Lost In The Smoky Mountains

BY Herschel Smith
3 weeks, 5 days ago

Fox8:

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL FOREST, N.C. — A Tennesee teen last seen more than 10 days ago was found Tuesday afternoon after walking out of the Great Smoky Mountains, WLOS reports.

Austin Bohanan was found around 2:30 p.m. after walking out of the remote backcountry area near Tabcat Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to a National Parks Service statement.

He was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville, Tennessee.

Bohanan was reportedly last seen hiking off-trail in the remote southwest corner of the park on the evening of Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. He was reported missing around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13 to Blount County authorities.

On Tuesday, four search teams consisting of rangers from the parks Search and Rescue team, officers with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Authority and individuals with the Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue team (BUSAR) had a total of 19 people searching the area. The search continued with canine teams and other special search teams.

Bohanan “had light food and water and was not anticipating spending the night in the park,” according to park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders.

He spent eleven days in the Southern bush.  He was unprepared for what faced him and he’s blessed to be alive.  The rescue team made an official statement, to the effect that “From day one, we treated the search for Austin as an emergency and appreciate the resources from across the region that came to our aid to help us actively and aggressively search through extremely tough terrain,” said Park Chief Ranger Steve Kloster. “We faced multiple challenges, including a moving target in dense conditions, but our search teams never gave up hope.”

But it was Austin who self-rescued.

On Tuesday morning, rangers explained he woke up on a ridge and saw a boat and some kayaks on Abrams Creek below. He scrambled down to the water and waved to the boaters, who picked him up and gave him a ride to safety.

That’s not to diminish the efforts of the rescue team, but the higher probability rescue in this circumstance is self-rescue.  Even the rescue team had to have water and food assistance from the community to keep going.  The search area was 6700 acres, which is 10.469 square miles.  This may not seem like a lot, but in the back country in the South, it is an eternity of land.

This is what Austin and his rescuers faced.

Steep terrain, dense vegetation, deadfall, blowdown, and almost impenetrable bush.  But we’ve discussed in detail what you should carry with you even if you’re going for a day hike thinking that you’re not going to be far from the beaten path.

(1) heavy rubberized poncho, (2) 550 cord, (3) gun, (4) tactical light, (5) fire starter [redundant means], (6) knife [serrated edge], (7) water and fast food energy, and (8) parka.

I carry this in a day pack.  For eleven days, you can add to this list a container with which you can boil water.  With the rubberized poncho and cordage, you have shelter.  With the gun and tactical light you have protection.  With the knife you have virtually everything (never leave home without a knife).

In the South he could have encountered problems with Copperheads, Timber Rattlers, black bear, feral hogs and Coyotes.  Coyotes in the West may still travel as lone predators, but in the South they have learned to travel in packs.  Many hunters in these parts have gone out at dusk only to find five or six pairs of eyes staring at them and encircling them closer and closer.  Retreat is the best option at that point, but if Austin couldn’t have retreated, he would have needed a firearm, and possibly more ammunition.

If this seems like overkill, just remember when you go into the bush.  You’re not in control of everything – the bush gets a say.  Try to be wise about the things you do control.


Comments

  1. On August 24, 2017 at 10:20 am, Jim Sullivan said:

    Because you want facts, western coyotes hunt in packs as well. I have seen several work together if game is plentiful. I live in Arizona.

  2. On August 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm, Fred said:

    Nobody is coming to help you. Everything is your responsibility.

    That said, in this particular area on the TN side, leave word with friends and family to contact the LOCAL Sheriff in case you No Show. Never contact the feds or state first even if it’s federal or state ‘property’. Locals know.

    And, one untrained lost kid survived for 11 days so keep in mind dear fedies, what facing an army of locals out here would look like for you. Stay home.

  3. On August 25, 2017 at 5:58 pm, Dave said:

    “10.469 square miles. This may not seem like a lot, but in the back country in the South, it is an eternity of land.”

    NO! It’s not that this doesn’t “seem” like a lot; it’s NOT a lot.

    It makes me wonder if the size of the area is mis-reported. Because if it wasn’t,
    I will be damned if there is a place on the planet where it takes me 11 days to walk, at worst (i.e., the least lucky starting position), FOUR (4) miles.

    Unh-uh. This kid fucked up big time. By sheer dumb luck, walking in anything but repeated perfect circles would have ANYONE not physically disabled out by the next evening (i.e., a day and a half).

    ELEVEN DAYS?

  4. On August 25, 2017 at 6:16 pm, Dave said:

    Again, I’m sorry, but the size of the area HAS to be wrong. 19 people (trained rescue personnel) AND dogs, couldn’t find this kid for 11 days?

    No, the best explanation here is that he wasn’t there at all; but was somewhere else that he doesn’t want known. I mean, was he hospitalized afterward?

    Was he unconscious? Trapped under a downed tree? Playing hide-and-seek?

    With 20 people (minus dogs) a game of “Marco-Polo” should have had him home, warm in his bed, by nightfall. Or did all 20 (plus dogs) walk in a single-file from one side to the other, silently, hoping that their collective path would intersect the kid’s at precisely the moment he and they were at the intersection?

    Something doesn’t smell right here, but I wouldn’t trust the tracking-dogs used by the “rescuers” to pick up on it.

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You are currently reading "Lost In The Smoky Mountains", entry #17586 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Survival and was published August 23rd, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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