Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Temporary Closures for Cades Cove Loop Road in January

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the temporary closure of the Cades Cove Loop Road for 6 days in January to complete hazard tree removal. The road will be closed to all pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists January 6th through January 8th, and January 13th through January 15th.

“We regret the inconvenience to Cades Cove visitors,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We chose mid-week dates in early January when visitation is expected to be low to accomplish the needed work, but we realize that some visitors will be disappointed.”

In addition to the Cades Cove Loop Road, hazard trees will be removed from the Cades Cove Campground. The campground will remain open during the closure, but campers may be relocated during the work period.



Jeff
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tennessee State Parks Kick off New Year with First Hikes

Tennessee State Parks has announced that it will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day. Each state park will host its own special hike in the first few days of the New Year.

The First Hikes begin at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 at Radnor Lake State Park. Henry Horton, Harrison Bay, Tims Ford, Norris Dam and Pickett state parks will host midnight hikes. The First Hikes will continue throughout New Year’s Day with morning, afternoon and evening hikes.

“Our First Hikes have been very popular and we are excited to continue this series in the New Year,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said. “The First Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.”

From Reelfoot to Henry Horton to Roan Mountain and every state park in between, the 2015 First Hikes are designed for all ages and abilities. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length and tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier and geared toward more experienced hikers. For a more in-depth look into planned First Hikes in your area, please click here.

Tennessee State Parks’ First Hikes of 2015 are part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Partners Make Progress in Restoring Grandfather Ranger District

The U.S. Forest Service and a spectrum of partners collaborated to help restore close to 6,000 acres in the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, through the Grandfather Restoration Project over the past year.

“I commend our partners for their ongoing hard work and dedication to the Grandfather Restoration Project,” said Grandfather District Ranger Nick Larson. “This year’s accomplishments illustrate the power of leveraged resources and how great things can be achieved when diverse partners collaborate in a single landscape.”

The Grandfather Restoration Project is a 10-year effort that increases prescribed burning and other management practices on 40,000 acres of the Grandfather Ranger District. The project is restoring the fire-adapted forest ecosystems, benefiting a variety of native plants and wildlife, increasing stream health, controlling non-native species and protecting hemlocks against hemlock woolly adelgids. The project is one of 10 projects announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in February 2012, under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program.

In fiscal year 2014, the Grandfather Restoration Project established forest vegetation on 44 acres, improved forest vegetation on 339 acres, restored or enhanced 5,345 acres of terrestrial habitat and 2.5 miles of stream habitat. The Project also treated for invasive species on 135 acres, restored watershed health on two acres, maintained or improved 50 miles of trails, and reduced hazardous fuels on 3,439 acres.

Project partners provided the following contributions in fiscal year 2014:

* The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission improved early successional habitat (young forests) by mowing 648 acres, treating 44 acres of invasive species, conducting 13 different surveys for land and water species, stocking 3,000 brown trout , clearing 1.5 miles of fire break, performing prescribed burning on adjacent lands, and collecting data on black bears.

* The Wilderness Society provided 672 hours studying the fire ecology of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, 20 hours on shortleaf pine restoration planning, and 651 hours on a variety of trail work.

* The N.C. Forest Service assisted with prescribed burns on the Grandfather Ranger District and conducted burns on adjacent private lands.

* Western North Carolina Alliance provided 39 hours for shortleaf pine restoration project development, 48 hours in vegetation monitoring and 50 hours in invasive species monitoring.

* The Nature Conservancy spent 26 hours assisting with prescribed burns, 40 hours on public outreach, and 97 hours on project development for shortleaf pine restoration.

* Wild South volunteers spent 600 hours removing, by hand, non-native species in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.

* N.C. Department of Transportation provided funding for bridge replacement at Catawba Falls recreation area.

A critical component of the Grandfather Restoration Project is monitoring the effectiveness of restoration management practices. Partners monitor all aspects of the project, from prescribed burning to invasive species treatment effectiveness. Monitoring efforts following prescribed burns show a 90 percent reduction in evergreen shrub cover (hazardous fuels), as well as an increase in wildlife use and diversity. Invasive species monitoring shows 70 percent average effectiveness in killing target plant species during initial treatments.

Additional partners involved in the project include: Foothills Conservancy, Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network, North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Land of Sky Regional Council, National Wild Turkey Federation, Southern Research Station, National Park Service, Appalachian Designs, Western Carolina University, Trout Unlimited, Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Wilson Creek, Forest Stewards, Quality Deer Management Association, and the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.



