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  1. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Yes, that is what it looks like. Which leads me to think he's an inexperienced hiker. I suspect it's the personal belonging they found near the hike inn. It would be the first thing I'd ditch. We've all heard the stories of the approach trail littered with gear as the newbies try to lighten the pack.
    If your main pack is woefully too small you can carry an extra pack and/or daypack---and I've done it several times in the old days. But I never strapped the extra on my chest and instead strapped it on the back or at the top of my regular pack.

    The worst was in '87 during a national rainbow gathering when I had to hump out 3 packs at one time---my own big North Face external and two packs for friends who were coming in later---one with an army ALICE pack and the other a Sundog pack---all crammed atop my external. Looked like 3 bugs having sex.

  2. #42
    illabelle's Avatar
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    I read that he was found dead at the bottom of Cochran Falls.

    So sad.

  3. #43
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    Found dead earlier this afternoon at Cochran Falls. Sheriff's office press conference live at 9:30pm EST (EDIT: live feed now over) at https://www.11alive.com/article/news...e-89f4959b8443

    RIP
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 02-19-2020 at 23:00.

  4. #44
    Registered User rmitchell's Avatar
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    Deepest condolences for his family and friends.

  5. #45

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    Sad news indeed.

    They say he was found 1.3 miles SW off the Le Foot trail. Which would put him at the bottom of a hollow which is difficult terrain according to the fire chief.

    The Le Foot trail heads down hill from the AT junction. I bet he somehow lost the trail in the rain and continued down hill, but steeply down the side rather then along the ridge. Then even as the going became difficult, it seems easier to keep going down then to try and climb back up. Or it just might not be possible to go back up. Cold, wet, tired and totally lost. A perfect storm. Similar situation to that lady who got lost in the GSMNP last fall.
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  6. #46
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    May he Rest In Peace.

  7. #47
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    Another tragic incident in this area. At risk of attacks for my sharing some history about 911 call response in this area, let me review some history. And yes, I'm local. Bottom line--review your emergency plan, know where you are--and how to describe your location to others--even 911 may have no idea where you are.

    Dawson County is one of the five counties that touch on Springer Mountain and it's approaches. Some of these counties, like Lumpkin (Dahlonega) and Gilmer (Ellijay) and others are 45% national forest land. Contrary to what you may think, most law officers and responders will likely have never been to these areas.

    While we can specualte that this person had a medical crisis, or possibly cognitive issues--referenced in a Dawson press conference--or dehydration overheating, etc. most lost persons downhill, and when they reach a stream or river, go along it. That's the first direction to go, if search resources and time are limited. (Found along Cochran Creek, just a mile from the Len Foote hike-in lodge...)

    When a cell call comes in from this area--potentially in one of five counties that have jurisdiction--the hope is that the call can be determined to be in another county, and not requiring a response. If not an emergency, the hope is that it is a USFS (federal) or DNR Wildlife Resources Division (DNR-WRD, game wardens) call. Both of these agencies are at half the staff of only a decade ago. If a law enforcement response is required, the local counties will not have many vehicles that are capable of reaching areas in the forest, with the continued neglect of these roads. As a child--decades ago, we would take the family car over Nimblewill Gap, from the falls, or from either side of the gap. The roads were passable, of course. Little chance the Dodge Chargers the sheriff's offices use can do that today. There likely won't be any quick response, regardless.

