Saturday, November 29, 2008

Red Hot Lies

Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, is the latest book from the author of the New York Times bestselling Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming.

The book, as you might expect, based on the title alone, runs against the current thought process in the mainstream media. However, this is an important read, especially when you consider the path the world is beginning to walk down. Considering the huge ramifications on the worldwide economy and how we live, it’s extremely important for Americans, and people around the world, to get another view point on global warming and climate change before we begin making consequential decisions.

The author, Chris Horner, is an acknowledged expert on global warming legislation and regulation, and has testified before Senate committees and has given numerous addresses in the European Parliament.

In Red Hot Lies, Horner details the errors and even frauds committed in the name of global warming, reproducing charts and even photographs that are certainly revealing even to those not passionate about scientific minutiae. The book is a meticulously researched (65 pages of notes and references) volume in which Horner exposes what he calls the hypocrisy, deceit, and outright lies of the global warming alarmists and the compliant media that support them.

Horner demonstrates what he sees as the fundamental threat that global warming offers the world by quoting Czech President Vaclav Klaus at a conference in Italy in September 2007 on “Global Warming Hysteria or Freedom and Prosperity?”:

“We have to face many prejudices and misunderstandings in this respect. The climate-change debate is basically not about science; it is about ideology. It is not about global temperature’ it is about the concept of human society. It is not about nature or scientific ecology; it is about environmentalism, about one -- recently born -- dirigistic and collectivistic ideology, which goes against freedom and free markets. I spent most of my life in a Communistic society which makes me particularly sensitive to the dangers, traps and pitfalls connected with it.”

Exposing the dark underbelly of the global warming lobby, Horner reveals exactly what the alarmists are saying and doing to advance their agenda:

* Al Gore’s deep financial interests in advancing global warming hysteria around the world. Gore has admitted to having “a stake” in a number of green “investments” and has encouraged people to put money into companies he has a financial stake in. Gore has strongly advocated the use of bio-fuels and has admitted to having investments in companies involved in such agri-business. His investment company also owns major shares of the world’s carbon credits. As countries pass carbon taxes and carbon caps, his investments could eventually make him billions of dollars.

* Politicians and the media demand that government "do something about" climate skeptics, while activists go further, calling for imprisonment and censorship of dissenters.

* Respected scientists have been victims of threats and vandalism in addition to having their reputations smeared for voicing skepticism about any aspect of the global warming dogma. Some have even been blacklisted.

* One scientist at the University of Oslo had the wheels fall off his car, not once, but twice, including while his daughter was in the car after he began speaking out against global warming alarmism.

* About 18 months ago, at a Kyoto negotiation in Thailand, China suggested that, because of their family planning policy, they should be given carbon offsets to sell back to Europe and the United States. They made their argument on the basis that their population would be much larger if they hadn’t aborted all of those babies, which would have made their carbon footprint much larger.

* Journalists regularly mislead the public by falsely declaring a consensus on manmade global warming that does not exist. In fact, just the other day, a study was published showing that support for global warming initiatives was falling among the 11 countries surveyed. Less than half of the people surveyed, or 47%, said they were prepared to make personal lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions, down from 58% last year. Only 37% said they were willing to spend "extra time" on the effort, an eight-point drop. And only one in five respondents - or 20% - said they'd spend extra money to reduce climate change. That's down from 28% a year ago.

* The United Kingdom forced schoolchildren to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in schools. Now, half of those children report sleep loss due to fear over "global warming". There are similar efforts underway in California, and it includes what they call pester power and also reporting on their parents.

With perfect timing and incredible coincidence, less than a week after Red Hot Lies was released, the London Daily Telegraph reported on November 16 a “surreal scientific blunder” made by Dr. James Hansen, Al Gore’s chief scientific ally. The climatologist had gone on record that last month was the hottest October ever recorded. However, the reason for the freak figures from around the globe based on Dr. Hansen’s readings were not based on October readings, but were figures from the previous month that had simply been carried over and repeated two months running. Dr. Hansen and his institute had to scramble desperately to revise their figures.

Great News! Amazon.com has announced that they will be extending their Black Friday deals into today!

Amazon will continue offering amazing deals on Saturday to help you get your holiday shopping done for less.

To help support HikingintheSmokys.com, please follow this link:

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Thank you.

Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Survivorman releases new book and DVD

As you may have recently heard, Les Stroud, host of the TV show “Survivorman” on the Discovery Channel, announced he will be filming his final adventure in the wild in Papua New Guinea this month. This would wrap up his third and last series as Survivorman, although he does expect the nickname to stick with him as he moves onto other projects.

“It takes a lot out of me as I really do what I do for real, with no camera crew, no nights in hotels like others do, and it takes a toll on my body,” Stroud told Rueters.

“You can only do seven days surviving without food a certain number of times a year. I’m pleased with what I have done, I’ve been copied around the world, but 25 times I’ve not eaten anything for a week while sleeping on rocks. I need to move on.”

Stroud, 47, just released a new book called “Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive“.

The book is a practical guide that gives everyday readers a no-nonsense look at the real world of survival. In the book, Stroud offers readers the essential skills and tactics necessary to endure in any corner of the globe, along with a wealth of insider information born of his own experiences in the outdoors.

Readers will learn why a lean-to is largely a waste of time, why you should make your own survival kits and why drinking contaminated water is sometimes warranted.

Also, just a couple of weeks ago, Stroud released the Survivorman: Collection 2 DVD. This is the full collection of episodes from the second season of the series. As a bonus, the DVD producers also added Stroud’s “Surviving Alaska’ special.

It sounds like Stroud is not entirely retiring from TV, however. He mentions that there’s a possibility that he could launch a new TV series in which he would follow in the footsteps of famous explorers.

Amazon will have amazing deals today to help you get holiday shopping done for less.