Jeff
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Day Hikes to be offered at every North Carolina State Park on Jan. 1st

A North Carolina tradition continues on New Year’s Day with opportunities to exercise and reconnect with nature on First Day Hikes at every state park and recreation area, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

In the past three years, hikers in North Carolina have joined rangers and volunteers to walk more than 10,000 miles on state park trails Jan. 1. There will be more than 40 scheduled hikes ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to six-mile treks, many of them offering interpretive programs along the way. All seasonal state park facilities will remain open on the holiday.

“The relatively new tradition of First Day Hikes has been embraced by people in North Carolina as an opportunity to begin the new year with a healthy activity, to shed the stress of the holidays and to reconnect with the outdoors and the rich natural resources that distinguish North Carolina,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “It also serves as a reminder that state parks are always available for exercise, family activities and education for more than 14 million visitors each year.”

Each state park and state recreation area puts its own stamp on its First Day Hike. At Haw River State Park in Guilford County, hikers will preview a new 3.2-mile trail that will open for general use in coming months. Crowders Mountain State Park will make use of a six-mile trail that links park lands in North Carolina and South Carolina. Hikers often see fresh snow at Elk Knob and Mount Mitchell state parks, while Pettigrew State Park is a seasonal home to flocks of wintering waterfowl. And, the Eno River Association will offer long and short hikes as part of a decades-old tradition at Eno River State Park.



Jeff
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Time-lapse Video of Inversion at the Grand Canyon

A rare ground inversion last Thursday filled the Grand Canyon from rim to rim with a sea of clouds.

Ground inversions at Grand Canyon are a sight to behold – clouds fill the canyon with sunny, blue skies above the rims. The topography of Grand Canyon enhances the effect of inversions, creating the dramatic views of a sea of fog and clouds seemingly dense enough to walk out on.

Ground inversions occur when cold air is trapped by a layer of warm air. On clear, cold nights ground temperatures cool rapidly. Air in contact with cold surfaces cools and sinks. At Grand Canyon cold, moist air drops into the canyon forming cascading “waterfalls” of clouds pouring down the rim filling the canyon. Warm air above the rim holds the clouds in place until enough solar radiation is received to warm the surface of the rocks, heating the cold, dense clouds in the canyon and causing them to rise.

Visitors at Grand Canyon during an inversion are challenged to be patient. Waiting out the warming process is well worth the effort; when the clouds start to lift the currents of air swirl and turn on themselves parting like curtains to reveal bursts of color and light, a breathtaking spectacle.

Below is a one minute time-lapse video from the Grand Canyon National Park showing what happened last Thursday:







Jeff
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Chilogate Stream Restoration Underway near Foothills Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that work has begun through the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program to restore the lower 5,000 feet of Chilogate Creek near the Foothills Parkway and the confluence with Chilhowee Lake. The restoration work will return the stream to its original meandering path which will both enhance riparian wetland habitat as well as reducing the risk of undercutting by the current stream alignment along Happy Valley Road and the Ft. Loudon Utility lines.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to restore Chilogate Creek and the associated wetlands,” said Jeff Troutman, Chief of Resource Management and Science. “Restored streambanks and wetland vegetation will help create a buffer that better filters sediments and improves water quality.”

The project will restore the original stream meander in the lower reaches and repair damaged streambanks on the upper reaches. Wetland communities, rare in the park, will be enhanced through this project providing improved habitat for a variety of species as well as improving water quality. The area includes critical wetland habitat for a state listed plant, Tennessee pondweed (Potamogeton tennesseensis), which is found near Chilogate Creek's confluence with Chilowee Lake. The work will also include removing the invasive, non-native Brazilian water milfoil.

The restoration project should be completed by April 2015. For more information about park wetlands, click here.



Jeff
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Smokies Hosts Holiday Homecoming

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Saturday, December 20, 2014. The visitor center will be decorated for the holiday season including an exhibit on Christmas in the mountains. Park staff and volunteers will provide hands-on traditional crafts and activities from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about and experience some of the traditions surrounding an Appalachian Christmas. Hot apple cider and cookies will be served on the porch with a fire in the fireplace. From 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., the park will host the monthly acoustic old time jam session.

“Musical expression was and still is often a part of daily life in the southern mountains, and mountain music is strongly tied to the Smokies history and culture,” said Lynda Doucette, Supervisory Park Ranger, Oconaluftee Visitor Center. “This month our music jam will focus on traditional holiday tunes. We would like to invite musicians to play and our visitors to join us in singing traditional Christmas carols and holiday songs as was done in old days.”

