Mountain & Trail News

    Hiker Snowed in by Superstorm Sandy’s Aftermath Rescued from Appalachian Trail

    In order to be a rescuer you have to be in shape, be able to perform basic medical procedures and you have to be able to hike two days through chest-deep snow. No, this isn’t a bad “in my day” joke and neither is the last requirement actually part of the criteria to be a rescuer, yet Tennessee rescuers had to do all this to locate a stranded hiker in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

    Steven Ainsworth, 56, of Washington, North Carolina, set off on a continued leg of the Appalachian Trail deep in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee around the time that Superstorm Sandy’s effects on the East Coast were at their worst. He was in the homestretch of a two-thousand-mile trek along the Appalachian. He still made it, albeit with the aid of a helicopter.

    When the snow after the storm started to come in, it didn’t stop until Ainsworth found himself in chest-deep snow. Alone on the Appalachian Trail, he had no other choice but to hike. A 1.25-mile hike took him eight hours before he could find a location with cell phone reception.

    Ainsworth managed to call rescuers on Tuesday. They tried looking for him from a helicopter, but cloud cover prevented them from seeing anything on the ground. After the failed attempt, two rescuers were dispatched to hike to him. They traversed nine hours through the thick snow and only made it to a cabin to rest for the night that was approximately four miles from Ainsworth’s location. They set off again on Friday following a trail of his footsteps to his camp where Ainsworth was found cold and without shoes on. He was airlifted out by Tennessee Highway Patrol and taken to a hospital, but he sustained no injuries. When he was found, he only had a day’s worth of food and supplies left.

    View the long-awaited rescue and Ainsworth’s interview as filmed by ABC News in the video below.


    Image screenshot of video by ABCNews on youtube

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