6.16 — Hiker

pages 121–122

A local high school teacher was lost for four days while hiking on the Appalachian trail in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park with a broken leg until found by other hikers.

Will Henderson, 39-year-old biology teacher at Jefferson high school, is a member of National Hiking Association, so he has experience and this was not a rookie mistake. He had gotten off the trail near a place called Gregory Bald.

There, Henderson tried to cross the stream when he slipped and broke his leg. Henderson is an experienced hiker and had packed plenty of food and water for his adventure. He started in Georgia and made it to Tennessee where he was planning on meeting a group of friends in Knoxville.

Henderson was 10 days into his journey when he fell and broke his leg. After his fall, Henderson used some sticks and string to fashion himself a splint for his leg. Then he began to crawl. Henderson crawled for four days trying to make it back to the main Appalachian trail where he knew he would be eventually found.

“I never doubted that I would be found. I got discouraged sometimes, but I figured that I had plenty of food and thought that if I could get back to the trail — particularly the main Appalachian Trail because it’s so busy — somebody would come along before long,” Henderson said.

The Appalachian Trail is nearly 3,000 miles long, stretching from Georgia to Main. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in the country, so Henderson knew that he would be found eventually.

Henderson was found by a pair of guys, where one of them stayed with him and the other went for help. The man who stayed with him, made sure that Henderson did not fall asleep and go into shock. Henderson had to push his 40-pound back while crawling through the bush and forest floor. He has to loose some of his clothes because they got wet and where too heavy to push anymore. However, he kept his food.

“Besides food, I did manage to keep a few small things with me. I had several pictures of my wife and two little girls,” Henderson stated, “I looked at them a lot, especially when I got discouraged. I would spend a little time looking at those pictures, and then would crawl a little bit more.”

Henderson plans on eventually completing the Appalachian Trail some day soon, the whole trail from Georgia to Maine.

“but I guess I’ll have to wait until I get my leg in shape first,” Henderson said.