Brian Laundrie Hunting: Appalachian Trail ideal place to ‘get lost’, says thru-hiker

Florida refugee Brain Laundrie is still unknown nearly four weeks after his parents say they last saw him leave their home in North Port for a hike in a nearby environmental reserve.

The 23-year-old New York native is wanted on charge card charges and has been named a person of interest in connection with the death of his 22-year-old fiancé, Gabby Petito, whose remains the FBI revealed at a campground in Wyoming on Sept. 19. It marked eight days after her mother reported her missing and more than two weeks after Laundrie allegedly showed up at his parents’ home in Petito’s van – without her.

Although there have been conflicting reports about the extent of his skills as an outdoor enthusiast, he has a history of spending long periods in state and national parks.

HIKER CLAIMING HE SAW BRIAN LAUNDRIE NEAR APPALACHIAN TRAIL SAYS FBI ‘TAKES A LOT OF NOTES’

It’s the wrong time of year to start walking north on the Appalachian Trail from its southern tip in Georgia, according to track guides, but the stretch along the North Carolina-Tennessee border may be an ideal place to hide. Although the southern season is coming to an end, with thru hikers starting in Maine nearing completion, the trail winds along state lines in places far away from major cities.

The Laundrie family’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino, described Brian Laundrie as “a backpacker” and pushed back on claims that he was a skilled survivalist.

But there have also been a number of reported possible sightings of Laundrie along or near the long stretch of the Appalachian Trail, where it crosses the state border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

“The southern and northern extremes of the trail are the areas where you can really just jump down and get lost out there,” said Orlando Calas Jr., a 23-year-old thru hiker who has completed the entire trail.

POSSIBLE BRIAN LAUNDRIE SIGHTING: HEAR 911 CALL FROM APPALACHIAN TRAIL HIKER

Fresh water is plentiful, he said, as long as you have a basic filter. And although the food could be more difficult, it is still available.

“It’s extremely hard to do even if you have support,” he said.

A trail sign at Clingmans Dome, a large scenic vantage point along the Appalachian Trail, on May 11, 2018 near Cherokee, North Carolina.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park borders the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina in the heart of the Appalachian Mountain Range.

A trail sign at Clingmans Dome, a large scenic vantage point along the Appalachian Trail, on May 11, 2018 near Cherokee, North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park borders the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina in the heart of the Appalachian Mountain Range.
(George Rose / Getty Images)

Calas had help during his journey – went out with a cousin and joined other travelers they met on the trail. His father also followed their progress in a vehicle and helped when they needed food and water or something. When they needed to take a break from the trail, known as a “zero-day,” he picked them up and drove them to hotels.

“I consider it one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, just because of the physical and mental strength you need to be able to complete it,” he told Fox News. “It drains – just miles and miles of walking, dealing with falls, dealing with bad weather.”

The Appalachian Trail runs a total of over 2,000 miles.

The Appalachian Trail runs a total of over 2,000 miles.
(iStock, file)

With that kind of help, Calas rated the path to an eight on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most difficult.

Without that support system, he said, “it would be on a 10, easy.”

Still, it is possible, he said. Fishing and hunting are viable means of finding food in the area, he said, and there is plenty of food for fodder.

“There’s definitely enough wildlife out there, and so many berries,” he said.

Volunteer groups also help hikers with food, shelter and transportation along the way – but Calas said the word has probably spread all over the trail now and people are probably looking for one that matches Laundrie’s description.

“They do a great job of informing hikers about what’s going on on the trail,” he said. “What areas to avoid, whether there may be a suspicious person or a fire. So there is a network of people dedicated to letting hikers … or even Trail Angels know what dangers are happening around the Appalachian Trail . “

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Calas, who is from Florida, also said that the terrain on the Appalachian Trail is very different from hiking flat areas in Sunshine State.

“It’s all flat – you really can’t compare it,” he said. Just deal with humidity and cold rain just soak all your gear and deal with actual elevation changes as opposed to hiking on a beach promenade in the Everglades.

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