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is located on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Highway 441), two miles north of Cherokee, N.C. For more information, call the visitor center at (828) 497-1904. All activities are free and open to the public. Generous support of this event is provided by the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this Christmas season, please take a few moments to check out our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Master Plan to be Prepared for Mountains-to-Sea State Trail

Ideas to be gathered from partners, stakeholders and the public will be a major component of a master planning process underway to guide completion of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The 1,000-mile trail corridor will ultimately link Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the coast. Nearly two thirds of the cross-state route has been completed as a continuous, off-road trail experience, offering opportunities for hiking, biking and horseback riding through some of North Carolina’s most scenic landscapes. Where the trail has not yet been completed, detours along secondary roads allow ambitious hikers to complete the trek.

A completed master plan will chart a path toward official designation of remaining portions by setting priorities for completing trail sub-sections. It will also unify regional planning efforts, identify potential new partners and funding strategies, and establish guidelines for signs and publicity. The state parks system has hired Planning Communities, LLC to prepare a detailed master plan by late 2015 at a contract price of $120,000 supported through the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.

A Planning Communities Website linked from www.ncparks.gov offers a route to get involved in the planning effort, with updates on planned regional stakeholder meetings to be held in early 2015 and a survey to gather planning resources.

“As we move toward completion of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail, it’s important to have a guiding document that will focus our efforts for a project that has captured the public’s imagination since it was proposed in the 1970s,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “The master planning process will attract partners and volunteers to the concept, and we’re eager to gather ideas from local governments and citizens.”

A unit of the state parks system, the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail is envisioned as the backbone of a network of regional hiking, paddling and multi-use trails across the state, which could be easily connected to local trail and greenway efforts. Eventually, the trail will link 33 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and offer local access to 40 percent of the state’s population. The state parks system, other state agencies, federal agencies, local governments and volunteers organized by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail have built sections of the trail, representing a partnership that includes hundreds of citizens and every level of government.

For more information on the MST in the Great Smoky Mountains, please click here.



Jeff
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Smokies Announces Alum Cave Trail Restoration Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the next full-scale, Trails Forever restoration will begin on Alum Cave Trail in 2015. The Trails Forever crew will focus restoration efforts on several targeted locations along the 5-mile trail to improve visitor safety and stabilize eroding trail sections. The restoration work will require temporary trail closures throughout the 2-year process.

Alum Cave Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, leading hikers to iconic areas including Arch Rock, Inspiration Point, Alum Cave Bluffs, Mt. Le Conte, and LeConte Lodge. Park rangers respond to numerous accidents along the trail each year, especially along the upper, narrow corridors. The planned work will improve overall trail safety and protect natural resources by repairing historic cable and handrail systems, reinforcing hanging trail sections, reducing trail braiding, and improving drainage to prevent further erosion. There are also several narrow areas where erosion and small landslides have damaged significant sections of the trail, making it difficult to safely travel through the areas during inclement weather or to pass hikers coming from the opposite direction. By restoring these fragile trail sections, the park can best ensure long-term sustainability and protect trailside natural communities from degradation.

Alum Cave Trail and associated parking areas will be closed May 4 through November 19 in 2015, excluding federal holidays, on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. Hikers can still reach Mt. Le Conte, LeConte Lodge, and the Le Conte Shelter by using one of the other five trails to the summit. The Mt. LeConte Lodge and Mt. Le Conte backcountry shelter will remain open and can be accessed from any of these other routes during the Alum Cave Trail closure.

“A weekday closure of Alum Cave Trail is not an easy decision to make, but we feel it is necessary to ensure the continued protection of resources and safe use of the trail for hikers now and into the future,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We hope hikers will take this opportunity to explore another route to Mt. Le Conte, hike some of our other 800 plus miles of trail, or hike Alum Cave Trail on the weekends.”

The Boulevard, Bull Head, Rainbow Falls, Trillium Gap, and Brushy Mountain trails all lead to Mt. Le Conte, but trailhead parking is limited. Carpooling is encouraged. Day hikers should also consider enjoying other trails offering stunning views such as Chimney Tops Trail, Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald, or the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion.

Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Friends of the Smokies. The Friends have donated $500,000 to support the program, in part through the generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation. The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park including the recently restored Forney Ridge Trail and Chimney Tops Trail which opens December 12. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations.

For more information about the Alum Cave Trail closure, please click here to find answers to frequently asked questions and updates on the trail restoration.

For more information about the Alum Cave Trail, please click here.



Jeff
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Smokies Announces 39th Annual Festival of Christmas Past Programs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced yesterday the 39th annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration, scheduled for Saturday, December 13th, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public.