    Last year, Dawson 911 got a call from the driver of a wrecked car off the mountain on the approach to Nimblewill Gap. The deputy argued with dispatch (recorded) going so far as to say he though the call was a set-up or something...the response time was six hours! read about it or hear the tape at: https://dawson.fetchyournews.com/201...eriffs-office/

    The approach to Nimblewill Gap from the south, FS 28-2, straddles Lumpkin and Dawson County. A popular road for illegal 4WD off-roading, with trashed campsites and squatters. Meth camps are not uncommon. Recently, a Lumpkin resident was murdered there--investigated by Lumpkin (LCSO), and determined to have been murdered in Dawson, with the body found days later in Forsyth. Drugs were part of the party, as the loclas know there won't be a law enforcement ride-through, or any game wardens if it's not perhaps opening day of trout season. Two of the four indicted were teenagers, more at: https://www.forsythnews.com/local/cr...-county-woman/

    (Dawson also mishandled the Gary Michael Hilton case, and when 911 dispatched DNR to Dawson Forest's AMicalola River boat launch to a clal about a potential murder in progress (from one of the victims) DNR fficers weren't told the killer was shooting at the victi--later found deceased in the river...)

    With Georgia's legislature planning another round of budget cuts, the DNR won't see more officers. (Amicalola SP always had a Park Superintendent who was also a sworn law officer--but no more. No Georgia Parks have sworn DNR officers any more. The park operators are to call 911 for violent crimes in progress or whatever. That's a long response time, and don't assume any responder knows where anything is off the paved roads. Under Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue, Georgia's former Governor who cut DNR's budget, don't expect the USFS to have any new resources for their strapped and minimal law enforcement--Georgia has five officers for about a million acres of the CONF.

    And the five counties--their budgets are no better. Dawson has the outlet mall and the four-lane developed area to deal with; Lumpkin has the weekend surge of tourism--and sport bikes and bicycles on the scenic mountain roads--they've had to delay call responses due to staff limits.

    Bottom line--calling 911 may not bring help in a timely manner. The illegal off-roading destroying the forest (videos abound online), the reckless 'target' shooting by visitors, the trashed campsites and resource damage, and the car break-ins at trail heads all point to a need for more law enforcement presence. It isn't coming. And if you need an officer NOW it will be a while, and if you need an EMT, forget the "golden hour" (which is a half-hour, for age 15 and under, as medical professionals know.)

    And don't count on anything but paper maps in this area--cell coverage is spotty. Most digital maps are dubious, and the local counties are using tax maps and other sources for digitizing maps, so the legacy names on topos are often changed, giving different versions of names for the same place, and SAR teams will have different maps depending on their agency and source.

    And let's not even talk about nuisance 911 calls from ill-prepared and "lost" hikers who just want "rescue" from their situation, while not needing to tie up limited response resources. That's a whole other drain on the region's ability to deal with emergencies. Their should be fines and cost recovery for such calls.


    Thank you to the earnest responders for their efforts. I don't know if a different handling of this matter could have changed this outcome, but the overall situation-- with fewer resources, and more people in the woods, most without maps and compass, is not good. The politics of increasing public resources for outdoor recreation or even first responders such as police and fire, don't look good either.

    My condolences to friends and family.

  8. #48

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    Giving the guy the benefit of doubt, starting a thru hike, he'd have the gear, the food etc. He was only missing 1 day, so I'd bet he had a medical issue, which can happen to anyone.

  9. #49

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    I have a few questions---

    ** Is the trail from the AT to Hike Inn on a gated service road to the Inn or is it on an actual foot trail??

    ** The initial pack that was found on Sunday---was it his front daypack or his backpack??

    ** Did he get lost on his approach to Hike Inn or was it when leaving the Inn? Did he spend the night at the Inn??

  10. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Found dead earlier this afternoon at Cochran Falls. Sheriff's office press conference live at 9:30pm EST (EDIT: live feed now over) at https://www.11alive.com/article/news...e-89f4959b8443

    RIP
    Man, that's really sad. I'm glad they were able to recover him though, puts the family at peace.
    MEGA '19

  11. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I have a few questions---

    ** Is the trail from the AT to Hike Inn on a gated service road to the Inn or is it on an actual foot trail??

    ** The initial pack that was found on Sunday---was it his front daypack or his backpack??

    ** Did he get lost on his approach to Hike Inn or was it when leaving the Inn? Did he spend the night at the Inn??
    It's an actual trail.
    They never said what gear they found, I suspect it was the day pack. Edit: now that I think about it, he might have shed his main pack, thinking the inn couldn't be much farther - which it probably wasn't.
    I believe he was headed for the hike inn, which would have been the logical thing to do given the weather.

