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May 7, 2009
“Missing” Hiker from Pennsylvania Located in Pennsylvania
Augusta, Maine - The Maine Warden Service initiated a search today for a missing hiker from Pennsylvania who was last seen on Park Tote Road in Baxter State Park on April 30 by another hiker. Upon investigation, the hiker was located at his Pennsylvania home, apparently after leaving his expensive pack on the Appalachian Trail west of Abol Bridge.
Search and rescue personnel from the Maine Warden Service, volunteer groups and dog teams were on standby to begin looking for the man when he was located.
On May 4, Baxter State Park authorities received a complaint from the Brewer Police Department that a Brewer resident found a backpack on the Appalachian Trail west of Abol Bridge. The resident left the backpack on the trail.
On May 7, today, Baxter State Park Ranger Ben Woodard hiked into the area and found the backpack. He snapped some pictures of the pack and called the Maine Warden Service because it appeared suspicious and it appeared to have been there for several days.
Wardens and Baxter State Park personnel started an investigation into who owned the pack. The name of John Meharg, 30, of Reading, Penn., was identified from a registration sheet at Togue Pond Gates.
Warden Investigator Bill Livezey was able to contact a family member, and then talked to Mr. Meharg. Mr. Meharg denied that he had left his backpack in Maine.
While search personnel were coming to the area to await duty instructions, a hiker who had contact with Mr. Meharg was interviewed. After that interview, Mr. Meharg was called again, and he reluctantly admitted that the backpack was his.
According to Mr. Meharg, he had planned on starting at the top of Mount Katahdin and then head south on the Appalachian Trail. He couldn’t get to the top of the mountain because of weather conditions, and eventually ended up on the AT near the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Mr. Meharg ended up in the water and hurt himself. He headed to a road for help without his backpack, and somehow arrived at the Millinocket Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries.
Mr. Meharg then took a taxi to Bangor, where he rented a vehicle and headed back to Pennsylvania.
The Maine Warden Service strongly urges people who are going hiking to let someone know your route, when you are leaving and when you are expected back. The hiking trails are wet and slippery this time of year so caution should be taken.
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