Hikers found after two nights
A Florida woman and her 13-year-old granddaughter spent two nights the woods, lost, before searchers rescued them.
Kris Plonski, 57, and granddaughter Maddie Anderson, of Fort Myers, Florida, took refuge in a hunter’s cabin they happened upon after getting lost Wednesday during what was supposed to be a day hike. They were finally located Friday morning around 9:30 a.m. after one of the longest lost hikers searches in recent memory.
Drew Ford of the U.S. Forest Service, with a search team from Cherokee County, found the missing hikers in the area of Queen Ridge and King Meadows Trail. The pair told searchers they had gotten off the trail and managed to find a hunter’s cabin which they used for shelter for two nights. Other than being exhausted, the pair was in good condition.
The hikers left The Junction on Big Snowbird Creek around 10 a.m. on Wednesday for a hike to Sassafras Falls and Middle Falls. The pair made a cell phone call around 1 p.m. that day stating they had been to Sassafras Falls and were enroute to Middle Falls. That was their last contact with family members since there is no cell phone coverage in most of that area.
That night, around 7 p.m., family members informed Graham County 9-1-1 dispatcher Patsy Cable that the pair had not returned. Members of the Graham County Rescue Squad, Snowbird, Meadow Branch and Stecoah Rescue units began searching. Family members also joined in the search.
Searchers began combing the Sassafras Falls Trail and Snowbird Creek Trail looking for the pair and covering a large area of the Big Snowbird Creek drainage. Searchers looked for the pair until around 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning. After a short break to regroup, employees of the U.S. Forest Service and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and a helicopter hired by the family joined in the search. After an all-day search with no results, concern was growing, and additional resources were called in for the search on Friday.
The search resumed Friday morning with additional searchers from Cherokee County, Swain County, and two search dog teams from the South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association based in Spartanburg.
To show their appreciation the search, the family provided a meal catered by Lynn’s Place Restaurant served at the New Hope Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Snowbird Road.