[Blanchard TWP, Maine – October 1, 2015] Two missing female through hikers were found safe on a flooded portion of Maine’s Appalachian Trail (AT). Amy McConaughy, 27, from Belair, Maryland and Kelly Wood, 25, from Nokesville, Virginia became stranded on a portion of the AT near Blanchard due to a flooded East Branch of the Piscataquis River.
At about 9:00 this morning, several Maine game wardens and two searchers with Mount Desert Island SAR located the two missing women near the intersection of the AT and the East Branch of the Piscataquis. Searchers also located another stranded hiker named Gabriel Grace, 26, from Baltimore, Maryland. All three were cold and wet but did have additional supplies. A Maine Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter responded with an air rescue basket and extracted the three hikers from the area, lifting them to safety at a nearby field. Without their help, this rescue would have been much more difficult.
The women had been dropped off Monday morning in Caratunk by Kelly Wood’s father. They had planned to be out Tuesday evening in Monson. When they did not arrive, the father called the Maine Warden Service yesterday at 2:00 PM. A northbound through hiker named Billy Lehman was identified in Monson who saw the two women on Tuesday, September 29, at about 7:00 PM. At that point he indicated they were about a mile southwest of the Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to. The hiker stated the women were camped and fine. He stayed at the lean-to until Wednesday morning when he continued on. He crossed the East Branch of the Piscataquis River and stated it was over his waist and flowing heavily. It quickly became evident that the two hikers likely became stranded near the lean-to due to the fast-flowing river crossing. A search soon focused on that area.
Both women were through-hikers from Georgia. McConaughy began her hike on April 1 and Wood started two days later on the 3rd. The women did not know each other prior to the hike but became friends while hiking. Gabriel Grace began his hike on March 9th in Georgia. The Maine Warden Service advises all hikers of Maine’s AT that rivers are currently very high and dangerous. People hiking the AT should bring with them good communication devices to aid in unforeseen mishaps such as this.