Cohutta hikers stranded during severe storm describe their ordeal
A hike and a short overnight visit to the Cohutta Wilderness for a father and son turned into a weekend-long ordeal.
Brad Hobbs and his 10 year-old son, Bridger, arrived at the Cohutta Wilderness last Friday afternoon from the Atlanta area, where they live. They were planning a hike and a short overnight visit, but it turned into a weekend-long ordeal.
They were resting from a long afternoon of exploring the trails. It was Bridger's first time in this area. Then, in the middle of the night, a severe storm woke them up.
"Just constant, constant flashing. Three or four flashes every second, easily, and it just kept going like that for hours," recalls Brad.
They were in a hollow, so they didn't hear the wind, but soon they heard something much more frightening.
"You hear the trees cracking and falling. Branches would just snap and you'd hear them crash. That was the scariest thing," says Brad.
He's is an experienced hiker, and Bridger started at an early age, but this was the worst storm they had been through and they didn't know where to find shelter. All they could do was hunker down by their camp site, about 20 feet from the river.
"I was really only scared of getting really cold and wet," says Bridger.
More Information | Volunteer to help clear debris
This wilderness is a pretty tough area, but Bridger's a pretty tough kid.
The storm ended not long before sunrise on Saturday, then they worked together to get out. However, many trails were blocked by debris or led back to the river.
They had to wait for the rising water to recede. Some of their supplies had been washed away and Bridger was left with only sandals to wear for the walk.
"My feet were bruised and blistered and bleeding when I came out," adds Bridger.
They finally made it out late Sunday afternoon, greeted by some volunteers and a rescue team from Murray County that radioed the sheriff who then contacted the rest of the Hobbs family.
"We were whooping and hollering because we were happy,' says Brad. "The guys came running around the corner and saw us and said they're here, they're here! Then they offered us a bunch of food. They're the greatest people."
Despite the scare, Brad and Bridger say they won't stay off the trails and stop enjoying the outdoors.
"We're going to be back out there soon," they say.
According to the U.S. Forestry Service, the Cohutta Wilderness area will be closed to the public until the debris is cleared.