To help support HikingintheSmokys.com, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/b/?node=384082011&tag=hikinginthcom-20



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Origins of the Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains

There are roughly 850 miles of hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s also a lot of history underneath those trails we walk along today. How were these trails established? Who blazed them, and why?

Some of the earliest trails in what would become the National Park were simple game trails created by migrating bison, elk, and other large animals. Many of these were later adapted by the Indians in the area. The Cherokee used these established routes for trading with other tribes and for reaching favored hunting grounds.

Over the years, with the steady encroachment of white settlers, many of these old Indian trails were converted into stock trails and wagon roads. By the late 1800’s, big lumber companies were converting Indian trails into logging roads and railroads to help with the harvest and transport of timber.

A few of these old settler roads eventually became the hiking trails we use today. If you hike along the Old Sugarlands Trail, the Little River Trail or the Miegs Mountain Trail, you’ll be walking on some of the same roads used by the pioneers and homesteaders of this area.

Some of the trails we use today were blazed by one pioneer in particular.

Wiley Oakley, also known as the “Roamin Man of the Mountains”, was born in 1885 at the base of Mount LeConte. Tragically, his mother died when he was a young boy. To help deal with his grief he began wandering the hollows and mountains near his home. Reflecting back as an older man, he spoke of how he would try to climb the highest peaks to see if he could catch a glimpse of her in heaven.

As he grew older, Wiley’s responsibilities also grew. At sill a relatively young age he began helping the family with hunting and fishing duties. It was during this time that he spent “roamin” and hunting that he was discovering the unique features of the mountains and was even blazing his own footpaths. Eventually he became a hunting and fishing guide, and gained such a renowned reputation that he was soon guiding politicians, celebrities and businessmen from all over the country, including Henry Ford.

During the Park’s formation, Wiley became a major consultant and was called on by surveyors to help determine Park boundaries. Some of those paths he blazed earlier in his life eventually became official park trails.

Another early explorer by the name of Paul Adams is credited with blazing the trail above Alum Cave up to Mount LeConte, as well as for helping to establish the famous lodge atop that same mountain.

Adams, an avid hiker, joined the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association in 1924, a group dedicated to making the Smoky Mountains into a national park. Later that same year, Adams led an expedition to the top of Mount LeConte for the purpose of showing Washington dignitaries the rugged beauty of the Smoky Mountains and to help promote the cause for national park status. The delegation spent the night in a large tent. The following year Adams would build a cabin on that same spot which eventually led to the establishment of the LeConte Lodge.

Although many trails in the Smoky Mountains follow all or parts of the routes developed by migrating animals, Indians, pioneers and explorers, the majority of the trails still in use today were developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The CCC was a work relief program established in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation, the CCC was created to combat unemployment during the Great Depression. Between 1933 and 1942, the CCC used 4000 men to build trails, campgrounds, bridges and ranger stations in the Smokies.

Some of those trails built by the CCC include Bullhead, Alum Cave, Kephart Prong, Sweat Heifer and Sugarland Mountain.

Since the early days of the Park, various hiking clubs have worked to improve the original CCC trails, and in some cases, construct new ones. One of those trails, the granddaddy of all trails, was the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail, also known as the AT, runs for more than 70 miles through Great Smoky Mountains, entering from the north at Davenport Gap and exiting in the south near Fontana Dam. The highest point anywhere along the 2158 mile trail is at Clingmans Dome (6625 ft.). The trail also passes by other notable landmarks in the Smokies such as Charlies Bunion, Rocky Top and the historic stone fire tower atop Mt. Cammerer.

Although the AT was the brainchild of Benton MacKaye, cofounder of The Wilderness Society, it was Harvey Broome and Paul Fink that made it into a reality in the Smokies.

Harvey Broome was an early environmentalist, another one of the cofounders of The Wilderness Society, and a longtime president of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. He, along with seven others, hiked the 70+ miles of AT through the Park in 1932 before the trail was completed. He was largely responsible for sighting most of the AT thru the Park.

Paul Fink, another leader of the movement that led to the founding of the national park, was also instrumental in blazing the AT through the Smokies. Fink was a member of the Board of Managers of the Appalachian Trail from 1925 to 1949 and was the author of “Backpacking Was the Only Way”, an account of early 20th century camping and backpacking adventures in the southern Appalachians.

Over the years, the Park has closed certain trails for various reasons. In the future, it’s likely that other trails will be closed and new ones will be created, demonstrating that the park isn’t static, but a park that continues to evolve.

Please Note: Black Friday deals start today! Visit Amazon.com for Black Friday specials and great deals all week long from the convenience (and comfort) of your keyboard. To help support HikingintheSmokys.com, please follow this link:

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Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cades Cove Loop Road Repaving Plans

On November 13, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson conducted a public briefing at which he and Park staff members laid out the various alternatives and time-tables for the Cades Cove repaving project.

The purpose of the briefing was to get public reaction from the community regarding which method would have the least impact on the visitor and on the neighboring communities. At the meeting, Park officials showed a PowerPoint presentation illustrating the construction method and the various alternatives for road closures. At the request of those in attendance, the Park posted the presentation to the Park website.

Right now, the repaving project is scheduled to occur during the first-half of 2010, with full closure of the one-way loop lasting 2 months, or a series of partial closures lasting up to 4 months.

The 11-mile, one-way, single lane, Cades Cove Loop Road was last repaved in 1978 and has badly deteriorated into a mass of patches, ruts and potholes. It has very inadequate ditches, culverts and other drainage so that water pools on the road, seeping between the layers then freezing and thawing, further cracking the pavement. The Park plans to completely reconstruct a solid sub-base layer to support the pavement. In addition they plan to create ditches, and add culverts to drain the water off the surface.

Unfortunately the project will not address traffic congestion, which, for anyone who is familiar with Cades Cove, is like sitting in rush hour traffic during orange barrel season. It’s especially frustrating for people who simply want to hike one of the trails located off the loop road.

