Saw a friend's post on Facebook on January 4, 2015 that mentioned that it had been seven years since Meredith Hope Emerson went missing on the Appalachian Trail near Georgia's Blood Mountain.
Wanted to share a seven-year-old reflection on that event, in honor of Meredith and Right to Hike, Inc.
Have you heard about Meredith Emerson, the young woman who went hiking on Blood Mountain in North Georgia on New Year's Day and hasn't been heard from since?
The disappearance of this skilled, savvy woman made an enormous impact on our community.
As the sun rose on Thursday, more than 100 people gathered at Vogel State Park, near Blood Mountain, to offer their expression of tangible love. Some know Meredith well. Others never heard of her before she hit the news. All were there to volunteer their help to those who were leading the rescue efforts.
I have two daughters almost Meredith's age. I could not ignore the need to help find her, as I had ignored so many such tragedies over the years. So, I drove to Vogel State Park Thursday afternoon to offer a few burgers (many courtesy of McDonald's in Cleveland) and some time.
The frigid mountain air made me even more concerned for Meredith. If you've been cold the past few days, you can easily imagine the chill that befell the search teams.
Volunteers prepared food to warm and nourish those who worked from dawn until dusk walking the snowy, icy, slippery hillsides in search of Meredith.
Never did I hear a single word of complaint from one woman or man. Even those who went out all night long with bloodhounds did so cheerfully, and with reverence and honor. The K-9 teams didn't hesitate to battle through the brush and brutal weather in the middle of the night.
Meredith isn't back with us -- yet. My prayer is that she will be soon. (Please join us in that prayer.)
And please don't ever believe that you are unloved or that nobody cares for you. This effort to locate Meredith is just one example of what North Georgians will do for one another...or for you, if you were in her hiking shoes.
I witnessed the love of more than 100 men and women in law enforcement, and that of scores of concerned civilians, church folks, friends, and her co-workers.
There is no way to describe what it was like to have more help than was needed and to see the dedication of so many kind neighbors.
Heroes. Each and every one.
I'm tired from being there for less than a day. I just took a shower, had some food, and I'm going to take a nap.
But I know that dozens of dedicated souls will be scouring the woods, back roads, vacant cabins, villages and cities tonight, tomorrow, and until Meredith is found. And they'll forego the comforts of home in the meantime.
May God bless them and return their kindness when they need it most.
And may God bring Meredith home soon...safe and sound.
Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, News, Crime, Accidents, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer
Ella's Run, a 5K held by Right to Hike, Inc., raises money to provide lights & emergency call boxes for walking trails, in honor of Meredith Hope Emerson.
Seven years ago, we lost hope of finding Meredith Hope Emerson alive following her disappearance on a New Year's Day hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Celebrate your right to hike at Ella's Run on October 17, 2015. The non-profit group, Right to Hike, protects hikers, in memory of Meredith Hope Emerson.
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Blood Mountain is peaceful today. That hasn't always been true. In fact, it's a former battlefield.