"The Festival of Christmas Past is a program we look forward to every year," said Catlin Worth, Acting North District Resource Education Supervisor. "Celebrating the holiday season with traditional mountain music, storytelling, and crafts allows visitors and staff the unique opportunity to experience and preserve the Christmas traditions of the people who once called this place home"

The festival will include old-time mountain music and traditional harp singing. Demonstrations of traditional domestic skills such as the making of fabric spinning, historic toys and games, rag rugs, apple-head dolls, quilts, and apple cider will be ongoing throughout the day. There will also be several chances to experience these traditions hands-on, with crafts to make and take home.

The popular Christmas Memories Walk will be held again this year at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., to teach visitors about the spirit of the season in these mountains during the 1880s through the 1930s.

The full schedule of events for the day includes:

·9:30 a.m. - "Old-fashioned Harp Singing" led by Bruce Wheeler, Paul Clabo and Martha Graham

·11:00 a.m.–Old Time Music with Boogertown Gap Band

·12:00 p.m. -"Stories from the Past" presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society

·1:00 p.m. –Stories of old-time Christmas in Appalachia with Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

·2:00 p.m. –Bill Proffitt and South of the River Boys preform

·3:00 p.m. –Old Time Music with Lost Mill String Band

11:00 a.m. -12:30 pm and 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. - Christmas Memories Walk - Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays in the early days of the 1880s to the 1930s.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this Christmas season, please take a few moments to check out our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

New Superintendent Named For Great Smoky Mountains National Park

National Park Service Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin has named Cassius Cash, a native of Memphis, TN, as the new superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cash, currently superintendent for Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site, will assume his new post in February.

"We are excited to have Cassius joining our Southeast Region leadership team," Austin said. "He has a great reputation as a leader and has proven his ability to effectively work with partners, stakeholders and local communities. We know that he will be an excellent steward of the Smokies, one of the crown jewels of the Southeast Region."

"Cash is an outstanding addition to the senior executive leadership at the National Park Service," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "He brings a depth of land management experience with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, and his commitment to engaging local communities will support the great work that is happening at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park."

"I wholeheartedly look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with and learning from a group of dedicated employees at the park who have the privilege of and responsibility for preserving and protecting some of the most precious natural and cultural resources in the country," Cash said. "I also look forward to working with local communities, friends groups, and tribal communities on how the National Park Service can build on innovative ideas to create the next generation of stewards and supporters for this park. The timing for this is excellent because the park service will enter its second century of service to the nation when it observes its Centennial in 2016."

Cash has served as superintendent at the Boston parks since 2010.While there, he worked with the City of Boston to open a new visitor center in historic Faneuil Hall. That facility now welcomes more than 5 million visitors a year. Cash also worked with several park partners to secure $4 million to reopen the African Meeting House, the oldest black church still in its original location in the country.

Cash began his federal career in 1991with the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State. He went on to work with that agency for 18 years in various leadership positions.

He served as an administrative officer in Nebraska, district ranger in Georgia, and a civil rights officer in Mississippi. Cash was the deputy forest supervisor at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon before transferring to Boston. Earlier this year, Cash served as the deputy regional director and chief of staff in the Northeast Regional Office.

Cash holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and later attended Oregon State University to study wildlife management.

Cash, his wife, Vonda and their youngest daughter plan to reside in the Gatlinburg area. Their oldest daughter is attending school in Colorado.



Jeff
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Smokies Receives Annual Poinsettia for Rescue 40 Years Ago

Forty years ago, on December 3, 1974, park rangers from Great Smoky Mountains National Park rescued 15-year old Eric Johnson and a companion who had been trapped deep in the park's backcountry by a chest-deep snow storm. Yesterday, Eric's mother traveled from Johnson City to park headquarters in Gatlinburg to thank the park rangers for saving her son's life. A trip she has made every December 3rd since 1974.

Each December Mrs. Wanneta Johnson selects the biggest, finest poinsettia she can find in Johnson City and delivers it to park headquarters and thanks everyone she meets. This year Eric joined his mother as she met with Acting Superintendent Clayton Jordan and several members of the park staff including current members of the park's search and rescue team, none of whom were working at the Smokies in 1974. Over the past four decades hundreds of park rangers have come and gone, but Mrs. Johnson treats each one as if he or she had a hand in saving Eric's life.

When asked why Mrs. Johnson comes back to the park every year, she responded, "How could I not!" In 1974, several rangers attempted to search for the boys on foot and by ATV, but made little progress because of conditions. They were finally able to locate the boys at Tricorner Knob Shelter from a helicopter.

Once the boys were found a larger U.S. Army helicopter was brought in to hoist the boys out of the backcountry. Eric Johnson and his friend, Randy Laws, had been held up at the backcountry shelter for three days without adequate food, water or equipment. Both young men suffered from dehydration and exposure and Eric had some frostbite, but otherwise they were in good condition.

