Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Great Smoky Mountains National Park History Exhibit

This East Tennessee Historical Society exhibition explores the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park by investigating the changing relationship between the land and the people. The exhibit is in conjunction with the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park exhibit is one of the more than two dozen sections that comprise of Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee, the new, multi-million dollar signature exhibition of the East Tennessee Historical Society.

The exhibition explores the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by investigating the changing relationship between the land and the people through stories of early park boosters, the mountain people who originally owned the land, as well as the tourists who came and continue to come to marvel at the beauty of the mountains.

Visitors to the exhibit will be able to view original artifacts, including one of Wiley Oakley’s original sculptures, Mini-ha-ha; and the chair President Franklin D. Roosevelt sat in for the park dedication. There’s also a digital video album displaying historic images and footage that highlight the people and places of the Smokies.

Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee is an 8,500 square-foot exhibit at the East Tennessee History Center, which is located within the 1874 Old Custom House in downtown Knoxville. The exhibition utilizes more than 500 artifacts and more than 350 voices from East Tennesseans to tell the compelling history of the 35-county region. Voices of the Land has been designated a “We the People” project by the National Endowment for the Humanities for its incorporation of local history into the national story.

The East Tennessee History Center is located at 601 South Gay Street in Knoxville and is open Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Sunday 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Admission is $5.00 for adults; $4 for seniors; and free for children under 16 and accompanied with an adult; ETHS members free. For more information call 865-215-8830.


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.

Higher Ground: A Century of Visual Arts in East Tennessee

As part of the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Knoxville Museum of Art will open Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee. Throughout 2009, the museum will be celebrating the art and artists of Knoxville and the surrounding region. More than 60 works by a select group of the most celebrated artists with ties to the Smoky Mountains will be on display.

Highlights of the exhibit include works by Catherine Wiley and Lloyd Branson, pioneering artists who introduced Knoxville audiences to Art Nouveau, Impressionism, and other international art movements of their day; Joseph and Beauford Delaney, two of America’s most significant African-American artists; and works from the 1950s and 1960s by the Knoxville Seven, a group of progressive artists connected to the University of Tennessee who transformed and energized the area’s artistic climate. More recent art includes mixed-media objects by visionary sculptor Bessie Harvey along with a selection of works by leading area artists whose creations represent the quality and diversity of art-making in the region today.

Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee will be on display throughout 2009. The Knoxville Museum of Art is located at 1050 World's Fair Park Drive in Knoxville and is open Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., and Sun. 1 - 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, and $5 for non-members.

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, December 30, 2008

75 Hikes on the 75th

As part of the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Jerry Span from the Fontana Hiking Club has organized a program called “75 Hikes on the 75th”. As the name would imply, there will be 75 organized hikes in the Smoky Mountains throughout 2009.

The idea behind the program is to complete every mile of trail in the Smokies over the course of the 75 day hikes.

Hikers have the option of partaking in any number of hikes throughout the year. For the more ambitious hikers wishing to complete the entire program, thus covering all 1069 miles during the 75 hikes, will the added benefit of becoming a member of the 900 Miler Club, an elite group of folks who've hiked all the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Below are the seven hikes scheduled for January:

Jan 3. AT Davenport Gap to Lower Mt. Cammerer/Chestnut Branch

Jan 10. Cove Mountain/Laurel Falls/Little Greenbrier

Jan 11. Ramsay Cascades

Jan 17. Old Settlers/Maddron Bald

Jan 24. Low Gap II/AT from Low Gap to Inadu/Snake Den Ridge

Jan 25. Thomas Divide/Deeplow Gap (west end)/Indian Creek Motor/Thomas/Stone Pile Gap/Thomas

Jan 31. Anthony Creek/Bote Mountain/Finley Cane/Crib Gap

For more information on these hikes, please email organizer Jerry Span at jerry.span@fontanavillage.com or phone: 828-498-2122.


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, December 29, 2008

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Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Smoky Mountain News Briefs

I received my copy of the winter issue of "Smokies Guide" the other day. There are a couple of news items and upcoming events I thought that you might be interested in.

Bear Tips Park Dumpsters

As many of you already know, this has been a highly active year for aggressive bears in the Smoky Mountains. Several campsites and shelters were closed for several weeks at a time during the summer and fall. Several hiking trails had aggressive bear activity warnings posted on them as well. At one point, bears dared to enter public restrooms in popular picnic areas.

