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    Default Missing hiker's body found in 'rugged, heavy wooded' spot south of Appalachian Trail


    The Mercury News

    Missing hiker's body found in 'rugged, heavy wooded' spot south of Appalachian Trail
    Charlotte Observer
    The body of an Ohio mom who went missing last week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was found more than two miles from where she was last seen, not on a trail but in a “rugged, heavily wooded” spot, said a release from the National Park ...
    Missing hiker found dead near Appalachian TrailThe Mercury News
    Mitzie Susan Clements: Body of missing Ohio hiker found in SmokiesKnoxville News Sentinel
    Body of 53-year-old missing hiker found, National Park Service saysCBS News
    USA TODAY -GoFundMe -Facebook -WKRC
    all 265 news articles »


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  2. #2
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Anyone know anything more about this death in the Smokies? I'm just wondering if she fell or got lost and died from exposure. There is always something to learn from a sad story like this.

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    Ill learn more. Be there in a few days at Clingmans's but going NOBO and turned off at Fork Ridge Tr. I'm sure the GSMNP Rangers will have a release and info of the area that might be closed if investigations are still underway. Condolences go out to the family. This shouldn't happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ldsailor View Post
    Anyone know anything more about this death in the Smokies? I'm just wondering if she fell or got lost and died from exposure. There is always something to learn from a sad story like this.


    Theres another thread on here that 7 pages deep of discussion on it....

    or you can check out my station's stories on it wbir.com

    as of now--- cause of death is unknown...

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    [QUOTE=TNhiker;2224952
    as of now--- cause of death is unknown...[/QUOTE]
    Given the weather, cold and rainy, exposure is the most likely.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Here's the other page... it was started when she first went missing.
    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/sho...Clingmans-Dome

    Here's a Summary:

    Mother (53) and daughter (20) hike to Andrews Bald. At 5:00pm, the two separate about 1/4 mile from the bald with plans to meet in the parking lot because the daughter wants to also see the Clingman's Dome observation tower and the mother does not. The mother never makes it back to the parking lot. After a massive search operation, the mother's body is found in the Huggins Creek drainage about 3/4 of a mile south of the AT. Officials report that foul play is not suspected.

    While only the mother knows exactly what happened, the simplest scenario that I can come up with is that the mother missed the intersection that leads to the parking lot, hiked all the way up the mountain to the AT, followed the AT until almost sun set, panicked and decided to head off trail thinking the road was somewhere below her. If she had gone right on the AT rather than left, by that time of day, she would have indeed been less than 1,000' away from the road. There is a sign at the AT intersection saying the observation tower is to the right... she might have turned left since she didn't want to go to the tower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Here's the other page... it was started when she first went missing.
    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/sho...Clingmans-Dome

    Here's a Summary:

    Mother (53) and daughter (20) hike to Andrews Bald. At 5:00pm, the two separate about 1/4 mile from the bald with plans to meet in the parking lot because the daughter wants to also see the Clingman's Dome observation tower and the mother does not. The mother never makes it back to the parking lot. After a massive search operation, the mother's body is found in the Huggins Creek drainage about 3/4 of a mile south of the AT. Officials report that foul play is not suspected.

    While only the mother knows exactly what happened, the simplest scenario that I can come up with is that the mother missed the intersection that leads to the parking lot, hiked all the way up the mountain to the AT, followed the AT until almost sun set, panicked and decided to head off trail thinking the road was somewhere below her. If she had gone right on the AT rather than left, by that time of day, she would have indeed been less than 1,000' away from the road. There is a sign at the AT intersection saying the observation tower is to the right... she might have turned left since she didn't want to go to the tower.
    That about says it all for me. "Never Separate" is a rule most hikers should follow, especially dayhikers.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    ... the simplest scenario that I can come up with is ....
    Or she walked off the trail to poop, got turned around, and started following her feet.

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    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Or she walked off the trail to poop, got turned around, and started following her feet.
    Oh, she was turned around a long time before she walked off trail.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
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  10. #10

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    Studies of these deaths indicate multiple causes, plus bad luck. It's not just one thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Studies of these deaths indicate multiple causes, plus bad luck. It's not just one thing.

    sure it's one thing - heart stopped

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    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Or she walked off the trail to poop, got turned around, and started following her feet.
    Based on where she was found, the only reasonable way for her to get there is to travel down hill from the AT for 3/4 mile. Otherwise she would have had to hike at least two miles thru rugged terrain either in the dark or in the rain (and generally speaking, off-trail lost hikers generally follow drainages down hill, not up hill or across steep mountain sides).

    I can not say WHY she went off trail. However, based on when and where the two separated and using some rules of thumb on hiker speeds, she would reach the section of the AT above Huggins Creek drainage (the drainage where she was found) close to sunset.

    I don't know if she had any sort of flash light, but I know from personal experience that I'd likely start to panic if I found myself alone in the woods in the dark with not light.

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    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    That about says it all for me. "Never Separate" is a rule most hikers should follow, especially dayhikers.
    I'm not going to say that you are wrong... after all, if the family had never separated, it's very unlikely this tragedy would have occurred.
    Even the NPS recommends hiking with a partner.

    But as RockDoc points out, it took multiple decisions to lead to this tragedy. A change in any one of them would have resulted in a different outcome.

    I also do not believe solo hiking in GSMNP is particularly dangerous. Yes, it's obviously more dangerous to hike solo compared to hiking with a partner.
    But it's also more dangerous to hike in GSMNP without carrying "The 10 Essentials".
    It's also more dangerous to hike off-trail in GSMNP.
    It's also more dangerous to hike in GSMNP without an emergency distress beacon.

    I was going to argue that the only "bad" decision that was made was to leave the trail. She would have been found that night if she had stayed on the trial.

    But on second thought, I can't really say that that was THE key bad decision. Because IF she had done something like not gone hiking without the 10 essentials, or if they had gotten lost together, there would have been less of a 'need' to go off trail.


    [Edit]
    Now there is one respect in which I will agree with you... when you're talking about inexperienced hikers (be that they have not done much hiking, not hiking with the 10 essentials, or simply have not taking the time or tools needed to be familer with the area) it is MUCH better for such hikers to hike in a group before venturing off solo.
    Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 10-05-2018 at 14:01.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post

    [Edit]
    Now there is one respect in which I will agree with you... when you're talking about inexperienced hikers (be that they have not done much hiking, not hiking with the 10 essentials, or simply have not taking the time or tools needed to be familer with the area) it is MUCH better for such hikers to hike in a group before venturing off solo.
    This is my point. Not talking about this current case, but in my opinion many thousands of GSMNP dayhikers are very inexperienced hikers. (Remember the Park gets 11 million visitors a year). I can easily imagine the mindset of a Beginner---a million green trees and bushes, a tiny linear trail slices thru the woods---3 feet off the trail and the trail disappears---even being on the trail elicits "Am I going in the right direction??"---and then being 500 feet off a trail is equivalent to being 10 miles off the trail.

    Southeast forests are essentially labyrinths.

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    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    From what it sounds like her body was off-trail in between Double Springs Gap Shelter and CS#68

    Sounds like she either ....
    - didn't take the path to the parking lot and kept walking on the by-pass trail and AT. But she would have more than likely ran into someone.
    - Or turned down Forney Creek Trail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    I was going to argue that the only "bad" decision that was made was to leave the trail. She would have been found that night if she had stayed on the trial.
    This is unfortanetely true

    Could have been animal, water, to get out of wind/rain, or go downhill to try to get warmer.

    Who knows.

    But a calm logical person would have stayed on trail and backtracked at some point.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    There's one feeling that is hard to get across to someone until they've experienced it themselves, and that is the feeling you get when you have lost the trail and the woods look the same in every direction. Until you've been in that situation, it's hard to really appreciate the tremendous value of a map & compass (and the knowledge of how to use them).

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Studies of these deaths indicate multiple causes, plus bad luck. It's not just one thing.
    You are right. Same thing with airplane crashes. Usually a series of small things that add up to disaster.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee Viking View Post
    From what it sounds like her body was off-trail in between Double Springs Gap Shelter and CS#68

    Sounds like she either ....
    - didn't take the path to the parking lot and kept walking on the by-pass trail and AT. But she would have more than likely ran into someone.
    - Or turned down Forney Creek Trail.
    Double Springs Gap Shelter sits above an unnamed feeder creek that feeds the Little Huggins Creek drainage, joining the Huggins Creek drainage at the base of Takassah Ridge.
    She was found 3/4 mile from the AT in the Huggins Creek drainage (south and a little east from where Goshen Prong joins the AT from the TN side).
    It's not credible to believe she turned down Forney Creek trail and then hiked for 2 miles along steep mountain sides or 2 miles up Huggins Creek.

    It was late in the afternoon on what I've heard was something of a dreary Tuesday. So it's totally believable that she didn't see anyone as she neared the intersection that leads to the parking lot, nor anyone as she climbed the Bypass trail. Besides, Forney Ridge naturally continues as the Bypass trail, so she wouldn't have any reason to believe she was on the wrong trail until she reached the AT.

    She would have been walking the AT towards Double Gap shelter as it got near sunset, so it's also totally reasonable to believe she never saw anyone on the AT.

    Can't say why she turned SOBO onto the AT rather than NOBO other than the intersection is such that Bypass is more inlined with SOBO where as it's almost a U-Turn to go NOBO. Additionally, there would have been a sign saying the Clingman's Dome Tower is NOBO, and she wanted the parking lot, not the tower.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Time Zone View Post
    There's one feeling that is hard to get across to someone until they've experienced it themselves, and that is the feeling you get when you have lost the trail and the woods look the same in every direction. Until you've been in that situation, it's hard to really appreciate the tremendous value of a map & compass (and the knowledge of how to use them).
    Agreed on the feeling that comes with a sense of complete confusion. However, more important to me than any other tool is the choice to stop, relax, calm down, think through the situation, take your time, and then move if appropriate. As a wise person one told me, the one thing you have plenty of when you are lost is time (being in a hurry is almost never the right choice). The most important thing you can do is stop and calm down so your brain can start working again.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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