Some hikers sound the alarm after it was reported that a man sexually assaulted a woman and caused others to fear for her safety on Mount Pico on the long route last weekend.
Vermont State Police believe the man, who uses the track name “Salt,” is suspected in two incidents on Saturday, Sept. 4.
At first, a woman told Vermont State Police that the man approached her at Pico Mountain Trail in Killington around 6:30 p.m., and allegedly started touching her while he was talking about crimes he said he had committed.
About half an hour after the incident is believed to have taken place, three other women who were walking along the road said the man invaded his campsite at the Camp del Pico refuge, acting irregularly and making them fear for her safety in case she tries to leave, according to an online post made by one of the women. He put her on horseback from behind, he told VTDigger in an interview and gave her an unwanted massage.
As a general practice, VTDigger does not designate victims of sexual assault without their consent.
Michael DeBonis, executive director of the Green Mountain Club, which maintains shelters along the long road, said that while situations like this are uncommon, it is important for hikers to be aware of them.
“Things that go out of the way also go out of the way,” DeBonis said.
Social media has expanded the “hiking community” to long, Appalachian trails. In this case, he said, this helped spread awareness of the incident more quickly than the club could have had before.
The incident with the three women at their campsite was also made known through hiker forums such as All Trails, where the woman who was assaulted posted a message about it. The post was reissued by the Vermont Sports website Thursday.
After the trio settled into the small enclosed cabin of the Pico camp, a tall man with long blond hair and a small beard arrived at the shelter around seven in the afternoon, the woman wrote. In general, hikers do not know who they will stay with until they reach a shelter to spend the night.
According to the message posted by the woman, the man was carrying a light backpack and presented himself by his trail name – traditionally used by hikers through the trails to identify with other hikers – from “Salt”.
Upon arrival, Salt said he would move to the Cooper Lodge shelter, which is 2.5 miles south, but wanted to borrow a stove to heat food, the woman wrote. The women had none, but they said Salt stayed and cheered them on for hours. He told them that he was the Metallica singer, that a professional snowboarder left her husband for him and that he wrote two films for Hulu and many popular songs by artists like Taylor Swift.
The woman wrote all the time that music exploded, which angrily told the women they had to listen to calm down. As the hikers set out to leave the area, the next nearest refuge was almost 3 miles away, the sun had set and they feared it would follow.
Then, without asking, he began to massage a woman, riding between her, according to the woman’s message. The three women went out of the cabin to get space, but he followed him. There, he continued to touch the woman in the lower back, telling her he was in love with her. When they announced that they were going to bed, he asked who would approach him.
Frightened of what she would do, the three women slept huddled on a platform, she wrote. The man sang and shouted things all night, including “it’s 3 in the morning, the sun has already risen and there are 3 feet of dust on the ground.”
“No one slept well,” the woman wrote. “Whenever we woke up, we were scared to move, we were scared to know we were awake.”
He told VTDigger that while they all had elements of self-defense, such as mace and knives, they chose not to use them.
“With someone so big and in that mood, anything we could have done would have put us at more risk, as we would have simply made him angry instead of incapacitating him,” he said.
In the other incident reported Friday to Vermont state police, a man named “Salt” approached a woman in Pico Mountain at 6:30 p.m., about half an hour before the three women said he was arriving at the camp and went start playing it. . The woman told police she had a gray beard and looked “manic.”
DeBonis said the Green Mountain Club contacted U.S. Forest Services, who notified Vermont state police.
DeBonis believes the community could help police find the man because of the good distribution of information among hikers. “Salt” told the women that it was a place that often went to the Pico camp shelter, according to the woman.
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