Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yosemite bears prefer minivans

An interesting study was published this month in the Journal of Mammalogy showing that bears in Yosemite break into minivans more often than any other vehicle. The study suggests minivans are often owned by families with children who spill food and drinks There's also the possibility that there's a stash of food in the vehicle as well.

Scientists were inspired to study the phenomenon several years ago when they noticed that minivans in Yosemite had more windows pried open and broken than any other vehicles.

The study gathered information on vehicles broken into by bears by accessing records from the incidence database from 2001 through 2007. From 2004 to 2005 the study also measured availability of vehicles by recording the make and model of a sample of vehicles parked overnight in the parking lots of Yosemite Valley. They also classified vehicles into 9 categories based on their make and model

From 2001 to 2007 bears broke into 908 vehicles at the following rates:

* minivan (26.0%)
* sport–utility vehicle (22.5%)
* small car (17.1%)
* sedan (13.7%)
* truck (11.9%)
* van (4.2%)
* sports car (1.7%)
* coupe (1.7%)
* station wagon (1.4%).

Additionally, only the use of minivans (29%) during 2004–2005 was significantly higher than expected (i.e. availability: 7%):

Chart: Percentage of vehicles broken into by black bears (used—black) and parked overnight (available—gray) by class of vehicle in 2004–2005. Only use of minivans surpassed availability and shows that black bears strongly selected for this class of vehicle.

The analysis discusses several competing hypotheses about why bears selected minivans during the study. They include:

* Minivans may emit stronger food odors, regardless of how much food is present inside. (possibly from small children who spill food and drinks).

* Minivan passengers may leave more food inside their vehicles (Most vehicles broken into have some amount of food or trash inside. Since all Yosemite visitors are required to use food lockers it's unclear why minivan owners would not abide by this rule more than others.)

* Minivans may be physically easier to break into.

*A few individual bears may have learned to repeatedly break into minivans for a better payoff. Black bears forage selectively to balance energetic and nutritional gains with foraging costs. Selection of minivans by bears in Yosemite is possibly an effort to maximize caloric gain and minimize costs by targeting vehicles with higher probabilities of payoff.

Although the study couldn't conclusively determine why bears raided minivans more than other vehicles, I thought the results of the study were very compelling.

You can read the full report 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, hiking gear store, and more.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Panther Top Lookout Tower Open to Public Sunday

Peter Barr, author of Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers, is reporting on his blog that the Tusquitee Ranger District will be hosting an access day for the Panther Top Lookout Tower in the Nantahala National Forest this coming Sunday, November 1.

USFS archaeologist Michael Orberndorf will be on-site staffing the tower and allowing visitors up to the cab and catwalk.

This is a great way for visitors to enjoy the fall colors during their peak at the lower elevations.

You can find more information at Peter's blog by clicking here.


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

Race Across the Sky: The Leadville Trail 100

Below is a trailer for a limited release movie about the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race.

This was a significant race as it marked Lance Armstrong's return to Colorado after finishing second the year before to Dave Wiens, a six-time winner of the race.

The race starts from the historic mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Along with Ouray, Leadville is one of my favorite mountain towns in Colorado. Unlike most of the ski towns of Colorado, no one could ever accuse Leadville of being pretentious.

First run in 1994, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB is one of the oldest ultra-marathon mountain bike races in the world. The race is run on a 50-mile out and back course, starting and finishing in downtown Leadville, Colorado (which sits at an elevation of 10,200 ft). Total elevation change is roughly 14,000 feet, with riders peaking at 12,600 feet on Hope Pass.

I happened to be in Leadville the week before the 2008 race. Unfortunately our plans were already made well before Armstrong announced that he was going to ride the the race that year. After learning that he was going to return in 2009, I came up with the brilliant idea that I was going to enter the race as well. My sole purpose was to do an all out sprint at the starting gun so that I could get in front of Lance, and then have my wife take a picture - just for bragging rights.

For some reason though, Kathy thought this was a silly idea. Geez, can't a guy have a little fun once in awhile!

Anyway, here's the trailer:



Race Across the Sky: The Leadville Trail 100 was shown in select theatres across the country on October 22, but is scheduled for an encore viewing on November 12. You can find more information by clicking here.


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

Smokies are less smoky

As I mentioned yesterday I received the Great Smoky Mountains Association Cup Report in my email box this week. The report also made another announcement that I thought was quite interesting:

The air quality in the park has continued to improve over the last ten years. Visibility on the haziest days is up 18%, ozone is down 24%, sulfates are down 32%, and nitrates are down 22%.

This is certainly great news.

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Need a cabin for your next visit to the Smokies? Check out the cabin and chalet listings on HikingintheSmokys.com. The number of listings on our site continues to grow. You can find overnight lodging in Townsend, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, as well as on the North Carolina side of the Smokies.

Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, October 29, 2009

100th native tree discovered in Smokies

Yesterday I received the Cub Report in my email box. This is the monthly E-newsletter from the Great Smoky Mountains Association. The report announced that a new species of tree was recently discovered in the park. Here’s their report:

Park rangers have just discovered the 100th species of tree native to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a Hop Tree, sometimes called Wafer Ash. Its Latin name is Ptelea trifoliata.

This small tree or shrub of the citrus family has a straight trunk, rarely grows taller than 20 feet, and is a host for Giant Swallowtails and Tiger Swallowtails.

It is found from Canada to Florida, but is nowhere abundant. The name is derived from the fact that its fruit was once believed to be a viable substitute for hops in beer making. The oddball arbor's other claim to fame is that its bark and flowers both have a foul smell.

Besides raising the tally on park biodiversity, it's also a welcome relief for park interpreters and scribes for whom stating "99 species of native trees live in the park," always seemed awkward and slightly inadequate.

The hop trees were discovered on property recently added to the park in a land swap involving TVA and other entities. They are located on the extreme west end near Calderwood Lake and Highway 129.


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.

Free Programs on Masa and Kephart

Presentations on George Masa and Horace Kephart will be given at the Sugarlands Visitor Center Auditorium on Saturday, November 21. These two men were pivotal in bringing the grandeur of the Smokies to the attention of the public.

Japanese born, George Masa (1881-1933) captured the essence of the mountains through the lens of his camera. His friend and one of the principal supporters for the establishment of a national park, Horace Kephart (1862-1931), eloquently captured the heart and soul of the Smokies in Our Southern Highlanders and other books about the area.

10 a.m.
George Masa: A Perspective on His Life and Works
Presented by GSMA board chairman William A. Hart, Jr.

1 p.m.
The Back of Beyond: Horace Kephart in the Smokies
Presented by retired park ranger Butch McDade

For more information please call the Visitor Center at 865-436-1291.

Speaking of George Masa, Bonesteel Films loaned a short snippet of rare National Archives footage of Masa to the Great Smoky Mountains Association. The snippet is featured in their documentary The Mystery of George Masa. You can view the snippet 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, hiking gear store, and more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's Your Everest?

The act of climbing Mount Everest is the ultimate metaphor for the journey of life. Yes, the summit may seem impossible, but what's the point if you can't dream of reaching the top. So what's your Everest?

Expedition Champion is sponsoring a very cool sweepstakes called “What’s Your Everest?”. The contest, open to everyone, asks participants to submit a short video or an essay detailing a personal challenge or goal that qualifies as a “Mount Everest” in your life. A prize of $10,000 will be awarded to be applied toward your life goal.

Examples of “personal Everests” range from people training for their first marathon, getting a diploma, owning a home, getting in shape, quit smoking, or maybe even build a helium balloon that can carry a small child across Colorado. You can view current entries by clicking here, and then submit your own “What’s Your Everest” video or essay for your shot at the prize!

The deadline for all submissions is December 31, 2009. There is no limit on the number of entries per person, however, each entry must relate to a different personal goal.

Contestants and web surfers alike will be allowed to vote on their favorite entries. The 100 entries with the highest vote counts will then qualify for judging for the grand prize.

The top 100 qualified entries will be judged upon the following criteria, as demonstrated in the video or essay entry:

> Authenticity (35 %)
> Clear plan for goal achievement (25 %)
> Creativity (15 %)
> Positive outlook (15 %)
> Fit with the spirit of the Champion brand (10 %)

If you submit an entry be sure to let us know so that friends of this blog could possibly give you a hand with voting.

Good luck!

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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.

Southeast Water Trails Forum

Conservationists, paddlers, fishermen, and representatives from agencies that develop and maintain water trails are invited to attend the first annual Southeast Water Trails Forum this Thursday and Friday, Oct. 29 and 30, at the Marriott in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The two-day forum will focus on educating water trail users and developers on the steps to creating, funding, preserving, and developing water bodies as trails.

There’s also a handful of canoe and kayak field trips scheduled Friday afternoon that attendees can participate in.

To learn more about the conference or to register, call 615-627-1310 or email kd@southeastwaterforum.org.




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, October 27, 2009

Learn about living with bears

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will be hosting “Living with Bears in Western North Carolina” next Monday, November 2nd at 7 p.m.

The Carl Sandburg Home NHS has invited the resources commission to make a presentation in response to the inquiries the national park has received about increased bear activity throughout Henderson County. District Wildlife Biologist Mike Carraway, who has worked for the resource commission for more than 30 years, will give the presentation and answer questions.

The presentation will be held at the Henderson County Public Library on 301 N. Washington St. in Hendersonville, NC.

For more information, call 828-693-4178.


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, October 25, 2009

Looking to the Future of our National Parks

On Thursday, November 5th, the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy will be holding a public meeting called Looking to the Future of our National Parks.

Various speakers from the National Park Service, the National Parks Conservation Association and others will be on hand to discuss a recent report on the future of the National Park System.

The report was the final product of the National Parks Second Century Commission that was published in late September. Presented to the President and Congress, the report included a list of recommendations to guide the park into the future. You can find a summary of the recommendations here.

Commissioners Denis Galvin, Former Deputy Director of the National Park Service, and Stephen H. Lockhart, MD, PhD and Chairman of the Board of the Yosemite National Institutes will lead public dialogue about how the Commission's recommendations relate to the parks in the region.

Public input will be encouraged. "Rumor" has it that there will be an online public forum the day before where citizens will have an opportunity to ask the commissioners questions. So far, there is no mention of this on the website, however, you may want to check back as the event draws closer.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m. in the Toyota Auditorium of the Baker Center (1640 Cumberland Ave; Knoxville, TN). The event is free and open to the public.


Jeff
Smoky Mountain Rental Cabins Cabin and chalet listings for the Smokies.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Third Man Factor

Some say he’s a hallucination. Some say he’s real.

Ron DiFrancesco, the last person out of the South Tower of the World Trade Center before it came down, tells of "an angel" that guided and urged him through the impact zone to safety.

His encounter may sound like a curiosity, an unusual delusion of an overstressed mind or a testament to his faith. But over the years, the experience he described has occurred again and again, not only to 9/11 survivors, but also to mountaineers, divers, polar explorers, prisoners of war, solo sailors, shipwreck survivors, aviators, and astronauts. All have escaped traumatic events only to tell strikingly similar stories of having felt the close presence of a companion and helper — one that offered a sense of protection, relief, guidance, and hope, and left the person convinced that there was some other being at his or her side, when by any normal calculation there was none.

The above text comes from an interesting and thought-provoking article in the current issue of Men's Journal that discusses what the "Third Man factor" is and why people experience it during survival situations. The article is appropriately called, The Mystery of Survival.


Find great deals on hiking and camping gear at Amazon:




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.

Antartic Trip Presentation at Diamond Brand

Former Carolina Mountain Club president John Dickson and his wife Joan will be holding a presentation that highlights their three-week expedition to the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands earlier this year.

The CMC Newsletter reports that the "pictures are awesome and the narration is very well done. You will sense the remoteness, the fierce winds, the amazing ice, the magnificent animals and the astounding beauty."

The presentation will be held at Diamond Brand Outdoors in Arden, NC on Tuesday, October 27 at 7 P.M.

For more information, contact Gary at geblen@diamondbrand.com.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in US National Parks

The September issue of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine published the results of a study called Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in US National Parks.

The study was conducted by Travis W. Heggie PhD and Michael E. Amundson BS from the University of North Dakota to identify search and rescue (SAR) trends in US National Parks.

There are some interesting statistics and conclusions from the study that I thought hikers and backpackers might be interested in:

* From 1992 to 2007 there were 78,488 individuals involved in 65,439 SAR incidents. This translates into 4090 SAR incidents, on average, each year.

* These incidents ended in 2659 fatalities, 24,288 ill or injured individuals, and 13,212 saves during the 16-year period.

* On average there were 11.2 SAR incidents each day at an average cost of $895 per operation.

* Total SAR costs from 1992 to 2007 were $58,572,164.

* In 2005, 50% of the 2430 SAR operations occurred in just 5 NPS units: Grand Canyon National Park (307) and Gateway National Recreation Area (293) reported the most SAR operations. Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park and Nevada’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area rounded out the top 5.

* Yosemite National Park accounted for 25% of the total NPS SAR costs ($1.2 million); Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve ($29,310) and Denali National Park and Preserve ($18,345) had the highest average SAR costs.

* In 2005 the Great Smoky Mountains accounted for 3% of all SAR rescue costs in national parks, and had 63 SAR operations at an average cost of $2110.

* Hiking (48%) and boating (21%) were the most common activities requiring SAR assistance.

* Hiking (22.8%), suicides (12.1%), swimming (10.1%), and boating (10.1%) activities were the most common activities resulting in fatalities.

* On average, one person dies every other day throughout our national park system.

* The study revealed that during those 16 years young males, day hikers, and boaters needed rescue more than anyone else.

Conclusions:

Without the presence of NPS personnel responding to SAR incidents, 1 in 5 (20%) of those requesting SAR assistance would be a fatality. Future research and the development of any prevention efforts should focus on the 5 NPS units where 50% of all SAR incidents are occurring.

Perhaps all of this will serve as a reminder to be extra careful while exploring our national parks, forests and wilderness areas, and to be thankful that there are emergency personnel close by if we need them.






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Aid Center

Within recent weeks, Backpacker Magazine has added a new feature to their website which hikers and backpackers may find useful, especially for anyone who hasn't had any formal first aid training (though you really should).

The magazine has published a series of photo slideshows and videos to their First Aid Center which show how to perform a few common first aid techniques in the wilderness, including splinting a broken leg, duct taping a bloody wound and treating hypothermia.

You can visit the site by clicking here.

For a list of hiking safety tips to help keep you out of trouble, please click 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.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 essential skills for the backcountry

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine published an article last month that laid out their top ten backcountry skills to keep all of us outdoorzy types safe in just about any situation.