The way I see it, there are six things that could be done to ease congestion, some likely to help, some probably impractical.

1) As I mentioned in a previous post, there was an extensive interview with Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson in the latest issue of Smokies Life Magazine. Mr. Ditmanson acknowledged the heavy traffic problems in Cades Cove. He mentioned using buses as a possible solution, but cited issues with parking as being problematic, i.e., not enough open space in Townsend to create parking lots large enough to handle all of the tourists.

2) Build passing lanes on certain sections of the road. This probably would never happen due to limited space. Moreover, tourists would probably occupy this additional lane for stopping as well.

3) Create a separate bike lane. Again, there may not be enough space to create the width needed for a bike lane. If the loop did have enough space, the question would be would enough people choose to get from behind the wheel and ride to make a difference in traffic. With fresh smooth pavement, I would think that the number of people willing to ride would probably increase, especially people on road bikes. Enough to make an impact on traffic congestion? Probably not.

4) How about stricter enforcement of rules? Technically, it’s against the law for drivers to stop in the middle of the road. What if we had rangers patrolling the most congested sections on horseback to enforce the law and keep traffic moving? Or, what if they started handing out tickets?

5) More signs and better education. What if the park increased the number of signs and did a better job of educating drivers that they cannot stop in the middle of the road? The park should somehow emphasize the importance of having slower drivers pull over to allow others to pass.

6) Stop encouraging people to “auto tour”. The park should stop publishing pamphlets and remove anything from the park website that encourages auto touring. The park should encourage people to get out of their cars, not stay in them.

What do you think about these solutions? Do you think any of these would have an impact? Are there any others that I haven’t considered?

Jeff

Why burn gas and fight crowds and traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find quality hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The future of GPS Navigation is here

National Geographic Adventure Magazine has published their annual “Best of Adventure” issue online. One of the articles in this issue listed all of the new and must-have outdoor gear for 2009. The article discussed two new GPS units that highlight how technology continues to evolve and improves our odds of not getting lost.

Here’s some additional information on the details and features of these two new GPS products:

Garmin Oregon 400T 3-Inch Touchscreen Handheld GPS Unit with Preloaded Topographic Maps

With the state-of-the-art 3D elevation perspective and preloaded topographic map data of the U.S., the rugged Oregon 400t provides all the tools you need for serious climbing, hiking or hunting. This high-sensitivity GPS receiver is preloaded with topographic maps, and features a high-resolution, color 3-inch touchscreen that reacts as you tap or drag through menus and options. With its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix satellite prediction, Oregon 400t locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its GPS location even in heavy cover and deep canyons. It's also equipped with a barometric altimeter and electronic compass, and it's compatible with Garmin's heart-rate monitors and speed/cadence sensors.

The preloaded U.S. topographic maps, 3D map view and a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief give you all the tools for serious climbing or hiking. Map detail includes national, state and local parks and forests, along with terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and points of interest. In case you're wondering how steep that hill really is, the Oregon's 3D map view helps you visualize your surroundings--giving you a better perspective of the elevation.

The Oregon 400t lets you customize five profiles--automotive, marine, recreation, fitness or geocaching--making the most beneficial features for each activity the easiest to access through quick shortcuts. The tough, 3-inch color touchscreen display is easy to read even in direct sunlight, and the Oregon's easy-to-use interface means you'll spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time searching for information.

It also plays well with others, allowing for wireless exchange of tracks, waypoints and geocaches between other Oregon units and Garmin Colorado models.

This unit has a built-in electronic compass that provides bearing information even while you're standing still, and its barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. You can even use the altimeter to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather conditions.

Conveniently plug in optional preloaded microSD memory cards for all your outdoor activities on land or water. The card slot is located inside the waterproof battery compartment, so you don't have to worry about getting it wet. Just insert an optional Garmin MapSource card with detailed street maps, and the Oregon provides turn-by-turn directions to your destination. And with optional BlueChart g2 Vision maps, you'll get everything you need for a great day on the water including depth contours, navaids and harbors.

Garmin's HotFix capability automatically calculates and stores satellite locations, greatly reducing satellite acquisition time so that you can turn the unit on and get going. Geocaching is even easier with the Oregon, which quickly downloads online information for every cache, such as location, terrain, difficulty, hints and description, so that you don't have to tote printouts with you.

Suunto X10M Wrist-Top GPS Computer Watch with Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, and GPS

Small and lightweight, the Suunto X10M wrist-top computer watch combines an altimeter, barometer, compass, and GPS navigator, making it a terrific companion for outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. The X10M--which builds on Suunto's decade of experience in creating cutting-edge outdoor devices--stands above most other wrist-top computers thanks to its improved, faster GPS fixes. Even under heavy foliage, you can use the X10M to plot your treks, navigate to a certain spot, or get back to your car, all while keeping your hands free to hold a hiking stick or water bottle. Once back at home, you can share your treks on Google Earth, or use the Suunto Trek Manager PC software to create new routes and plan new journeys.

The Suunto X10M also includes a built-in altimeter, which displays your current altitude and your vertical ascent and descent rate. Accurate up to 30,000 feet, the altimeter is an extremely valuable tool for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and wilderness travel. The altimeter contributes to your excursion in several ways. If you're standing on or near an obvious geographic feature, such as a ridge, trail, or creek, the altimeter can alert you to your current elevation and help you find your position on a topographic map. Similarly, if you plan on climbing a slope to a certain elevation and then traversing, the X10M can help you stay on course. And, of course, the X10M captures all your altitude information in its integrated logbook, making it easy to analyze your performance when creating a training routine.

