Appalachian Trail Histories



Contrary to popular belief, weathermen are always correct and precise in their weather predictions.  We wish right?  All joking aside, weather is a very serious factor when it comes to hiking.  Even with today’s technology and ease of availability, one can never truly predict the weather.  Truth is, at any given moment, the pressure zones could change, the wind could blow in a front and go from a gorgeous day on the trail to what seems like the storm of the century.

One of the largest weather-based threats many hikers come to face with is hypothermia.  Cold air, wind, rain, or water can all stimulate the beginnings of hypothermia; To be honest it does not take much for symptoms to begin.  Something as simple as not letting your clothes dry or letting yourself sweat too much can put your body in serious danger.  Annually about 1,300 people die every year due to hypothermia, some of whom were hikers.  In the year 2015, only one of those 1300 happened to be hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Richard Lemarr (age 50) was hiking in the Smokies when bad weather stormed in and took his life.  He was in such a remote location helicopters could not recover his body.  Officials had to wait for the storm to pass just to evacuate his body. This makes hypothermia not the biggest worry, but something even experienced hikers have overlooked.

Another common danger that occurs frequently on the trail is fire.  Fire is not always started by ignorant hikers or campers; in fact, many more occur because of thunderstorms.  Statistics show, in The Great Smokey Mountains alone there are at least two fires started every year due to lighting strikes. What’s interesting about this is the National Park Service let these fires burn as long as they do not threaten valuable property or human life.  Many endangered species receive many benefits because of the fires, scientific research shows that species like the mountain catchfly, white-leaf sunflower, purple fringeless orchid, dwarf larkspur, red-cockaded woodpecker, goldenseal, and Indian grass benefit tremendously because of these fires.  However, because of these fires sections of the trail frequently become closed down throughout the year, and especially in the hot dry summer months like May or June.  If one does not pay attention, they may find themselves stuck in a very heated situation.