Joanne Preen, 52, and Norman Tedford, 44, planned on viewing a waterfall on the Williamstown side of Mount Greylock State Reservation on Saturday. The two hiked to the falls at around 12:30 p.m. from a North Adams trailhead, ate Subway sandwiches beside a serene cascade and started to make their way back.
But Preen said the couple missed the trail to their parked car.
"We like to hike, and it was a beautiful day, so we continued on another trail," she said.
It was still early, so the two pressed on. Then came the boulders, big ones, and Preen and Tedford opted to go back and find the turn they had missed. That's when Preen slipped on wet leaves and landed on her right side, bruising her knee, shoulder and forearm and lacerating her liver.
"I tried going back, but I was in too much pain," she said.
After an hour of discussing what to do, and with fading sunlight streaming through the forest, Preen urged Tedford to get help. He propped Preen on his backpack, wrapped her in the blanket the two had picnicked on earlier in the day and made his way down Hopper Trail to a residence on Hopper Road, where the occupants allowed him to call police.
By this time it was 9:35 p.m., and Preen, a registered nurse, was starting to get cold. She said she was more nervous for Tedford, her boyfriend, who was traversing those same rocks in the dark. She meditated and practiced calming breathing techniques.
"And I prayed," she said.
Williamstown Police Sgt. Scott McGowan said a rescue team consisting of members from the Williamstown Police and Fire departments, Williamstown forest wardens, Village Ambulance Service, the Adams forest wardens and the Hancock Fire Department set up a command post at the base of the park.
"We usually deal with one or two of these types of rescues each year," McGowan said.
Eight members from the various agencies and a police dog named Blue trekked into the woods and found Preen on the Prospect Mountain Trail at 11:37 p.m.
Preen said she heard voices approaching in the distance and began calling for help. The team secured her vital signs and carried her out on a gurney. It reached the command post at 2:30 a.m., and Preen was brought to North Adams Regional Hospital, where she's in stable condition and due to be released today.
In total, Preen spent 15 hours in the forest. She said she'd like to thank the residents who allowed Tedford to call the police and the members who rescued her.
"They were really organized," she said. "It was great teamwork."
As for heading back into the woods, Preen said only the doctors' orders of three weeks of rest will keep her off the trails.