When a young couple set out for a day of hiking, in Shenandoah National Park, on July 15th, they had no idea just how the day and their lives would change. Change for the better that is, when the plans they had made took a little side journey, leading them down what was not their first path, but the right one in the end.
The young couple, Kelly McDuffie and Danny Hartung, had a difference in opinion on which path they should take. McDuffie favored the waterfall hike as the day was one that was proving to be very hot. However, Hartung suggested the Little Stoney Man Loop, and in the end, that was the path the couple chose.
Halfway through their hike, McDuffie stated she had started regretting their choice of direction, saying:
“I had said, ‘Oh, I wish we had some water to wet our bandanas to cool off,’ being sarcastic because I had wanted the waterfall hike.”
Less than a minute later though, the couple heard water babbling from a stream just a few feet from the trail they were hiking. McDuffie made mention that it was very surprising to them, as there had been no water to be seen during their two-mile hike up to that point. They proceeded to walk off the hiking path about 15 feet, in search of the spring they had heard, when they blackberry bush.
Hartung decided to pick some of the blackberries and take a photo as well. That was when he told McDuffie that there was a dog in the bush. In that instant, the couple knew just who the dog was. They had been seeing flyers hung up in the neighboring Skyland Resort, with a picture of Max, the dog on them. At that point in time, Max had been missing for 11 days.
After gaining Max’s trust and contacting the appropriate rangers, they were able to reunite Max with his family quickly. McDuffie stated that by them taking the path they did, the stars were aligned, and they were meant to rescue Max.