One bear even learned how to tip over and break into “bear-proof” dumpsters at one of the picnic areas on the Tennessee side of the park! Park Service staff were forced to employ chains and posts to secure the dumpsters in order to thwart the bears. In the end, however, the Park Service had to live-trap and relocate five bears to a different area of the park.

Biologists can't explain the unusual bear behavior since there appeared to be plenty of natural food available during most of the year.

Emergency Stabilization at Elkmont

National Park crews completed emergency stabilization of 18 historic summer cabins and the Appalachian Clubhouse in the Elkmont area this past fall. The park hopes to fully restore all 19 structures so they can be viewed by the public. At this time there is no indication when this will be completed.

Park Adds New Vegetation Crew

The vegetation management team in the Smokies was rewarded with special funding to hire an additional team to fight invasive plants. The crew will focus efforts on the North Carolina side of the park. They will be in charge of helping to eradicate non-native plants like kudzu, English ivy, Oriental bittersweet and privet over the next three years. They will also be helping to save the eastern hemlocks on the NC side as well.

Wilderness Wildlife Week

Wilderness Wildlife Week will be held from January 10-17 in Pigeon Forge and in the Great Smoky Mountains. The free event includes a variety of hikes, field trips, workshops and demonstrations related to the natural and cultural heritage of the Smoky Mountains. For more information, visit http://www.mypigeonforge.com/ or call 865-429-7350.

The Photographs of George Masa

Mapping the Mountains: The Photographs of George Masa. This is an exhibit examining the photography of George Masa at the Asheville Art Museum from February 6 - June 7. Masa was known as "the Ansel Adams of the East". Many of his photographs were used to promote the idea of preserving the Smokies as a national park. For more information, visit http://www.ashevilleart.org/ or call 828-253-3227.



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, December 28, 2008

The 2009 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey

The 2009 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is about to begin again, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is looking for volunteers across the country to participate in the count.

Each January, several hundred individuals count eagles along standard, non-overlapping survey routes. The purpose of the count is to monitor the status of bald eagle wintering populations in the contiguous United States by estimating national and regional count trends, both overall and by age class.

The 2009 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey will be held from Wednesday, Dec. 31 to Wednesday, Jan. 14 with target dates of Jan. 9-10.

For those of you in Tennessee interested in participating, the state coordinator for the survey is Scott Somershoe. He can be reached at Scott.Somershoe@state.tn.us or by phone at 615-781-6653.

This is the 30th anniversary of the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. Data is reviewed each year, incorporated into population trend analysis, and updated every five years. It is available at the MBES web site: http://ocid.nacse.org/nbii/eagles/. There you will find population trends for all regions and states, including Tennessee.


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, December 25, 2008

What got left off your Christmas list this year?

Every year there’s always something that you really wanted for Christmas, but Santa didn’t bring for one reason or another. Or, maybe you received an Amazon Gift Card this year and you’re just looking for a few ideas on what some of the hottest gifts are this season.

Maybe you were really hoping for an iPod this year. Check out the 120 GB iPod Classic, which holds up to 30,000 songs, 150 hours of video, 25,000 photos, or any combination. You can discover new music, movies, TV shows, games, audio books, and podcasts from the iTunes Store. You can even rent a movie and watch it on the go. You can save $20 by purchasing from Amazon. Click here for more information.

Maybe you were looking to make and play your own music. Check out the new Wii Music from Nintendo, one of the hottest gifts of the year. Unlike other music games, which penalize players if they don't play perfectly, Wii Music is a musical playground where there are no mistakes. Here anyone can pick up and master more than 60 instruments using simple motions like strumming and drumming. Musicians in your band jam by simply playing their instruments to the beat of a song or by improvising to their heart's content. You can even play and record solo as well. Click here for more information.

Staying on the music theme, did you know that Neil Young just released a new album? Sugar Mountain - Live At Canterbury House 1968, is the latest installment in the continuing Neil Young Archives Performance Series. One of the greatest singer-songwriters in rock history is heard solo and acoustic on this album. This set contains a CD featuring 14 tracks, a DVD disc including a high resolution audio mix of the album plus a five minute trailer for the archives set. There’s some funny and interesting banter between songs along with Neil making some anecdotal comments about some of the songs. At one point he even takes requests from the audience. With this CD you get to hear the entire show from beginning to end. Please click here for more information.

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Maybe you’re just looking for a good book. As you’ve probably already heard, Les Stroud, host of the TV show “Survivorman” on the Discovery Channel, recently announced that he is retiring from the popular series. He has also 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. (Only $13.57)

Stroud has also recently 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.

Of course you can save up to 70% on thousands of items on Amazon during their year-end deals and bargains by clicking here.


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

Friday, December 19, 2008

Biggest College Basketball Game of the Year

Tomorrow is the biggest game of the young college basketball season. Tomorrow, on CBS, at 2:00 PM EST, my Xavier University Musketeers will take on Duke.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little, but this really is a huge game for us. Besides playing arguably the best program in the country, Xavier owes a little revenge on the Blue Devils. Duke knocked Xavier out in a nail-biter in our first ever bid to make the Final Four in 2004. We lost 66-63 in an absolute heart-breaker, which most Xavier fans still haven’t gotten over. We also lost to Duke in the second round of the 1987 tournament, 65-60.

Tomorrow, however, I believe the Muskies will change this trend and leave the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ, victorious. Here are my reasons:

Although the roster of the Duke Blue Devils is loaded with McDonalds All-Americans, Xavier is filled with Skyline All-Cincinnatians! For those of you not familiar with Cincinnati, Skyline Chili is the national cuisine for Cincinnatians. Ask any ex-pat and chances are they’re craving the Greek-style chili right now.

Skyline also happens to be the official sponsor of the "Crosstown Shootout", the annual game between the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. Since Xavier has already won this year’s game, and has more or less dominated the series in recent years, I have unofficially bestowed upon the team the title of “Skyline All-Cincinnatians” in order to give our guys a little more national recognition and respect.

Xavier also has a bit of serendipity working on its side. This past Wednesday (December 17), Duke beat UNC Ashville after a layoff of 11 days for exams. They just missed the century mark by 1 point. Last year, on the exact same date, after a 9 day layoff for exams, Duke scored over 100 points when they beat Albany 111-70. The interesting part about this analysis is that on Duke’s next game, played on December 20 (same day as this years Xavier-Duke game), in New York City (just across the Hudson from East Rutherford), the Blue Devils lost to Pittsburgh, which happens to be the alma-mater of Xavier’s coach, Sean Miller.

Moreover, Duke, at the time of their loss to Pitt, was ranked #6. Duke is currently ranked # 6 in both the AP and the USA Today polls.

As you can plainly see, the stars are completely aligned for the Musketeers! I’m sorry to say, but Dickie V, Jay Bilas and Billy Packer will be crying in their beer once the final horn blows.

Go Muskies!

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, December 18, 2008

Kentucky Governor threatening to close State Parks if no cigarette tax increase

Tell me if this makes sense: The Governor of the state of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, is stating that he will be forced to close several state parks unless a new cigarette tax is imposed. The additional revenue from higher tobacco taxes is needed to help offset a projected $456 million state revenue shortfall. The Governor hopes to raise the cigarette tax from 30 cents to $1 per pack.

My question is: what is the connection? Why is Mr. Beshear trying to tie-in cigarette taxes with the state’s park system?

More importantly, why should cigarette smokers carry the financial burden for Kentucky state parks? Don’t the parks benefit all citizens of Kentucky, as well as visitors from other states? The state of Kentucky already derives tax windfalls from in-state and out-of-state visitors who purchase gas, eat at restaurants, and stay in the hotels and lodges located within and outside of the 52 state parks.

If the state decides to go down the path of raising taxes to keep state parks open, why not tax the users and/or beneficiaries of the park system? Or, if you take the view that everyone in the state benefits from parks in one way or another, why not increase the overall state tax?

More importantly, why not cut spending. Most government entities engage in excessive and wasteful spending. If we as citizens have to pull our belts a little tighter as a result of this recession, why shouldn’t our governmental bodies have to as well?

Let me state right here that I am not a cigarette smoker, nor do I have anyone close to me that smokes. So I’m not trying to defend a very bad habit from a personal perspective.

My only point is that we as a nation should not be targeting certain groups to pay for unrelated expenditures. What’s next? Are we going to force chocolate lovers to pay for road repairs?


Last day to order with standard shipping for Christmas on Amazon.

Amazon continues to have the best deals of the season to help you get your holiday shopping done for much less.

Please help support HikingintheSmokys.com and keep the most comprehensive source of trail information in the Smoky Mountains free by shopping from this link:

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


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.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weapons permits will apply in Smokies

The National Park Service will allow weapons to be carried in the Smokies after the overturning of a federal rule restricting weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The Park Service confirmed today that the agency will recognize handgun permits from Tennessee and North Carolina, beginning in January.

