Hiking community reacts to attack on Appalachian Trail

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — After one hiker was killed and another severely injured while hiking the Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia, some hikers are being more cautious as they head out.

Vince Mier, the manager at Walkabout Outfitters, said he doesn't want people to fear hiking since the Appalachian Trail has one of the friendliest communities of hikers.

"It's exceptionally rare — it's probably one of the safest places you can be in the whole country," Mier said. "Things do happen, people are people, and what's usually a dream for people is a nightmare right now."

Mier said this incident can serve as a reminder for people to be more aware of what they bring on a hike.

He said you should treat going out for a hike, as if you're going anywhere else — one simple way of giving yourself piece of mind is by adding pepper spray to your pack. Mier said should always let someone know where you're hiking the day of, carry a first aid kit, and pay attention to your surroundings.

Mier said last weekend's attack was so random, there are some things you can never be fully prepared for.

"It's such a minutely rare percentage that you can carry everything you want," Mier said, "but you can't protect yourself from everything."