OCTOBER SUPERSTORM “SANDY” HITS THE SMOKIES

Snow in The Smokies is a common occurance in the winter – especially in the higher elevations – but snow drifts of 5 feet? And before Halloween? Unbelievable.

Here’s an Associated Press quote from a local newspaper describing a man that got caught on the Appalachian Trail between Pecks Corner and Tri-Corner Knob Shelter:

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — A man trying to hike the entire 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail was rescued Friday after calling 911 to say he didn’t think he’d be able to make it out of a section in Tennessee because he was blocked by snowdrifts up to 5 feet high.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokeswoman Molly Schroer said rescuers used two helicopters to lift out 56-year-old Steven Ainsworth, of Washington, N.C. Schroer says Ainsworth was airlifted to a Gatlinburg airport and then transferred to a medical center in Sevierville for evaluation. LeConte Medical Center spokeswoman Amanda Palletz said he was in stable condition.

Schroer said Ainsworth started his trip in June, heading south from Maine, determined to hike the trail end-to-end in a single season. The trek is known as a thru-hike. The trail ends in north Georgia, so Ainsworth was nearing the finish.

Ainsworth had started this section of the trail at Davenport Gap on Monday, Schroer said.

Some higher elevations of East Tennessee started getting snow from Superstorm Sandy on Monday, and by Thursday, the 6,600-foot Mount LeConte on the Tennessee side of the mountain range had received 32 inches of snow.

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And it wasn’t any easier for seasoned Park personnel…

The park sent two rangers on foot to try to reach him Thursday. But after a nine-hour hike in steep terrain, high winds and 4- to 5-foot drifts, they had to temporarily take shelter in a cabin to rest.

So this Hurricane Sandy is the real deal. It packed a mean punch for a Category 1 storm. Think it’ll be an early winter, or is this just a freak occurance? Guess we’ll know soon enough.


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