The X10M's barometer, meanwhile, measures and records air pressure to help you predict changing conditions--from sunny skies to hair-bending electrical storms. The barometer helps you decide whether to bring a soft shell or rain shell jacket when the skies look ominous, or even when to high-tail it back to the car. In general, low pressure brings inclement weather, while high pressure brings stability and clear skies. If you've arrived at camp and notice the pressure starting to plunge, it's probably a good idea to secure the tent and crawl in. Likewise, if you're on a climb, it would be prudent to find shelter and retreat. Even at home, the X10M's barometer can look beyond office walls, skyscrapers, and nearby hills to help you plan for upcoming activities.

And no outdoor watch is worth its salt without a digital compass, a great tool for keeping track of your direction while skiing, hiking, or exploring a new city. Simply point the top of the watch toward your intended destination and lock it in. Other features include an Activity Mode that records your speed, distance, and altitude information, along with any memory points you define along the way; a Track Back mode that guides you back the same way you came; a long-lasting battery; up to 50 routes, 25 tracks, and 500 waypoints; water-resistance up to 330 feet; and all the standard watch functions, including a 12/24-hour display, a stopwatch, a calendar clock, and three daily alarms. As with all Suunto wrist-top computers, the X10M carries a two-year warranty.

If you would like more information on either of these products, or would like to see our full line of GPS, hiking gear and apparel products, please click here.

Jeff

Why burn gas and fight crowds and traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find quality hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Future of Shuckstack Lookout Tower in question?

While I was researching my article on Peter Barr’s new book, Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers, I discovered that there’s some uncertainty about the future of the Shuckstack Lookout Tower located in the southwestern corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The source of this uncertainty stems from this statement made by park officials:

“Since the use of Shuckstack as part of the radio system has been discontinued, park management will need to make a decision about the need for and future of this tower”

Built in 1934 by the CCC, the tower overlooks the Smokies, Unicoi, Snowbird, Nantahala, and Blue Ridge Mountains. It also offers spectacular views of Fontana Dam.

These days the Shuckstack tower has fallen into disrepair. Several loose steps and a missing railing make the 60-foot climb a little frightening, and those who reach its top find holes and a partially rotted floor. Obviously, the steel tower is in desperate need of restoration.

“Fire lookouts in North Carolina are a dying breed,” says Barr. “About a third of the lookouts that once stood in the state are gone. Others are so badly deteriorated that they face removal. Most people assume that the towers on public lands are still maintained; sadly, this is far from true.”

In order to preserve the tower, Mr. Barr is encouraging people to write letters to Park Superintendent, Dale Mitmason. You can find more information on this campaign by following this link.


What are your thought on this? Is this a piece of history that should be preserved, or is it an eyesore that should be removed in order to return the mountain to its natural state?


Jeff

Why burn gas and fight crowds and traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find quality hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Last of seasonal road closings in Smokies

The last of the seasonal road closing for Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be occurring over the next several days.

A few early snow and ice events have already temporarily closed Clingmans Dome Road on a couple of occasions in recent weeks. In fact, the road continues to be closed since last Saturday’s snow storm. With up to four more inches of snow predicted for today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the road remains closed for the rest of the season.

Officially, on December 1, the road will close for the winter. This will impact several trails along the road, including; Road Prong, Spruce-Fir, Sugarland Mountain, Fork Ridge, Noland Divide, Forney Creek, and Forney Ridge (Andrews Bald) trails.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will also be closing on December 1. Trails impacted by this road closing include; Trillium Gap, Grapeyard Ridge, and Baskins Creek Trail.

The last road to shut-down for the season will be the Little Greenbrier Road, which will be closed on January 1. This closing will impact the Little Brier Gap Trail.

Of course all of the trails mentioned above will continue to be open but you may have problems reaching these particular trailheads.

You should also note that Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recently announced on the park website that the Cades Cove Loop Road is tentatively scheduled to be closed on December 3-4 for hemlock woolly adelgid spraying. Closure dates may be adjusted due to weather.

One final closing hikers should be aware of is with regards to the Mt. LeConte Lodge. The Lodge will close for the season on November 26.

Jeff

Why burn gas and fight crowds and traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find quality hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.




Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upcoming Outdoor Events in Smokies Region

Below are a few outdoor events occurring over the next two weeks in the Smoky Mountains region that I thought you might be interested in:

Try A Tri, Nov. 20. The program provides training to those wanting to complete their first triathlon. The basic spring package moves athletes toward completing either the Valdese Triathlon or Haymed.Org Triathlon, which both take place in April. The programs begin Jan. 1. Information session at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Asheville Racquet Club on Hendersonville Road. Call Greg Duff at 400-5868 or visit www.gloryhoundevents.com.

Wilderness First Responder Recertification, Nov. 21-23, Dec. 3-5. This three day scenario-based course is designed as review and practice of evacuation and decision making guidelines and may be used to recertify Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT (wilderness portion only) certifications. Landmark Learning, an outdoor training base-camp, in Cullowhee. 828.293.5384 or main@landmarklearning.org.

Devil’s Britches Loop, Nov. 22. Guided hike sponsored by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy on the Devil's Britches Trail at Cataloochee Ranch, easy to moderate difficulty, 10 a.m. Nov. 22, Haw Creek. Hike leader is Judy Coker, board member and member of SAHC, and a co-owner of Cataloochee Ranch. Call 828-253-0095, ext. 205.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail workday, Nov. 22. Carolina Mountain Club will hold a Mountains-to-Sea Trail workday on Nov. 22. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Moose Cafe, Parkway Maintenance Office, Balsam Gap intersection with Rt. 74/23 south of Waynesville at 9:30 or Scott Creek O/L BRP mile marker 449 for car pooling. www.carolinamtnclub.com.

Smoky Mountains Hiking Club, various hikes. Members of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club will lead hikes to Hatcher Mountain and Little Bottoms on Nov. 23; Cove Mountain and Laurel Falls Trails on Nov. 28; and Big Stone Door on Nov. 30. www.smhclub.org.

