Hiker News Story

A recent survivor of a hike gone wrong has returned home to heal and is open to sharing his harrowing experience while lost for four days in the wild.

Recuperating in Liberty Hospital, 39-year-old Will Henderson wishes to one day return to finish his hike along the 3,000 mile Appalachian Trail, which took a turn for the worst during his most recent attempt.

“I broke the first rule of hiking, of course,” Henderson said. “I hiked alone.”

Henderson expresses his goal to hike the entire trail with a partner as soon as his leg heals.

During his time lost in Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Henderson had remained determined to see his family again.

“I had several pictures of my wife and two little girls,” Henderson said. “I looked at them a lot, especially when I got discouraged. I would spend a little time looking at those pictures, and then I would crawl a little bit more.”

It had taken Henderson four days to crawl back to the main trail after breaking his leg while wandering off the trail, a decision which forced him to discard most of his clothing and backpack contents. His clothes had become too wet to carry, and only served to slow his journey to find other hikers along the main trail.

Henderson recalls the relief of encountering two fellow hikers after reaching the trail again.

“I sure was happy when I heard those footsteps coming up behind me. Those guys thought I was some kind of animal at first. I guess I looked pretty rough.”

The hikers hesitated in approaching Henderson’s prone body until he began yelling for help.

If not for his knowledge of hiking and a fair supply of food, Henderson would never have made it out alive.

“If I had stayed where I was when I fell, I probably would still be there,” Henderson said. “At least, that’s what one of the park rangers said.”

Several days after being hospitalized in Knoxville, Henderson has made it to a hospital near home where he can rest easy once again.

Will Henderson, a 39-year-old high school teacher and experienced member of the National Hiking Association, was lost for four days while hiking the Appalachian Trail near a location known as Gregory Bald. He had been hiking for nearly 10 days before falling and breaking his leg after straying from the main path. Despite his injury and cumbersome 40 pound backpack, he was eventually found by two hikers and hospitalized soon after.

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