Acting Superintendent Clayton Jordan, the seventh superintendent to accept Mrs. Johnson's gift said, "It is humbling for us on the park staff to be honored every year by Mrs. Johnson's visit back to the Smokies. Her recognition means a great deal to our rangers who are sometimes tasked with going out in rough weather to come to the aid of visitors like Eric and his family."



Jeff
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Improvised Explosive Device Found In Redwood National and State Parks

A Redwood National and State Parks maintenance employee unknowingly collected an improvised explosive device (IED) at an illegal dump site on state park lands on the morning of Monday, December 1st, according to the NPS Morning Report.

The device was transported to the park’s Northern Operations Center, where it was quickly identified as an IED. Rangers were notified, responded and immediately evacuated employees from the facility. The entire operations center, surrounding area, and entrance road were also secured.

Rangers then coordinated with personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Humboldt County Bomb Squad, Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office, NPS Fire, Crescent City Fire and Del Norte Ambulance to aid in scene containment and ensure safety. The Humboldt County Bomb Squad employed a mobile robot to render the device safe.

Due to the remote location of the operations center, there was no direct threat to public safety and the area was reopened for normal operations by 6 p.m. Rangers are working with ATF agents and the incident is under active investigation.

This report comes just one month after an improvised explosive device was found near a trail in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Georgia. An FBI investigation continues into that incident as well.



Jeff
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Smokies To Host Meetings On Firewood Pests

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are hosting public meetings to provide information about firewood pests and forest threats. Meetings will be held on Monday, December 8 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center Administrative Building near Cherokee, NC and on Tuesday, December 9 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.at the Sugarlands Visitor Center Training Room near Gatlinburg, TN.

Non-native, tree-killing insects and diseases can unknowingly be introduced through firewood transported from infested areas. A variety of destructive pests lay eggs or stowaway in firewood. These insects from Asia and Europe have the potential to devastate over 30 species of hardwood trees native to the park. Movement of untreated firewood has been implicated in the spread of gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, thousand canker disease, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex woodwasp, golden spotted oak borer, and other native and non-native insect and disease complexes. New infestations threaten our forests with widespread tree mortality that could devastate wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and scenic views. The use of firewood that has been heat treated eliminates the threat posed by these pests through the movement and use of wood in campfires.

Park officials will present information at the meetings about forest pest threats, certified heat-treated wood availability, and how the park proposes to address the threat through a new firewood regulation change. The public will have an opportunity to visit staffed information stations, ask questions, and provide comments. Park rangers have been working over the past year with numerous partners representing federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and universities to mitigate the risks associated with movement of firewood including a public education campaign. The working team developed an informational handout that was provided to all Smokies campers throughout the summer along with providing information through public programs and regionally placed billboards. The team also identified and mapped over 80 locations near the park that provide heat-treated firewood.

The park is proposing to reduce the threat of forest pests by changing park regulations to allow only heat-treated firewood to be brought into the park. If the proposal is adopted, beginning in March 2015, only firewood that is bundled and displays a certification stamp by the USDA or a state department of agriculture will be allowed for use in park campgrounds. Heat-treated wood will be available to purchase from concessioners in many of the campgrounds as well as from private businesses in the communities around the park. In addition, visitors may still collect dead and down wood in the park for campfires.

National parks throughout the Appalachian region have taken action to limit the spread of insect pests in firewood including, in many cases, the banning of imported firewood. For the past three years, the Smokies has prohibited the importation of firewood from areas quarantined by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in accordance with federal law. Current park regulations prohibit the importation of wood and wood products from states (or specific counties in states) quarantined for insects such as emerald ash borer or tree diseases such as thousand canker disease.

A final decision on adopting the new regulation is expected by the end of the year. The public may continue to submit comments by: mail at 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738; e-mail; or comment cards available at visitor centers and campgrounds.

For more information about firewood and forest and insect pests in the park, please visit the park website.



Jeff
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

GSMA Member Hike into Hazel Creek and Bone Valley

You may have heard of these remote areas, but have you ever actually seen them? Here's a peek at the Bone Valley and Hazel Creek areas of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Earlier this year 17 members and 3 employees of the Great Smoky Mountains Association went on a hike to Bone Valley along the Hazel Creek Trail. This 16-mile adventure was one of the exclusive member activities the GSMA conducts every month. If you're interested in going on a future hike with the organization, please visit www.smokiesinformation.org for more information:



If you do plan on joining the GSMA on a future hike, please be sure to visit our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.



