The mysterious death of an off-trail hiker in the Smokies (Blue Ridge Outdoors)

Only a couple of times have I interviewed someone who broke down crying during our conversation. It’s a rare and amazing thing—a moment when someone places enough trust in me as a reporter to open display that raw emotion.

When it happens, I feel a special responsibility as a journalist. That moment occurred during the reporting of this story, over the phone with a source I’d never met in person. I hope I did that particular source —- and Jenny Bennett, my subject, whom I’d also never met — some measure of justice here in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.