French Broad River clean-up, Nov. 23. Diamond Brand Outdoors is partnering with Riverlink to help clean a section of the French Broad River on Sunday. 23. Volunteers will be needed for the clean-up event. Those interested in lending a hand may meet in the parking lot of the Ledges Whitewater Park at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Goldview Road at noon. Trash bags, pickers and gloves will be provided for all. It is suggested that those interested in volunteering wear long sleeves and long pants, bring water and be aware that there is no restroom available at Ledges Park and they should plan accordingly. For more information, contact James at Diamond Brand’s Asheville Store by calling 251-4668.

Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers, Nov. 24. Join CMC member Peter Barr at the Henderson County Public Library at 4:00pm on Monday, Nov. 24 for a 45 minute presentation on North Carolina lookout towers. Peter will discuss his new book Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers and talk about the hiking, history, and preservation of western NC fire towers, including Shuckstack Tower in the Smokies. He'll also introduce the club's newest challenge program, the Lookout Tower Challenge. Henderson County Public Library, 301 N. Washington St., Hendersonville, NC 28739, (828) 697-4725.

THE GOBBLER: Season-end mountain bike race celebration, Nov. 29 and 30. Headwaters Outfitters Adventure Village, 15 Adventure Ridge Road, Brevard. Dual slalom race, night XC race and downhill race. Register at www.active.com or visit www.jandwevents.com for more details. $35 one event, $65 two events or $85 three events.

All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory Conference, Dec. 3-5. Anyone interested in the discovery of new plant and animal life in the on-going species survey in the Smokies is welcome to attend. So far 890 species new to science have been discovered, along with 6,129 species not previously known to dwell in the park. For a more detailed schedule or to register, go to www.dlia.org or call 865.430.4756 or email at heather@dlia.org.


Why burn gas and fight crowds and traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find quality hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

Jeff

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New hiking book aims to save N. Carolina’s Lookout Towers

Peter Barr has combined his love of fire towers and his passion for the outdoors into a historical/hiking guidebook to the lookout towers of western North Carolina.

Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers describes the natural and cultural history for 26 fire lookout towers in the Nantahala National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains, Central Highlands, Blue Ridge and Black Mountains of North Carolina.

Among the towers discussed in the book are Shuckstack, Wayah Bald, Clingmans Dome, Mt. Cammerer, Mt. Sterling and Mt. Mitchell.

Published in April, the author provides a historical backdrop for each of the towers and the mountains on which they stand. Readers will also find descriptions of what can be seen from the towers, driving directions, as well as detailed hiking routes of varying length and difficulty to reach each of the historic lookouts. You can even read interviews from past watchmen of some of the towers.

The book includes over 30 maps and 40 photographs as well as listings of the towers that have been removed or restricted in western NC. Also included in the book is information on the “Lookout Tower Challenge”, a hiking based challenge program co-administered by the NC Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association and the Carolina Mountain Club.

With the book’s special emphasis on lookout preservation and restoration, Barr hopes to spur interest in the towers and their upkeep and rehabilitation throughout the state. Peter brings out the plight of the abandoned historic structures and makes a plea for help in saving them.

Lookout towers were built to safeguard forests by reporting fires in isolated areas. For many years they remained the primary source of fire reporting until aerial detection, satellite and cell phones provided faster and more practical methods. In recent years, many prominent landmarks have disappeared or have badly deteriorated. Since most lookouts are no longer in use, funding for their upkeep is no longer available in many cases. As a result, many towers have been dismantled due to poor structural condition or liability concerns by the agencies that own and administer them. About a third of the lookouts that once stood in North Carolina are gone. The author is actively trying to save the remaining towers through his association and by promotion of his book.

In addition to being director of the North Carolina chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, a group of enthusiasts who restore and protect lookout towers nationwide, Barr is also a member of the Carolina Mountain Club. He’s climbed the “Southeastern Highest 100” and “North Carolina Highest 100” summits, one of only two people to have ever completed these peak lists. He’s also summited every southeastern peak over 5,000 feet, becoming the first person to ever do so, and has reached the highest point in over 80 North Carolina counties. His next goal, hiking all 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is nearly complete.

Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers is a must read for fire lookout enthusiasts or anyone interested in learning more about them or hiking in Western North Carolina.

I want to give Smoky Scout (see interview) a shout-out for giving me a heads-up on this book. You can check out her website as she hikes all the trails in the Smokies to raise money for the Girl Scouts.

If you like more information or would like to purchase Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers, please click here.

If you're interested in seeing our full selection of outdoor and hiking related books, please visit: The Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cades Cove Loop Road may close on December 3-4

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials just announced on the park website that the Cades Cove Loop Road is tentatively scheduled to be closed on December 3-4 for hemlock woolly adelgid spraying. Closure dates may be adjusted due to weather. Additional details of the closure will be posted on the park's website once they become available.

Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

A vicarious hike up Mt. LeConte

Today is going to be a cold one in the Smoky Mountains region. Some parts of the southern Appalachians are expecting even more snow today in the upper elevations. The Mt. LeConte Lodge website is reporting that there are already six inches of existing snow on the ground above 4000 feet!

Clingmans Dome Road remains closed as a result of snow and ice as well.

I know a lot of people don’t like hiking in the cold weather. I don’t blame you. For those of you who still wish you could be out there hiking, maybe you could take to the trail vicariously for a couple of minutes with a good video.

Below is a short video from our hike up Mount LeConte from earlier this summer. Hopefully this will whet your appetite for better weather in just a few short months.....



If you’re looking for more information about hiking the Alum Cave Trail to the summit of Mt. LeConte, please click here.

Jeff

Why burn gas and fight crowds and traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find quality hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trail Tested: Columbia Thunderstorm Jacket

This past Saturday was a dreary, rainy day in Louisville. Rather than spend all day indoors, I decided to go out and take a walk on some trails near my neighborhood.

