When Sharon Van Horn organized the first-ever Thru-Hiker Chow Down in Franklin, she and her husband Bill were pretty fresh off the trail themselves.
The Van Horns started hiking the 2,000-plus-mile Appalachian Trail piecemeal in 2005, getting more serious about it in 2010 and completing two 300-mile sections per year thereafter until their 2013 finish. During that time, they became well acquainted with the ways of hikers, from Georgia up to Maine.
Austin Bohanan, 18, had been lost in the wilderness for 11 days when he woke up the morning of Aug. 22 to see boats floating on the water below the ridge where he’d slept.
Those boats were his ticket out of the nightmare that began Aug. 11 when he’d gotten separated from his stepfather Hubert Dyer, Jr., during an off-trail excursion in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Chilhowee Lake. Bohanan scrambled down to the water, which turned out to be the tail end of Abrams Creek, and waved down one of the boats. The boaters gave him a ride down to Shop Creek, where his family was gathered to support the crews searching for him.
After 11 days missing in the remote backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Chilhowee Lake, 18-year-old Austin Bohanan walked out on his own about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22.
My pack was plenty heavy as I set out north on the Appalachian Trial from Carvers Gap, but with my phone on airplane mode and three days in the woods ahead of me, my steps felt light. The sun was warm and bright as a friend and I climbed those initial balds, my dog running joyful circles through the grass. The trail soon gave way to still-bare forests whose floors were alive with wildflowers, the sinking sun casting an enchanting glow over the whole scene.
It was around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, when the two hikers stepped out of their red Ford Edge and into the parking lot at Big East Fork Trailhead. After the stunning vistas the Blue Ridge Parkway had offered on their drive from Asheville, David Crockett, a 23-year-old UNC Charlotte student, and his friend Sultan Alraddadi wanted to see those mountains up close.
They’d found the hike on AllTrails, an app that outlined an 8.1-mile loop that climbed Chestnut Ridge, continuing west to butt up against the Art Loeb Trail before returning east via the Shining Creek Trail.
Judy Seago almost left the United States without packing a stethoscope.
Seago, a pediatrician, was headed to Nepal on a honeymoon trek with her new husband Jerry Parker, a pharmacist. Medical missions weren’t part of the itinerary for the Jackson County couple — it was supposed to be all about exploring the miles-high mountains of Nepal’s Annapurna range.
It was nighttime in the White Mountains, and Steve Claxton was pretty sure he wouldn’t make it till morning. Rain was falling, and winds were ripping through his campsite at 90 miles per hour, sharpening the 40-degree temperatures like a knife. He’d known that camping above treeline was a bad idea, but an incoming storm had forced him to do it — now he was afraid it was the last thing he would ever do.
“At Mount Washington there’s a huge wall of people who died in the White Mountains, most of them in July and August and most of them from hypothermia,” Claxton said. “I really thought they were going to have to add my name to that.”
The sun had not quite set when Bradley Veeder fell asleep in his tent May 10, feeling “tired but happy” after a 17-mile day on the Appalachian Trail.
The 49-year-old Montana native was no stranger to trail life, having more than 20 years’ experience backpacking in places ranging from Wyoming to Oregon to Nepal, and he’d been putting in 15- to 20-mile days ever since starting his A.T. thru-hike April 30. Sound sleep was an important part of the recipe.
The case of a 400-pound bear euthanized after a hiker in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was bitten in the leg appears to have been a wrongful conviction. DNA results delivered Monday (May 23) showed that the bear that bit 49-year-old Bradley Veeder, of Las Vegas, on May 10 and the one that park staff euthanized May 13 were two different animals.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is terming an incident that left a Las Vegas man with a puncture wound in his leg a predatory bear attack, but Bill Lea, a renowned wildlife photographer who’s spent years observing bears in the wild, says he’s not buying it.