Talk about a heavenly day: The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, temperatures in the low 70s and low humidity. Scott Vuncannon, a 58-year-old real estate developer and farmer, called his wife and said he was going hiking and would be back around 4 p.m. He packed his safety gear, including a pistol, bear spay and enough food and water to last a couple of days, just in case.
He grew up traversing the Uwharrie Mountains in central North Carolina. Now he was taking on more formidable wilderness from his summer home in Highlands, a popular resort town. Still, he had decades of hiking experience. With a 2-year-old Australian shepherd-blue heeler mix named Boone at his side, he headed to the Ellicott Rock Trail around 11 a.m. Wednesday in late August 2018. Two hours later, he was five miles in… read more >