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Rescued hiker recalls experience in Smokies

12:34 AM, Nov 6, 2012   |    comments
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A hiker rescued from the snow-swept Smoky Mountains is now recovering at his North Carolina home.

Steven Ainsworth, 56, spoke to affiliate WITN Monday about his experience on the Appalachian Trail.  He had been hiking the trail since June before a storm created four to five-feet high snow drifts on the path.

"One of the most demanding, both physically and mentally, experiences of my life," Ainsworth said.

Previous Story: Rescued hiker was trapped by chest-high snow for nearly 24 hours

He was rescued by THP Friday and taken to LeConte Medical Center.  Ainsworth told his rescuers he felt like his feet were "blocks of ice."  He said he believed his sleeping bag was the item that helped keep him alive.

"I knew that there was absolutely no way that I was going to get to a shelter," Ainsworth said. "That was the first time that I thought, 'there are now a lot of elements taking place here that are completely out of my control.'"

Ainsworth had walked 1,900 miles from Maine before his trip had been cut short.  He said he is going to catch up on some much needed rest before he decides whether he will hike the Appalachian Trail again.

"It's disappointing that I haven't been able to finish it," he said. "But, I don't know whether this is the end or not."

Ainsworth says his feet are still swollen from the incident.  However, he said they are slowly regaining feeling.

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