Hikers concerned after sexual assault report on Long Trail

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The Long Trail to Mount Mansfield on May 24, 2009. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Some hikers are sounding the alarm after reports a man sexually assaulted a woman and made others fear for their safety at Pico Mountain on the Long Trail last weekend.

Vermont State Police believe the man, who uses the runway name “Salt”, is a suspect in two incidents on Saturday, September 4.

In the first, a woman told Vermont State Police that the man approached her on the Pico Mountain trail in Killington around 6:30 p.m. and started touching her while talking about the crimes he he would have committed.

About half an hour after this incident allegedly occurred, three other women walking the trail said the man had invaded their campsite at the Pico camp refuge, acting erratically and causing them to fear for their safety. they were trying to leave, according to an online post made by one of the women. He rode her from behind, she told VTDigger in an interview, and gave her an unwanted massage.

Typically, VTDigger does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

Michael DeBonis, executive director of the Green Mountain Club, which maintains shelters along the Long Trail, said that while situations like this are rare, it’s important for hikers to be aware.

“Things that happen off the track also happen on the track,” DeBonis said.

The “backpacker community” on the Long and Appalachian trails has been expanded through social media, he said. In this case, he said, it helped publicize the incident faster than the club could have had before.

The incident with the three women at their campsite was also made public via hiker forums such as All Trails, where the assaulted woman posted about it. The post was reposted by the Vermont Sports site on Thursday.

After the trio moved into the small, closed cabin at Pico camp, a tall man with long blonde hair and a short beard arrived at the shelter around 7 p.m., the woman wrote. Hikers are usually not sure who else they will be staying with until they arrive at a given refuge for the night.

According to the woman’s post, the man was carrying a light backpack and introduced himself by his trail name – traditionally used by hikers on the trails to identify with other hikers – from “Salt.”

Upon arrival, Salt claimed she was heading to the Cooper Lodge Shelter, located 2.5 miles south, but first wanted to borrow a camping stove to heat up food, the woman wrote. The women did not have any with them but said Salt stayed behind and spat illusions at them for hours. He told them that he was the lead singer of Metallica, that a professional snowboarder left her husband for him and that he had written two films for Hulu and many popular songs by artists such as Taylor Swift.

The whole time he blew up music, which he angrily told women they had to listen to to calm down, the woman wrote. As the hikers considered leaving the area, the next nearest shelter was almost 2 miles away, the sun had set and they were concerned it would follow them.

Then, without asking, he began to massage a woman, riding her from behind, according to the woman’s message. The three women left the cabin to make room, but he followed. There he continued to touch the woman on the lower back, telling her that he was in love with her. When they announced they were going to bed, he asked who was going to cuddle him.

Fearing what he would do, the three women slept curled up on a platform, she wrote. The man has been singing and shouting things all night long, including “It is 3 am, the sun is up and there is 3 feet of powder on the ground!”

“No one got a good night’s sleep,” the woman wrote. “Every time we woke up we were afraid to move, afraid he would know we were awake.”

She told VTDigger that while they all had self-defense items on them, such as maces and knives, they chose not to use them.

“With someone this tall and in that state of mind, anything we could have done would have put us in more danger, because we would have just made him angry instead of neutralizing him,” he said. she declared.

In the other incident reported to Vermont State Police on Friday, a man named “Salt” approached a woman in Pico Mountain at 6:30 p.m. – about half an hour before the three women said they were. ‘he got to the camp – and started to touch her. . The woman told police he had a gray beard and appeared “manic”.

DeBonis said the Green Mountain Club had contacted US Forest Service law enforcement, who notified Vermont State Police.

DeBonis believes the community could help police locate the man due to the good dissemination of information along the trail among hikers. “Salt” told the women he was a local who visited the Pico camp shelter often, according to the woman.

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