Hikers found safe after being lost in Bankhead Forest for 2 days

Michelle Pendleton and Shannon Ladnier are pictured with Lawrence County officials and volunteers after being rescued from Bankhead National Forest Sunday morning. The two spent two nights in the wilderness after getting lost on a hike to Sipsey Big Tree on Friday. 

Two hikers from Jefferson County were found safe Sunday morning after being lost in the Sipsey Wilderness for two days.

According to HikeAlabama.com, Michelle Pendleton and Shannon Ladnier left for a hike to Sipsey’s Big Tree, near Haleyville, on Friday, Nov. 15, around 9:30 a.m.

Lawrence County Chief Deputy Tim Sandlin said the two were located near Trail 224, also known as Bunion Hill Road, and Trail 204, sometime before noon on Sunday.

Sandlin said the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-11 call around 5 p.m. on Friday, just before dark. After communicating with the two, determining they were unharmed and capable of faring the cold, the chief deputy said Pendleton and Shannon agreed it would not be safe to send a ground patrol out with no daylight.

He said search efforts began early Saturday, but in several attempts to locate the two women throughout the day, none proved successful.

“They were in a large area, off a trail. It was kind of like finding a needle in a haystack,” Sandlin said. “We got close—within a mile. It’s just we couldn’t make contact, and they had no phone service after Friday night.”

The two were found safe with no injuries or medical issues, Sandlin said.

“Even in the extreme weather, it was cold, but they had the ability to stay warm and had adequate clothing,” he added. “They had no medical injuries or medical conditions, so it was not pleasant, but there wasn’t anything life-threatening or too concerning.”

Searches were conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, the sheriff’s department and the Lawrence County Rescue Squad. Sandlin said volunteers who were hiking the area over the weekend also assisted in search efforts.

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