Appalachian Trail hiker trapped by snow is rescued
Park service spokeswoman Molly Schroer said rescuers used two helicopters Friday to pick up 56-year-old Steven Ainsworth, of Washington, N.C. Schroer said Ainsworth’s condition is being assessed at an airport in Gatlinburg.
Ainsworth used his cellphone to call 911 on Thursday afternoon. He spoke to dispatchers again Friday morning and said he was hunkering down and might not be able to hike out of the park located on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
At 3:37 p.m. Thursday, GSMNP Dispatch received a 911 call through the Cherokee, N.C., Police Department about a single male hiker in distress in a remote section of the Appalachian Trail somewhere between the Pecks Corner and Tricorner Knob Shelters. The call came directly from the hiker via cell phone.
Late Thursday, the park dispatched two rangers by foot to the approximate location of the hiker to determine his exact location, assess his condition, and stabilize as needed. After a 9-hour hike through steep terrain, high winds and 4- to 5-foot snow drifts, the rangers had to take shelter in a cabin on the Appalachian Trail for a rest period. They reached a location an estimated 4 miles from Ainsworth.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.