NPS spokesman Bob Miller in Gatlinburg said under current regulations, firearms can be brought into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park only when cased or trigger-locked and left in vehicles.

The new regulations will allow people who have valid permits to carry weapons to keep them on their person.

The new rules will apply to permits holders from Tennessee, North Carolina and states with which they have reciprocal agreements.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a bad idea, one that will make the park more dangerous? Or, will it provide a degree of protection from bad guys and maybe even bears?

Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

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




Friday, December 12, 2008

Sparks Lane Closed, Again

From September 2 through October 25 of this year, Sparks Lane in Cades Cove was closed in order to replace two large culverts and improve drainage along the road.

Well, with all the rain the region has had over the last couple of days, Sparks Lane is closed - again - due to high water.

Additionally, Newfound Gap Road (US-441) is also closed as a result of snow and ice on the roadway.

Here's the link: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New additions to our News Page

HikingintheSmokys.com is pleased to announce two additional news feeds to our news page. We now are receiving direct feeds from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website, as well as American Trails, the only nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests across the country.

You can now keep track of all the latest news on hiking and the Smoky Mountains by clicking on the following link:

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/news.htm


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, December 2, 2008

Calendar of Outdoor Events in Smokies Region

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

Cades Cove, Dec. 3-4. 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. Tomorrow’s weather looks good, but rain and snow are moving in Wednesday night and Thursday. So, this may be postponed.

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 http://www.dlia.org/ or call 865.430.4756 or email at heather@dlia.org.

Wilderness First Responder Recertification, 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.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Dec. 6. Hike from the picnic area up to Stratton Bald for views of the Slickrock Wilderness Area, Dec. 6. Strenuous, 12.5 miles.

Lake James State Park: Call office in Nebo, McDowell County, at 652-5047 or visit www.ncparks.gov.

* Wings over the water: Interpretive talk about area's migratory waterfowl, 2 p.m. Dec. 6. Meet at park office.

* Winter greens: Guided hike in search of plants that stay green through the winter, 11 a.m. Dec. 6. Meet at park office.

Blue Ridge Naturalist Center, Dec. 3 and 10. At UNC Asheville. Geology/meteorology of the Blue Ridge: Discover the interaction between weather and topography, 6:30-9 p.m. Wednesdays, through Dec. 10. $105. Advance register. Call 251-6198 for more information or to register for programs.

The public is invited on Carolina Mountain Club, Fontana Hiking Club, Nantahala Hiking Club and Mountain High Hikers outings. However, non-members must call for more information if planing to attend any of the following hikes:

Appalachian Trail, Dec. 6. 6-mile moderate hike with a gradual ascent up to the Appalachian Trail from Yellow Patch to Bear Pen to Betty Creek. NHC. 828.524.5298.

Cliffside Vista Trail, Dec. 7. 3-mile hike with an elevation change of 200 feet. NHC. 828.369.6820.

Appalachian Trail, Dec. 13. Moderate to strenuous 9.5 mile hike with elevation change of 300 feet from Deep Gap to Raven Rock on the Appalachian Trail. NHC. 828.586.5723.

Bartram Trail, Dec. 21. 2.5 Easy-to-moderate hike from Wallace Branch and return loop. NHC. 828.369.6820.

Chimney Top Mountain, Dec. 27. Strenuous two-mile hike, elevation gain of 1200 feet in Sapphire. NHC. 828.743.6977.


Amazon continues to offer the best deals of the season to help you get your holiday shopping done for much less. Find outstanding bargains on outdoor gear, electronics, toys, video games, books and more!

Please help support HikingintheSmokys.com and keep the most comprehensive source of trail information in the Smoky Mountains free by shopping from 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.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cyclists throw off chains with new belt-drive

If you've ever been riding down the street and had the cuff of your pants ripped by your old bike chain, there may be a revolution at hand.

The Trek Bicycle Company is part of a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, grease-laden, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in the era of belt-driven bikes.

Wisconsin-based Trek is introducing two models this holiday season that use technology most often found in vehicles like motorcycles and snowmobiles. While some smaller custom bike makers have used them before, Trek will be the first to use the technology in mass-produced bicycles.

The nation's largest domestic bike manufacturer is hoping to capitalize on a new group of urban cyclists who are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of volatile gasoline prices as well as health and environmental concerns.

