Rescued Niskayuna hiker in danger of losing toe tips

Survival story goes national after 'CBS This Morning' interview
Blake Alois is seen in this photo, taken by his mother, Doris, on Saturday, as he continues to recover from frostbite.
Blake Alois is seen in this photo, taken by his mother, Doris, on Saturday, as he continues to recover from frostbite.

NISKAYUNA — Blake Alois, the Niskayuna 20-year-old who spent two nights stranded in the bitter cold and snow near the top of New York’s second-highest peak with girlfriend, Maddie Popolizio, this week, is in danger of losing the tips of his big toes, his mother said Friday.

Doctors are waiting to see if his toes heal before making the decision to amputate, his mother, Doris Alois, said. “They’re not really sure yet — it’s too soon to tell,” she said. “That’s why he has to to go to the wound care specialists a couple times a week.”

Blake Alois was at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady and was expected to be released Saturday, his mother said. He will then be treated at the Ellis Wound Care Center on McClellan Street.

He remains in “good, good spirits,” she said.

“He knows how lucky he is, and he’s very, very grateful.”

He and Popolizio, 19, also of Niskayuna, were rescued from Algonquin Peak by state troopers and Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers Tuesday and airlifted to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake before returning home to Niskayuna that night.

Hours after being rescued, Popolizio told The Daily Gazette from her hospital bed that Alois’ boots had frozen to his skin and had to be soaked in warm water and cut away from his feet. She also recalled him emptying the contents of his backpack and zipping it up around her legs when she lost feeling in her toes.

Popolizio was interviewed for a piece that aired Friday on “CBS This Morning.” In the interview with Michelle Miller, she is shown talking to Alois on the phone, asking him, “How are your toes? How are you feeling? Are you in pain?”

She told Miller she was still struggling to walk because of the frostbite on her feet and that her teeth may be fractured, a result of intense chattering in the cold.

[Hiker recounts harrowing tale of survival]

Doris Alois said she showed her son the interview, and he was “touched by it, and he thought that, under the circumstances, that Maddie handled herself very well doing that interview. It wasn’t easy.”

Alois said she continues to feel “tremendous relief” that her son is home and recovering.

“It’s a miracle,” she said. “It’s surreal, and it’s wonderful.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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