I am always incredibly proud of everything that GATC is able to accomplish. Our passion for the Trail and for the Outdoors in general is unsurpassed anywhere. Couple that passion with our amazing collective skills and talents and you have an unbelievably powerful force. I believe we can accomplish, together, anything that we set our hearts and minds to do. Our potential was never more clearly demonstrated than when, on December 11, 2016, tragedy struck a small group of GATC members while hiking together near Chattahoochee Gap.
It should have been a good day for hiking. It started out that way. Mark Dove was the hike leader. As the hike progressed, Mark said he was feeling a bit tired and took the sweep position while others took over the lead. Just before Noon, Bruce Johnson, who was hiking just ahead of Mark, heard Mark fall. Bruce hurried back to see if Mark had injured himself in the fall. Bruce was shocked to discover that Mark was unresponsive. That would have been the time for most folks to begin running around crazy. That might have been a time for folks to stand around scared out of their minds wondering what to do first.
But that is not what happened. Bruce called out to the others and they rushed to Marks side. CPR was initiated immediately. Someone was given the responsibility to contact authorities for emergency service. If you have never performed CPR in an actual emergency for more than a few minutes, you have no idea how hard it can be. The GATC hikers rotated the CPR duties in order to keep the resuscitation effort going. A medical helicopter was dispatched from Atlanta and emergency responders arrived after what must have seemed like an eternity. Unfortunately, all the valiant efforts to save Mark Dove were unsuccessful. But the effort was truly heroic and every participant on that hike deserves our highest appreciation.
We must always understand that hiking in the forest, hours from any rescue resources that may be needed, has risks. Thankfully, for all the time that we spend on the Trail either hiking or performing trail maintenance, we rarely have instances such as this. But when they do, it is comforting to know that GATC considers safety our primary concern and takes the time and effort to be prepared. Next time you take a Wilderness First Aid class keep in mind that one day you may be called upon to apply your skills in order to help a fellow club member or a stranger on the Trail.
I want to extend my personal gratitude to each of the participants on that fateful hike. They are Bruce Johnson, Terri Holcomb, Raymond Sherman, Maricruz Sherman, John Turner, Roger Roy, Marion McLean, and Gayle Gannaway. I think it is significant that six of those eight participants were new members, having joined GATC within the six months prior to the hike. Congratulations to our Membership Committee for being able to recruit such a high caliber of folks for the Club.
Submitted by: Don Hicks