A quick check of the Weather Channel showed it was 42 degrees with winds of 19 mph.

I wanted to give my relatively new Columbia Sportswear Thunderstorm Jacket another test. Wearing just the jacket and my Columbia Omni-Dry Mountain Tech T-shirt as a base layer, I headed outside.

Even though the jacket is lined, I still felt a little cool when I first walked out the door. At first I thought that maybe I was going to need an additional thin layer, however, once I was out for about 5 minutes I began feeling more comfortable, except during the occasional strong gust of wind.

I walked in a steady rain/drizzle for just over an hour. The jacket kept me completely dry, and sufficiently warded off the wind.

Perhaps a much better test of my jacket occurred during a hike in the Flattops Wilderness Area in Colorado back in July. My hiking partners and I got stuck in a surprise thunderstorm which forced us to hike almost four miles in steady to heavy rain. Again, my upper body remained completely dry and I never felt chilled from the cool breeze. I was very pleased with the performance of the product and was glad that I made the upgrade from a competitor product.

The Thunderstorm Jacket is a waterproof, breathable jacket, which also resists internal condensation to keep you dry in any conditions. The Omni-Tech technology provides premium waterproof/breathable protection by using microporous membranes which keeps water from penetrating the fabric, yet allows perspiration to escape. Additionally, Columbia seals all seams on the jacket.

The Omni-Dry Mountain Tech T-shirt also did its job by keeping me dry during my neighborhood hike. I’m a pretty fast walker and I tend to generate a lot of heat, but the shirt didn’t feel sweaty after returning home.

I’ve been wearing wicking shirts for many years now. More than a year ago I purchased an Omni-Dry Mountain Tech T-shirt from Columbia Sportswear and have had the opportunity to use it on many occasions. It’s done an excellent job of keeping me dry in both warm and cold weather conditions. In addition to wicking perspiration away, the shirt has UPF-15 rated sun protection and resists the build-up of odor causing bacteria.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

GoSmoky.com Radio: Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont

Tomorrow night at 8 p.m., Meredith Goins will be the guest on the GoSmoky.com Radio Show, hosted by Raymond Owens.

Ms. Goins is the spokeswoman for "Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont". She will be discussing what the Institute has to offer and how people can get involved during the the 30 minute internet-based radio program.

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont provides in-depth experiences through educational programs designed to nurture appreciation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, celebrate diversity, and foster stewardship. The Institute’s mission is to connect people and nature through hands-on learning experiences with the National Park.

Tremont is a residential environmental education center located within the Park boundaries (near the Townsend Y). They help teachers, students, parents, vacationers and photographers learn about stewardship and the cultural and natural history of the Smokies through their in-depth education programs. Learning programs include weekend hikes, Elderhostel programs, family camping programs, and 3-day and 5-day school group programs.

You can listen to the show by clicking GoSmoky.com Radio Show website.

Jeff

Why burn gas and fight traffic at the malls? Enjoy the convenience of shopping from home or work. Just click on the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store to find hiking quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands. We also have a wide variety of books related to hiking and the Smoky Mountains.

HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

17-gigapixel image: largest photo ever created

The picture above is a much smaller version of a 17-gigapixel image that could be the largest ultra-high-resolution composite photo ever created.

When New York photographer Gerard Maynard set out to create the largest panoramic photo, he chose a grand subject—the Glacier Point view in Yosemite National Park. To create the panorama, Maynard stitched together more than 2,000 individual photos taken from five separate locations between May 30 and June 5 of this year.

To get a sense of the humongous scale of the picture, visitors to Maynard's site can click on select points in the 96.5-gigabyte image, zooming in on cool details like climbers moving up pitches on El Capitan, hikers reaching the top of Half Dome, and tourists taking photos of their family.

Click here to see this extremely cool image in its full glory.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Tour de Georgia cycling race cancelled for 2009

The Tour de Georgia bicycle race, which until recent years had been the premier U.S. stage race, has fallen victim to the tough economic environment. Race organizers announced yesterday that the race will not be held in 2009, however, backers of the race say it will return to the international calendar in 2010.

"We believe that this unique and exciting event will endure," Tour boardmember Tom Saddlemire said in a release on the race's website. "We have decided to use 2009 as a time to plan ahead and properly position the Tour de Georgia to make the best use of the new partnerships we forged during the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T, such as our relationships with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Road Atlanta."

"Over the course of six years, the Tour de Georgia has attracted 3.2 million spectators, many of whom traveled to Georgia from out of state, and generated a direct economic impact totaling over $186 million," said Craig Lesser, former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "The 2008 Tour de Georgia, our most successful Tour yet, yielded over $38.6 million in direct economic impact for the state. We have come a long way since 2003."

In recent years, the Tour of California has supplanted the Tour de Georgia as the premier U.S. stage race, which likely added to the organizers sponsorship woes. Still, the six-year-old event has been a success for the state and for U.S. cycling as a whole, reintroducing elite European-based racers to U.S. roads, including Lance Armstrong, after a long layoff.

Hopefully the race will indeed return in 2010. The finish at the top of the Brasstown Bald stage is always an exciting and spectacular event.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ed Viesturs discusses first aid kits

Below is short video featuring world renowned mountaineer Ed Viesturs. In the video, Ed discusses what he has in his medical and first aid kits whenever he ventures into the outdoors.



Below are some of the products that Ed discussed. If you would like more in-depth information about what is contained in each of the kits, just click on one of the links.





Mountain Weekender












Light and Fast Trail







Ultralight and Watertight










Pocket Survival Pak






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Riding the Spine: From Alaska to Argentina

If you’re a cyclist, which I happen to be, “riding the spine” would probably have to be one of the ultimate cycling adventures. In fact, I’ve often wandered if anybody else has ever done the trip, or even considered it.

