Eight people were rescued from Pine Mountain Trail Sunday night after becoming disoriented in the dark and getting lost.
Pine Mountain Search And Rescue received a call from Kentucky State Police about 10 p.m. Sunday night saying that the hikers were on their way to Bad Branch Falls when they took a wrong turn on the trail. They stopped at a sign that said Wildcat Rock and didn’t know where to go from there, officials said.
The rock is a landmark on the Kentucky side of the state line, north of Flat Gap, Va.
PMSAR teams reached the area via a gas road in the North Fork area of Wise County, Va., and located the hikers about 1:50 a.m. Officials said hikers told rescuers that they had left the Bad Branch parking lot about 4 p.m., thinking they could hike the loop trail and come back to the falls. The loop trail circles around the top of Pine Mountain, and connects Ran Polly Gap, High Rock, and Mars Rock. The trail leads back into the woods at Mars Rock, and eventually leads back down the mountain to Ran Polly Gap again.
After reaching Mars Rock, hikers apparently headed straight ahead along Pine Mountain Trail instead of right on the loop trail. The group used cell phones for light until the batteries ran down, and then called for help with their one remaining phone, lit a fire and waited, searchers said. Searchers heard them yelling for help when they got close, then smelled smoke and saw the glow from a fire above them. None of the hikers were injured, but they were hungry and thirsty. Rescuers provided water and snacks, and returned them to their vehicles at Bad Branch.