Trees Can Be Deadly

Jason Parish.2Jason Parish was a 36-year old hiker from Philadelphia involved in a short, two-night trek on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. Jason was not a stranger to camping in rugged conditions and cold weather. He thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors. On Friday night this past March 13, Jason and a few friends stayed in the Ed Garvey Shelter on the AT, about 6 miles north of Harpers Ferry, WV. On Saturday, Jason took a day hike to Weverton Cliffs, overlooking Harpers Ferry, and returned to the shelter for the night.

Sunday, March 15 was greeted with high winds in the forest. Jason was making a last check of his gear before breaking camp when a dead tree was uprooted under the pressure of the wind and crashed on top of him. His friends heard the noise, rushed to the scene, saw their trapped colleague, and called 911. The tree pinned Jason about 9:00 and the first responders arrived about an hour later, but were unable to revive him. What a sad day on the Appalachian Trail.

Jason Parish1 (2)Parish was an environmental engineer and a folk musician. He was born on September 7, 1978 in Dover, Delaware and graduated from the University of Delaware in 2000 majoring in mechanical engineering. He was an excellent musician playing several instruments including guitar, piano and saxophone. Jason had recently released a debut CD, A Mountain and a Hill, in January and a short sample of his live music can be heard at

The tree that fell on Jason was marked with a pink ribbon and identified as one to be cut down. As a result of Parish’s death, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources temporarily closed eight shelters and campgrounds on the AT for a tree inspection and maintenance.

Ed Garvey ShelterThe Ed Garvey Memorial Shelter was built in 2001 and named in honor of Edward B. Garvey (1914 -1999) who thru-hiked the AT in 1970. In 1971, Ed published a book about his journey, Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime. This early writing significantly raised public awareness of thru-hiking, including several chapters dedicated to the hike’s preparation,  trail gear, and the flowers, animals, birds and trees of the AT. The shelter is a two story structure and sleeps twelve campers comfortably, as long as you can stand the thru-hiker smell and chorus of a dozen snorers.

Color Photo of Jason:

Jason the Musician Photo:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Harpers Ferry, Jason Parish, Maryland, Trees, West Virginia | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Trees Can Be Deadly

  1. I just saw an article today about 2 children who were killed in a tent by a falling limb out in Yosemite. It is definitely a threat we must all be aware of on our outdoor adventures!

    • Todd – Being out in some fairly high winds it is easy to see how trees can be dramatically injured. I have seen some blow-downs along the trail that would certainly claim human life if hiker were at the place of the fall. Finding a good safe spot during severe weather is so important.

  2. katjandu

    I’m really enjoying these postings Dave. This is a sad story. I didn’t see a photo of him on the site but I found this link:
    YouTube of him singing.
    Thanks much.

    • Katjandu. Thanks for your words of encouragement And thanks for providing a good link to Jason’s music. I hope folks will check it out.

  3. That’s really terrible, my thoughts and prayers are with the man’s family and friends.

    I slept in that shelter a few years ago (I’d just finished Ed Garvey’s first book, and thought it would be appropriate to spend the night there). Upstairs are photos of Ed behind a sheet of plastic. The shelter itself is a beautiful tribute to a man who, as a thru-hiker, the first published thru-hike author, and very active member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, did a lot of good for the AT.

    • Mike – Garvey was an incredible hiker/adventurer. I have read his first book as well as the follow-up volume highlighting his second thru-hike – 20 years later at age 75.

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