Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wishing the best to Solo!

Rescue helicopter
There's been lots of news the last couple of days on the Appalachian Trail hiker stranded amid the snow drifts somewhere between Tricorner Knob (approximate elevation-5900 ft) and Peck's Corner on his way to Newfound Gap. I heard about his dilemma Thursday night as reports of more than 3 feet of snow on Mt. LeConte with drifts up to the roof of the lodge were still coming in. This part of the AT follows the ridgeline on its way to the highest peak in the Smokies just south of Newfound Gap. I knew the winds and the temperatures would be vicious up there. I was sure hoping he had the necessary equipment and supplies to wait out the rescuers I also knew would be after him soon. We have excellent Search and Rescuers that work the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of whom is the husband of a friend. I knew they would find this hiker if he could just survive the elements long enough.

Tricorner Knob Shelter in warmer weather
Once I heard the hiker's name yesterday, I was able to find his blog about his adventures along the Appalachian trail this summer and fall. It seems he left Maine in June, hiking south. He was in Hot Springs, NC this weekend, apparently heard there might be some snow, but set out for Newfound Gap, expecting only 6 or so inches. Somewhere along the way the superstorm, Sandy, turned those 6 inches into several feet of snow! It appears he spent at least one night at Tricorner Knob (he posted a picture of his gear spread out in the bunk there) and must have been on his way to Pecks Corner when the drifts made it impossible for him to travel further. Luckily, he had enough cell phone service to make at least two 911 calls to set the rescue mission in motion and then yesterday morning, let them know he had survived another night. News sources report that rescuers attempted to reach him by foot, but the going was too difficult and the winds still very high. A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter then apparently put men on the ground at Tricorner Knob. They were then able to find his footprints leaving Tricorner Knob and followed them to his "camp" about a mile away and airlift him out. Video footage on a Knoxville news station showed this hiker, only two years different in age from me, walking out of the helicopter and sitting on a gurney to be transported to LeConte Medical Center for treatment.

I was so thrilled to see him walking. I was fearing extensive frostbite. I surely hope the extent of his injuries is minor and that he is able to recover fully. He is so very close to his goal. Even if he doesn't finish this year, if he can recover fully and still wants to, at least he will have that option at some time in the future. I am thankful that he is alive and safe now. My thoughts are still with him and his family as they all recover from this ordeal. Good luck, Solo! Godspeed!


  1. Great post. I have not been keeping up with Solo's story but I'm glad you have and certainly glad he made it out. He's so close to reaching his goal. I have great respect for thru-hikers.

    1. Barefoot Hiker, I have tremendous respect for them as well. I cannot imagine the ordeal he went through during those days in such severe weather. He did post a final update to his blog yesterday saying he would not make any decisions about returning to the trail anytime soon. The doctors have told him not to expose his feet to cold for at least a month, so that would preclude him finishing the trail this year, I'm sure. Just continue to think about him and pray for his full recovery.

  2. I just discovered that Solo has gone back on the trail to finish this year! Woo Hoo! I'm so very excited for him. Here's the link to his blog if you are interested in following his final couple of weeks on the trail. He hopes to finish by the end of November. Godspeed, Solo!