According to a press release from the National Park Service, the Louisiana family began their hike at approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday, as they intended to hike to Mount LeConte via the Rainbow Falls Trail and return on the Bullhead Trail.
The Pigeon Forge Police Department received a 9-1-1 call from the family asking for help, but the call dropped before the family could give an exact location.
The family with children, ages 4, 5, 10, and 12, spent the night on a trail in below-freezing temperatures which dipped as low as 28-degrees on Mount LeConte.
The press release stated that rangers found the family on the Bullhead Trail around 7 a.m. Sunday. They assisted the family to the summit of Mount LeConte where LeConte Lodge Staff cared for the exhausted hikers, providing them with dry clothing and food.
Acting Chief Ranger Steve Kloster stated that they “are grateful the family stayed on the trail allowing [them] the best chance to find [the family] quickly.”
“We take this opportunity to remind everyone to make sure they are prepared before they set out for a hike by understanding the terrain, distance and weather conditions,” said Kloster.
The park service suggests always packing water, clothing, food and a flashlight to prepare for the unexpected. One can visit the GSMNP website for more information on hiking safety and tips at nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hikingsafety.htm.