United States Forest Service personnel have been working night and day to keep the public informed about the status of forest fires threatening the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Virginia, along with volunteers, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the folks at Shenandoah National Park.
Dry weather, winds, abundant fuel and fast burning leaves are hampering efforts to put out forest fires on or near portions of the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.
The Buck Knob Fire near Franklin, NC, closed a portion of the Appalachian Trail from Wallace Gap to Winding Stair Gap on April 20. Old NC 64 is closed from Wallace Gap to Poplar Cove Road.
The US Forest Service’s Cherokee National Forest released this statement on April 19, 2016:
Due to a wild fire a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) has been temporarily rerouted for 7.2 miles along Forest Road 293 at Bitter End, off Buck Mountain Road north to the first field.
Fires burned hundreds of acres of land near Roan Mountain. Thankfully we have not heard of any reports of injuries.
“They say” nothing is more psychologically devastating than the death of a spouse or child. It’s weird how we can mourn the death of people we’ve never met … or even heard of before something happened to them. Such is the case of Appalachian Trail hiker, Geraldine Largay, who went missing from the Trail in Maine on a rainy day in July, 2013.
As news spread, searchers gathered and scoured all along the Trail. Some worriers worried she slipped down a slippery ledge or was washed away in a swollen stream or was kidnapped by strangers or murdered by some marauder.
A big part of the mystery of Geraldine “Inchworm” Largay’s disappearance was better understood on October 15, 2015, when a surveyor stumbled upon her remains.
As one of many writers who cover the Appalachian Trail for websites or news organizations, I have personally followed the tale from its inception. On many occasions, I have had personal contact with the officials who led the organized efforts to locate Inchworm. In addition, I have had direct contact with unofficial but concerned hikers who organized searches before Geraldine was located. Recently, I have read insinuations from pseudo-investigative writers who believe that I, among others, have been deceived or that I/we are part of a plot to cover up some twisted perversion of the facts that have become known over the years. That is libelous nonsense.
Should you desire to read the State of Maine’s Medical Examiner’s report on the death of Geraldine Largay, please click on the link below. Here, however, are a few facts:
- No foul play was suspected regarding her death.
- The cause of death was “inanition” — exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment.
- Evidence showed she died in her sleeping bag, inside the tent. However, her remains were subsequently strewn around the immediate area by animals.
- Each bone found at the scene was examined and showed no signs of “perimortem” trauma [at or near the time of death]. Trauma to the bones was the result of scavenging animals.
Geraldine went off trail in a storm. We don’t know why. She pitched her tent in a small clearing on a knoll. She passed away in her sleeping bag, inside the tent.
No matter how we surmise her demise, one thing is certain. We miss Inchworm. We grew to love her. We shared her plight. For many of us, she will be remembered each time we walk in the woods.
We will not forget Inchworm nor the hundreds of kind individuals who tried to rescue her before it was too late.
The early bird gets the worm. The second mouse gets the cheese. Folks who hike in winter get the snow on the Appalachian Trail.
If you’re prepared, hiking in the glorious solitude of winter can be breathtaking. If you’re not prepared, it can be life-threatening.
Facebook posts about newbies hitting the Trail in the winter are scary.
Please. Master simple before you try fancy. Don’t be be like the hiker lost in the snow in North Carolina who had to be rescued.
[He] was an experienced hiker but became disoriented due to the extreme weather. Although exposed to the cold and elements, he was uninjured. Snow amounts were close to 24 inches during the search.
Seems he didn’t check the weather forecast. Our friends at Nantahala Lodge put it best:
Every year when we drag someone out of the wintry snow, their first words are “that they did not think that the Southern Mountains would be so cold.” If you use the word Mountain [to describe your trip] and it’s in the middle of winter, at some point in your hike it’s going to be cold.
To check the weather on the Trail — before you go and along your way — hit: ATWeather.org.
Enjoy the snow on the Appalachian Trail. Have a snowball fight with the bears. Live it up! Just be safe, please.
So no one has to rescue you.