Mt. Lafayette, the highest peak on New Hampshire’s Franconia Ridge.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.
Mt. Lafayette, the highest peak on New Hampshire's Franconia Ridge.

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.

NEW HAMPTON, N.H. -- A sleeping bag and other warm hiking gear may have saved the life of a Wilmington man who spent Wednesday night in the White Mountains after leaving a trail on the Franconia Ridge, according to authorities.

Ten New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers, ten Mountain Rescue Service volunteers conducted a search Thursday for David Fielding, 21, who was ultimately found by another group of hikers at 12:30 p.m., about 200 feet from the summit of Little Haystack mountain.

He was airlifted off the mountain by an Army National Guard helicopter and treated for mild hypothermia at Littleton Hospital.

Fielding had set out on a hike up the Falling Waters trail in Franconia Notch around 8 a.m. Wednesday. According to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, he intentionally left the trail and then got lost.

"This young man may not have survived if he had not been carrying some cold weather gear, including a sleeping bag," said Sgt. Brian Suttmeier of New Hampshire Fish and Game. "His mistakes were hiking alone, intentionally leaving the marked trail and going hiking when the weather was predicted to be inclement."

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