    The topo map I downloaded for the area shows a woods road of some kind which parallels just south of the hike inn approach trail, but it dead ends before it gets near the inn. Might be an old logging tote road which may or may not be serviceable. The map I downloaded doesn't give the name of streams, so can't tell exactly where he might of ended up or how he got there.

    My guess is inexperience and hypothermia was the root cause of this unfortunate outcome.

    Looks like the weather down there is still going to suck for a few more days. I hope all the early starters are waiting it out.
    Last edited by Slo-go'en; 02-20-2020 at 16:00.
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  12. #52

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    Sad but true, this is one for the ages, especially if COD is weather/trail-related more than medical. Has anyone ever heard of a case like this with a hiker dying on the Approach Trail, and AFTER successfully contacting family and 911? How was it not possible to get his GPS long/lat from the call and have him stay put? There are numerous unanswered questions of course. And thanks, Nimblewill, for the info

  13. #53
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    My condolences to his family and friends....so sad.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  14. #54

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    This reminds me of Mike Gourley who's an avid dayhiker in the Smokies and one time got terribly lost on a trail near Cades Cove and wrote up a blog entry of the experience---Bewildered and Misplaced---etc. Happened in February 2003.

    He was disoriented and lost for 4 days and included a picture of his cell phone tracking marks for those 4 days---I wish I had the picture to share but it seems he has scrubbed the internet clean of this event---and the marks on the map look like someone spilled a bowl of spaghetti on the thing.

    He was zigzagging everywhere.

  15. #55

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    Video of press conference after the hiker was found.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ot68TeCgeY

    At present they are not releasing info on what gear was found a few days ago, or what gear he had with him when they found him.

  16. #56
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I've been worried that these kinds of things would start happening given the larger number of aspiring thru-hikers starting earlier and earlier in the year.

    If you're not well prepared, experienced, and physically fit, February really isn't a safe time to start a thru-hike.
    It's all good in the woods.

  17. #57
    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRock View Post
    I've been worried that these kinds of things would start happening given the larger number of aspiring thru-hikers starting earlier and earlier in the year.

    If you're not well prepared, experienced, and physically fit, February really isn't a safe time to start a thru-hike.
    These are wise words Walter!

  18. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRock View Post
    I've been worried that these kinds of things would start happening given the larger number of aspiring thru-hikers starting earlier and earlier in the year.

    If you're not well prepared, experienced, and physically fit, February really isn't a safe time to start a thru-hike.
    Especially for the older crowd.
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  19. #59
    illabelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    This reminds me of Mike Gourley who's an avid dayhiker in the Smokies and one time got terribly lost on a trail near Cades Cove and wrote up a blog entry of the experience---Bewildered and Misplaced---etc. Happened in February 2003.

    He was disoriented and lost for 4 days and included a picture of his cell phone tracking marks for those 4 days---I wish I had the picture to share but it seems he has scrubbed the internet clean of this event---and the marks on the map look like someone spilled a bowl of spaghetti on the thing.

    He was zigzagging everywhere.
    I've read that story. Mike led us on an off-trail hike in the southwest corner of the Smokies to an old homesite once occupied by my son-in-law's g-g-g-grandfather. Mike's adventures go beyond ordinary dayhiking. He specializes in off-trail explorations, and has been to many/most of the known homesites and cemeteries. He's certainly no novice. For him to get lost like he did (relying on his Garmin) and for as long as he did - in February - was sobering. We feel safe when we can see the trail. When we lose sight of it, panic surges. Mike was able to manage his panic and self-rescue.
    Lots of respect for him!

  20. #60

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    Perfect summation, worth repeating again y again: If you're not well prepared, experienced, and physically fit, February really isn't a safe time to start a thru-hike.

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