feet, Alois had wrapped her legs in his backpack to try and warm them up, she said.

While they hadn’t seen each one another by late afternoon, the couple spent the day texting with one another, and Alois’ mom checked in on Popolizio. Kate Popolizio said Maddie was more awake Wednesday but still spent much of the day in and out of sleep. She also said Maddie was concerned for Alois.

“She wanted to come to the hospital, but I told her not to; she needs to lay down and rest,” Doris Alois said.

About the Author

Erin K. O'Neill
Erin K. O'Neill is the Web Editor at The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, NY.