The ultimate trip I’m referring to takes you from the Alaskan Arctic Coast to the tip of South America.

Just the other day I found out about three cyclists who are currently attempting this epic ride.

Jacob Thompson, Sean Monterastelli and Goat (yes, Goat is his real name according to their website) began their trip in July of 2006 from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Primarily using off-road trails, the three Santa Cruz, California natives are riding along the Continental Divide spanning the entire length of the Americas. Their ultimate destination is Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, which is at the southern tip of South America.

With roughly 100 pounds of gear loaded on their Xtracycle “sport utility bicycles”, the trio averages about 15 miles a day. They spend about $12 a day, making their money stretch by camping 99% of the time.

After more than two years and 12,000 miles, the adventurers recently arrived in Colombia, South America.

As you might expect, the trip has not been without incident.

During the first week of their journey, Jacob was chased by a wolf along the Haul Road near the Arctic Circle. He describes the encounter in his blog:

"It was clear to me that the wolf was going to catch me, and I began fumbling for the bear repellent in my handlebar bag, riding as hard as I could, all the while so as to buy some time. ... Eventually, I managed to get it out, but saw that the wolf was now within 10-15 feet and I haven't taken off the safety. I imagined if I stopped, the wolf would complete the chase with a flying leap to grab my throat. I finished taking off the safety and saw the trucker driving behind me swerve and hit the wolf, and quickly pulling to the left to avoid hitting a very appreciative me. I waved a thankful wave, a couple of them as if I was honoring this trucker who seemed to step in as my guardian angel. He did not slow down a bit, just kept on going.”

In Canada and Montana they had to deal with snow, subzero temperatures, and trails covered with black ice. There were constant snow-related bike failures. One night Goat suffered hypothermia and frostbite, and, were it not for a cabin stocked with plenty of firewood out in the middle of nowhere, things could’ve been a lot worse.

In Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, they camped at a river next to a drug smuggling operation. That night the Mexican military surrounded their campsite, machine guns cocked and aimed at their heads. After a few tense moments, the Federales sorted things out and realized the cyclists weren’t smugglers.

Their most recent adventure occurred just the other day. In order to get across the Darien Gap, a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest separating Panama and Colombia, the trio was forced to hit the water. Strapping their bikes on top of kayaks, the group spent the next two weeks island hopping and paddling almost 500 nautical miles.

The indigenous Kuna people of this region didn´t quite know what to make of the trio paddling bikes across their territory. One morning they were ambushed by Kuna police wearing masks. They held the cyclists at gunpoint until they confirmed that the American adventurer’s weren´t actually a threat to their independent nation.

You can follow their journey as they make their way to Tierra del Fuego by following the journals and videos on their website.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

16-Year-Old attempts circumnavigation sailing record

Earlier this year, on June 14, 2008, Zac Sunderland set sail from Marina del Rey, California, a small harbor just south of Los Angeles.

This would be no ordinary excursion.

Zac, having just completed his sophomore year in high school, was embarking on a year and a half long adventure to sail around the world - alone. If he arrives back in California before January 2010 he will become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, breaking the record held by David Dicks, an Australian who was 18 years, 41 days old, when he accomplished his feat.

To circumnavigate the globe, Zac will be sailing roughly 24,000 nautical miles in a 1972 Islander, a 36-foot yacht he named the Intrepid.

Right now he is closing in on Port Louis, Mauritius, putting him close to the half-way point on his voyage.


Zac, as one might expect, is no stranger to sailing. He grew up in a family of sailors. He joined the family on sailing ventures to Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Mexico, all the while developing his own seafaring skills as he grew up on the seas.

In addition to those family excursions, he’s had experience racing, crewing and delivering yachts of all sizes and value. He’s crewed for delivery captains up and down the west coast, often given sole responsibility for navigating, sail trim and resolving mechanical problems. Zac also has a great deal of experience working on yachts, including installing and repairing rigging up in the crow's nest, down below on thru hull fittings, as well as overhauling diesel engines.

To assure his family that he’s safe and sound, Zac calls his family at least twice a day on his satellite phone. He also stays in contact with the rest of the world using an email service called SailMail.

That phone came in handy one day when he needed some quick advice from his father. Off the coast of Indonesia, in perhaps the most dangerous moment of his trip so far, he had an encounter with pirates.

At one point in his voyage a large wooden vessel that didn’t show-up on the radar, flying no flags, with its crew hidden and not responding to radio calls, swept to within 200 yards of the Intrepid.

Zac called his father, who instructed him to load his .357-caliber pistol and be prepared to shoot to kill.

After riding in the wake of the Intrepid for several minutes the vessel finally changed course and motored off.

Besides his encounter with pirates, he cites his biggest challenges as going for long periods of time without sleep and not feeling hungry, but knowing he has to eat in order to keep his strength up. He also mentions unpredictable seas, the constant squalls, pelting rain and the rolling waves in every direction wears on him as well.

Once he reaches Mauritius he’ll need to spend some time taking care of some extensive repairs to his boat. The most treacherous portion of his journey - from Mauritius to Durban, South Africa, and around the Cape of Good Hope - lies directly ahead. He’ll be in a hurry to try to beat the storm season.

Below is a short video showing some footage of Zac’s journey so far:



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store

With Christmas only weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about a gift for that special hiker in your life, or, maybe some new gear for yourself. Let the Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store help you. We offer quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands, including; Columbia Sportswear, Kelty, Garmin, Leki, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear and North Face.

With a slowing economy, shoppers will be making extra efforts to make their dollars stretch this season. We can help by offering you some the most competitive prices on hiking gear around.

No need to burn gas or fight traffic at the malls either. Online shoppers enjoy the convenience of shopping for books, gear and apparel from home or work.

