Park officials announced today that a body, believed to be that of a missing hiker, has been found in the park.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers have discovered a body matching the description of missing hiker Jenny Bennett in the Lester Prong area of Greenbrier, above campsite 31 on Monday, June 8, 2015.
According to a post on the Hike The Smokies Facebook group by Peter Bennett, brother of the Jenny Bennett, he reported his sister missing to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, June 6 after being contacted by her landlord. He informed them that she was an avid hiker who may be in the park and that she may have been missing since at least June 1, when she failed to show up for a meeting.
Dana Soehn, spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said park officials were notified Bennett was missing on June 7. Her vehicle was located at the Porters Flat Trailhead later that evening. An area wide search operation of trained man trackers was underway on Monday morning when rangers found the remains. A positive identification is pending and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of death. Results are not expected for several weeks. Officials said nothing at the scene indicated her death was related to an animal attack or foul play.
Bennett, a member of the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club, was an avid hiker and often liked to hike off trail in the park. She chronicled her hikes on her blog Endless Streams and Forests. Her last post was made on May 27, 2015. She also authored the book “The Twelve Streams of LeConte.”
Personnel from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park also located two missing hikers alive and in good condition on June 8. The mother and son, visiting from Wisconsin, had been reported lost in the park the previous evening.
Aggressive bears have posed a problem for the park recently. Mt. Le Conte Backcountry Shelter and Cliff Tops Trails were closed due to bear activity last month, which resulted in the capture and euthanasia of an aggressive bear. On June 6, a 16-year-old boy suffered a bear attack at a backcountry campsite in the Hazel Creek area.
Photo by Ken Thomas (KenThomas.us) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons