The Dahlonega Nugget - Full Article
By Matt Aiken
Published: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 10:33 AM EST
An afternoon horseback ride turned into an unexpected survival situation for Elizabeth Burrell as she lost her way in the Chattahoochee National Forest on Saturday.
The Dawson County resident was separated from her group at around 2 p.m. while riding near Winding Stair Gap on Jake Mountain.
"We were going down a real steep incline and my husband got off his horse," said Burrell. "His horse turned around and ran away and disappeared so I left my husband there on foot. I don't know how but [my horse and I] turned around and got lost and could never find the trail again. Nor did I find his missing horse."
Meanwhile as Burrell searched for the trail her husband's horse returned to him.
"The horse returned but she didn't return," said Lumpkin County Emergency Management Director Don Seabolt.
This discovery set off an informal search among friends and volunteers.
Once the sun began to dip below the trees, the authorities were alerted and officials from the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office (LSCO), Lumpkin County Fire Department, Department of Natural Resources and nearby Frank D. Merrill Ranger Camp joined the search effort.
Search dogs from Lee Arrendale State Prison and a thermal-imaging helicopter from Georgia Sate Patrol (GSP) were called in to assist as well.
Meanwhile Burrell and her horse Morning Star, exhausted from hours or searching for the trail, settled in for the night.
"I found a safe spot and I settled my horse down because she was very upset and I stated dragging firewood to this little clearing on the mountain," said Burrell.