More Unnecessary Rescues Needed

winter smokiesThree men were recently rescued from the Smoky Mountains along the Appalachian Trail when they became stuck high on the mountain.  The three men set off from the southern terminus of the Appalachian trail in the Smoky Mountains at Fontana lake for a 10 day backpacking trip, and soon became stranded.  The rescue efforts were difficult given the location of the men and the harsh winter weather that has been pounding the higher elevations for many days.  According to Ranger Kent Cave, the men were simply not prepared for the hiking and conditions they faced.  They brought NO shelter with them and wore all cotton clothes. You can go back to episode 9 of the Smoky Mountains Radio Show to hear about my loathing for cotton for hiking and how to prepare for the cold weather.  I wish these men had listened to the episode before they began.  Instead, they used valuable ranger resources to save them when they could have saved themselves if they planned properly.  The only safety device they brought was a cell phone to call for help.  You already know my feeling about that if you listen to the show.  Sleeping in a tent is forbidden in the Smokies except in designated areas, and there are none of those areas where these guys were hiking.  Instead, there are shelters spaced every 5-9 miles along the AT where hikers are required to overnight.  Still, in winter weather, a shelter of your own is a must in case you have to set up emergency camp.  No ranger will ever fine you for camping in an emergency situation.  Even in some day hikes I take during winter, I carry a tent.  You simply never know about the weather in the Smokies.  It is always better safe than sorry.  In the end, the hikers will be ok.  I am happy for that.  I simply hope they will be smarter in their future travels.

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