Submitted by Bob Miller
National Park Service
Rangers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park located three lost hikers in the Abrams Fall area at about 7:00 p.m. yesterday evening. All three were in good condition. Three individuals were identified as: Jonathan Hildreth, 21, Kayla Latard, 19, and Samual Willis, 19, all of Knoxville.
Park Dispatch got a cell phone call at about 3:30 p.m. Monday from three people who reported that they had set down their packs and jackets along the Abrams Fall Trail about a mile west of the Trailhead then left the marked trail to explore a social trail. They had become lost in the thick brush and steep, confusing terrain and could not locate the trail.
Blount County Dispatchers were able to use the group’s cell phone to provide Rangers a location in an area called “The Shoe”, so-called because Abrams Creek makes a long loop. The Shoe is notoriously confusing, so searches in that area are not uncommon. Rangers located the trio at about 7:00 p.m. and guided them out to the trailhead about 8:00 p.m.
Acting Chief Ranger Steve Kloster said, “This group was extremely lucky to be found so quickly because the vast majority of the Park has little to no cell coverage, so we would not have known they were missing until being contacted by outside parties. They were also fortunate that the call came in as early in the day as it did, or it would have been too dark to get Rangers in to the area safely and effectively. They would have spent a dark, damp night in the woods.”
“The best advice we can give to hikers is to stay on the trails to avoid getting turned around.” Kloster concluded.