"People are really finding bicycles to be a very simple solution to some very complex problems that they face every day," said Eric Bjorling, Trek's lifestyle brand manager. "Anything we can do in our design to really help them and help them live that lifestyle is probably better for" the consumers and Trek. He said a belt is a low-maintenance solution to a chain, which has roughly 3,000 parts, including links and connectors.

Aside from the whisper-quiet ride, the lighter and longer-lasting carbon-fiber composite belts won't rust, can't be cut, won't stretch or slip, and won't leave grease marks around your ankles. A guard over the belt-drive and the construction of the system makes getting your pants stuck an unlikely scenario, Bjorling said.

One version of the chainless bike, the District ($930), is a single-speed, complete with a silver body, orange accents and brown leather seat and handles. The other, the Soho ($990), is an eight-speed bike that uses an internal hub to adjust the speed rather than gears.

Bjorling admits chain-driven bikes are still more efficient, but said an urban rider won't have to worry about greasing or cleaning the chain. The belt can be cleaned with a normal cleaning agent and rag, and the bike sprocket is designed to push through any snow, dirt or grime. And one belt will typically last three years -- the life span of three chains.

It will be interesting to see if Trek or Cannondale will be able to develop this technology for racing bikes. That would be the greatest revolution in bicycle technology since the invention of index shifting.

Welcome to Cyber Monday, the kickoff to the online shopping season. Although Black Friday is over, Amazon.com has extended the best deals of the season through Monday to help you get your holiday shopping done for much less.

Please help support HikingintheSmokys.com and keep the most comprehensive source of trail information in the Smoky Mountains free by shopping from 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.

The Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Just over two weeks ago, a group of adventurers began their trek to retrace Ernest Shackleton’s first expedition to the Antarctic in honor of the expedition’s 100th anniversary.

The Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition is recreating history by crossing Antarctica precisely 100 years after Ernest Shackleton made his first attempt in 1908. Although it set a record at the time, Shackleton fell short of reaching the South Pole by 97 miles. He was forced to turn back in order to save the lives of his men from hunger and physical exhaustion. After returning home, Shackleton remarked to his wife: “Better a live donkey than a dead lion.”

Now, a team of descendents from the 1908 expedition, including Patrick Bergel, great-grandson of Ernest Shackleton, are currently in the process of retracing the footsteps of their ancestors in order to finish the job and reach the South Pole.

The expedition originally had planned on departing from the Shackleton Hut at Cape Royds at 10am on October 29, 2008, exactly one hundred years to the day when Shackleton and his men set out. However, a storm left them stranded in Puenta Arenas and prevented them from even reaching Antarctica for more than two weeks.

Travelling unguided on skis, and hauling their own expedition supplies in sledges, they will cross the Ross Ice Shelf, the Beardmore Glacier, and then 400 miles across the Polar plateau to the South Pole.

In total, the Matrix Shackleton Centenary Expedition will travel 900 miles in roughly 80 days. They can expect average temperatures of around -75 degrees, and winds that can regularly reach 120 miles per hour.

The expedition is currently crossing the Ross Ice Shelf. They have traveled a total of 171 nautical miles to date and expect to reach the South Pole sometime in mid-January.

Interestingly, Ernest Shackleton is most famous for his doomed 1914 - 1916 expedition to the Antarctic.

His ship, the Endurance, became stuck in an early ice floe, forcing Shackleton to order the ship to be wintered in the frozen sea. The men lived within the ship for several months before the ice destroyed the ship, forcing the expedition to live out on the ice. Two months later, they built sledges and moved to Elephant Island. No one knew what happened to the expedition or where they were. In fact, most people assumed they were probably killed.

Knowing that a rescue wasn’t going to happen, Shackleton made the call to take one of the open lifeboats and cross 800 miles of frigid sea to South Georgia Island where a small whaling station was located. Incredibly, he landed on the wrong side of the island and was forced to trek over the frozen mountains to reach the station.

Because this expedition occurred just as World War I was beginning, this amazing story of courage, heroism and survival was largely forgotten until Caroline Alexander published her excellent book, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, about the subject in 1998.

If anyone is interested in Arctic exploration or survival stories, I highly recommend this truly riveting book, which chronicles "one of the greatest epics of survival in the annals of exploration."

Welcome to Cyber Monday, the kickoff to the online shopping season. Although Black Friday is over, Amazon.com has extended the best deals of the season through Monday to help you get your holiday shopping done for much less.

Please help support HikingintheSmokys.com and keep the most comprehensive source of trail information in the Smoky Mountains free by shopping from this link:

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


Thank you.

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