Time to Charge for Rescues in the Smokies?
A backpacker missing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for nearly a week is finally home safe and sound.
Albert "Morgan" Briggs, 70, was found in good condition in the Smokies backcountry on Saturday afternoon.Briggs had planned a four day off-trail hike. But he got off track very quickly.
"What happened was, he made a wrong turn and got off the old trail and got into a drainage and onto a ridge and became lost," said Tennessee District Ranger Steve Kloster.
Briggs ended up in an area of heavy vegetation and extremely steep terrain.An experienced hiker, he knew he had to get to a high point if he was going
to be found alive. So he hoofed 5,000 feet up Porters Mountain and stayed until
he was spotted.
That's the story in a nutshell.
Over 40 searchers looked for him. He had planned to be off-trail. He probably would have defended his right to be off-trail. But as soon as he didn't get back home on time, someone called the park and the rescue wheels were set in motion.
Now it's time to ask again if the park shouldn't charge for rescues. Only a few weeks ago, a woman jumped into the Little River. She was found a few days later - safe and sound.
Other parks and National Forests charge. I don't know if they're able to collect on their bill but at least the message is that "if you go into the woods, you should be on your own." Otherwise, we'll charge for our service.