Unprepared Appalachian Trail Hikers Lost & Found

The Appalachian Trail across Fontana Dam is a fun place to hike during the summer.  During the winter?  Not so much. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The Appalachian Trail across Fontana Dam is a fun place to hike during the summer. During the winter? Not so much. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Three hikers who set out from North Carolina's Fontana Dam on Thursday, January 2, 2014, for a ten-day hike -- wearing cotton clothing but no cold-weather gear -- got as far as Asheville's Mission Hospital after being rescued the next morning by Great Smoky Mountain Rangers and flown to safety by the North Carolina Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART).

Shawn Hood, Steven White and Jonathan Dobbins, from Gaffney, South Carolina (home of the giant peach-butt water tower) reportedly planned their hike "for weeks." Their planning, however, didn't include carrying any viable form of shelter or sensible cold weather gear suitable for hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains in (hello?) January.

The wayward trio did remember to take along a small propane torch. They ultimately used it to burn their more worthless gear to stay warm in the sub-zero blizzard conditions -- which they were "shocked" to find themselves in -- along the Trail.

This story is too absurd for a Saturday Night Live skit and would be humorous, if it weren't so dangerous for these profoundly ignorant hikers and those who risked their precious lives to save them.

The hikers claim they watched the weather forecast and it called only for rain. Their response? Cotton clothing and no tents. (Perhaps the forecast they heard was on an old tape of Scooby Doo reruns?)

Who slaps on a pair of jeans and hikes for ten days on the Appalachian Trail in the winter without warm clothing or shelter -- after "weeks" of preparation -- but manages to carry a butane torch? Sorry, this is too screwy for words.

After foolishly risking their lives, they used a cell phone to call for other people to risk theirs to rescue them. The "hikers" were too weak to walk by the time their rescuers arrived. After being treated for hypothermia and possible frostbite, the bogus hikers were airlifted to the hospital.

We regret their entirely predictable ordeal and offer our gratitude to the wiser souls who met them during their hour of need.

One can only hope these men will be billed for services rendered.

Please Click Here for Ten Essentials to Carry on Every Hike


Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, Camping Gear, News, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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