It is with great sadness, grief and anger that I make this post. Missing Georgia hiker, Meredith Emerson has been presumed murdered in the mountains of north Georgia. Her blood stained clothing and hiking companion black lab have been found. A suspect has been arrested. Ironically, she chose Blood Mountain as her New Year's Day destination.
We hikers here in the Pacific Northwest know all too well what it feels like to lose a member of our hiking community to such senseless and unwarranted violence. We have our own Blood Mountain in the form of Pinnacle Lake. It was there in July of 2006 that two hikers; a mother and daughter from Seattle were shot to death in cold blood. No suspects have been arrested. The killer is still at large. And the hiking community of Washington remains anxious and restless to the prospect that a killer may remain at large on our trails.
The murder of Meredith Emerson once again reinforces the fact that even when we escape the "civilized" world for the sanctuary and solace of nature, the ugliness of Man is never truly left behind. Sure, murders and violence is rare in the backcountry. But like a house of worship, I expect to enter the woods unscathed by the evils and harms of the outside world. Must we be forced to hike with ever-increasing vigilance? To eye every passing hiker with suspicion? To lose more of our humanity? When the reason we head for the hills is to restore our humanity.
I say a prayer for you, Meredith. For your family and loved ones. For all of us who cherish the sacredness of life and the redeeming qualities of taking a walk in the woods.