The three men were friends, engineers and avid hikers, well prepared for a weekend on a the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. They were pleased at missing the rain, and until Sunday morning, one said it had been an “amazing weekend.”
The men recognized their good fortune, said one of them, Michael Sparks. They reached a shelter before the rain started Friday night. They managed to make a campfire that night and the next, even with wet wood. They had planned well, Sparks said, and their 40-pound packs contained everything they needed.
But if they had eluded the rain, they could not escape the wind that blew with particular strength on Sunday morning, and one of the friends, Jason Parish, 36, both musician and engineer, was struck and killed by a falling tree.
The tree stood just outside the Ed Garvey shelter, where they had spent the night about 70 miles northwest of Washington. The tree appeared to be dead, Sparks said, and a ribbon around it apparently designated it for removal.
“We all had our packs on” and were about to walk out of the shelter area to return to their car, and go back to their homes in the Philadelphia area.
Parish was making one last inspection to be sure nothing had been left behind, Sparks said. Realizing that Parish was still in the area where the tree came down, Sparks called for him.
Sparks shouted Parish’s name. Then he ran back and found Parish pinned beneath the tree, which had struck him on the back of the head.
Resuscitation efforts by others at the shelter were unsuccessful. People “gave it every effort,” Sparks said, but the injury was too severe.
Sparks said he, Parish and the third member of the party, Kelly Quain, were mechanical engineers who had met at work. Although they were later employed by other companies, they maintained their connection, and their mutual interest in the outdoors.
Parish was a graduate of the University of Delaware, with parents living in Dover, Del., Sparks said. In addition to his work as an engineer, Sparks said, Parish was a serious musician, who made albums and gave live performances.
Parish had brought his guitar on other camping trips. But this time, Sparks said, his friend left the instrument at home to shield it from the expected rain.
Parish’s outdoor interests were reflected, Sparks noted, by the title of an album he had recently produced. It was called “A Mountain and a Hill.” Wavy lines on the cover suggest clouds and sky and undulating terrain.
An online biography devoted to Parish’s music called him a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He had studied classical music and then jazz before teaching himself guitar and starting to write songs in the styles of folk, blues, classic country and Americana.
The Reverbnation web site listed three live performances by Parish that were scheduled for the Philadelphia area in coming weeks.