Two separate hikers were rescued off the Appalachian Trail in Virginia last weekend after braving the ice conditions the recent winter storm left behind.
On February 20 at 11:04 am, the Virginia Division 3 Technical Rescue Team made a post on their Facebook page: “C shift personnel currently en route to Bedford County for hiker in distress. Will update as more information is available.”
The hiker had fallen 250 feet down a snow-and-ice-covered portion of the mountainside near Big Island and the James River Foot Bridge in Bedford County, according to the rescue team. A Virginia State Police helicopter was dispatched to assist in removing the hiker from the embankment.
It took nearly nine hours to rescue the injured hiker and send them off to medical services. The hiker was suffering from hypothermia and had injuries to the legs and face and was in stable condition.
The next day at 5:42 pm, the rescue service posted a similar status: “A shift personnel en route to the Appalachian Trail in the area of yesterday’s call for an injured hiker. Will update as more information is available.”
The rescue team was responding again to an injured hiker who took a fall on the Appalachian Trail, this time in Roanoke County.
The Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department reported on Facebook that the hiker fell from the Sawtooth Trail, an A.T. connector trail from McAfee and Dragons Tooth. The hiker was nearly a mile from the parking lot when they fell down a steep embankment and suffered a head injury, according to officials. Rescuers carried the hiker off the trail and through the steep and icy terrain. The hiker was reported to be hospitalized and in stable condition.
In a social media post summarizing the second event, the Virginia Division 3 Technical Rescue Team urged hikers to be prepared and stay informed before heading out to the trail.
“If planning to hike any trail system during winter months, please make sure that you are prepared for unknown trail, weather conditions,” the post stated, “A simple fall could turn into an event like this, but being prepared will certainly help with the outcome.”
They also included a helpful link to a list of appropriate winter hiking gear, which can be found here: https://www.outdoors.org/…/gear-advice/winter-gear-guide