One of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's first Appalachian Trail Ridge Runner 70 year old Albert "Morgan" Briggs is the subject of a large search stared Wednesday by rangers and volunteers who have already hiked numerous trails and interviewed other hikers who may have seen this experienced backpacker who is now long overdue from a hiking trip.
Mr. Briggs of 1008 Trotter Way in Pigeon Forge started out last Saturday by hiking up the Porters Creek Trailhead where he was left off up to campsite #31 a group of hikers believe they had seen Mr. Briggs.
Mr. Albert Briggs planned on Sunday to hike up the manway another 2,000 feet in elevation higher up to the Appalachian Trail where he would then hike about another mile to the Icewater Springs shelter where he would spend Sunday night. Log books in the Icewater Springs shelter do not indicate he had ever made it there.
On Monday his plan was to hike from the Icewater shelter about 6 miles to the Mount LeConte shelter where also according to log books he did not stay.
It was first reported that the final leg of Albert Morgan Briggs hiking trip was on Tuesday morning to hike from the Mount LeConte almost 5 miles down the Alum Cave Trail to the Newfound Gap Road (US 441) where he expected to hitch a ride back to Pigeon Forge, but it is now believed he may also wanted to have hiked down Le Conte either via Rainbow Falls or Bull Head Trail both of which end up in the Roaring Fork section of the park on Cherokee Orchard Road.
Albert Morgan Briggs is a white male 70 years of age, 5‘8, 180 lb. with balding white hair, white beard and a mustache. He wears wire frame glasses, has no mustache, blue eyes. He was reportedly wearing brown Danner hiking boots with vibram soles, a green 2 piece rain suit, and blue jeans or khaki slacks.
Poor visibility for days has plagued the upper elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains national park where Mr. Briggs was last seen and the past few days' rain will have made tracking him even more difficult.
Searchers are still concentrating their efforts in the off trail area Mr. Briggs planed to hike in Greenbrier while 5 additional teams of searchers are looking for Mr. Brigs on other possible trails.
Though I have solo hiked all the trails in the GSM national park as well as all of the major manways numerous times, this particular off trail hike I have never attempted alone due to the less than ideal conditions reported to me by those who have completed this hike.
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