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David Brill to appear at Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Posted by | 04.18.2018
David Brill

David Brill, author ofInto the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune and Mayhem in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is scheduled to appear during the opening of next week’s Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in downtown Gatlinburg, Tenn., Tuesday, April 24.

Hosted by Great Smoky Mountains Association, Brill’s appearance will take place from 5-7 p.m. at Mills Auditorium, the long-time home of the 68-year-old Pilgrimage, which invites those with a passion for learning more about the flora and fauna of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to venture into the park with experts on everything from wildflowers to wildlife, ferns to fungi, birds to bats.

Into the Mist is so named for 13 chapters of tragedy and heroic rescues made all the more chilling because the stories are real. These beautiful, mist-shrouded mountains can, and often do, turn deadly. Into the Mist depicts men and women in extreme situations, struggling to survive against brutal and often deadly adversity.

“Because of the subject matter, this book was emotionally difficult to write,” said Brill. “Indeed, many, if not most, of the stories presented in Into the Mist are undeniably sad. They’re about human beings—fathers, mothers, children, friends—who suffered mightily before they succumbed in some cases, or were rescued in others.

“Through the writing process, I endeavored never to lose sight of the enormous pain and suffering these deaths caused for the family members and friends of the deceased,” he continued. “But these stories are also engaging because they depict human beings in extreme situations, struggling to survive against brutal and unrelenting adversity. In telling these stories, I embraced fully my responsibility to the victims, their families, and their friends to present the details accurately, and the GSMNP incident reports allowed me to do that.”

Brill’s book invites readers to piece together the events leading to a tragic encounter between an elementary school teacher and two black bears in the park’s backcountry; share in the heroic response of the park's rangers in the face of brutal weather events, including the March 1993 “Storm of the Century” and their successful efforts to rescue hundreds of stranded visitors and ultimately prevent loss of life and limb; experience a lone hiker’s final moments as he succumbs to bitter cold without benefit of a shelter as wind-driven snow piles ever higher on the trail; and learn how the body of a murdered Jane Doe discovered in a park stream leads to a cross-country hunt for her killer.

Into the Mist also includes a bonus appendix of known fatalities in the park between 1931 and 2013, including the park's leading causes of death and most dangerous places. With creation of the appendix, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be one of the first in the nation to have a complete list of fatalities, including names, dates, locations, and descriptions of the circumstances that contributed to the deaths. 

Great Smoky Mountains Association’s publications are designed to enhance greater public understanding, enjoyment and appreciation of the national park. A national park partner, GSMA has provided nearly $40 million to support the park’s educational, scientific and historical programs since its inception 65 years ago.

Support for the association is achieved primarily from sales of educational publications and from annual membership dues. Those who wish to enrich their national park experience are encouraged to become GSMA members.

For more information about the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, visit

For more information about GSMA, visit or call 888.898.9102, Ext. 325 or 222.