Hiking Accident Prevention: Losing The Trail In The Great Smoky Mountains

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Cautionary Tales For Back Country Hikers


Mother-Daughter Hike Ends In Grief


In October 2018, Mitzie Susan Clements, 53 and her daughter were on their way down, while hiking Clingman’s Dome – Forney Ridge Trail, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Her 20-year-old daughter, who was hiking ahead of her, lost sight of her mother.

After a week-long search, Mitzie Clements’ body was found in a rugged off-trail area, typified by very thick vegetation and a steep, very rocky hillside.  The cause of death was hypothermia.  A helicopter removed her remains. 

At the time of their hike, the weather conditions were foggy, and temperatures were in the 40s.  According to a park official, it was raining, and approaching darkness, making it difficult to miss trail intersections.  

News articles about this story are provided in the highlighted links listed below.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina,  is the most visited national park in the United States.

Online News Sources

Asheville Citizen-Times, October 4, 2018 Great Smokies hiker found dead this week is 11th death in park this year. By Karen Chavez

Asheville Citizen-Times, October 4, 2018 – Staying safe in the outdoors: Hiking death in Great Smokies a reminder of forest dangers,  By Karen Chavez

Citizen-Times.com (Citizen Times) April 3, 2019 Autopsy Reveals Cause of Death For Woman Who Went Missing in Great Smoky Mountains,  By Karen Chavez

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Trip Planning Resources For Hikers and Backpackers


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