A 22 year old woman who was hiking in Pisgah National Forest in the North Carolina area of the Great Smoky Mountains was reported missing when she did not return from her hike at 6:00 pm last night.
A command post for the search and rescue operations was set up on Turkey Pen Gap Trail off Asheville Highway while the main hiking trails and woods close by were being thoroughly searched by members of the N Transylvania County Fire Department and the Mills River Fire and Rescue until 3 am this morning when the search for the missing hiker was called off. Early this morning the search for the hiker recommenced.
The lost female hiker is presumed to be hiking alone and thankfully last night was not as cold as it has been for previous weeks although she could easily have succumbed to hypothermia if she was not properly equipped.
When hiking in the Smoky Mountains during the winter it is crucial that you are equipped and trained on how to survive the night when temperature can easily go below freezing.
It's easy for even a hiker who knows an area well to be slowed down or detoured by an animal encounter, injury, unexpected trail blockage, or dangerous stream crossing where you may have to spend the night.
Hikers need to understand that even in the summer, night time temperatures in the higher elevations of the Smoky Mountains can pose a serious risk to unprepared or inexperienced hikers and campers.