A hiker wasn't even one mile into what was supposed to be a 600-mile trek on the Appalachian Trail taking him from Pennsylvania to Tennessee when an accident cut his journey short—and cost him his hand. The unidentified 34-year-old man was apparently using black powder in an attempt to start a campfire Wednesday night when the powder exploded after he attempted to spark it, the Reading Eagle reports. "It blew his hand off," Ethan Kunkel, deputy chief of the Kempton Fire Company, tells the Morning Call. The Pennsylvania man, who was near the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary at the time of the accident, called 911 with his cellphone.
It took 21 rescuers to get him down from the mountain; there were 18 inches of snow at the time. Rescuers went in on foot, climbing a half-mile of rocks over 25 minutes to retrieve the hiker, who was then carried about a third of the way out on a stretcher, then pulled across the snow on an inflatable pontoon boat, then driven the rest of the way out before being taken via helicopter to a hospital, where he remained Thursday night. Kunkel says the hiker's hand was not expected to be reattached: "From what I understand, it was in pieces, shattered." (Read more Appalachian Trail stories.)