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  1. #1
    Senior Member Oper8or's Avatar
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    Smoky Mountain Trip - Abrams Creek 7-5-2012

    I'm setting here still amazed. One because I've had a restored faith in people. Let me explain the trip. It was of course short because of what happened. I'm not going to go into all of the details, it is way to much right now. I'm still processing everything that happened. We are all sore, tired, and just flat out happy to be alive.

    We got 1/4 mile past site 1 on the abrams trail and my daughter got tired. Keep in mind this was her first (AND LAST) trip. My son talked me into flipping a coin. well we didnt have a coin so we used a small river rock that had a smooth side and a rough side. Smooth side was up so we went back to camp site 1 instead of continuing on to site 2 as planned. We set up camp and sat around for a while. My son got into his hammock and was sleeping when he felt what he called a tug on the bottom of the hammock. Nothing pulled on it and it wasnt rubbing on anything. Then all of a sudden "riiiiiiiiiiiiip". A big rip went from his left hip to his right hip. The hammock split right down the middle. It's the walmart hammock!! he's well within the weight limit so we dont understand that. Anyway, 1 hammock down with another still up and a single man tent...sigh. So he laid in my hammock and my daughter and I went hiked back down near the camp ground to swim at around 3:00PM. The water was warm and it felt good. We went back to camp at 4:40ish. We talked for a few minutes and decided to hike back out and go home to get a refund on his hammock.

    Now this is when the SHTF. About 10 minutes into the hike back we heard thunder. We thought okay, no big deal we have pack covers and ponchos. We got a little farther, maybe 100 FT, and this wind just hit. I've never seen anything like this up close and personal before. We hear some cracking and popping around us. A tree falls on the ridge to our left. Another on the ridge to the right. We start trucking it out of there. When the gusts hit I made the kids stop, put their heads on a swivel and watch the trees. My kids were brave. I'm VERY proud of my son. He kept as calm and collected as you can be in this. 6 more trees fall behind us then we hear the wind REALLY pick up. It sounded like a train coming accross the mountain. Another tree snapped down to our left near the river and smashes into the river. We can barely see or hear anything but wind, tree branches, and debris. We had tree limbs falling on us from every which way. Another gust came. Even bigger this time. A large tree on our right twisted and snapped falling right at us. We ran back up the trail going the opposite way it was falling. It hit the ground no farther than 15ft from us. The gust was still going. We watched the trees, waiting. When the gust let off a little we ran as fast as we could the rest of the way. When a gust would pick up, we would stop and watch. Hoping and praying another one wasnt coming at us.

    We made it to the camp ground. I put my daughter and my son up at the bathrooms. They already had a little girl in there doing the best they could with her. Another lady had multiple injuries. The roads were blocked, no way to the car. Two other men and I started clearing a path using his truck an axe and brute force to clear the road to the ranger station. We made it to the station to find out there were A LOT more trees down. I got my car and drove back and got the kids and took them to the station. Then we heard there were people trapped and in serious need of help. A group of campers and a hiker went back to help them. The other two men and I kept clearing trees. It was like the whole side of that ridge just dumped on the road. We made it pretty far up when we heard the chainsaws. The ranger and some emergency workers ran down the road to us. From that point on I was driving crew and equipment back and forth between the injured people who needed help and the ranger station.

    The biggest thing I have to say is I'm thankful. The police, EMT's, Resuce Squad, Rangers, AND the campers/hikers all worked together to get these people out and to the hospital. I'm sad to say, very sad, that one person in this didnt make it. I've never seen people work together like this. Someone told us something that I found odd. I didnt really think of it this way, but I suppose its true. They stated you are survivors, you did what you had to do to save lives. I'm brused and sore. My daughter and son are fine. I'm still a little shaken by the whole thing and I still havent caught up with reality yet. Everything happened so fast. I'm sorry people got hurt and even killed. That feels odd even saying that. But I'm just happy everyone else is safe.

    There is a whole other part of this story too. The added reason we left. The reason another family and another hiker were right behind us.

    Thank you guys. My daughter said she will never go back. My son,,,, well, he asked me about an hour ago "when do you wan to go again". I'm proud of them both but my son kept his cool and kept his sister safe and helped who he could when he could. This isnt going to keep me or my son from going.
    I am me and no one else can be me without my permission.

    My Youtube page.

  2. #2
    New Member ricksrover2's Avatar
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    You need some kind of hammock camper award for ruffing the worst ... (i know some way have had worse be it cold or hot) im glad you and your kids made it unscathed

  3. #3
    grannypat's Avatar
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    Just amazing. You definately had angels looking after you!

