Saturday, April 18, 2015

Andrew Skurka Presents: "Ultimate Hiking Gear & Skills Clinic"

At more than an hour in length, this video is obviously rather long. However, it's extremely informative, especially if you're fairly new to hiking and backpacking.

In this clinic originally presented at the Google headquarters in 2012, renowned long-distance backpacker Andrew Skurka discusses the gear, supplies and skills necessary to make hiking fun, not an arduous chore. Skurka was named "Adventurer of the Year" by Outside and was described as "a Superman among trekkers," by National Geographic; he's also the author of The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide.

In this video you'll learn: (1) How to predict the environmental and route conditions you will encounter on a trip; (2) the best uses and limitations of lightweight equipment; (3) skills that will help keep you safe and comfortable with a minimum of possessions; and, (4) exactly what Skurka takes for a summer backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada, and why:

Grand Teton Hikes

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Linville Gorge Wilderness Fire Fully Contained

Significant rainfall allowed firefighters to fully contain the 521 acre Blue Gravel wildfire on the Pisgah National Forest in the Shortoff Mountain area of the Linville Gorge Wilderness area. All areas, trails and roads closed during emergency operations are now reopened. Visitors should be aware of changing weather conditions and potential tree hazards.

After initial attack operations were not successful, Forest Service responders assessed the values at risk and risk to firefighters. It was determined unnecessary to send firefighters into difficult terrain to suppress the fire when high values were not at risk and success was uncertain. The decision was made to fall back to established containment lines proven successful on previous wildfires. In doing so it also eliminated creating new impacts on the landscape from building new fire line.

Positive results of the fire include a reduction of fuels that could contribute to severe fires in the future and benefits to wildlife. New growth encouraged by the fire will improve wildlife habitat and feeding grounds.

Low, backing fires moved through fire-adapted shortleaf pine restoration areas, which are managed as part of the Grandfather Ranger District’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Program, one of ten projects nationally. Authorized for 10 years through the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) was created to emphasize partnerships between government and local forest workers, sawmill owners, conservationists, businesses, sportsmen, outdoor recreationists and others to improve forest health and promote the well-being of local communities.

The fire was reported the afternoon of Saturday April 11th. The cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no evacuations, injuries or structures lost.

Grand Teton Trails

Throwback Thursday

And you thought the boys from the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush were the only ones that never had a plan! If you’ve ever had the chance to hike the 6.3-mile trail to Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park, you would understand it travels through some very rugged terrain. Not a big issue if you’re a hiker. But try hauling a 16,000-pound concentrator up the canyon. That’s exactly what some miners did in the early 1900s in order to mine ore near the lake.

The miners used a large freight wagon and twelve mules to transport the concentrator on a 29-day trip from Fort Browning to the mine. The load was often hauled with block and tackle up the bed of Canyon Creek to its headwaters at Cracker Lake. Although hauled in and installed, the concentrator never operated. A mining expert from Helena determined that the site wouldn’t be profitable and discouraged further development! If you’ve ever seen Gold Rush, that sequence of events probably sounds familiar. Despite digging a thirteen hundred foot tunnel into the mountain, the miners, fortunately, didn’t spoil one of the most beautiful lakes you’ll see just about anywhere.

Grand Teton Hiking

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How To Pack For a Dayhike

In the short video below, Backpacker Magazine offers a list of items that should be included in your pack during a day hike. This is a great starting point for being properly prepared for a variety of conditions or circumstances that can be encountered while out on the trail, especially if you're new to hiking. However, you may want to check out the far more comprehensive list we've compiled on our hiking website. Our Hiking Gear Checklist is divided between essential and optional gear to bring on a hike.

Grand Teton Hiking

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trail Keeper Volunteer Program Expanded at the Big South Fork

Last year the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area successfully completed the first year of the park's Trail Keeper volunteer program. Trail Keepers is a volunteer program for people who love the park's trails and want to help take care of them. The goal of the program is to provide an extended presence in the backcountry and, at the same time, provide the Big South Fork's staff with information on trail conditions.

Individuals who adopt one of the 70 plus designated trails are expected to hike, bike or horse ride their adopted trail at least four times during the calendar year, report on overall trail conditions, pickup any trash, and submit a trail condition report after each hike. Being a Trail Keeper does not involve heavy trail maintenance or the use of any kind of power equipment. Trail Keepers may use a small handsaw to cutout small trees that are down across the trail and may move branches and do light maintenance by hand.

"There are so many people who love to hike, bike,and ride the trails at the Big South Fork. With more than 400 miles of trails to take care of, this program is a great way for folks who have a special interest in a particular trail to help keep it in great shape," said Niki Stephanie Nicholas, park superintendent.

To learn more about the Big South Fork Trail Keeper program, please click here, or call Effie Houston, the park's volunteer coordinator, at (423) 569-9778.

Grand Teton Trails

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wildfire Closes Portions of Linville Gorge Wilderness area

The Blue Gravel wildfire is still burning this morning in a remote area east of Shortoff Mountain just outside Linville Gorge Wilderness area on the Pisgah National Forest. With dry conditions yesterday, the fire increased to the south and west and is now estimated at 221 acres. Light rain in the area overnight, along with overcast skies and higher humidity has reduced fire activity this morning. Today, firefighters are monitoring the fire. Forecasted precipitation into the evening hours and tomorrow is expected to aid firefighting efforts.

For public safety the southern Linville Gorge Wilderness area from Chimney Gap south and east of the Linville River is temporarily closed. In addition, the following roads and trails remain closed within the fire area:

* Back Irish Creek Road (Forest Road 118), also known as the Blue Gravel Road

* Shortoff Trail (TR 235)

* Mountains to Sea Trail (TR 440) from the Pinnacles trailhead to the Table Rock Picnic Area.

Approximately 80 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and local volunteer fire departments are assigned to the fire. Burke County and North Carolina Emergency Management are supporting fire operations. Minimizing risk for firefighters, local communities, and the public are primary objectives.

The Blue Gravel fire is burning in an area where wildfires have frequently occurred allowing the use of previously established containment lines. Yesterday, firefighters improved fire lines that were successful in achieving containment in the past, and use of them will likely allow firefighters to minimize disturbance within the wilderness area. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Grand Teton Trails

Three Appalachian Trail Hikers Rescued in Smokies

On the morning of April 4th, a report was received of three Appalachian Trail hikers who’d become separated from each other during the preceding day’s thunderstorms. Only one member of the party had made it to an Appalachian Trail shelter before nightfall; the other two independently spent the night out on the trail in the harsh weather with no shelter.

Rangers Phil Basak (medic) and Jamie Sanders responded to the Spence Field shelter on the AT and contacted two members of the party. One had a knee injury and was experiencing a diabetic emergency; he’d been helped into the shelter by other hikers along the trail. He was treated and evacuated by horseback.

The third member of the party, a man with an extensive cardiac history, was located just off trail approximately two miles north of the Spence Field shelter. He was reported as hypothermic, unable to move, and not lucid. Rangers treated him and requested the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Aviation Unit in extricating him and taking him to a waiting ambulance. Both hikers are expected to make full recoveries.

Here's an interview with Brad Phillips, the man rescued via helicopter, conducted by WBIR:

Grand Teton Trails