Hiker dies on trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

(Courtesy: WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A man died after having a medical problem during a hiking trip Saturday morning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Park rangers responded to the report of a man in cardiac distress on Alum Cave Trail around 10 a.m.

Philip Davenport, 47, passed out 3 miles away from the beginning of the trail. Bystanders performed CPR, but it was not enough to save him. The Nashville man was pronounced dead an hour later.

The victim was staying at Mt. Le Conte Lodge during his trip.


Hiking safety

“These trails that are up in here, they’re beautiful, you know,” Dale Teeters said.

Teeters hit the trails Monday planning to travel a few miles. He was hiking with walking sticks and a pack full of supplies.

“Just brought water and a flashlight just some snacks and stuff in case you get way back there and get a little hungry,” he said.

Those items are exactly what park rangers suggest even if you do not think your hike will be too strenuous.

“There’s nothing flat about this place. If it’s not up, it’s down. If it’s not down, it’s up,” said Backcountry Ranger Brian Eversole.

Backcountry rangers say they respond to about 100 calls for assistance inside the park each year.

There are 10 things they suggest every hiker should have on hand: navigation (a compass and map), insulation (a jacket or blanket), illumination (a flashlight or headlamp), first aid supplies, fire, a repair kit, food to last a couple days, water or a water filter, shelter, and sun protection.

“Anything can happen in the backcountry. Anybody can have a medical emergency at any time,” Eversole said.

Park rangers say one of the best things you can have on you is a park map that can be bought for one dollar at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. On one side it shows every trail inside the park and on the other has all kinds of safety information.

“If you choose right and keep things reasonable for your group you can have a great time out here and be safe,” Eversole said.

Having a “just in case” mentality can make all the difference if a leisurely stroll turns dangerous.

Rescue not always an easy thing in the mountains especially on trails.

“Just a small injury that immobilizes you can take a long time to get help to you, and if you’re really far back it can take days,” Eversole said.

For hikers like Teeters, it is better to be safe than sorry.

“You don’t never know what’s going to happen when you get back there. You may be left back there defenseless,” he said.

Rangers also suggest hiking in groups, not alone. That way if something does happen, you don’t have to wait for someone to find you before you can send for help.

More information about hiking safety can be found on the Great Smokies website.