Rescue crews saved three hikers in separate incidents along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia this weekend, as icy conditions led to falls and hypothermia.
Crews retrieved the first hiker in Bedford County after he fell at least 250 feet down a snow- and ice-covered mountainside; he suffered injuries to his face and legs as well as hypothermia. The rescue, which involved boats, rigging, and a helicopter, took approximately 9 hours and 40 minutes, according to a Facebook post by the Virginia Division 3 Technical Rescue Team, which was involved in two of the rescues.
The second rescue took place just two hours later, when Roanoke County Fire and Rescue responded to a call at the McAfee Knob parking lot at 12:15 p.m. The hiker, who had fallen down a steep embankment about a mile from the parking lot, suffered a head injury. Ground teams carried the injured hiker through icy terrain and over a creek, according to the department’s Facebook page.
The final incident occurred on Sunday in Rockbridge County, where more than 40 rescuers covered approximately 7 miles of trail to save a hiker who was suffering from cold- and fatigue-related injuries. According to the Virginia Division 3 Technical Rescue Team, rescuers transported the injured hiker out of the area and transferred them to a local hospital for treatment.
The accidents come after a spate of wintry weather swept across parts of the East Coast, coating several parts of the trail in snow. In a February 22 Facebook post, the technical rescue team encouraged anyone planning to hike while trails remain icy to plan ahead and take precautions.
“If planning to hike any trail system during winter months, please make sure that you are prepared for unknown trail [and] weather conditions,” the post said. “A simple fall could turn into an event like this, but being prepared will certainly help with the outcome.”