Lost Hikers in Big South Fork Ignored Searcher Instructions, Hampered Search Efforts
This incident reported in today’s NPS Morning Report left us wondering what part of "stay put" is so difficult to understand. As reported by Frank Graham, Chief of Visitor Services at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky/Tennessee:
A Scott County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher received a cell phone call from a lost hiker on Friday, December 18th. The number was given to rangers and contact was made with [a lost hiker]. [The lost hiker] reported that he’d been hiking in the Twin Arches area with two other people late Thursday night when they decided to go off trail and camp. When they attempted to return to the trail, they became disoriented. A description of where they had gone off trail put them in the Charit Creek drainage. Rangers attempted to determine a more precise location, but could not due to [the lost hikers’] lack of knowledge of the area. A search was begun immediately, as it was raining and the forecast called for it to soon turn to snow. Personnel searched for approximately six hours without luck. The rain did not turn to snow, and plans were made to continue the search at first light the next day. Additional personnel were called in and the search resumed early on Saturday morning. Further phone contact helped them to finally locate the trio in mid-afternoon. Search efforts were hampered by the men continuing to move after being told to stay in one position so that searchers could find them. Tommy Barnes was IC. There were no injuries to either hikers or searchers.
The takeaway: When you realize you're deep in a hole, stop digging. It wouldn't hurt to pay attention too.