NC NC - Gordon Kaye, 68, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 23 Apr 2023 *experienced hiker, camper, & hunter, reserved campsite for 14 days*

Am I missing any mention of his vehicle? If it's still at the campground, his options are limited unless he got an uber or something. The rocks around the rivers and creeks are extremely slippery esp after all the rain, but if he's familiar with the area, he'd know that. Seems like he'd contact his family if he decided to head to the casino or get a hotel room. Hope they find him soon.
 
So I certainly don't doubt that this may be MH related, but it seems unusual for someone in the throes of a MH crisis and/or wanting to end their life to make a 14 day camping reservation. That suggests a level of planning someone acutely mentally ill might not be capable of undertaking. It also, to me, suggests he planned to stay the full 14 days, because if not wouldn't he book just a few days?
Could be to throw people off the scent - if he 'planned' to be gone 2 weeks, then it's likely a full 2 weeks would pass before the alarm was raised and authorities began searching. Buys more time if someone is thinking of doing the worst... MOO.
 
AMENITIES
Cell Phone Reception No
Internet Connectivity No
Trash/Recycling Collection Yes,
Seasonal Food Storage Lockers No
Camp Store No
Ice for Sale No
Firewood for Sale No
Staff On Site Yes
Potable Water - Seasonal

TOILET TYPES
Flush Toilets - year round

SHOWER TYPES
None

MAPS:
No cell phone reception. So how was his family expecting to contact him, or how was he going to contact them?

Basically, how did his family know he was missing?

Or did a ranger notice his base camp hasn't been occupied in a while? Is that possible?
 
No cell phone reception. So how was his family expecting to contact him, or how was he going to contact them?

Basically, how did his family know he was missing?

Or did a ranger notice his base camp hasn't been occupied in a while? Is that possible?
Only a guess, but the article from today says they don't know if he has his phone with him. Maybe he'd been driving into town, or where cell phone reception was available, and checking in with his family? Sounds like they didn't find his phone at the campsite though. MOO.
 
May 1, 2023
[....]

"Teams are out searching again today and are prepared to search the rest of the week," Davis said in an email on May 1 to the Citizen Times. "It is a ground search — the search area is covered in thick rhododendrons and the trees are leafed out, so ground searching is the most effective tool. Dog teams have been involved in the search."

She said nine more organizations and agencies had joined the search on May 1, including Skyland Fire Department, Buncombe County Rescue Squad and the Weaverville Fire Department.

[...]

Davis said SAR personnel are prepared to continue searching for the rest of the week for Kaye.

"Our search teams are dedicated to finding him," she said.
 
Articles on front page of (digital / online) Cherokee One Feather and Smoky Mountain News - brief with nothing new, but at least alerting the public. A lot of the local papers only publish online and physically once a week, so if he's not located by then (or even if he is), it's likely most or all will cover the story. Seeing it's hitting the news in other areas too (doing a search of Deep Creek national park). It doesn't seem that uncommon that so many agencies are involved in the search. More the norm when anyone goes missing in the national park, at least to start with. IMO.
Edited to add: doing a search of his names shows news coverage in FL, Charlotte, NC, TN and most likely all thru the SE. I'm not seeing anything that jumps out about him personally (just from Tampa and missing in the park).

Cherokee One Feather:

Smoky Mountain News:
 
Last edited:
The campground is closed Oct 30 - Apr 6, so it just opened back up.

Deep Creek Campground - elevation 1,800 feet (549m) - is located next to one of the park's most popular creeks. The camp offers 92 individual sites, all with grills, tables and campfire rings, perfect for a meal or a late-night s'mores session. Hookups and showers are not provided, but flush toilets and drinking water are available. Whether blanketed in bright spring wildflowers or vivid fall colors, the scenery at Deep Creek never disappoints.
(SBM)

This is confusing me. on that page, it says: No Reservations Accepted. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. So, do you need a reservation to be there? but it's still first come first serve?

Different park, I know, but for Yosemite, it's a race to get book a spot/reservation the moment registration opens. So, if this is similar, GK could have booked this trip months ago.
 
If you look at a map of the Great Smoky Mts National Park it doesn't seem very remote. Deep Creek Campground is between Bryson City and Cherokee, NC, where there is a big hotel and casino. But those are really small tourist towns. If you go a mile off the highway in any direction you are suddenly in a wilderness of thick forest with impenetrable mountain laurel "hells," raging streams with waterfalls, and wild animals (black bears, wild boars, large elk). The weather can change in a matter of minutes from warm and sunny to freezing cold and windy. The higher the elevation the worse the conditions will be. My family has even gotten lost while driving around that area due to lack of road signs, but hopefully trails in the National Park are marked better. If someone wandered off the trails into the mountainous back country, it could take a really long time to find them.
 
(SBM)

This is confusing me. on that page, it says: No Reservations Accepted. Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. So, do you need a reservation to be there? but it's still first come first serve?

Different park, I know, but for Yosemite, it's a race to get book a spot/reservation the moment registration opens. So, if this is similar, GK could have booked this trip months ago.
This page gives number and a link for making reservations. I don't have any idea how far in advance one would need to make a reservation. Most likely depends on when -- for example around the 4th of July it's almost impossible to find places to stay without having made reservations months in advance. But for Deep Creek itself, I don't know, and I don't know how the timing of their opening in April factors in.

"Deep Creek campground is open from early April until late October. Group camping is also available. Reservations are available by calling (877) 444-6777 or visiting Recreation.gov - Camping, Cabins, RVs, Permits, Passes & More

 
If you look at a map of the Great Smoky Mts National Park it doesn't seem very remote. Deep Creek Campground is between Bryson City and Cherokee, NC, where there is a big hotel and casino. But those are really small tourist towns. If you go a mile off the highway in any direction you are suddenly in a wilderness of thick forest with impenetrable mountain laurel "hells," raging streams with waterfalls, and wild animals (black bears, wild boars, large elk). The weather can change in a matter of minutes from warm and sunny to freezing cold and windy. The higher the elevation the worse the conditions will be. My family has even gotten lost while driving around that area due to lack of road signs, but hopefully trails in the National Park are marked better. If someone wandered off the trails into the mountainous back country, it could take a really long time to find them.

I’ve been there quite a bit and you are correct as it’s every bit as dangerous as beautiful. A simple walk into the woods can turn into an abyss of confusing forest real quick.
 
I’ve been there quite a bit and you are correct as it’s every bit as dangerous as beautiful. A simple walk into the woods can turn into an abyss of confusing forest real quick.
Exactly. And with the rains, I'd mentioned rocks being slippery, but everything else is too. And the steep inclines can be treacherous even to experienced hikers -- the whole area can be. Nasty tonight with winds picking up and temps cooling off again.
 

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