A Rescue in the Cohutta

11:34 a.m. on April 23, 2002 (EDT)

a.k.a. Scott, Scott M

This past Saturday my wife, her brother, and myself decided to go backpacking at the last minute. Since it was a spur of the moment decision we decide to go to the nearby Cohutta Wilderness in north Georgia.

Anyway, by the time we pack and leave Atlanta we don't get to the trailhead until 5:30 pm. We are going to hike East Cowpen to Panther Creek Trail to the top of panther creek falls and camp. It's about a 3.5 mile hike down some rather steep grades.

My wife's brother is new to backpacking and not in the best shape so the hike takes us a while and we get down to panther creek falls sometime after 8:00 pm....just before sunset. We drop our packs and begin scoping out camping spots and find we pretty much have the place to ourselves. My wife goes a little farther down trail to the top of the waterfall to see if we can see the sunset. When she gets there she finds a man, Don, sitting on a rock yelling for help.

Don had been at the bottom of the falls taking pictures when he slipped and fell backwards. Dislocating his shoulder. He is shaking badly and seems to be going into shock but he is able to tell us that there man, Jim, looking for Don's campsite. Jim is going to back up all of Don's gear and bring it back. Jim makes it back eventually and we get out Don's cellphone and call the Cohutta Ranger station and are given the after hours emergency number.

We mull over the options of trying to hike Don out ourselves or call for a rescue. At this time Don is very weak and has a very hard time walking. We decide that since the sun has now set and it's 3.5 miles uphill to our cars that we call the emergency number. We are actually able to make a call and get in touch with the Chatsworth, GA emergency response center. They dispatch a rescue team at 8:45 pm and they hope to reach us by 12:30 am.

Not knowing what else to do we take Don back to our campsite and wrap him up in a sleeping back. We feed him and give him water and advil to ease his pain. Fortunately, the shock seems to go away although he is still in grea pain.

Right on time at 12:30 am we see the flashlights of the rescue team approaching. They came in via the Conasauga river trail and hike up to get to us. They check out Don and make sling for him. By this time he is able to walk better and it is decided to have him walk a couple of miles downhill to the waiting ATV 3 wheelers.

I found out the next day that they reached the ATVs around 5:30 am and were able to get him to the hospital by 7:00 am. I don't know if it turned out to be just a dislocated shoulder or not.

It was an eye opening experience for me. Had he not had a cell phone I imagine I would have had to have hike out in the dark to my car or waited until morning.

May 20, 2018
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