ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A park ranger pulled three hikers off the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park Tuesday after they wandered into a section of the trail that is closed off due to a forest fire.
The trio said they saw the fire in the distance when they woke up Tuesday morning, and by lunchtime, the fire had come to them.
“We were sitting down at the creek, bathing and eating lunch when the smoke started coming in and we could see it and smell it,” said Kevin Sedgwick. “[I] was like, ‘Whoa this is getting close we should hike out.'”
After a park ranger drove them out of the park, they were left stranded on the side of the road at the Swift Run Gap entrance. They looked for a place to stay a few nights to wait the fire out. If the trail doesn’t reopen soon, the group may be forced to skip a portion of the trail. That’s something they’re hoping to avoid.
“Definitely would eat me if we missed four or five miles,” Sedgwick said. “When we get to Maine knowing that we missed that little section, yes that would be upsetting.”
But at the very least, they’ll have a story few other hikers will ever get to tell.
“Pretty wild to be hiking through smoke and having ashes coming down,” Sedgwick said.
He’s been hiking since November, while Norris started in February. Both started at the trail’s beginning in Georgia, and plan to finish in Maine by the end of June.
That fire has burned more than four thousand acres of Shenandoah National Park.