Of course you'll find lots of survival tips out on the internet. However, BRO took a slightly different approach in compiling their list. For example, the article points out that modern boots, with their high arch support, are creating an unnatural posture and stride for hikers and backpackers. This is burning extra calories and creating extra impact on your joints. They suggest that you should start walking normally, then put your fingers in your ears. If you hear the thud of your steps, you’re walking wrong.

The article continues with tips on predicting weather, crossing rivers, reading topo maps and finding potable water, among others.

The article concludes with a section on how to find the four essentials to survival: water, food, heat, and shelter. This includes three rules for eating bugs: only eat bugs with six legs or fewer, eat the bugs that hide from you, and deadfall is your friend.

All in all, there is some great information contained in this article. I highly recommend anyone who spends any time in the wilderness to read this. Please click here for the article.


>>> Find great deals on hiking and camping gear from Amazon's Outdoor Recreation 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, October 20, 2009

Eight steps to prevent Search and Rescues

Backpacker Magazine recently published an article that details 8 steps that (the author claims) would have prevented 95% of the search and rescues (SAR) incidents and accidents that occurred over the summer season.

These are all common sense measures, but they're always good to keep in mind whenever you head out into the wild:

1) Never assume that your expertise will keep you safe

2) Get in the habit of turning around every 5-10 minutes and looking at your route from the 180 view

3) If you get disoriented, always retrace your steps to get back on track.

4) Take some gear, including extra clothes, a rain shell, a map and compass, a butane lighter, a headlamp, and perhaps a cell phone, pocket flares, or an emergency beacon.

5) Know the weather report.

6) Have a plan

7) Don't scramble unroped on cliffs, drop-offs or snowfields, especially if you're alone.

8) Don't be afraid to dial back your plans (i.e. don't let your ego get the best of you)

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Another thing to beware of is the first five minutes after you first start to question as to whether you might be lost or not. According to Professor Hike on Backpacker Magazine, this is the most critical time period for hikers to prevent themselves from becoming lost. The professor offers three personal case studies to show you what he means. You can click here to read the article.






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall colors peaking at highest elevations in Smokies

Steve Kemp of the Great Smoky Mountains Association is reporting that fall colors at the highest elevations in Great Smoky Mountains are peaking right now. He goes on to report that peak colors at the higher elevations are predicted to last through October 23.

He also reports that fall colors are still spotty at the lower and mid elevations, but very vibrant in some places. The peak for fall color below elevations of 4000 feet is expected to occur from October 26 through November 6.

Tom Harrington is reporting that some scattered foliage is beginning to show on the way to Laurel Falls, and beyond that, up to Cove Mountain, there is some really brilliant red foliage.

You can read their updated reports over at the GSMA website.

Also, if you want to check out what the fall foliage looks like in a variety of spots across the Mid and Southern Appalachians, check out the comprehensive list of live web cams on the Blue Ridge Country Magazine website.


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.

Seasonal Road Closing Season

If you intend to hike any of the trails along Balsam Mountain Road or Heintooga Ridge Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park before winter arrives, you have only two weeks left before these roads are closed for the season.

Both roads are located in the Southeastern corner of the park between Maggie Valley and Oconaluftee in North Carolina. The two seasonal roads will close on November 1 and won’t reopen again until next May.

Of course the trails along these roads will continue to be open, but you may have problems reaching the trailheads. The following trails will be impacted: Flat Creek Falls, Hemphill Bald, Rough Fork, Palmer Creek, Balsam Mountain, Beech Gap and Hyatt Ridge trails.

Heintooga Ridge Road is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 458. This two-way road dead-ends into the one-way Balsam Mountain Road.

Balsam Mountain Road is a thrilling ride on a one-way gravel road. Along the way you’ll see sweeping mountain vistas that overlook some of the vast wilderness where many Cherokee Indians retreated in order to avoid removal on the tragic Trail of Tears. The road also passes the highest picnic area in the park, which also affords outstanding views as well.

Five other seasonal roads, Roundbottom, Parson Branch, Rich Mountain, Roaring Fork and Clingmans Dome Road, will be closing throughout the month of November.

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Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Friday, October 16, 2009

New map for Western North Carolina waterfalls

Waterfalls of North Carolina is the very first map available that features over 300 waterfalls in the western North Carolina region. To create the map, photographer Kevin Adams partnered with Larry Odoski of Outdoor Paths Publishing and two of the best cartographers in the business, Jack Mohr and Pete Kennedy. The four of them devoted more than a year of painstaking work to complete this comprehensive source of information.

The falls are color coded and rated: Blue for higher beauty rating and ease of access or Red for lower beauty rating and more difficult access. On the back is a chart with detailed information and directions to 128 falls.

Features of the Waterfalls of North Carolina Map:
* Map measures approximately 26 x 38 inches and folds to 4 x 9 inches
* Printed on waterproof and tearproof paper
* Includes 301 waterfalls
* Detailed information for 128 falls
* 44 waterfall photographs
* GPS coordinates for the waterfalls and the waterfall trailheads

Detailed inset maps for:
* Looking Glass Rock region of Pisgah National Forest
* Wilson Creek Region of Pisgah National Forest
* Standing Indian region of Nantahala National Forest
* Snowbird Creek region of Nantahala National Forest
* DuPont State Forest
* Lake Jocassee Gorges region
* Great Smoky Mountains National Park (including falls on the Tennessee side of the Smokies)

You can purchase the map through Amazon 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, hiking gear store, and more.

Bushwacking in the Smokies

Last month Blue Ridge Outdoors published a pretty good article about an off-trail adventure in the Smokies. The article chronicles the ascent of Anakeesta Knob by three hikers. Starting from Newfound Gap Road, their "path" took them across the Anakeesta Ridge - an area confined by the Appalachian Trail, the Alum Cave Trail and the Boulevard Trail.

Although Bob Miller, public information officer for the GSMNP, is quoted in the article as saying that you can walk almost anywhere you want inside the park, the article did receive a scathing review from a commenter who said that BRO was irresponsible for publishing an article that promotes an activity that has a negative impact on the environment.

I almost never go off trail, mainly because I don't want spend more energy than need be. However, I wanted to get your opinions: should off-trail hiking/bushwacking be allowed in wilderness areas? Should there be a distinction between national parks and national forests when considering such a ruling? Or, since we as American citizens own public lands, should we be able to enjoy them as we see fit - obviously to a certain point? But that brings us to the million dollar question again: where is that fine line between ownership and public stewardship?

Here's the article.




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, October 15, 2009

Video: Snow-Kiting adventure gone bad (almost)

Check out this heart-stopping video I came across on the Adventure Blog. It shows a snow-kiter literally getting picked-up by a rogue wind in Algeria.





>>> Check out great deals on hiking gear from Amazon's Outdoor Recreation Store


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Creation of the GSMNP - Stories from the Other Side of the Mountain

The Fontana Historical Association and North Shore Road Association will be hosting a program at the Swain County Center for the Arts on Saturday, October 24, called “The Creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Stories from the Other Side of the Mountain.”

This will be a historical presentation with stories told by the last Park residents, including pictures, slideshows and songs. The program runs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the Auditorium.

There is no charge and everyone is welcome. All former Park residents and descendants are especially encouraged to attend and be recognized.

The Swain County Center for the Arts is located at 1415 Fontana Rd in Bryson City, NC. For more information, please contact Linda Hogue at 828-488-9488.


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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Seam Seal a Tent

Trailspace.com recently published a pretty good article on how to seam seal a tent.

Over time, tents need to be treated in order to keep the rain out. Spending a little time each year waterproofing or fixing any leaks is much better than suffering through a wet night on the trail!

Please click here to read the article.

>>> Find great deals on hiking and camping gear at Amazon's new Outdoor Recreation 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, October 13, 2009

Historic Photos of Appalachia

This week, Kevin E. O'Donnell, a professor of English and the Director of the Environmental Studies minor at East Tennessee State University, published his new book; Historic Photos of Appalachia.

The book contains nearly 200 photographs that portray the region's land and people, including views of towns, houses, and farms; families at home and on the job; railroads, mining, and logging; and beautiful streams and mountain landscapes.

The following is an editorial review from Amazon:

Appalachia: The place and its people have long inspired a special fascination among travelers and commentators. The rugged, ecologically rich mountains, at once forbidding and inviting, have provided a place of retreat and exploration for lovers of natural beauty and outdoor adventure, while the region's resources have long lured both capitalists intent on creating wealth and regular folks just looking for a steady wage. The inhabitants native to the region have often been held up as pure, strong, and self-sufficient on the one hand, and derided as primitive, backward, and exotic, on the other. Not quite south or north, east or west, the region continues to defy easy classification. Yet it emerges in Historic Photos of Appalachia as both distinct and as familiarly American. The nearly 200 photographs included here portray the region's land and people in all their distinctive and sometimes surprising specificity, including views of towns, houses, and farms; families at home and on the job; railroads, mining, and logging; and beautiful streams and mountain landscapes.

Amazon is currently offering a 14% discount on the book. Please click here for more information.


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, October 12, 2009

Video: Paraplegic climber summits Mt. Kilimanjaro

This is truly an amazing story. Late last month, Chris Waddell became the first paraplegic climber to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania - on his own power. This amazing athlete used a specially designed buggy that he peddled with his hands to pull himself up the 19,340-foot mountain, the highest in Africa.

The four-wheeled cycle Chris used, called a Bomba, is essentially a highly engineered four wheel mountain bike, capable of taking on one-foot-high boulders.

Obviously this wouldn't be an easy task for Chris. In fact, it took him three days and 22 hours of pedaling to push through the last three miles. The dense scree and sand at the top of the mountain - at roughly a 45 degree angle - made the going extremely difficult and slow. Chris said that he was moving about a foot a minute at one point.

On his One-Revolution blog site, Waddell said, "I felt like I’d made a statement that we as people could do whatever we wanted, but more profoundly, I saw the benefits of giving someone an opportunity."

Mr. Waddell broke his back in a freak skiing accident 21 years ago. Since then he has won 12 medals in downhill ski racing over the course of four Paralympic Games.

Here's some video from CBS News:


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Just last year, Darol Kubacz, a U.S. Army Veteran who lost the use of his lower body while serving on active duty, made it to 18,400 feet in his attempt to become the first paraplegic climber to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.


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, October 11, 2009

Update: Friends of the Smokies takes lead in vote

As of 7:30 Sunday evening, the Friends of the Smokies now leads in the "Tourism Cares" grant vote - by 10 votes!

When I first posted about this grant yesterday morning, Friends of the Smokies was in 4th place, with just 17% of the vote.

I'm not sure when the voting ends on this program, and since the Friends lead in the voting is quite slim, I will continue to urge anyone who hasn't voted yet to please click here an vote. It's just one click and you're done. No registration required. They don't even ask for your e-mail address.

This grant could mean $5,000 to $10,000 for historic preservation in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Friends of the Smokies intends to use the grant money towards the restoration of 19 historic buildings in the Elkmont area.


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.

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

Smokies hike: Linking historic homesteads

Last month Backpacker Magazine published an article by Marcus Woolf detailing his 50-mile hike that took him to several of the old homesteads in the northeastern section of the Great Smoky Mountains.

His trek took him to Albright Grove, across the Old Settlers Trail, up Alum Cave Trail, down the Boulevard Trail and across the Appalachian Trail towards Cosby.

Woolf hiked part of the loop with descendants of a couple of homesteaders that were removed from the mountains when the area became a national park.

You can read the full article 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.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Help Friends of the Smokies Win Grant Money

I just received an email from Holly Scott Burcham from the Friends of the Smokies organization. She's asking everyone to help them win a "Tourism Cares" grant, by simply casting an online vote.

This grant could mean $5,000 to $10,000 for historic preservation in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Friends of the Smokies intends to use the grant money towards the restoration of 19 historic buildings in the Elkmont area.

As of Saturday morning, Friends of the Smokies has 17% of all votes, and are in fourth place. However, they're only 382 votes behind the leader. This is not an insurmountable lead!

It's just one click and you're done. No registration required. They don't even ask for your e-mail address. Please click here to vote.


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.

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

Share the Experience Photo Contest

America's Federal Recreation Lands are special places that bring people together and leave visitors enriched. From scenic vistas to diverse wildlife to historic landmarks, these lands offer a myriad of picture perfect moments to capture.

The National Park Service and its partners are inviting amateur photographers to submit up to three photos to the Share the Experience contest through December 31, 2009. At the end of the submission period the public will be invited to vote for their favorite photo.

You can enter your photos in the contest for a chance to have your winning photo adorn the 2011 Federal Recreation Lands Pass, earn you an Olympus E-3 DSLR Camera Kit and a trip to a Federal Recreation Area of your choice. There are fourteen chances to win national recognition and many great prizes.

Enter by visiting http://www.sharetheexperience.org/ or you can pick up a brochure and entry form while visiting any Federal Recreation Land this year.

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America's national parks and federal recreation lands. Sponsored by Olympus and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.

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Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Friday, October 9, 2009

Shenandoah N.P. Announces Projects

Earlier this week, Shenandoah National Park officials announced plans that will begin Recovery Funded projects.

The press release stated that park officials have awarded the first contract to improve park facilities using part of the $30 million that Shenandoah received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The contract estimated at almost $1 million to repave roads, parking areas, and trailheads was awarded to Firvida Construction Corporation out of Fairfax, Virginia.

Work is expected to begin in mid-October and should last until the end of November. Visitors should expect closures in work areas; however, the closures will last no more than one week and will not be in effect on weekends. The following areas are scheduled to receive work: the Lewis Mountain and South River Picnic Grounds roads; parking areas at Rapidan Road, Milam Gap, Hawksbill Gap, Upper Hawksbill Gap, Skyland Lodge Upper area, and Whiteoak Falls; and overlooks at Doyles River, Dundo, The Oaks and Hemlock Springs.

According to the park’s Superintendent, Martha Bogle, "These facility improvement projects will enhance the visitor’s experience here at Shenandoah for years to come. We recognize that Fall is a very popular time for people to visit the park because of all the colorful autumn leaves, so we are working to minimize the impact of closures by limiting work to weekdays only and ensuring that picnic areas, trailheads and overlooks will be open on the weekends."

Contracts for additional ARRA projects are slated to be awarded through the end of this year and into the beginning of 2010 for projects that will be undertaken next spring. These projects include re-paving and rehabilitation of areas along Skyline Drive, overlooks, and additional access roads throughout the park.


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

Thursday, October 8, 2009

75th Anniversary of GSMNP postal stamp

On this day in 1934, the US Postal Service began selling the 10-cent Great Smoky Mountains National Park stamp to commemorate the official birth of the park earlier in that same year.

