Missing Tennessee Hiker Found Safe

by Jennifer Shea
missing-tennessee-hiker-found-safe

A hiker who disappeared into Great Smoky Mountains National Park turned up the day after he went missing.

National Park Service rangers found Fred Braden Jr. of Powell, Tennessee late Wednesday afternoon, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. He had disappeared on a day hike to Indian Flat Falls off the Middle Prong Trail, which is in the Tremont area near North Carolina.

Lost Hiker in the Great Smoky Mountains

“Braden did not sustain any major injuries during his overnight experience in the backcountry and rangers are currently assisting him to the trailhead for further assessment,” officials said in a press release. “No information is available at this time regarding the circumstances that led to Braden being lost.”

Family members had reported Braden, 56, missing on Tuesday night. He was hiking by himself when he disappeared. Rangers reportedly came across his car at the trailhead; they did not say what type of car the hiker had. A fisherman claimed to have spoken to Braden at about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

About 30 people participated in the hunt for Braden, according to the News & Observer. They searched more than 20 acres of off-trail areas and 30 miles of park trails.

The Middle Prong Trail

The Middle Prong Trail runs for 8.3 miles past three waterfalls, smaller falls, cataracts and cascades. It looks like a gravel road but was in fact a railroad bed that was used by a lumber company to cart logs out of the area. 

Braden avoided injury during his overnight stay in the rugged terrain. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds. And he was wearing a gray sweatshirt over a red T-shirt with light jogger pants, black and red tennis shoes and a brown corduroy JanSport backpack, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported. 

Park officials told the Citizen-Times that they conduct roughly 100 search and rescue operations per year in the park.

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