Appalachian Trail Histories


A detailed account of the 2016 bear attack

For the 2016 hiking year, only one bear attack has been reported.  The attack was at Spence Field located in the Smokie Mountains National park.  The victim was a thru-hiker, Bradley Veeder, better known by his trail name "peachpeak." On May 10th he hiked from the Fontana Dam shelter over to Spence Field, about 17 miles away.  Before reaching the shelter he was met by AT trail mountaineers who informed him that the shelter was over-occupied and recommended him to the field roughly 200ft away from the shelter.  After pitching his tent, he came down to the shelter to cook/eat dinner, hang up his bag on the bear cables, and get water.  Sometime after he returned to his tent and was asleep around 8pm. 


Sometime around 10:30pm peachpeak awoke with an excruciating pain in his right calf.  He described the pain as “like my calf was being squeezed in a vise.”  A bear had ripped through his tent and bitten hold of his leg. He began to shout “No, bear! Go away!” The bear withdrew but did not leave.  Peachpeak curled up in fear the bear might return through the hole in the tent.  Soon the tent started being rustled, and peachpeak continued to shout “No bear! Back off!” as loud as he could. Hoping the bear had left he began to reach for the tent zipper.  At that very moment the bear attacked again, and once again a shout paused the attack from the bear once again.  After roughly 10 minutes of silence, peachpeak put on his shoes and a warm jacket, grabbed his coat and made a break for the shelter.  Once he arrived one of the other hikers gave him aid until a park ranger was able to properly clean the wound and take him to a hospital where his wounds would be taken care of properly. 


Peachpeak was very fortunate to only of had been bitten once.  His surviving injuries were a sore throat and minor puncture wounds approximately 1”-1.5” deep.  Rumors have been spread that Peachpeak used coconut oil and rubbed it on his legs before bed, however this has been found untrue said the man himself.  “The false “Coconut Oil Rumor” keeps being retold.  I didn’t use sunblock or insect repellent on the AT. I did have an unopened, unused tube of sunscreen in my pack. The GSMNP rangers determined that it was ‘unlikely to be an attractant’.”  So what caused the attack?  According to the park rangers, they believe the attack was caused by the natural curiosity of bears.  They stated that bears were opportunists that when unsure, would bite things to see if they were food.  Of course this is not the most comforting notion, don’t forget.  For the whole hiking season of 2016 one attack doesn’t seem so bad considering several thousand visited the trail this year.