The stamp featured a view of Mount LeConte.

1934 was established as the "National Parks Year" by the US Postal Service. There were 10 stamps issued that year dedicated to national parks in denominations of 1-cent to 10-cents, inclusively. The stamp issued for the Smokies had the highest denomination of all ten stamps.

The stamps, issued in order by denomination size, and in chronological order that year, were as follows: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Mt. Rainier, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Acadia, Zion, Glacier 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, hiking gear store, and more.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Horace Kephart's Smoky Mountain Magic

Smoky Mountain Magic is the previously unpublished adventure novel by Horace Kephart, outdoorsman, writer, and champion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The manuscript has been passed down through the generations to Kephart's great-granddaughter, Libby Kephart Hargrave, and has now been published by Great Smoky Mountains Association, the park's nonprofit partner.

Here's a nice a nice biographical overview of Kephart and a discussion about the new book from the Great Smoky Mountains Association:



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.

Female AT record holder to speak at SCC

The women’s Appalachian Trail Record Holder, Jennifer Pharr Davis, will be at Southwestern Community College on Wednesday, Oct. 14, to speak to students, faculty and the community about her journeys and adventures.

Last year, Davis smashed the women’s Appalachian Trail record when she completed the 2176-mile trek in just 58 days. The previous women’s record was 87 days.

Davis will share her insight on what hiking more than 8,000 miles of trails has taught her about goal setting, sacrifice and achievement. “Jennifer will inspire and teach you to experience the woods and life in a new and exciting way,” said SCC’s outdoor leadership director Paul Wolf. “In her presentation, she stresses you are never too young to set goals and never too old to dream.”

This two-session event, a part of SCC’s “Discover America Series,” will take place in the Balsam Building on the Jackson Campus. Following pizza at noon, the program titled Life Lessons from the Appalachian Trail will be 12:30-2 p.m. in the auditorium.

In session two, “How to Plan, Prepare for and Execute Adventure Events,” from 2 to 4 p.m., Davis will provide in-depth discussion about the logistics, planning and execution of such adventures, including nutrition, gear, training, schedules, budget and more.

All students, faculty and the public are invited.

Southwestern Community College in Sylva, NC can be reached by calling 828-586-4091 or 800-447-4091.


Find great deals on hiking and camping gear at Amazon:




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, October 5, 2009

Mt. Collins Shelter Gets a Makeover

Last week I received "The Cub Report", the monthly e-newsletter from the Great Smoky Mountains Association. One of the articles explained that volunteers from Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail Conference remodel one Smokies trail shelter each year. This year's project was the Mt. Collins Shelter, located on the Sugarland Mountain Trail, just off the Appalachian Trail about half-way between Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap.

Improvements usually include adding skylights and covered porches with benches for sitting. Shelters that have already had "makeovers" include Davenport Gap, Cosby Knob, Tricorner Knob, Pecks Corner, Silers Bald, Derrick Knob, and Spence Field.

Here's a photo of the Mt. Collins Shelter earlier this summer, before any improvements were made:


I don't have a photo of the improved shelter (I assume the makeover is complete by now), but here's a photo of the rehabbed Davenport Gap Shelter:


A bit of a difference.... By the way, the Mt. Collins Shelter still has a posted bear warning, as it has for quite some time now.


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, October 4, 2009

Watching Elk in Cataloochee

Elk bulls are bugling, fighting, and finding every way they can to display dominance during the breeding season that is happening mid-September thru October in the Cataloochee area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Here's an excellent video from the Great Smoky Mountains Association:





Jeff
Smoky Mountain Rental Cabins Check out our cabin and chalet listings for the Smokies.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ken Burns' National Parks: Short Review

First off, let me say that I've thoroughly enjoyed National Parks: America's Best Idea. Prior to this week's broadcast, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I assumed the film would be a contemporary overview and an expose of stunning photography from the national parks. However, the film focused much more on the historical development of the national parks and park system itself. As a history buff, I'm glad Mr. Burns decided to go in this direction.

Throughout the week I certainly learned a lot. For example, I didn't realize the immense role that Horace Albright played in the formation of the modern National Park Service, as well as the acquisition of new parks during his tenure.

I also thought Mr. Burns did a fairly decent job with his overview of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Thomas Moran: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Having said all that, I do have a couple of nitpicking criticisms.

1) I thought Burns spent a disproportionate amount of time on Yosemite. I agree that Yosemite is stunningly beautiful and probably deserves more time than the average park, but it came at the cost of glossing over other major parks, namely Olympic, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Burns favoritism for Yosemite reminded me of the way he overwhelmingly favored the New York Yankees in his otherwise excellent Baseball film. As a Cincinnati Reds fan it was just a little too much!

2) One other criticism, albeit small, is that I wish that PBS didn't have to run two-hour broadcasts of the film on six consecutive days. Towards the end of the week it started to feel like I was taking part in a marathon. I wish they would stagger programs like this across two or three weeks. Maybe do four three-hour segments over the course of two weeks, with a five minute intermission at the half-way point on each night.

