I figured I should start a new post on this topic to keep from derailing the Fee thread since I'm going to rant a bit....

I keep seeing this quote in the news re: the hiker missing from the Bullhead View Quiet Walkway:

"Rangers became suspicious Tuesday afternoon when they noticed that a vehicle had been parked since Sunday at a quiet walkway along Newfound Gap Road about a mile south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  

Park officials say that walkway does not connect to the Park's trail system, so there is no reason that backpackers would leave vehicles there overnight. The walkway is a short, easy, trail that extends into the woods a short distance off the road and then dead-ends at the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River."


(1) That trail does not dead-end, you can walk all along the river, all the way past the connector to the Huskey Gap parking lot (Riverview Quiet Walkway).  You can go *at least* 2 miles along the river.  Either they are purposefully not mentioning this to the public, or they have absolutely no clue, which is a scary thought.  All they need is to look at the NatGeo map.  Hopefully somebody out there knows what they're doing. Surely they didn't just go, 'oh well there's the river, turn around and go back'.

(2) We will now be considered suspicious and/or missing if we don't park in typical parking areas?  I could totally park at Bullhead View QW and backpack along the river and over to Huskey Gap and stay at old #21 or new #21.  "There is no reason to leave vehicles there."  Uh, just because most people wouldn't choose that spot doesn't mean it should be suspicious in and of itself.  Now I will worry that I HAVE to park in usual places or risk being the subject of a manhunt?!  Or be accused of illegal camping?!

Maybe I'm overreacting, but this is what the public is being told.

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Comment by John Quillen on March 26, 2012 at 4:12pm

I see they have called off the search.  Did anyone notice that the second guy's search was being assisted by the Dept of Corrections?  I thought his picture looked like a mug shot.  Gotta hand it to them.  If you want to throw folks off your trail, leave your car in the park and hitch a ride out.

Comment by Jen M on March 24, 2012 at 11:38am

Absolutely right, 'missing persons' would definitely be a better descriptor of these guys who sound like they have no experience whatsoever.  But yeah, this will most likely be used as a reason the fees are necessary.  Even though they are not backpackers in any imaginable sense of the word.

Comment by Rob Cameron on March 23, 2012 at 10:56pm
Throughout this whole ordeal I have thought that it was quite a stretch to keep calling these poor souls hikers. Like you I feel Ditz is going to use this as justification for his fee.
Comment by John Quillen on March 23, 2012 at 11:44am

I attended a NPCA event a year or so ago wherein a retired NPS analyst spoke on the whole search and rescue budget issue.  Especially with regard to bigger mtns like Rainier and Denali but also places like the Smokies.  He clearly stated that, although sensational like the present "crisis" with the two Rambos, that search and rescue was such a miniscule portion of the NPS budget it wasn't worth mentioning.  I found that remarkable and am mentioning it here because I am certain Ditz will try to use this to poor mouth for money or reinforce his fee proposals.

As an aside, I carry alpine rescue insurance.  It is primarily a function of mountaineering pursuits and no thought is really given to my time in the Smokies, however, it is a small cost.  If Ditz starts in with how much this is costing, I would advise them to consider recommending that folks purchase alpine rescue insurance.  That way, folks who don't have it could be billed for their Ramboing.  Just a thought.

Comment by Jen M on March 23, 2012 at 11:19am

Erm, yeah, that doesn't make sense.  Unless they mean by them opening Clingmans Dome road/other roads early... which technically the trails off those roads aren't ever  'closed' just because the road is..... you just have to WORK for it. 

Clearly not talking about the trails closed from storm damage.

BTW, is there a specific fund set aside for search and rescue operations?  Because they must be blazing thru $$$ this week.

Comment by John Quillen on March 23, 2012 at 10:45am

Miller says the park has opened camp sights and other trails earlier and has noticed more activity from animals as well. He says this give people a chance to see things earlier than they normally would this time of year.


What "trails" have been opened earlier?

Comment by John Quillen on March 22, 2012 at 1:44pm

And these are the folks entrusted with the care of OUR national park.  As you know, Husky Gap is a magnet for auto break ins, it happened to me and my girlfriend at the time.  It would make sense to park away from there.  I suppose now they will be able to launch a quarter million dollar manhunt if we decide to get off the "theft" route and park in a less accessible area.  Ridiculous!

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