AT thru-hikers, stalled by wildfires, share Thanksgiving meal - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

AT thru-hikers, stalled by wildfires, share Thanksgiving meal

Posted: Updated:
More than 50 Appalachian Trail hikers, most of which are southbound thru-hikers, gathered in Hot Springs, N.C. Thursday for a Thanksgiving meal. (Photo: WBIR) More than 50 Appalachian Trail hikers, most of which are southbound thru-hikers, gathered in Hot Springs, N.C. Thursday for a Thanksgiving meal. (Photo: WBIR)

(WBIR) - As wildfires continue to burn throughout the Southeast, dozens of southbound Appalachian Trail thru-hikers are stalled on Thanksgiving, just shy of completing their trek.

Fire restrictions are in place on much of the southern leg of the Appalachian Trail.

READ MORE | Appalachian Trail fire updates

The burn ban means no campfires for warmth on cold nights, as hikers are not allowed to light any kind of open flame. The only heat sources allowed are pressurized gas fuel camp stoves and backpacking stoves. Ongoing drought conditions are drying up water sources, and wildfires have closed more than 75 miles of the AT across several states.

NBC affiliate WBIR first met hiker Andrew Feeney earlier this month. All of the above has kept him camping out in Hot Springs, N.C.

That's where, on Thanksgiving Day, more than 50 hikers gathered in the town's Bill Whitten Community Center.

Many of those hikers were shuttled in from elsewhere on the trail by volunteers called trail angels.

On a day centered on family and food, Feeney is surrounded by both.

"The hiker community is unbelievable," the 24-year-old Connecticut native said. "There's been, like, a huge reunion today because there's people that I met in New Hampshire and Maine, saying good, and now they're here in Hot Springs because I've been here for 12 days."

"There's hikers here from all over the trail," hiker Leah Pelz agreed.

She started her southbound journey along the AT in mid-July.

"I'm in the middle of the Smoky Mountains right now, and the last couple days have been really smoky," Pelz said. "Like, smoky enough that it affects your breathing or it makes you a little sick to your stomach."

She would be less than a week out from the finish, if it weren't for the trail closures.

"When I first found out about the forest fires, it was rough," Pelz said. "At that point I had hiked 1,800 miles or something, and the idea that I wasn't going to be able to do that little chunk, like - I came here from Maine and now those 70 or 80 miles were going to be taken away from me?"

She plans on hiking up to the closure, shuttling around it and then hiking the rest.

Read more from our news partners at WBIR.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Early morning fire damages Hamilton Co. home

    Early morning fire damages Hamilton Co. home

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 3:24 AM EST2018-02-21 08:24:22 GMT
    Early Wednesday morning, a fire damaged a home in Hamilton County. According to officials the fire started around 1:30 a.m. on the 6100 block of Sam Smith Road, near the intersection with Birchwood Pike. It's believed the home was not occupied and no one was inside at the time.  As of right now no injuries are reported. As of 3 a.m., fire crews were able to get the fire under control and were working on extinguishing the fire.  The cause of the fire is unknown at this ti...More
    Early Wednesday morning, a fire damaged a home in Hamilton County. According to officials the fire started around 1:30 a.m. on the 6100 block of Sam Smith Road, near the intersection with Birchwood Pike. It's believed the home was not occupied and no one was inside at the time.  As of right now no injuries are reported. As of 3 a.m., fire crews were able to get the fire under control and were working on extinguishing the fire.  The cause of the fire is unknown at this ti...More
  • RECALL: Britax strollers due to a fall hazard

    RECALL: Britax strollers due to a fall hazard

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 2:33 AM EST2018-02-21 07:33:16 GMT

    Britax is recalling about 676,000 strollers due to a fall hazard that could dump an infant from the stroller. 

    More

    Britax is recalling about 676,000 strollers due to a fall hazard that could dump an infant from the stroller. 

    More
  • Trump focus on mental health after school shooting denounced

    Trump focus on mental health after school shooting denounced

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 12:52 AM EST2018-02-21 05:52:57 GMT
    The U.S. medical community is voicing mounting frustration over the Trump administration's focus on mental illness to fight mass violence.More
    The U.S. medical community is voicing mounting frustration over the Trump administration's focus on mental illness to fight mass violence.More
Powered by Frankly