Despite these, I do think that the film will result in a fairly major spike in national parks visitation next year. I'm certainly even more inspired now to visit many of the parks that have been on my list for some time.

What do you guys think? Did you like the film? Did you learn anything compelling? Do you think the Smokies were treated fairly?

If you're wishing to add to the film experience, below is the companion book (42% off) and the DVD (30% off) from Amazon:













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

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Thirty Years of American Landscapes

Richard Mack, an award-winning nature photographer, recently published a collection of images that showcases the immense diversity found within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Here's what the Amazon Editors have to say about his new book:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a chameleon-like quality, capable of revealing both subtle and some not so subtle changes to the discerning eye. For 30 years, award-winning photographer Richard Mack has tracked and captured the various vistas found in the United States most visited national park. From the top of Balsam Mountain to the fields of Cades Cove, this exquisite collection of images spans more than three decades and showcases the immense diversity found within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Noted writer and long-time resident Steve Kemp introduces each section of images, providing an insider's perspective which elevates the story that unfolds through the photographs - whether it's the hard-scrabble life along Roaring Fork or the history of the Native Americans along the Oconaluftee River.

Yet it is the captivating images themselves that will draw you back time and again. Richard's view of the park from the bold seasonal displays to the subtle hues of wildflowers is exhilarating. His fresh views of familiar landscapes and off-the-beaten-path areas like Cataloochee and Noland Creek are transformed through his artistry, allowing us to witness each area of the park at the pinnacle of its beauty.

In 1975 Richard Mack first ventured into the Great Smokies as an aspiring landscape photographer, and a love affair began. This is where he first honed his craft. Today, Richard is an acclaimed, award-winning nature photographer. His images of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while recognized and rewarded over the years, have never been presented in a comprehensive collection ... until now.

Thirty Years of American Landscapes is arranged in easy-to-navigate sections based on specific locations within the park. The narrative text is imbued with a deep personal passion for the park's natural history and beauty ... a passion that brings Richard back year after year. Richard has vividly captured the spirit of this land of smoke, from the rugged peaks to the mysterious valleys where clouds and moisture hover. Within this vast landscape, he reveals the solitude of a rain-drenched forest, the energy of water tumbling over rocks, the vibrant explosion of wildflowers in bloom, and the myriad wildlife. Whether it's a coyote roaming the fields in Cades Cove, a black bear perched in the trees, or the stillness of deer nestled in an early evening mist, the inhabitants of the park will mesmerize you. Start turning the pages and you will discover why Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. It is the breadth of these landscapes that show you why the park is nicknamed, The Great Smokies.

Richard Mack has won numerous awards for his work, including the International Photography Awards Best Nature Book Silver Medal in 2005 for his first book, The Lewis & Clark Trail: American Landscapes.

For more information on the book, please click here.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cades Cove picnic area to close for re-paving

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will shut down the Cades Cove Picnic Area next week for re-paving. The picnic area is tentatively scheduled to be closed October 6-8 (Tuesday thru Thursday).

Also, the Parsons Branch Road is still closed due to high water.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

National Parks Monopoly

In the spirit of the Ken Burns' National Park film being shown on PBS this week, I wanted to share with you two old classic games with a new National Park twist that you and your family might be interested in.

The first is National Parks Monopoly.

With the use of removable and reusable static cling labels, the National Parks Edition of Monopoly allows you to customize your own game with over 100 of the most beautiful Parks across America. What Park will you choose to place on Boardwalk? Will it be the Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains? You decide. You'll also use one of six collectible pewter tokens, including a ranger hat, bicycle, the Statue of Liberty, canoe, cannon or the revered bison to move across the country.

The second game is National Parks Yahtzee.

This revision of the classic dice game allows adventurers to play Yahtzee with a national parks theme and enjoy fun facts about the environment and how to preserve our national parks.

A portion of the sales for both games are donated to the National Parks Foundation for the preservation of America's parks.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Smoky Mountain Rental Cabins Check out our cabin and chalet listings for the Smokies.

Stargazing in Cades Cove

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be offering a 2-hour stargazing program in Cades Cove next Saturday, October 10th.

Experienced astronomers from the Smoky Mountains Astronomical Society, along with their telescopes, will be on hand to provide a discovery of the autumn sky.

Without the obstruction of artificial light as seen in developed areas outside the Park, visitors will have a much better viewing opportunity to gaze at the stars than they would have at home. The program concludes after dark with public viewing using the society’s powerful telescopes to explore deep into the cosmos.

The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. near the exhibit shelter at the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. A ranger will escort the group a short distance to a nearby field. Those planning to attend should dress warmly, and bring a flashlight and a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. Also, it's suggested to bring binoculars which can be used for stargazing.

In case of rain or cloud cover where night skies are not visible, the program will be rescheduled for Saturday, October 17.

Call 865-448-4104 for more information.


Jeff
Smoky Mountain Rental Cabins Check out our cabin and chalet listings for the Smokies!

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