Friday, January 11, 2008

Trail Safety by Gut Instinct

There's an article in the Gainesville (GA) Times on 10 January 2008, written by Debbie Gilbert, and titled "Safe hiking: Trust your instincts." It provides some of the 'backstory' that preceded Meredith Emerson's murder, particularly comments from people who had met or observed the accused murderer. Here are a few paragraphs out of the middle of the article:
"A lot of hikers had a "gut feeling" about Gary Michael Hilton, the 61-year-old man who has been charged with Emerson’s murder. The two met near Blood Mountain on New Year’s Day, and Hilton allegedly killed Emerson in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area three days later.

"'This guy’s been on our radar since March,' said Winton Porter, owner of Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, a hiking gear store located on U.S. 129 east of Blood Mountain, very close to the parking lot where Emerson left her car on Jan. 1.

Porter said Hilton, who was apparently homeless, spent months migrating up and down the Appalachian Trail.

"'He was squatting at the Gooch Gap shelter,' Porter said. 'He knew that according to Forest Service rules, he could stay at a shelter for two weeks, leave for a day, then stay another two weeks. He had (stuff) scattered all over the shelter. He took over the place and wouldn’t let anyone else stay there. We also had reports of him at Slaughter Gap shelter a couple weeks ago'."
A couple of state park officials are also quoted, as are an ATC rep and others. We'll probably never know whether or why Emerson trusted Hilton when others thought there was something fishy about him. Read this article, though.

Be aware out there on the Trail.

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