Three hikers from Gaffney who were stranded on the Appalachian Trail have been airlifted to a North Carolina hospital.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park information officer Kent Cave said park rangers located the hikers and provided them with proper sleeping bags and warm clothes. The hikers were being treated for hypothermia and possible frostbite.
The men, identified as 21-year-old Jonathan Dobbins, 25-year-old Steven White and 32-year-old Shawn Hood, set out Thursday on a 10-day backpacking trip from Fontana Dam, but were ill-prepared for the hike, Cave said.
Severe wind and snow Thursday afternoon and night further hampered their hike. The portion of the trail they hiked Thursday was steep, causing them to become exhausted, cold and wet, Cave said.
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"Last night there was blowing snow and single digit temperatures with the wind chill factor at 20 below zero," Cave said.
The hikers also were wearing cotton clothing, which is not advised for freezing temperatures, he said.
The hikers called authorities Thursday night, and rangers set out early Friday to locate them.
"It was difficult for rangers to be out there in those conditions," Cave said. "They were about five miles up the Appalachian Trail. Fortunately, they stayed on the trail, so that helped rangers get to them."
The men were flown to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., on Friday afternoon.