Just click here to see our full selection.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Terje Haakonsen: First snowboard descent of Peak 7601

In celebration of the beginning of another ski/snowboarding season, I thought I’d show an awesome snowboarding video to get you primed and ready for the new season.

The video shows the first descent of Peak 7601 (near Valdez, Alaska) by Terje Haakonsen, a Norwegian snowboarder widely considered to be one of the most influential snowboarders of all time and one of the sport's early icons. This absolutely thrilling run was part of a film called First Descent, which also included Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Shawn Farmer and Nick Perata.

Many people have already seen the video, but hopefully this will inspire you…..to get out and conquer Cataloochee this weekend!



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Monday, November 10, 2008

PBS documentary on Appalachia in early 2009

Sometime in early 2009, PBS will broadcast a new, four-part series that traces the history of the people, wildlife and geology of the Appalachian Mountains.

Appalachia: A history of Mountains and People will be the first film series ever to chronicle the history of one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges and the diverse peoples who have inhabited them. The central theme of the series will explore the dynamic interaction of natural history and human history; how the mountains have shaped the people and how people have shaped the mountains.

The documentary, narrated by Academy Award Winner, Sissy Spacek, illustrates how the environment has shaped the residents, as well as how residents have tried — with often drastically damaging results — to shape the environment.

The series will also investigate Appalachia's many generations of inhabitants — from the first humans who settled in the mountains 14,000 years ago, to the Native Americans and Europeans who fought over the land, to current-day Appalachian residents.

Below is a trailer from the film.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Picture of the day: The world's remotest school

Admit it, we've all heard it. You've probably said it yourself many time before. The old saying; "When I was your age I had to walk to school everyday - up hill - both ways - in the snow!"

Well, I can assure that none of us has anything on the children of Gulu village in the Sichuan Province of China. To reach their school, elemantary school children are forced to walk a path that is only 1 foot, 4 inches wide at the narrowest point, with sheer drop-offs on the side.

Villagers say going to school is very dangerous for the children, and the narrow, zigzagging path also makes the children feel dizzy, they say.

The school has five concrete buildings and a playground with a basketball hoop made of two wooden poles and a broken blackboard.

However, the children are allowed to only pat the balls, as if they throw them and they go over the edge of the cliff, it would take half a day to retrieve them.

A volunteer who has been teaching there for three months said: "The students work very hard, but they have never seen computers, cars or even flushing toilets."


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More Seasonal Road Closings in Smokies

Over the next several days there will be a couple of seasonal road closings in the Smoky Mountains that will impact a handful of trails.

On Monday, November 10, the Roundbottom/Straight Fork Road will be closed for the season. The gravel road is accessed from the paved Big Cove Road, located near Oconaluftee in North Carolina. Trails impacted by this closing include the Hyatt Ridge, Enloe Creek and Beech Gap Trails.

The following Monday, November 17, Rich Mountain Road and Parson Branch Road will also close for the season. Both roads are one-way gravel roads, and are both accessed via the Cades Cove Loop Road.

Trails impacted by these closings include Indian Graves Gap on Rich Mountain Road, and the Gregory Bald and Hannah Mountain Trails on Parson Branch Road.

Of course all of these trails will continue to be open, but you may have problems reaching these particular trailheads.

You should also be aware that the Cades Cove Campground Store will close on November 17 as well. However, vending machines will remain in service throughout the winter.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

New weapon in the war on blisters

I just found out about this product the other day after reading an article by the “Gear Junkie” in the Billings Gazette. He used a product called GlacierGel to treat a hot spot on his heel on a recent climb up King’s Peak in Utah.

Apparently this is a relatively new product from Adventure Medical Kits. GlacierGel’s most distinctive feature is an absorbent bubble that protects damaged skin and helps to relieve pain caused by blisters. The bubble contains 50% water which acts as a cushion against subsequent friction to the sensitive area and will stay in place for 3-4 days.

Using what Adventure Medical Kits calls "hydrogel technology", the bubble also acts to cool the blister as well. Apparently this product can also be used on burns.

Ed Visteurs, the renowned American climber who has summitted the worlds 14 highest mountains without oxygen, is a pitchman for the company. Here’s video where he discusses how to prevent and treat blisters, and how to properly use GlacierGel.



If you’re interested in any of the GlacierGel products discussed in this article or in the video, just click on one of the links below:

GlacierGel

Complete First Aid Kit for Blisters (includes GlacierGel, moleskin and antiseptic towelettes)

Moleskin


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bid to become the youngest to climb the 7 Summits

Last week I wrote about a 73-year-old man who is attempting to become the oldest person to play basketball at the college level.

Now I have another story, as equally inspiring, from the opposite end of the age spectrum.

Next month, 12-year-old Jordan Romero from Big Bear Lake, California will be heading to Antarctica to climb Mt. Vinson, the highest point on the coldest continent. If he successfully reaches the top, it will make it his sixth summit of the famed Seven Summits.

Jordan's goal is to climb all Seven Summits by age 16, making him the youngest person in the world to climb the tallest mountain on each continent. Currently, that record is held by another American. On May 16, 2007, at the age of 18, Samantha Larson reached the top of Mt. Everest to become the youngest person in the world to climb all Seven Summits.

To put some perspective on all this, there are only 230 people in the world that have climbed all seven mountains to date.

Jordan’s first summit was on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, which he climbed just a few days past his 10th birthday. Since then, he’s climbed Kosciuszko in Australia, Elbrus in Russia, Aconcagua in Argentina, and, just this past summer, Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska.

Below are two videos. The first is a short two minute video with a mix of climbing footage intermingled with an interview with Jordan from the Cartoon Network. The video was shot shortly after he climbed his fourth summit. He comes across as being much more mature and confident than most kids his age – traits you probably need for climbing.

The second video shows some incredible footage documenting his trek up Denali this past summer.






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store Quality gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands.