Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge

Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be gathering in Pigeon Forge next month for the 20th annual Wilderness Wildlife Week.

The eight-day event from Jan. 9 through 16 includes hikes, expert presentations, demonstrations, photo contest, and hands-on classes - all free to participants.

Visitors will enjoy more than 100 experts sharing their knowledge of the outdoors in more than 175 seminars, lectures and hands-on workshops. You'll also have the chance to get up close to nature with your choice of more than 50 guided walks and hikes.

The city is hosting the event at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center and transportation is provided to the park for the hikes and other outdoor events.

For more information on the event, please click here. You can also click here to see the full hiking schedule. For more details on many of the trails on this list, 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, hiking gear store, and more.

Finally! (Little River Trail)

Finally, the bear warnings for the Little River Trail have been removed. The bear activity warning had been posted on the Little River Trail for several months this year, and was the last of six trails that had bear warnings during the year.

Also, several backcountry campsites and shelters have been re-opened or have had posted warnings removed in recent weeks.

Back in October there were 5 backcountry campsites and shelters that were closed, in addition to at least 18 that had posted warnings. There were also six trails at that time that had warnings as well.

There are now only 9 backcountry campsites and shelters with posted warnings and 1 closing at this time.

Below is the current list of warnings and closings:

Bear Warnings:

• Backcountry Campsites 13, 84, and 88
• Cosby Knob Shelter
• Double Spring Gap Shelter
• Mollies Ridge Shelter
• Mt Collins Shelter
• Mt Le Conte Shelter
• Tricorner Knob Shelter

Backcountry Campsite 75 is still closed.


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, December 30, 2009

How To Bake Cake...In An Orange

Yesterday I posted Backpacker Magazine's list of cocktails for the trail. Now they show you how to make a fresh cake - with an orange.

Here's the "Trail Chef" video to explain how this is done:





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 29, 2009

Cocktails for the trail

If you're going to be backpacking over New Years, Backpacker Magazine has a list of cocktail recipes to help ring in the new year. Who says you can't join in with the rest of the world as 2009 fades into history.

Many of the drinks require fresh snow, and in one case, hailstones?!?!

1. Mountain Margarita
2. Watermelon Snowfield
3. Bikini Sunburn
4. Mountain Storm
5. Snake in the Grass
6. Blackberry Margarita
7. Backcountry Mai Tai
8. Goodnight Kiss
9. Wilderness White Russian
10. Under the Sleeping Bag

Please click here to see the recipes.


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 28, 2009

Bears fatten-up for the winter

Short video from the Great Smoky Mountains Association showing a mother bear and her two youngsters as they tear apart a fallen tree looking for food:





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, December 27, 2009

Swannanoa Rim Explorer Hikes

The Swannanoa Valley Museum in Black Mountain, North Carolina is offering a monthly hiking series during 2010 called the Swannanoa Rim Explorer Hikes.

The Swannanoa Rim Explorer hiking series offers twelve hikes that will take place on the third Saturday of each month in 2010. Each hike will cover a portion of the approximately 31 miles of the Swannanoa Rim, which runs from Jesse’s High Top, across Lakey Gap, over Ridgecrest and Montreat, up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and down to Cedar Cliff above Camp Rockmont. These hikes will be led by experienced hikers who are also extremely knowledgeable about the history, topography, and ownership of the land.

Hikers will be issued a “Passport to the Swannanoa Rim” on their first hike, which will be validated upon completion of each segment. Special awards will go to those completing the full course during the first year.

The series is recommended for experienced hikers, as the hikes in this series will be strenuous and at times will require bushwhacking. Participation in each hike will be limited to 30 hikers plus the Museum team. The cost for each hike is $20 for Museum members, and $40 for non-members. Those wishing to secure reservations on all 12 hikes may do so by paying in advance, and they will receive a 10% discount.

An orientation meeting for hikers interested in participating in the series will be held on Thursday, January 7 at 7 pm in the Conference Room at the Black Mountain Savings Bank, 200 E. State St., Black Mountain. The first hike will be Jan. 16. Reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call the Museum, 828-669-9566, or send an email to info@swannanoavalleymuseum.org for more information or to reserve a place on the hikes.

Here's the schedule for 2010:

Jan. 7: Preview meeting as the kickoff for the Swannanoa Rim Hikes, 7 pm, Black Mountain Savings Bank.

Jan. 16: First leg of the Swannanoa Rim hikes: Jesse's High Top to NC Hwy 9.

Feb. 20: Second Swannanoa Rim hike: Sunset Mountain to NC Hwy 9.

Mar. 20: Third Swanannoa Rim hike: Sunset Mountain to I-40.

Apr. 17: Fourth Swannanoa Rim hike: I-40 through Ridgecrest to Sourwood Gap.

May 15: Fifth Swannanoa Rim hike: Sourwood Gap to Greybeard. Led by Joe S.

June 19: Sixth Swannanoa Rim hike: Black Mountain Gap to Balsam Gap. Led by Wendell.

July 17: Seventh Swannanoa Rim hike: Black Mountain Gap to Greybeard. Led by Joe S.

Aug. 21: Eight Swannanoa Rim hike: Glassmine Falls Overlook to Craggy Pinnacle.

Sept. 18: Ninth Swannanoa Rim hike: Balsam Gap to Glassmine Falls Overlook.

Oct. 16: Tenth Swannanoa Rim hike: Craggy Gardens to Craggy Knob & return.

Nov. 20: Eleventh Swannanoa Rim hike: White Oak Flats to Brushy Ridge & return.

Dec. 18: Final Swannanoa Rim hike: White Oak Flats to Cedar Cliff to Camp Rockmont.

For more information on the museum and the series, 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.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a New Year full of great hiking adventures!

Jeff

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Snowdrifts as high as 6-8 feet deep on Blue Ridge Parkway

Crews on the Blue Ridge Parkway continue to work to remove snowdrifts and downed trees. The National Park Service is reporting that there are snowdrifts as high as six to eight feet deep on the Parkway!

This is the report from the National Park Service today:

The Blizzard of 2009 dumped from 10 to 30 inches of snow along the entire length of the 469-mile-long parkway. High winds, particularly in the northern districts, have created snow drifts as much as six to eight feet deep, which require the use of front-end loaders and back-hoes in conjunction with snow plow equipment to clear administrative access to park duty stations.

Numerous fallen trees are further complicating snow-removal operations. Unrestricted access to some sections of the parkway that cannot be controlled by a gated closure has further compounded the severity of this storm event because law enforcement rangers have limited ability to identify and respond to stranded motorist emergencies.

Protection rangers are working with Virginia and North Carolina State Highway Patrol officers to receive information from flyovers. The HQ and visitor center in Asheville, North Carolina, are open and the Peaks of Otter Lodge in Virginia is open via State Route 43.


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, December 23, 2009

Lost hikers in Big South Fork hampered search efforts

The following is from the National Park Service Incident Report from this morning:

A Scott County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher received a cell phone call from a lost hiker on Friday, December 18th. The number was given to rangers and contact was made with John Huling.

Huling reported that he’d been hiking in the Twin Arches area with two other people late Thursday night when they decided to go off trail and camp. When they attempted to return to the trail, they became disoriented. A description of where they had gone off trail put them in the Charit Creek drainage. Rangers attempted to determine a more precise location, but could not due to Huling’s lack of knowledge of the area.

A search was begun immediately, as it was raining and the forecast called for it to soon turn to snow. Personnel searched for approximately six hours without luck. The rain did not turn to snow, and plans were made to continue the search at first light the next day. Additional personnel were called in and the search resumed early on Saturday morning. Further phone contact helped them to finally locate the trio in mid-afternoon.

Search efforts were hampered by the men continuing to move after being told to stay in one position so that searchers could find them. There were no injuries to either hikers or searchers.

The key point of this story is in bold. File this one under: "What were they thinking?" One of the first "rules" for getting lost is to stop, stay put and wait for rescue. This is especially true after making contact with rescuers!


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 21, 2009

Would you do this?

Buggy Rollin: the next Olympic Sport? Certainly an X-gamers event:







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, December 20, 2009

More snow in the mountains

Mt. LeConte now has 32 inches of snow on the ground as reported by the winter caretaker at the Lodge. This is an additional 12 inches from yesterday afternoon.

As of 1:07 p.m. today, the National Weather Service is reporting 24 inches of snow on the ground at Newfound Gap, and 5 inches at the Sugarland Visitor Center.

More snow is on the way. The National Weather Service has a winter storm warning posted for the North Carolina side of the Smokies until 4 p.m. today. Snow accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible in Cherokee - more likely in the mountains.

It's likely that many, if not all the roads in the Smokies are still closed. The Smokies road conditions hotline has been busy (865-436-1200), and the park website hasn't been updated since Thursday. It would be extremely helpful if the park could keep the site updated during weather conditions like this.


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.

ATC Wins $25,000 in Chase Community Giveaway

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) announced on Friday that they were among 100 organizations to win a $25,000 grant from the Chase Community Giving campaign.

You may recall from a posting a few weeks ago that the JP Morgan Chase Foundation was sponsoring a Facebook-based charity campaign in which voters directed where Chase grants would be awarded.

The 100 organizations winning a $25,000 grant in the first round of voting are now automatically eligible for a chance to win a final $1-million grant in the next round of voting.

In this next round, the ATC and the other winning organizations will submit documents stating what difference $1 million would make in their work, with Facebook users voting on those proposals starting on January 15. One organization will win that amount in February, and five others will receive $100,000 each. A Chase advisory board will select other charities to share in another $1-million pool.

As soon as information is provided on how and where to vote in this second round, I'll post it on this blog.


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.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mt. LeConte receives 20 inches of snow

Mt. LeConte received 20 inches of snow from yesterday's storm, including 3 foot drifts in places.

This information comes courtesy of an online report from Doug McFalls, the winter caretaker at the Mt. LeConte Lodge. He's using a broadband connection, powered by solar panels, to give the world photos and updates from his new blog, called "Life On LeConte".

This morning, Doug spent time digging out the out house - taking care of the important stuff atop LeConte!

You can check out his blog by clicking here.

Also, as of 10:33 this morning, the National Weather Service has no report on the amount of snow on Newfound Gap. Yesterday morning the Gap already had 4 inches of snow, while Mt. LeConte was reporting only a dusting. So, it's possible that the Gap has even more than 20 inches on the ground.

** Almost every road in the Smokies remains closed - please call the park hotline at (865) 436-1200 for the latest updates **


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.

Appalachian Trail Visitation Study Underway

The National Park Service is currently conducting a project to develop an effective system for tallying the number of hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

This is from the press release:

The project started in 2007 with the Appalachian Trail (AT) entering into an interagency agreement with the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station and expert mathematical statisticians and social scientists to identify a process for determining a defendable annual visitation number. This was no small task. With literally thousands of access points from Georgia to Maine, where does one begin?

Researchers spent a year identifying a pilot process and implementing a survey on a “testable” section of the AT. The process selected included a stratified random survey design which utilized two survey instruments, exit site tallies, and a survey questionnaire to obtain visitation estimates on a portion of the AT.

The design identifies three components (non-proxy, proxy, and special days) which can be used to subdivide the sampling frame into estimator types that lead to more efficient sampling and estimation processes.

I guess a fairly accurate head count would be a nice thing to know. But what value does it really have? Will this information have any impact on how the trail is managed?

Given the state of our economy and the number of people unemployed, doesn't this seem like a grand waste of money? But hey, this is our government at work, why do they have to care about how are tax dollars are spent....


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.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eagle owl in flight high speed camera

Kinda cool video I found on Backpacker Mag's site:




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, December 16, 2009

Last minute gift solution

Need a last minute gift solution? How about a gift card from Amazon? The card is redeemable for millions of items on Amazon - and - there are no fees or expiration dates.

Just click on the image below 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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The North Face sues teenager

The North Face Apparel Corp. is suing a small suburban St. Louis-area company called The South Butt and the teenager who started it. The lawsuit filed last week in federal court in St. Louis seeks unspecified damages and asks the court to prohibit The South Butt from marketing and selling its parody product line.

The South Butt's attorney, Albert Watkins, says The South Butt was started by 18-year-old Jimmy Winkelmann to help pay for college. It puts out products with the tag line, "Never Stop Relaxing," a parody of The North Face line, "Never Stop Exploring."

The lawsuit says The South Butt is trying to "legitimize piracy under the banner of parody."

You gotta love this! Clearly the North Face has a legitimate beef with Winkelmann regarding the logo. However, I'm not so sure about the name or the tag line.

Maybe the North Face should settle this one out of court. Have Winkelmann shut down the business, but agree to pay for his college and then hire him as a junior marketing exec after he graduates!


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.

Southern Appalachian hiker gift ideas

Need some gift ideas for that special hiker in your life? Below are a few suggestions any hiker or lover of the Southern Appalachians would appreciate:


Just Passin' Thru A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters is the brand new release from Winton Porter. The book recounts some of the stories, dramas and characters that show up at his store - the historic Mountain Crossings, a combination hostel and outfitter shop along the Appalachian Trail.






Waterfalls of North Carolina is the very first map available that features over 300 waterfalls in the western North Carolina region. In addition to the WNC region, the map also includes falls on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains. The map was published this past October.








The Garmin Oregon 400T is the next generation of GPS for hikers and outdoors types. National Geographic Adventure Magazine had it on its list of must-have outdoor gear for 2009. Right now Amazon has this item on sale for only $399.95. That's a savings of $240!








The Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion-2010 is another brand new release. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association collaborated on this guide especially designed for potential thru-hikers.









Blue Ridge Mountains 2010 Scenic Wall Calendar is the latest from professional photographer, Jerry Greer.







For many more suggestions, please visit the Smoky Mountains Hiker 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.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Great Deals on Best selling GPS Units on Amazon

Below are the best selling GPS Units on Amazon. Some of the best deals in this category can be had on GPS units for hikers, such as the Garmin Forerunner 305, Garmin GPS 60CSx Handheld, DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 Handheld and the Garmin Oregon 400T.

Each of these GPS units are discounted by more than 40% right now (offering savings between $155 and $350):





* If you're interested in the Garmin 60CSx Handheld, I did a short review of this product last year. Please click here to read.


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.

Movie Trailer: North Face

Below is a trailer from an upcoming movie called North Face.

Based on a true story, North Face is a gripping adventure drama about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. In 1936, Nazi propaganda urged German Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif, the Eiger, bringing two reluctant climbers, Toni Kurz (Benno Furmann) and Andi Hinterstoisser (Florian Lukas), to begin their daring ascent and attempt to scale the infamous rock face, often called the Murder Wall.

Looks like this could be a pretty good suspense-filled movie:




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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Save on outdoor gear and apparel

Amazon is offering great deals on all your outdoor gear and apparel needs for this holiday season. Some of the best prices can be found on Amazon, such as the Columbia Ballistic II Windproof Fleece Jacket, or a Kelty Grand Mesa 2-Person Tent, or Leki Trail Trekking Poles. You can even save 50% on the popular Teton Sports Fox 75+10L Internal Frame Backpack.

Click on the logo below for more information on all the outdoor products Amazon offers:




* Amazon offers FREE Super Saver Shipping on eligible items totaling more than $25.


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

Four must-do Hikes near Santa Fe

A couple years ago Kathy and I spent a week in Santa Fe to take in the rich history and culture of the region, and of course, to check out some hiking in the Southern Rockies.

Among the 8 or 9 trails we tackled, there were four must-do hikes that I would recommend for anyone considering a visit to the area. The following are some photos from those hikes.

Canyon Trail in Tent Rocks National Monument
If you’re spending more than a day or two in Santa Fe, be sure to visit the somewhat unknown Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This is truly a remarkable place located about 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe.

The oddly cone-shaped formations giving the area its name are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago that left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick.

The monument includes a national recreation trail that provides up-close views of the tent rocks, as well as the opportunity to pass through a narrow canyon.

The hike we took was a combination of the Cave Loop and the Canyon Trails - for a total hike of 3.2 miles. The more difficult Canyon Trail is a one-way trek through the narrow canyon before making a steep 630-foot climb to the mesa top. From here you can look down upon the tent rocks. You’ll also have excellent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande Valley.



Wheeler Peak
One of our main objectives for this trip was to climb Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico. With a roundtrip trek of 16 miles and a climb of almost 4000 feet, this would be the toughest hike either of us had ever attempted at that time.

Wheeler Peak is about 90 miles north of Santa Fe in the Sangre De Cristo (Blood of Christ) range, in the Carson National Forest. To reach the summit we took the Bull-of-the-Woods Trail that begins out of the Taos Ski Area.

Climbing in late May, there were still a few snow covered areas on the trail. In fact, we were warned that there would be a section below the tree-line where we would most likely run into some problems. Although that section still had quite a bit of snow, we were able to pass it with only a little extra work.

Prior to reaching Wheeler, the trail crosses over Mount Walter. At 13,141 feet, it’s the second highest named summit in New Mexico, but it’s not usually considered an independent peak as it only has about 80 feet of topographic prominence. From here the path leads you along a fairly narrow ridgeline to your final destination. It was here that we experienced some extremely high winds. As a precautionary measure I held onto Kathy just to make sure she didn’t get blown off the mountain! Other than the wind and cool temps at the top, the weather was otherwise perfect.



Pecos National Historical Park
Although some may not consider it to be a true hike, there is a 1.25 mile self-guided trail in the Pecos National Historical Park that shouldn’t be overlooked. The park is located about 25 miles east of Santa Fe.

The trail winds through the ruins of the Pecos Pueblo which is thought to have been established sometime during the 14th century. The original mission that was on the site was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, but a smaller church was built in 1717. The massive adobe walls and arched doorways of this later church still stand on top of the earlier church's stone foundation.

In addition to exploring the old mission, the trail also passes many other ruins from the pueblo, including a "kiva". The park allows you to descend a ladder to reach the small room-sized underground ceremonial chamber.


Tsankawi Loop in Bandelier National Monument
We hiked a couple of short trails the day we spent in Bandelier National Monument. One trail that is very easy to overlook, but one that definitely shouldn’t, is the 1.5 mile Tsankawi Loop located in the detached portion of the monument known as the Tsankawi unit. The 1.5 mile loop provides access to numerous unexcavated ruins, cave dwellings carved into the soft tuff, as well as several petroglyphs from the Ancestral Tewa Pueblo that lived here until the 16th century. Many sections of the trail are worn 8 to 12 inches into solid rock! Petroglyphs are common throughout this area; however, the meanings of many are unknown to present-day Indians. The trail also requires hikers to climb up and down several wooden ladders.

Bandelier is roughly 30 miles northeast of Santa Fe.




Santa Fe
Santa Fe is an awesome town, and is probably now my favorite urban destination. Being several centuries old, the city is steeped in Native, Hispanic, Spanish and early-American history and culture (as is nearby Taos). If you love history at all, you could spend several days just checking out all the sites in the area, including the oldest house in the United States. The town is also known for its Indian Market, art galleries, museums and its Southwestern cuisine.

There’s also an excellent brewpub in town called the Blue Corn Café. With two locations in town, I would recommend going to the downtown location. If you’re lucky enough, grab a table on the balcony. Both the beer and the New Mexican style food are outstanding.


Santa Fe-Taos Hiking Guide:















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.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Store is Open

With Christmas less than two weeks away, I wanted to remind everyone that the Smoky Mountain Hiking Store is open for business! In addition to hiking gear and apparel from some of the best outdoor brands, we also have a large selection of books related to hiking, the Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding region.

Some new titles you may be interested in include;

* Just Passin' Thru (just released)

* 3000 Miles in the Great Smokies

* Historic Photos of Appalachia

* Sanctuary: Meditations from the Great Smoky Mountains

* Waterfalls of North Carolina, a comprehensive map that features over 300 waterfalls in the western North Carolina region.

You can also support HikingintheSmokys.com by visiting Amazon’s new Outdoor Recreation Store which offers outstanding deals on a wide variety of hiking, camping and outdoor gear.

P.S. There are only 5 days left to order for Christmas for Free Super Saver Shipping at Amazon.




Jeff
Smoky Mountain Day Hikers Store

Cascade Canyon Trail in the Grand Tetons

The Cascade Canyon Trail in Grand Teton National Park is often rated as one of the best trails in the United States. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hike this gem you would probably concur.

Having such notoriety bestowed upon it, the trail is naturally going to be one of the most popular hiking destinations in the park. Our hike in September of 2001 was no exception. In fact, this hike is probably the most memorable one we’ve ever had – and that’s not just due to the majestic mountain scenery.

Roughly a mile-and-a-half from the boat dock we caught up with a large group of hikers making a bit of a commotion. Based on their accents we made the assumption they were tourists from Germany. The “leader” of this group, a muscular guy without a shirt and wearing a bandana, whom we appropriately nicknamed “Rambo”, was banging the ground with a large stick. He and his fellow travelers were all yelling at a young black bear walking along the trail just in front of them.

The absurd part of the story is that the bear really didn’t care how loud these people yelled. He just continued strolling down the trail at his own leisurely pace. With the Germans in front of us, we literally followed the bear for nearly a mile before he decided he'd had enough and meandered off into the woods. We took this opportunity to double-time it in order to get away from this loud and obnoxious group.

Don’t try this at home! I never would’ve gotten this close had there not been so many other people around:

Later on, near the Forks of Cascade Canyon, we came across another commotion. This time there were several people off the side of the trail watching two bull moose engage in a turf battle. Naturally we wanted to check out the struggle ourselves. However, just as we arrived, the smaller moose waived the white flag, licked his wounds and wandered out of the danger zone. Most of the people continued to stick around to snap a few more photos of the victor. But as the group grew in size, and people tried to get a little closer, the moose became visibly agitated. Giving us fair warning, he began thrashing his antlers in the brush before suddenly rushing across the creek towards us. In an instant everyone scattered to the wind. Fortunately, it was only a bluff charge that ended just as quickly as it started, but I guarantee that everyone’s heart was racing for a few seconds. That ended the photo shoot.

We continued on to the forks. On our return, I was able to get a shot of the moose with no one else around.

The hike to the forks is roughly 6.5 miles one-way. However, you can subtract two miles each way by taking the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake.

Many people prefer to end their hike at Inspiration Point, satisfied with the spectacular panoramic views of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole below:


Just beyond Inspiration Point, Mt. Owen comes into view:


Cascade Creek and Mt. Owen a mile above:


From Jenny Lake to the Forks of Cascade Canyon, the trail gains a little more than 1000 feet. Most of that elevation gain occurs in the first mile or so (above Jenny Lake). Just beyond Inspiration Point, the trail levels out as it passes through the U-shaped, glacially sculpted Cascade Canyon. The trail offers close-up views of Grand Teton, Mt. Owen and Teewinot Mountain.

Parting shot: this photo was taken the morning we left for home. We were extremely lucky to come across this vantage point near Moran Junction just as a cloud bank was passing mid-way below the summit of Mount Moran. This is one of my all-time favorite shots:



Must-Do Hikes in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons:















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, December 11, 2009

Save on Electronics from Amazon

If you're going to be shopping for electronics this holiday season, Amazon will be the place to find some of the best deals on the internet.

Right now, you can find big savings on items such as:

* A Canon PowerShot MP Digital Camera for only $199

* Save $175 on an Samsung 37-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV

* Pay only $12.03 for a SanDisk Cruzer Micro 8 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (Save 73%!)

* Save $184 (53%) on a Garmin nüvi 4.3-Inch Widescreen Bluetooth Portable GPS Navigator

* 19% off (Save $72) on a Samsung 10.1-Inch Blue Netbook

For more information on any of these items, or from the thousands of Computers, TVs, Cameras, Cell Phones, MP3s, Video Games and other gadgets from Amazon, please click here, or click on the logo below:





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.

Can you survive in the wilderness in the winter?

I'm sure most you would never really want to actually find out, but you could test yourself - virtually - by playing the Discovery Channel's "Life or Death Game".

The scenario is that you are on a guided extreme winter hike to a luxury cabin. You awake after the first night to find that the guide has left - with all the food - and you're still two days away from the cabin. Can you survive?

Warning: the game can be quite annoying because everytime you miss the right answer, you're forced to start over again. Fortunately there's only a handful of questions. All in all though, it's a pretty good exercise because there are a couple of questions with counter-intuitive answers, forcing you to think outside of the box, which is something that would come in handy in a real survival situation.

The site also has other scenarios including being lost at sea and being stranded in the jungle.

Click here to play.




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.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Planning a Thru-Hike

Trailspace.com has a pretty good four-part series on their website about planning for a thru-hike. Written by Barbara Egbert, a thru-hike veteran herself, The Lure of a Long Trail: Planning a Thru-Hike offers basic information for would-be long distance thru-hikers to help them tackle the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide Trail. Obviously, much of the advice provided would also benefit backpackers attempting much shorter distances as well.

This is probably a good starting point for someone in the consideration phase of planning a thru-hike to see if they really want to get serious about it:

Part 1: In the first of four articles, Pacific Crest Trail veteran Barbara Egbert talks to other thru-hikers about gear decisions, training, and preparation.

Part 2: Sorting through a deluge of advice and wondering which to pay attention to? Successful backpackers can tell you what really matters, including reasons to thru-hike a long trail, what to eat, and finding water.

Part 3: Triple Crowners — hikers who have completed the AT, PCT, and CDT (that’s nearly 8,000 miles of trail) — offer advice to first-timers on how to stay safe and have fun.

Part 4: Two trail angels offer advice based on the hundreds of thru-hikers they've befriended and assisted along the Pacific Crest Trail.




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, December 9, 2009

Help the ATC Win a Grant from Chase Bank

Chase Community Giving is giving away $25,000 to 100 charities. With your help, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will have a chance to win one of these grants from Chase Community Giving and possibly one million dollars if they make it to the second round.

Chase Community Giving is a program run by Chase Bank that allows Facebook users to vote for local charities and non-profits, and help direct Chase corporate philanthropy dollars to eligible organizations in the following focus areas: education, healthcare, housing, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services, and animal welfare. The grassroots campaign aims to inspire a new way of corporate philanthropy.

The ATC needs just a minute or two of your time to vote for ATC on Facebook. And then ask your friends to do the same. It's quick. It's easy. And best of all, it's free.

Voting for Round 1 ends December 11.

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.

Winter Mountaineering School

If you're looking to expand your winter hiking, backpacking and mountaineering skills, or possibly looking for an alternative vacation this coming winter, you may want to check out the Adirondack Mountain Club's Winter Mountaineering School this year.

Each year, the Adirondack Mountain Club hosts its annual Winter Mountaineering School near Lake Placid, New York. They typically cover the following areas of instruction:

* Winter backpacking skills
* Snowshoe, crampon and ice axe techniques
* Proper clothing and temperature management
* Steep snow and ice travel
* Safe above-treeline travel under winter conditions
* On- and off-trail navigation; map and compass review
* Trip planning
* How to pack a winter backpack
* Group gear review
* Hydration and nutrition
* Constructing snow shelters and a winter backcountry kitchen
* Wilderness first aid
* Avalanche awareness
* Decision making and risk management
* Winter "Leave No Trace" principals

Past participants have included three season hikers and backpackers looking to expand their winter skills, as well as more experienced skiers, trip leaders and winter mountaineers who are wishing to refine their skills or are looking for some excitement and adventure. The organization has an experienced, all-volunteer staff, with a low student-to-instructor ratio. They offer weekend day hikes, weekend backpacking, and weeklong backpacking options from January 29 through February 4, 2010.

The ADK Winter Mountaineering School is non-profit group that has been sponsored for over 50 years by the Adirondack Mountain Club. The purpose of the program is to promote enjoyable and successful winter mountaineering and camping through a learn-by-doing approach and is held in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

For more information, please click here.

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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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pisgah observatory program looks at winter night-time skies

The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute will hold its monthly Evening at PARI program at 7 p.m. Dec. 11, looking at the wintertime night sky and celestial objects visible in Western North Carolina.

"We plan to provide a practical guide to the wintertime night sky and solar system objects visible in Western North Carolina,” said PARI Education Director Christi Whitworth. “Our storytelling staff will also share some of the lore associated with several objects of interest from around the world. This program is designed for all ages and all knowledge levels - from astronomy newcomers up to those who have been observing all their lives. We’ll also have an observing session so everyone can begin exploring the wonders of the universe right away.”

Reservations are required and will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Dec. 11.

Evening at PARI programs cost $20 per adult, $15 for seniors/military and $10 for children under 14. For additional information or to schedule a reservation contact Whitworth at 862-5554 or send an email to cwhitworth@pari.edu.

Reservations can also be made online at www.pari.edu.




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 7 Best Hikes in the Smokies

Some of you may have already seen this article (The 7 Best Hikes in the Smokies) on a previous blog posting of mine, but the folks over at CheapOair.com have allowed me to become a “guest blogger” for a day and re-publish it on their blog site.

CheapOair is a 7-time award winning travel website, and is ranked #7 amongst travelers by Hitwise.com. The site offers one of the largest selections of airfares, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages and travel deals. Travel services are obtained from multiple sources, including three of the most respected and widely used reservation systems, and fifteen other negotiated rates data sources to bring the best value to their customers.

You can check-out their website, and read the 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 Rental Cabins Cabin and chalet listings in the Smokies!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Partial closure of Cades Cove this Thursday

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have rescheduled the hemlock tree spraying operation in Cades Cove for this Thursday, December 10. During that time, a partial closure of the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road will occur while Park forestry technicians finish treating the adelgid-infested hemlock trees. Previously, vegetation management crews had to suspend the second day of its scheduled operation due to bad weather.

The spraying operation will only impact the western end of the Loop Road. Motorists and cyclists will be able to enter the Loop as they normally would, but will have to detour across the Loop via Hyatt Lane (the second gravel crossroad) to exit Cades Cove. Hikers can continue through the closed portion. The detour will shorten the length of the trip to an 8-mile tour of Cades Cove. The Hyatt Lane bypass will eliminate access to the Cades Cove Visitor Center and Cable Mill area as well as the several trailheads located on the western end of Cades Cove: Abrams Falls, Cooper Road, Rabbit Creek, and Wet Bottom Trails, and Gregory Ridge trailheads.

To check the status of the road closure, visitors can call the Park’s general information number at 865-436-1200.

* Need to find a Christmas gift for that special hiker? Check out the great deals 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.

Top 10 Items to have on a Day Hike

Below is my list of the top ten things you should keep in your backpack on any day hike. Obviously you will need to make changes to your overall list based on weather conditions, season, terrain and length of trip, but generally speaking, these are the items I consider to be the most important to have on any day hike.

1) Orientation - Take a map and/or guide book with you. National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated Maps are excellent. Use the map to keep track of your progress so that you know where you’re at all times. It’s also a good idea to carry a compass, and know how to use it as well.

2) Hydration - Take plenty of water with you, especially in the summer. You can sweat anywhere from 1/2 to 1 quart of fluid for every hour you walk in the heat. This fluid/electrolyte loss can exceed 3 quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight and during the hottest time of the day. If you plan on drinking water from the backcountry, know that it must be treated for Giardia lamblia. Giardia is a parasite that can cause an intestinal infection with a variety of symptoms. To avoid this infection, boil water for at least one minute or use a filter capable of removing particles as small as 1 micron. Liquids such as water or sports drinks are best for you. Drinking soda or alcohol while hiking will dehydrate you. Make sure to pack extra liquids with you in case your hike takes longer than expected.

3) Fuel - The best snacks for the trail are ones that will provide you with high energy, such as fruit, granola, peanut butter, bagels, power bars, fruit bars, G.O.R.P. (trail mix), beef jerky, or even candy. Again, take extra food with you in case your hike takes longer than expected for whatever reason. Throw a couple of energy bars in your pack. They’re light weight, and will pack a nice punch if needed.

4) First Aid - Learn first aid and carry a first aid kit in your pack. Know what to do in case of an emergency. First aid training will teach you how to react and deal with specific types of injuries.

5) Shelter from the storm – No, I’m not talking about toting a tent around with you. I’m referring to keeping rain gear in your pack in case the skies open-up while you’re out on the trail. Weather can be very unpredictable in the mountains. Nothing is worse than getting soaked miles from the trailhead, which can lead to hypothermia. Even during the summer a wet hiker can succumb to hypothermia at higher elevations.

6) Fire – I’m not suggesting you carry something to cook beef stroganoff on your lunch break. But it is extremely important to have some ability to start a fire in case of an emergency bivouac. I always carry a fire source: waterproof matches or some other emergency firestarter. You'll also want to carry some type of tinder, such as fire sticks, or even cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly and stored in aluminum foil, a zip lock bag or even an old film canister.

7) Extra Socks – Extra socks are a must as well. If you accidently slip into some water, or you’re forced to cross a swollen creek, you’ll want to change your socks right away. Besides having cold feet, you’re almost guaranteed to take home a few blisters.

8) Gloves – Although the forecast might call for a mild day, weather can change quickly in the mountains. Overcast skies, high winds, or light rain, can chill your hands in a hurry, especially in the mountains.

9) Emergency Blanket – An emergency blanket is an excellent item to throw in the bottom of your pack. They’re inexpensive, light weight and take about as much room as a pack of baseball cards. Using a reflective material, they’re designed to reflect your body heat back to you in an emergency situation. You can also use the blanket to ceate an emergency lean-to shelter as well.

10) Knife – preferably a multi-use knife such as a Swiss Army Knife can come in handy in a variety of situations.

There are a few other items you should probably consider having in your pack, but didn’t quite make my top 10 list, including, medications, a whistle, flashlight, bear spray, toilet paper, moleskin, sunscreen, ski hat, cell phone, duct tape. For a complete checklist, 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.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just Passin' Thru

Winton Porter, author of the brand new book Just Passin' Thru, will be at Diamond Brand in Arden, NC for a book signing next Saturday, Dec. 12th, at 2 P.M.

The full title of the book, Just Passin' Thru: A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters, released this past week, recounts some of the stories, dramas and characters that show up at his store along the Appalachian Trail.

Since 2001 Porter has owned the historic Mountain Crossings, a combination hostel and outfitter shop along the Appalachian Trail. Located 32 miles from the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the trail actually passes through the building, making it the only covered portion on the entire length of the trail's 2100 plus miles.

For every thru-hiker who makes it as far as Mountain Crossings, there is a story. Some are inspirational, and some are off the wall and down right funny.

For more information on the book, 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, hiking gear store, and more.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New North Carolina Outdoors Website

I just recently found out about a relatively new website that I thought you might be interested in.

The site, called Carolina Outdoors Guide, is a comprehensive directory of federal and state recreation lands in North Carolina, including national and state parks, national and state forests, TVA and Corps of Engineers sites, wildlife refuges, coastal reserves and more. The links pages have more than 50 federal, state and private resources related to outdoor recreation.

The site is an excellent resource for finding parks, as well hiking and camping opportunities on public lands around the state.

I found out about the site after receiving an email from the website owner, Chris Nelson.

Chris started Carolina Outdoors Guide in 2006. As part of his job with The News & Observer in Raleigh, he was in charge of publishing a printed version, called Discover Carolina Outdoors. However, in 2006, the newspaper discontinued the annual guide due to the inability to sell enough advertising.

So, with all the information he had already compiled, Chris decided to launch his own website. He believes it’s the most comprehensive single-source directory available for state and federal public recreation sites in North Carolina.

Chris also publishes a blog in conjunction with the site, called, This Land, Your Land. It allows people to keep up with news developments at the parks and forests around the state.

The site makes for a great resource if you’re traveling to North Carolina and want to see what kind of outdoor opportunities you’ll be near. Additionally, North Carolinians will find this useful if they’re wishing to find something new to do within their own state.

Please click here to visit the site.




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.

Several road closures in Smokies due to snow

As a result of the snow and ice in the region, the following roads in the Great Smoky Mountains are now closed:

* Newfound Gap Road (US 441), Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC

* Little River Road from Gatlinburg to Townsend

* Cherokee Orchard Road in the Roaring Fork area

* Lyons Springs Road (a.k.a. Wears Gap Road)

* Foothills Parkway East, Cosby, TN to I-40

* Cataloochee Entrance Road near Maggie Valley, NC

* Old NC 284, between Big Creek, NC and Cataloochee, NC

For Gatlinburg, the forecast is for snow, mainly before 1 pm. High near 36. North wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

The forecast for Cherokee is for snow, mainly before 4 pm. High near 35. North wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible, with little or no snow accumulation expected into the evening.

You can keep up with current weather conditions and forecasts by clicking here.

For the most up-to-date road closing in the Smokies, please call (865) 436-1200.


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.

Hiking to Plane Crash Sites in the Southern Appalachians

Some people hike for exercise; others are looking for views or waterfalls. Jeff Wadley hikes for plane crashes.

That's the lead-in to an article on Blue Ridge Outdoors. The article is actually an interview with Wadley who was a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol for 30 years, leading search and rescue missions for downed planes throughout the Southern Appalachians. He now spends his time hiking to the sites of planes that have crashed throughout aviation history.

Interestingly, there have been 54 crashes inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He says there are little pieces of airplanes all over the Southern Appalachians, in fact, you can still find pieces from the wreckage of an F-4 Phantom that crashed near the Snake Den Trail in 1984. There are about five or six aircraft that have never been located at all.

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, hiking gear store, and more.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Top Survival Stories of All Time

What’s the definition of a great survival story? Beyond the obvious - coming face to face with death, an unbelievable escape, or, because of fate or just plain luck, an individual was able to survive some extreme disaster.

For me, my list of the top six survival stories of all time is based on two criteria: a convincing story of human perseverance and an iron will to survive, and the author’s ability to tell the story in a compelling manner which keeps me on the edge of my seat.

So, in reverse order, here's my all-time best survival stories:


The Long Walk

Stephen Ambrose, the late historian and author of Undaunted Courage and Band of Brothers, said that “The Long Walk is a book that I absolutely could not put down and one that I will never forget”. I couldn’t agree with him more.

My only hope is that Slavomir Rawicz, the protagonist in this story, hasn’t pulled the wool over the eyes of everyone, including Mr. Ambrose.

Ever since The Long Walk was published in 1956, the authenticity of the story has been challenged. Unfortunately, Rawicz hasn’t been able to provide any documentation to prove his story. However, it does seem that the general consensus among most critics is that the story is mostly true, but, possibly embellished. It’s even possible that the embellishment occurred at the hand of his English speaking ghost-writer. For an interesting perspective on the veracity of the story from someone who retraced the steps of Rawicz in 2004, and who came to believe the story to be true, please click here.

Slavomir Rawicz was a cavalry officer in the Polish army when he was captured by the Red Army during the German-Soviet partition of Poland in 1939. After being tortured and put on trial in Moscow he was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor in a Siberian Gulag.

After a year of unbearable and inhumane conditions, Rawicz and six other prisoners escaped from their labor camp in Yakutsk.

In order to make their way to freedom, the escapees marched 4000 miles, on foot, across the frozen Siberian tundra, the Gobi desert, through Tibet, and over the Himalayan Mountains to British India. Along the way they conquered fatigue, thirst, starvation as well as their own inner demons. The story is also famous for the claim that the surviving escapees saw a pair of yetis while traversing the Himalayas.

Whether the story is actually true, partially true, or totally fabricated, this book is still a great read, one that will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.



It’s Not About the Bike

When I originally set about creating this list, I intended to compile a list of only the top five survival stories. However, as I was browsing through my library, I realized that I needed to expand the scope of the list to include Lance Armstrong’s first book. I recalled the significance of It’s Not About the Bike, which was in the message that Lance conveys throughout his book: that no matter how much the odds are stacked against you, whether it’s cancer, or any obstacle in life, you should never give up the battle. Lance clearly demonstrates his deep will to survive in this book. I believe his strong will, his attitude, and the courage he displayed can also be applied to wilderness survival situations.

It’s Not About the Bike, as the name would imply, focuses on Lance’s near death battle with cancer. Armstrong states that having cancer "was like being run off the road by a truck, and I've got the scars to prove it." This excellent read is about life, death, illness, family, and setbacks. But most importantly, it’s about Lance’s triumph over cancer.



We Die Alone

Stephen Ambrose wrote the introduction for We Die Alone. In it he states that it was “a book that I absolutely could not put down, and one that I will never forget”. That quote might sound a little familiar. I did a double take at first as well, but Ambrose states in the intro that, in addition to We Die Alone, he has only described three other books in his life this way, one of those being The Long Walk.

Like The Long Walk, We Die Alone is a story of survival in extreme circumstances that takes place during World War II. However, there’s never been any controversy surrounding the validity of this story.

In March 1943, a team of four expatriate Norwegian commandoes, including Jan Baalsrud, sailed from England to Nazi-occupied Norway to organize and supply the Norwegian resistance.

Somehow the commandoes were betrayed shortly after landing and the team was ambushed by the Nazis, leaving Baalsrud as the lone survivor.

We Die Alone recounts Baalsrud’s incredible and improbable escape and his iron will to survive. Poorly clothed, with one foot entirely bare, and part of his big toe shot off, Baalsrud was relentlessly pursued by the Nazis.

Surviving an avalanche, and suffering from frostbite and snow blindness, Baalsrud fought his way over the Norwegian mountains and tundra to a small arctic village. He was near death and was a virtual cripple when he stumbled into the village of Mandal. Fortunately, the locals were willing to help save him, and at mortal risk to themselves, help him escape to Sweden.



Into Thin Air

I remember reading Jon Krakauer’s original article on the infamous Mt. Everest disaster in Outside Magazine and being completely astounded by what occurred on the mountain that day. And then, a year later, he published his bestseller, Into Thin Air, which fleshed out many more details of the ill-fated expeditions that left eight people dead that day. Although several books and articles have been written, Into Thin Air would become the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Mt. Everest.

Originally, Krakauer went on assignment for Outside Magazine to report on the growing commercialization of guided trips up Mount Everest and the inherent danger to unsuspecting clients. Instead, he wound up writing a first-hand account of the disaster that unfolded after a ferocious storm blasted Everest with gale force winds that killed eight climbers.

The most amazing aspect of the story centered around Beck Weathers. Twice abandoned and presumed to be dead on the South Col, Weathers spent some 18 hours in subzero temperatures in the death zone before miraculously regaining his senses and staggering into camp. He was suffering from severe frostbite, corneal lacerations, hypothermia, and had a face so badly frostbitten it scarcely seemed human.

Over the course of the next year, Weathers underwent ten surgeries, the longest lasting 16 hours. His entire right hand and most of his left was amputated; surgeons were able to fashion a thumb out of muscle from his side and back.

The updated paperback edition of Into Thin Air includes an extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev in the wake of the tragedy.



Miracle in the Andes

I must admit I was pretty apprehensive about reading this story in detail. I was quite familiar with the basic facts of the story: a plane with a Uruguayan rugby team on board crashes into the Andes Mountains; many on board are killed, and after several weeks without rescue and a few failed attempts to walk off the mountain, the survivors are forced to resort to cannibalism. My apprehension, as you might suspect, had to do with the cannibalism aspect of the story. It just seemed too disturbing to me.

My fears, as I discovered, were unfounded. Nando Parrado, the hero and author of the book, spent relatively little time discussing the details surrounding this aspect of the story.

Miracle in the Andes is actually a fresh re-telling of the high altitude plane crash through the lens of the person most responsible for the rescue of the survivors. The original story was recounted in the 1974 bestseller, Alive.

Although he suffered a fractured skull, was unconscious for three days after the crash, and was presumed to eventually succumb to his injuries, Parrado was able to revive. After several weeks of recovery, he eventually devised a plan and led a team over the 17,000-foot peak that trapped the survivors on a glacier, and marched ten days to rescue and freedom.



The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

The best survival story of all time, and overall, one of the best books I’ve ever read is The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition.

The story is about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s failed attempt to cross Antarctica on foot just prior to the start of World War I.

Before the expedition was able to reach the continent, their ship, the Endurance, became stuck in an early ice floe in the Weddell Sea. The crew of 27 had no means of communication or hope of outside help, thus condemning themselves to isolation for next 22 months.

The men lived within the bowels of the Endurance for almost a year before the ice destroyed it, forcing the expedition to move out onto the frozen sea. Several months later, the expedition built sledges and moved to Elephant Island, a rocky deserted spot of land just beyond the Antarctic Peninsula. At this point, no one knew what happened to the expedition or where they were. Most people assumed they had been killed.

Knowing that a rescue wasn’t going to happen, Shackleton made the decision to take one of the open lifeboats and cross the 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.

This incredible book is also accompanied with the previously unpublished photographs of Frank Hurley, one of the members of the expedition.


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

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