View Full Version : Smoky Mtn Park rescues

Brushy Sage
08-31-2004, 09:21
Interesting article in Asheville Citizen-Times, Aug 31, 2004, regarding the cost of rescues in Smoky Mtn Natl Park, and unreliability of cell phones:


09-08-2004, 00:42
Interestin isn't it, I tend to believe that in a lot of situations where people suffer from HUA (Head Up Ass, Syndrome) they as individuals should be billed for the search and rescue cost. If a person attempts to summit Katahdin, when it is closed off they are billed for the rescue. The same should apply else where, and it should not be on a select basis either, there should be clear and set rules. Such as Beginning a hike in inclimate weather and not having proper gear or provisions, causing a search and rescue party to go out for them.

While training for the A.T. in the smokies, for several months I encountered at least a dozen people who were either headed the wrong on a trail (headed into mountains at dark without provisions, were out of water (with no way of treating water 6 - 10 miles from a road) or hiking in street shoes miles from a road on steep and muddy trail. If I had of happened along they would had of been rescue simply because they were out of their element and had no idea what they were doing (HUA).

The people that wee headed the wrong way, were by far the worse, even after showing them on a map where we were (which they not have, they had nothing except a an empty 20 oz water bottle, which I replenished for them from water bottles, or would filter some fresh for them.) it took me several minutes to convince them to follow me out to the trail head. When we reached the trail head, they reluctantedly admitted had I not showed them they way back to 441, they would have would have wond up at Davenport gap in few days, had they kept going and were able survive a few days without supplies.

Incidents happened to me so often in the smokies, I started hiking on trail there, that were away from 441. Even then I would occasionly come across a weekend wander ( I called them that, because I would wander what kind of an idiot that weekend was going to produce).

And anyone who has hiked the smokies knows if you have map, and you follow the signs (that are posted at every trail intersection) that they will show you the way to the trail head.

Lastly, and then I will digressing, cell-phones for anyone reading this that is not aware, work on a line of sight type of situation. If you are on a tall mountain without any mountains between you and a tower, and that tower is within a reasonable distance you may get a signal.

But if you are in valley, you signal is just going to bounce around like playing pin-ball, and since there is not a tower on top of every mountain. You are not going to get a signal. Cell phone are cool for calling for a state trooper on michigan freeway when you wreck your car, but when in themountains you (all Hikers, not addressed to anyone in particular) should know at least the basics of first aide, carry the basics in your day pack, poncho, iodine tablet (to treat water or a filter) a few extra snacks, waterproof matches, extra food, socks, and an extra layer of clothing.

I keep that stuff in my day pack and periodically go through it to ensure everything is in working order, even here in michigan, for flat 7 mile loop, because yo just never know.

Jack Lincoln
09-08-2004, 01:11
You are preaching to the choir! Not very well either..


09-08-2004, 19:19
I keep that stuff in my day pack and periodically go through it to ensure everything is in working order, even here in michigan, for flat 7 mile loop, because yo just never know.

Hi TakeABreak,
I just saw that you're from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. I grew up in Farwell on Five Lakes. :clap Boy do I miss that area. Tn just doesn't have the lakes like Michigan does.

09-16-2004, 08:43
Good dissertation "TakeaBreak". It never ceases to amaze me the sorts of things you see in GSMNP. ;) You are right on target with your comments.

11-04-2004, 01:42
Interesting acronym, HUA. I hate to say this, but that is one of the reasons lately (last 2 years or so) I tend to stray from the populated busy areas of most parks is b/c when you do run across one of those HUA people you almost feel somewhat guilty if you do no give them a hand etc. Specially if something was to happen to them later. I am just glad to hear that others have ran across these folks besides myself.

The best example of this was a few Christmas's ago my brother and I took our parents out on a 3day Christmas hike. That first nite were in a shelter with some young guys (20 or so) and it was forcasted to be in the single digits / snow etc that nite and they were up there in some cheap sleeping bags, jeans, cotton shirts...etc. Needless to say they started cooking dinner over there sleeping bags and an entire quart of water was split on all there stuff. I swear that nite I just laid there praying that they would survive the nite. Thankfully they woke up that next morning complaining about the cold and headed down out of the mountains. Interesting thing is that same nite someone had froze to death a few shelters up from us on the AT.

Oh well just wanted to share that.

11-25-2004, 15:47
Someone who I have tried to help learn the ropes of hiking. Such as, breaking in boots before a long hike kinda stuff, ended up in deep doodoo on a rushed up hiking trip From Fontana -Clingmans. This is one time a cell phone came in handy. Me and a friend drove 4 hrs and hiked 10hrs to get to her and her girlfriends. We brought along some of her old tennis shoes, cut out the heels and helped her off the mountain. I was determined not to let rangers or anyone else rescue her, I felt responsible. Blisters will stop you dead in your tracks, I wish no-one the dreaded things. I also hope you don't have to rescue anyone because of them.

11-25-2004, 21:57
Ridge, I am glad your friends cell phone worked and you and your friend were able to get her off the mountain. That area is one of the places where they come in handy.

Don't mis-understand my message, I am not picking on you here!! usually I am the first one to help a person in need, what upsets me is when people go out and do things they know is ignorant or do not even think about what they are doing and then expect you to be there to rescue them no matter what the risk is to you or others.

My first attempt at a thru hike got stopped cold because of blisters and a bad water filter, I was doing a SOBO in 99, I got Rainbow Stream Lean to, and my water filter blew out and had god oawful blisters. I walked all the way back to Abol Bridge, and hitched all the way to Bangor. There was very little skin left on my heels, it hurt so bad tears cames to eyes at almost every step. unfortunately I had no way out but on my own.

The people I am referring are the ones who truely suffer from HUA.

In the spring of 2001, I parked at Tellico Gap, and was hiking up Rocky Bald, doing trail magic between there and Wayah Bald. A couple female thur hikers in their fifties were coming down rocky bald, they saw I was a day hiker and was carrying fresh pastries, I had about in 40 in my daypack.

They started telling me how they were wanting to get to the NOC that night, but were tired. I asked what the reason was, was it a medical emergency, were they out of food (I also carried a couple vaccum sealed meals and candy bars for hikers who out of food).
Their reply was no, a friend was meeting them the next night at the NOC and they wanted a full day to rest and get cleaned up before their friend made it in. They were very arrogant and shooty about it, like I was supposed to for go the trail magic and bow down to their whim. They did not get a ride from me.

A couple of days later I was doing the usual trail maintenance with the Nantahala Group, I mentioned to them what happened, two of the regular members / maintainers told me they had met the same two gals at seperate / different locations and that they were acting like guys out doing day hikes were supposed to be handing towlettes and fresh fruit.

11-25-2004, 22:20
Ridge, I am glad your friends cell phone worked and you and your friend were able to get her off the mountain. That area is one of the places where they come in handy.
Actually, the rescue gave me a good excuse to go hiking. I also felt responsible for not ensuring she had properly broken-in boots. I also have some ridgerunner buddies in the GSMNP, would never have lived it down if they found out.

11-25-2004, 22:45
I am glad you did not take what i was saying personal, it was directed at you or anyone else here on whiteblaze. I would have done the same thing myself, I too could not have lived one like that down.

07-16-2005, 15:36
Being the father of a 3 year old, I always carry towelettes and fresh fruit! :D