(WBIR) A Michigan hiker who fell in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now out of the hospital and recovering.
Bill Runyon, 64, of Cadillac, Michigan, fell around 2:00 p.m. Sunday at Alum Cave Trail, a steep hike that ends just below the summit of Mt. LeConte.
According to family members, Runyon was hiking with his son and two teenaged grandchildren. Runyon and his son were on their way back down the trail when Runyon slipped on some rocks then got tripped by his hiking poles. His son said he fell 15-20 feet town the trail, then eight feet down an embankment.
Runyon's son got some help from other hikers to get Runyon back on the trail, and luckily, someone had enough cell phone service to call for help.
It took several hours for rangers to reach the injured hiker. They stabilized Runyon, but were unable to carry him down off the mountain because of severe weather. The rangers set up a tent and two rangers and two medics spent the night on the trail with him while the others hiked back.
Early Monday morning, a total of 18 rangers helped carry the man to safety, using a wheeled stretcher. Runyon was taken to LeConte Medical Center in Sevier County around 1:45 p.m. to be treated for a back injury.
The heavy rain wasn't the only challenge that rangers faced in the rescue. To get the man back to safely, they had to cross several rivers and negotiate a staircase through a rock feature known as Arch Rock.
"It can be very dangerous, and a lot of times the rescue work itself brings about injuries," said Marc Eckert , a park ranger. "So many people [were] on the trail, very narrow trail, easy to slip on the slippery rocks, water crossings, it's very risky and we're very thankful that no one got hurt."
Eckert said every rescue teaches the park officials how to do better next time.
"After each operation like this w e'll reflect on it, [and] debrief with everyone involved," he said. "There's an opportunity to grow there, [to] take what we've learned through that experience, because it will happen again."
By phone Monday night, Runyon's wife told 10News her husband and family members were resting at the hotel and planned to return to Michigan Tuesday morning.