Published January 14, 2015
A legally blind hiking magazine editor who went missing along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia was found Saturday in good condition, authorities said.
Kenneth Knight, 41, of Ann Arbor, Mich., was found around 5 p.m. Saturday near Snowdon, said Randy Sutton, a spokesman for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Knight was last seen several miles away Sunday. Friends reported him missing when he failed to meet up with his hiking group and then missed his flight home Wednesday.
Knight, a production editor for Backpacking Light magazine, set a brush fire to attract the attention of firefighters, said Ryan Jordan, the magazine's chief executive officer who had helped in the search.
"Everything ended exactly the way it was supposed to end," Jordan said.
Knight was found near the John's Hollow shelter, at least five miles from the Punchbowl Mountain shelter where he was last seen.
Knight was being taken to a local hospital, but Jordan said he did not think Knight was injured.
"I think he's probably pretty tired, hungry and dehydrated, but nothing that I know of other than that," Jordan said.
Sutton said crews were working to reunite Knight with his parents, who had come from Rhode Island to search for their son.
Crews had zeroed in on 20 square miles of rugged terrain Saturday in the second day of their massive search for Knight, an experienced outdoorsman who was hiking a more than 60-mile section of the trail with six friends.
Because of his visual impairment, Knight often hiked alone and would meet up with friends at scheduled stops to camp.
The National Park Service's small search for Knight expanded greatly on Friday to include more than 100 people combing a 385-square-mile area throughout the night.
That area was whittled down to 20 square miles that were the focus of Saturday's search by about 130 emergency workers, hikers, trackers, canine and horseback units, and air patrol, said Mark Eggeman, state search and rescue coordinator.
Eggeman and others said throughout the ordeal that they were optimistic Knight would be found because he was experienced, well-equipped and had hiked that portion of the trail before.
Fliers were posted along the trail, which draws many hikers this time of year. About a quarter of the 2,000-mile trail winds its way through Virginia.
While not the most challenging portion of the trek, the area where Knight disappeared is a difficult hike that parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway and includes 2,000-foot climbs.
"It is a horrendous area," Eggeman said. "It is extremely steep and rugged."
Eggeman said Knight's visual impairment likely played a role in his disappearance.
"I can see how it's even easier for him to get confused on a trail," he said. "It can be difficult enough even if you have normal vision."
Jordan said Knight could read print two to three inches away from his face and can "vaguely" see things 10 to 15 feet away. He described Knight as a "fiercely independent" man with "thousands of miles hiking under his belt."