Eddie Noonkester began a thru-hike Friday. 
Photo: Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services
Photo: Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services

Search for missing North Georgia hiker suspended until Wednesday morning

The search for a missing North Georgia hiker who disappeared along the Appalachian Trail this weekend has been called off until Wednesday morning.

Eddie Noonkester began a thru-hike Friday, according to a Facebook post by Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services. County and state officials began searching for him after his friends said he became disoriented and “may be suffering from a medical emergency,” the post read.

Update on the missing hiker: Dawson County, along with numerous state and local search teams, continue to search the...

Posted by Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

In a news conference Tuesday, Dawson County fire Chief Danny Thompson said the search area is large and the weather and rough terrain has posed challenges for searchers looking for Noonkester, Channel 2 Action News reported. 

Dawson County K-9 handler Amy Crane guides a police dog in search of a missing hiker. Authorities said the poor weather conditions have made the search difficult.
Photo: Ben Hendren

“When we briefed our searchers this morning, we said, ‘Look, the big concern today is slips, trips and falls; losing your footing out there with these wet conditions that we currently have and bouts of heavy downpours. The fog on the mountain will move in at times and you’ll have zero visibility,’” Thompson said.

Authorities were originally not sure if Noonkester was still on or near the trail in Dawson County or if he wandered into the surrounding National Forest property, but “we have found some things that have helped narrow our search area to Dawson County,” officials said.

Dawson County officials are seeking experienced hikers to search for a man who went missing along the Appalachian Trail. 
Photo: Ben Hendren

Thompson said investigators were able to get a ping from Noonkester’s cellphone, Channel 2 reported. They have not been able to reach his phone since then, but used the information to narrow the search. 

The Dawson County sheriff’s office is seeking experienced hikers to help in the search. Anyone who is interested can contact Dawson County Search and Rescue at DCSAR@dawsoncounty.org. Include your name, contact information, experience level with hiking and your availability.

The search for Noonkester was called off as it got dark Tuesday evening, but it will resume Wednesday morning, authorities said.

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