June 14, 2005
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Two students out for a day hike got lost last weekend in the wilds of Haywood County, living on beef jerky and water for three days before they emerged from the wilderness.
Cliff McKenzie and Kyle Messier, both students at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, headed into the Middle Prong Wilderness Area near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Saturday for a rugged experience. They got it _ huddling together one night at 5,000 feet altitude to keep warm.
They limped out Monday afternoon bruised and scratched.
"The trail kind of went into a valley and turned into a field of grass and rhododendron," said McKenzie, who also blamed a broken compass for the disorientation.
More than 70 emergency services employees and volunteers turned out to search until the hikers found their own way out about 1:30 p.m. Monday.
"We have about 50 or 60 searches a year, primarily in the wilderness areas," said Greg Shuping, director of Haywood County Emergency Services. "A lot of times we have people who underestimate the terrain and the weather."
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com