By Tim Gardner
The North Carolina High Country’s Linville Gorge has again become the scene of a tragic accident. According to reports, Michael Patrick Ryva of Forest Park, Illinois, fell approximately 80 feet in the gorge and was pronounced dead at the scene by responding medical and rescue personnel. Apparently, the fall happened around 12:25 p.m. Thursday, June 3rd, while Ryva, age 30, was hiking Rock Jock Trail.
News outlets report that Burke County, NC Emergency Management officials received a call mid-day on June 3 concerning an injured hiker off Rock Jock Trail in the gorge. More than three hours later, rescuers found Ryva dead.
Crews worked late to extricate him at late into the evening on June 3, Michael Willis of the Burke County fire marshal and emergency management department said.
According to Hikingproject.com, this trail is described as a “relatively difficult” hike that grows more precarious in bad weather. There were pop-up thunderstorms in the Rock Jock Trail throughout the day on June 3.
This trail is a rugged and remote, moderate-to-strenuous 6-mile hike along Dogback Mountain in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.
The Linville Gorge Wilderness is part of the Pisgah National Forest. The gorge is formed by the Jonas Ridge on the east and Linville Mountain on the west and is bisected by the Linville River which drops 2,000 feet into the valleys below. The terrain is steep and rugged with numerous rock formations. It is covered by dense hardwood/pine forest and a wide variety of smaller trees and other plants.
In April of this year another hiker died in a long fall near the Babel Tower Trail in Linville Gorge.