Jeff
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Friday, November 28, 2014

NC National Forests: Know Before You Go

With winter fast approaching, the U.S. Forest Service is urging outdoor enthusiasts to "Know Before You Go" and follow simple tips to stay safe when visiting the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan national forests during the colder months.

“The forests can provide stunning scenery and recreational opportunities during the winter, but it is important to be aware of the dangers and risks associated with winter weather,” said Rick Gamber, safety officer with the Forest Service’s National Forests in North Carolina. “Snow storms, freezing temperatures and long exposure to cold winds are all concerns when recreating in the national forests in the winter months.”

Severe injuries and fatalities can occur during the winter due to unsafe road conditions after a snow or ice storm. Motorists should be aware of icy conditions on shaded areas of roadways. Drivers should use common sense when traveling on Forest Service roads and obey speed limits. Gamber also encourages motorists to have appropriate tires, to not travel alone and carry emergency kits containing items such as water, pre-packaged snack foods, warm clothing, a blanket and matches.

Gamber says visitors to the national forests should pay attention to their surroundings and to their capabilities in the woods. People who remain outdoors for an extended period of time such as hikers and hunters are susceptible to hypothermia, a condition where the body experiences abnormally low body temperature which can lead to death.

“It’s very important to dress in layers to maintain proper body temperature, and to layer your foot protection also with wool socks being the first layer while hiking in the cold to avoid hypothermia,” said Gamber.

Frostbite is another injury common to those spending significant time outdoors in the winter months. Frostbite is a progressive injury caused by freezing of the skin and tissue, which causes a loss of feeling in the affected areas. It is important to take the correct steps to avoid frostbite. Visitors should stay warm and dry with many layers and do not expose skin such as the tip of your nose, ears and fingers to the cold for extended periods of time.

“If you think you or a companion is experiencing frostbite, seek warm shelter and immerse the affected area in room temperature, not hot, water,” said Gamber. “Do not rub the frostbitten area, as this can cause more damage.”

Before heading out to enjoy your national forests this winter, “know before you go” and contact the local Ranger District office to get the latest information about current road conditions and seasonal closures.

Click here for more information on outdoor safety tips. Keeping these safety tips in mind will help outdoor enthusiasts safely enjoy winter in the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan national forests.






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com

An Island in the Sky - Fall in the Higher Elevations Sequence

Below is a clip from the Great Smoky Mountains Association's first film in the Smoky Mountain Explorer Series, An Island in the Sky - Clingmans Dome & the Spruce-fir Forests. This clip showcases fall in the higher elevations of the northern hardwood forests that are found on Clingmans Dome. You can purchase a copy of the film here.





Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
HikinginGlacier.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seasons of the Smokies - Autumnal Equinox Sequence

Below is a clip from the Great Smoky Mountains Association's second film in the Smoky Mountain Explorer Series, Seasons of the Smokies - A Wondrous Diversity of Life. This clip showcases the beginning of the Autumnal equinox and the challenges that wildlife face as they prepare for winters arrival. You can purchase a copy of the film here.





Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
HikinginGlacier.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

REI Awards $25,000 Grant to Support Sustainable Environmental Practices Along the Appalachian Trail

Earlier this week the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) announced that it had received a $25,000 grant from REI, a national outdoor gear and apparel retailer committed to connecting people with the outdoors. The grant will support sustainable environmental practices along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), particularly in the southern region, which is the most popular location to begin thru-hiking the 2,180-mile Trail.

Interest in hiking the A.T. is on the rise as a result of projects like “A Walk in the Woods,” the film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s best-selling memoir, scheduled to be released in 2015. It is expected the movie will result in a major increase in the number of A.T. hikers.

The grant from REI will help the ATC as it works to minimize any negative impacts from visitors by addressing litter, waste disposal, trail erosion, campsite use and backcountry facility maintenance and rehabilitation. The ATC will also work to communicate Leave No Trace practices through new channels, including training courses in communities along the Trail, and plans to increase the number of Ridge Runners in an effort to provide additional educational opportunities to hikers.

“A strong relationship between the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and its corporate partners is vital as we work to mitigate the impacts from an increase in the popularity of the Appalachian Trail,” said Ron Tipton, executive director/CEO of the ATC. “The grant from REI will help us effectively manage any new threats that may emerge, and we are proud to have REI as a partner.”

REI is dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. In communities across the country, REI partners with local and national nonprofits to help restore or maintain popular trails, parks and waterways. The company’s recent grant to the ATC builds on a 10-year partnership. During that time, the ATC has continued to further its mission of preservation and management of the A.T. through trail management and support, conservation work, community engagement and educational initiatives.






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hiking in Grandfather Mountain State Park

Sitting at an elevation of 5946 feet, Grandfather Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is best known for its "Mile High Swinging Bridge" and the Linn Cove Viaduct.

The "Mile High Swinging Bridge", the highest such bridge in America, was built in 1952 by Hugh Morton, who inherited the mountain from his grandfather and developed the tourist attractions. The 228-foot long suspension bridge, sitting one mile above sea level, spans an 80-foot chasm that links two of the mountain's rocky peaks. It’s known as a "swinging" bridge due to its tendency to sway in high winds. Visitors wishing to cross the bridge will have to climb 50 stairs just to reach it.

The park is also famous for being home to the Linn Cove Viaduct. In November of 1982 the final link of the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed along the flanks of Grandfather Mountain. This quarter-mile long bridge, known as the Linn Cove Viaduct, finally completed the 470-mile scenic road that connects Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The viaduct has won 12 national design awards and is the most popular section of the Parkway.

Grandfather Mountain was officially established as a state park in June of 2009 after the Morton family agreed to sell 2600 acres of the undeveloped portions of the mountain to the state of North Carolina during the prior year. The family continues to operate the nature park as a travel destination, and is administered by a new not-for-profit entity known as the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.


Hiking at Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails that vary in difficulty - from a gentle walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. The mountains position, unusual height, high pH soil types, density of vegetation, moist cool climate, and other features, combine to produce a mosaic of specialized habitats. In fact, Grandfather Mountain is home to 16 distinct ecosystems, as well as 73 rare or endangered species, including 32 species that are globally at risk.

Many of the trails will take you through forests that are normally found in Canadian climates.

Access to the trails in Grandfather Mountain State Park is included as part of your attraction admission. Guests who purchase a ticket to the attraction may access the state park from the Hiker's parking area below the Swinging Bridge.

For hiking only you may access Grandfather Mountain State Park from off-mountain trailheads. You will, however, be required to register for a free hiking permit at one of the area outlets.

For those with a fear of heights, please note that some trails will require the use of ladders and cables in order to climb sheer cliff faces.


Hiker's Parking Area Trails:

The Black Rock Nature Trail is a self-guided, one-mile nature trail beginning at the Hiker's Parking Area (three curves below the summit). The trail offers wide angle views of the Swinging Bridge, MacRae and Attic Window Peaks, as well as Beacon Heights and Grandmother Mountain to the southwest.

The Bridge Trail, at four-tenths of a mile, moves quickly into a natural area where visitors can walk through red and white rhododendron, galax, red spruce, Fraser fir, and yellow birch. The trail climbs up the mountain and travels under the Swinging Bridge before ending at the Visitor Center. You'll have outstanding views of the massive rock outcroppings on this trail.


East Side Trails:

There are two points for accessing East Side trails. Most hikers use the Boone Fork Parking Area at mile 299.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The alternative is the Asutsi Trail which begins across from Serenity Farm on US 221, which is also the only winter access when the Parkway is closed.

Daniel Boone Scout Trail climbs roughly 2,000 feet in just over 3 miles. The hike begins at the Tanawha Trail and climbs to the summit of Calloway Peak (5,964'), the highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. Roughly half way up, at Flat Rock View, hikers reach the Cragway Trail junction. Beyond the junction you’ll have outstanding views of Price Park and the Linn Cove Viaduct. Just before reaching the Calloway Peak summit, you’ll find a series of ladders and cables to help you through the steeper sections.

The Nuwati Trail follows an old logging road for 1.2 miles before reaching Storyteller's Rock where you’ll have a spectacular view of an isolated valley that some geologists think was carved by glaciers. Along the way cross over a couple of streams and pass a solitary stand of Quaking Aspens. Nuwati, meaning "medicine" in the Cherokee language, is an easy but rocky hike.

Cragway Trail is a steep, strenuous hike with excellent views of the Boone Fork Bowl. This trail links the Nuwati and Boone Trails, making for an excellent loop-hike. When returning back to the parking area from the Boone Trail, hikers have the option of following the Cragway Trail to the Nuwati Trail.

Asutsi Trail is a short, easy trail of just 0.4 miles that links Serenity Farm on US 221 and the Tanawha Trail. The trail also provides alternative access to the Nuwati and Boone Trails. Fittingly, Asutsi means "bridge" in the Cherokee language.


West Side Trails:

West Side Trails are accessed from NC 105, roughly 0.7 miles north of the intersection with NC 184.

