My Backpacking Trip and the Lost Couple Found After Three Days

Lost Couple Hiking North Carolina in Google EarthWell, my backpacking trip plans were a little thrown off. We arrived at the trailhead for our chosen hike in Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina only to find several rangers and search and rescue teams looking for a lost couple. The couple had left their Mercedes Benz (with Florida license plates) at the trail head on Friday supposedly to go on a picnic at a nearby waterfall. We offered to help with the search, but were told we had to be trained. My friend and I were also not allowed to go on our hike in the search area. Instead we camped at the Stone Mountain campground hoping they would find the couple overnight. The next day the couple were still not found, so we took a short hike around Wolf Rock and then drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway to look for a new hike. We ended up on a short hike in Doughton Park to a campsite a few miles to the south of Stone Mountain. This morning they found the missing couple at Devil’s Garden Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway – over 2200 feet above where they left their car and after three days and nights without substantial food (there was plenty of water in the mountain streams). We had a Garmin 60Cx GPS running while we were moving around. You can see our GPS tracks , overlayed on the satellite photos of GE, as we drove around the area as well as where we were hiking. Also shown is the location of the missing couple’s car and where they were found. The colors represent altitude as shown in the Elevation legend. Also included is a topographical map of the area where the missible couple were located. The red path is my theory about the possible route the missing couple took to get to the top. Here is the Charlotte Observer story about the lost couple.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Navneeth says:

    Interesting story. Initially, I thought that you had saved the couple using the power of GPS and GE, somehow. 😀

  2. WOW, I’m sure glad they were found. I’m in Greenville, SC, have friends in Raleigh, and we are going on our annual camping trip in two weeks in NC. GPS and charts are a good thing.
    ot: for those that don’t speak English, there’s always the chance they don’t understand your above request

  3. Benjamin Bynum says:

    I love stories like this. And have just planned a Kentucky river canoe-ing trip that I would like to post on the web as well. Does anyone know how to post live our GPS tracks. Is there anyway to connect the GPS to a cellphone and upload it automatically? Or, is there a way to email our coordinates to our contact person and have them post it? I’ve yet to find a website/application that will let you manually input the coordinates OR have a I figured out how to update live (or at least everynight when we are within cellphone coverage) our placemarks, tracks, etc. Is there anybody can help me?

  4. I Like that… Usefull!
    I?ll try to plan something about Jamaica.
    to post on google earth… = ]

  5. Hey Benjamin, my current cellphone doesn’t have a GPS option, but I’ve been saving some links for when the time comes…

  6. jon Kovash says:

    Are there any guide/climber/back country adventure types out there who are increasingly using google earth to scout trails? I need your stories and comments for an article in a national magazine. Please contact Jon kovash at

  7. There is a really cool new channel coming to cable and satellite television. It is The Ski Channel. They say they will have everything you can do on a mountain and all mountain activities such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, backpacking, climbing, basejumping, etc. So little of this is on television now. Lets help these guys make this work. Go to their website and signup.
    They have all kinds of contests, info and pretty cool stuff on their website.
    About time!

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