Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dad's heroes: Boys set out to find rescuers

By Tom Steadman

GREENSBORO - Steve Patton had spent his share of time hiking the rugged trails of the Linville Gorge Wilderness area.

After all, the longtime social studies teacher at Page High School had grown up in Morganton and had often taken student groups for outings there.

But last Saturday afternoon, when the 56-year-old Patton and his two sons were in the midst of a five-mile hike along the Linville Gorge Trail, something went wrong. The slope gave way under Patton's foot, sending him tumbling down the mountainside, badly breaking his right leg in two places.

"I looked down, and my foot was hanging off the end of my leg," Patton said. "I knew I wouldn't be of any help after that point."

Now, it would be up to his sons -- 13-year-old Luke and 9-year-old Daniel -- to find their way out of the wilderness and get help for their dad. But for the boys, it was their first time on the winding, often steep Linville Gorge Trail near the intersection of Burke, McDowell and Avery counties. >>More>>