  4. #4
    Senior Member ShadowAlpha's Avatar
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    Oper8or glad to hear you & the kids are ok! I know that sound of a train - but can't imagine dodging falling trees. You are a survivor & all the others. A hero for helping the injured. Someone has other plans for you.

  5. #5
    richtorfla's Avatar
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    Glad you all are safe. A lot of us were wondering about ya'll when it was reported that the storm was blowing through gsmnp! Great that you all banded together to help each other out. Amazing story! Truly you all are hero's in my book! What does mom think about what you all experienced?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Oper8or's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richtorfla View Post
    Glad you all are safe. A lot of us were wondering about ya'll when it was reported that the storm was blowing through gsmnp! Great that you all banded together to help each other out. Amazing story! Truly you all are hero's in my book! What does mom think about what you all experienced?
    Well I actually thought about that after I drove the kids to the station. I thought she would say "never again". She did say that, to herself before she knew we were okay, but after we got home she said to just be careful and that she loves us. Does it scare her? Heck yes but she understands that it is a passion I have. I just want to be out there. I'll tell you what, there is nothing like coming home to the wife and that first hug. I'm a lucky man.
    I am me and no one else can be me without my permission.

    My Youtube page.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Oper8or's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricksrover2 View Post
    You need some kind of hammock camper award for ruffing the worst ... (i know some way have had worse be it cold or hot) im glad you and your kids made it unscathed
    My reward is my kids being here safe with me. That is all I could ever ask for.

    Quote Originally Posted by grannypat View Post
    Just amazing. You definately had angels looking after you!
    I know we did. Like I said, which I'll post more on this in a moment, there was a plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowAlpha View Post
    Oper8or glad to hear you & the kids are ok! I know that sound of a train - but can't imagine dodging falling trees. You are a survivor & all the others. A hero for helping the injured. Someone has other plans for you.
    Thank you, I just hope those plans dont involve anything like that ever again!!
    I am me and no one else can be me without my permission.

    My Youtube page.

  8. #8
    richtorfla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oper8or View Post
    Well I actually thought about that after I drove the kids to the station. I thought she would say "never again". She did say that, to herself before she knew we were okay, but after we got home she said to just be careful and that she loves us. Does it scare her? Heck yes but she understands that it is a passion I have. I just want to be out there. I'll tell you what, there is nothing like coming home to the wife and that first hug. I'm a lucky man.
    Good! Nothing like getting the hug from the wife when you return home, be it from the grocery store or a weekend overnighter! Glad all is well. Hope the daughter rebounds and tries to go out with pa and brother again!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Oper8or's Avatar
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    And now, for the rest of the story.

    My son's hammock wasnt the final reason we left to come home. There was a tent in the middle camp. No one had been at the tent all day, that we knew of. My son stayed at our camp while my daughter and I went swimming. While he was asleep a gentleman named Mike came back to his tent at the site. My daughter and I came back. We packed up and started heading out. We checked the tent again. It was really dishoveled. We had a woman get attacked at Elkmont and a young man was murdered not more than a week ago near our area of the mountains. We looked in the tent and found a brand new sleeping bag and a set of keys. This kind of freaked us out. Plus the poles were broken which made it look like there had been a struggle. We grabbed the keys and in fear that someone was hurt, lost, or worse. We passed 4 guys before the storm hit and asked if they had heard of anyone asking for lost keys.. maybe just maybe something happened and he rushed out, who knows at this point. Unknown to us he knew we were at the site and thought we stole his stuff. He was 10 minutes behind us on the trail. He spoke with the 4 guys as well and at that point he knew we didnt steal anything. He was trying to catch up to us when it all hit. If he had not of been coming after the "theives" he would have been in the river fishing, which is where he had been the whole time before this moment. He was fishing in an area where a number of trees fell. After everything was said and done we got his keys back to him. Come to find out he has been up in the mountains for 2 weeks. Mike (the owner of the keys) and I sat up until 3 AM last night talking. I'm not the only one who had an angel on my shoulder. Many people were looked over last night.

    To be honest I made some very good friends last night. Mike being one of them. He's a hammock guy too. We talked about gear for a few hours. He didnt have a stove, well he does but its a heavy one, so I gave him my home made alchy stove and my wind screen. I can make another. We plan on communicating and keeping in touch. We also plan on hiking together and enjoying the outdoors. After everything that happened it was nice to just set down and talk to someone and calm down.
    I am me and no one else can be me without my permission.

    My Youtube page.

  10. #10
    Prefers life at 12 MPH. FLRider's Avatar
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    Wow. Just...wow.

    I'm immensely grateful that you and yours are all safe and sound. That's...that's the most amazing story I've ever heard. You got through what was probably the worst storm you'll (or anyone else you'll ever know) experience in your life, with nothing worse than being tired and sore.

    I hope that all your future trips have endings as good as this one did.

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