Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Smokies Life Magazine Review

I’m not into fishing, nor do I care for snakes, so why would I want to read anything about two subjects I really have no interest in? Those were my thoughts as I was handed the spring issue of Smokies Life Magazine after joining the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) in the Cades Cove parking lot last month.

Sure, I was eager to read the cover story about Wiley Oakley, but some of the other subjects just didn’t provide me with any excitement.

When I finally got around to reading the new magazine several days later, I started with the first article: Fishing the Horseshoe, by David Brill. Normally when I read a magazine I start from the beginning and read it book style – from page to page. If something doesn’t interest me, I skip through it. This didn’t happen with Mr. Brill’s article.

In fact, he almost inspired me to jump onto the Cabela’s web site that evening and purchase a fly-fishing rod. Okay, maybe I’m over-exaggerating a little, but the article was not only very well written, but was very captivating. You might be asking yourself right now how a story about fly-fishing can be captivating. “The Horseshoe”, also known as the Smokies toughest mile, is almost a complete circle formed by Abrams Creek. The unique topography of this area makes it difficult for anglers to escape the “Horseshoe” without completing the entire loop before the sun sets. Unless the fishermen who venture into the Horseshoe are in excellent shape, they stand the chance of having to make an emergency bivouac. Many hikers have apparently stumbled into this area and have gotten lost as well. At this point I’ll let the author finish the story for himself.

Proceeding through the rest of the magazine, I found each of the seven articles in this 59 page issue to be compelling articles in their own right. I also liked that the subject matter of the magazine was well diversified. In addition to the fly-fishing article, there were articles about snakes, bark baskets, trilliums, fire towers, old growth trees, and, of course, the Wiley Oakley story.

For the GSMA to call Smokies Life Magazine, “a magazine,” might be selling itself short. First off, the paper quality of the cover and the pages is far superior to any magazine you’ll find in a book store or grocery. I also found the writing to be superior to most magazines as well. Smokies Life Magazine is more in line with the quality you find from a journal publication from a historical society.

You can purchase individual issues of Smokies Life Magazine at the GSMA web site, but it probably makes more sense to just become a member. Not only is the quarterly magazine free to members, but you’re helping a great cause. Through sales, labor, donations, and volunteer efforts, the Great Smoky Mountains Association provides funds that help with certain Park expenses. Since its creation in 1953, GSMA has contributed more than $18 million to the Park.


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