Three stranded Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, two of whom had been reported missing Wednesday, were rescued Thursday morning from a flooded portion of the trail in Blanchard Township by a Maine Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.
Amy McConaughy, 27, from Belair, Maryland; Kelly Wood, 25, from Nokesville, Virginia; and Gabrielle Grace, 26, from Baltimore, Maryland, became stranded on a portion of the trail near Blanchard after the East Branch of the Piscataquis River flooded, Cpl. John MacDonald, of the Maine Warden Service, said in a news release Thursday.
Wood’s father had reported his daughter and McConaughy missing Wednesday when they didn’t arrive in Monson as planned.
The three were found about 9 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of the trail and the East Branch after a search by wardens and Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue and information from another hiker who had seen the women Tuesday.
The three were “cold and wet” but otherwise all right, and they had enough supplies, according to the release. They were lifted with an air rescue basket and taken to a nearby field. MacDonald said that without the National Guard’s help “this rescue would have been much more difficult.”
Wood and McConaughy had been dropped off Monday morning in Caratunk by Wood’s father. They had planned to be in Monson by Tuesday. The father called the Warden Service at 2 p.m. Wednesday after the women did not arrive. A northbound thru-hiker, Billy Lehman, said he saw the two women about 7 p.m. Tuesday in Monson, about a mile southwest of the Horseshoe Canyon lean-to, and they were “camped and fine,” according to MacDonald.
Lehman said the East Branch of the Piscataquis River was more than waist high and flowing heavily when he crossed it Wednesday morning.
“It quickly became evident that the two hikers likely became stranded near the lean-to due to the fast-flowing river crossing,” MacDonald said in the release. “A search soon focused on that area.”
All three hikers started in Georgia. Grace began her hike on March 9, McConaughy on April 1 and Wood April 3. McConaughy and Wood didn’t know each other before the hike, but they became friends while hiking, according to the release.
Rivers are high and dangerous, MacDonald noted in the release, and the Maine Warden Service advises hikers to bring good communication devices in case of “unforeseen mishaps such as this.”