Profile Trail Although the lower portion of this trail is easy, the upper section of this 3.1 mile trail is strenuous. The trail crosses the Watauga River and travels through rhododendron thickets and under a hardwood canopy for much of its length. After the trail begins to get steeper you’ll reach Profile View, which offers a view of the famous Grandfather Profile at roughly 2 miles from the trailhead. Shanty Spring, at roughly 2.7 miles into your hike, marks the transition of this trail into a strenuous pathway of tumble-down rocks before reaching the Grandfather Trail at 3.1 miles.

Calloway Trail is only 0.3 miles in length, but it’s a strenuous hike. The steep and rocky path calls for some careful footwork. Your reward, however, are the views that open up as you hike along the Grandfather Trail.


Crest Trails:

Crest Trails are accessed from the summit parking lot or the Hiker's Parking Area, as well as from the Profile Trail or Daniel Boone Trail.

Grandfather Trail is a 2.4 mile, very strenuous hike that includes sections where hikers must use cables and ladders. The route follows the crest of Grandfather Mountain from the Hiker's Parking Area to Calloway Peak, and features panoramic views of mountains in every direction.

It was along this trail two centuries ago that noted French explorer and botanist Andre Michaux broke into song thinking he had arrived at the highest point in North America. A century later, famed naturalist John Muir was inspired to describe the sight as "the face of all Heaven come to earth."

An alternative to taking the ladders up MacRae Peak is to opt for the more sheltered Underwood Trail (see below).

Underwood Trail splits-off from the Grandfather Trail near the half mile marker and bypasses the ladder climbs on MacRae Peak before rejoining the Grandfather Trail at MacRae Gap, roughly one mile from the trailhead. The trail makes a steep, rocky loop under the crest line around Raven Rock Cliffs.

Key Links:
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Grandfather Mountain Trail Map (PDF)
Blue Ridge Parkway






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Hiking in Gorges State Park

Gorges State Park is a 7500-acre state park in Transylvania County, North Carolina. The land along Jocassee Gorges was purchased by the state from the Duke Energy Corporation in 1999. The park lies adjacent to the Nantahala National Forest and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Toxaway Game Land. It’s now North Carolina's westernmost state park, and one of the newest in the state.

Gorges State Park is characterized by plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States. With an elevation that rises 2000 feet in only four miles, in conjunction with rainfall in excess of 80 inches per year that creates a temperate rain forest, helps to support the numerous waterfalls the park is famous for.

Several plant species more typical of the tropics thrive where the constant spray from the park's waterfalls and plunging whitewater streams shower the rock walls and talus slopes with mist. Scientists aren’t sure how these plants are able to grow so far from the tropics. One theory is that spores from the tropics blew north and settled in the region. Another explanation is that these species remained in the region from tens of thousands of years ago when a warmer climate existed in North America. Examples of the tropical plants found in the park include Carolina Star Moss, Oconee Bell, Small Whirled Pomona, Fraser’s Loosestrife and Pringle's Aquatic Moss.

Many animals can be found within Gorges, including black bear, wild turkey, fox, coyote, wild boar and deer. North Carolina's largest known population of green salamanders can also be found in Gorges. The secretive salamander hides in the damp, shaded crevices of cliff faces.

The forests of the park provide for abundant habitat for neo-tropical migratory birds as well, including the largest population of Swainson's warbler in the mountains of North Carolina.


Hiking in Gorges State Park

Gorges State Park offers rugged terrain that will challenge any outdoors enthusiast. Hikers who traverse the steep, backwoods trails will be rewarded with views of dazzling waterfalls or perhaps an encounter with one of the numerous rare species of the park.


Trails from the Grassy Ridge parking area:

Bearwallow Falls is a moderate 3.2 mile trail.

Bearwallow Valley Trail is a moderate 2.5 mile trail that takes hikers to one of the highest overlooks in the park. At 3,200 feet above sea level, you’ll enjoy views into South Carolina as well as Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee.

Waterfall Overlook Trail leads to a small observation platform overlooking a long cascade on Bearwallow Creek.

The Rainbow Falls Trail really has two "trailheads", but it officially starts in Gorges State Park before entering into Nantahala National Forest. Running for three miles, the trail descends to the Horsepasture River above Stairway Falls, and then proceeds to Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls, before ending at the National Forest boundary just below Drift Falls. After meeting with the river, the trail narrows and becomes much steeper and rougher up to the falls. Please note that the steep, rocky, eroded side trail up to NC 281 is no longer part of the official trail.


Trails from the Frozen Creek parking area:

Auger Hole Trail is a strenuous 12-mile roundtrip multipurpose trail that bisects the heart of the park and ends at the Foothills Trail. Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders are allowed on this trail. There are two river fords where hikers are likely to get their feet wet.

Buckberry Ridge Nature Trail is an easy, 0.75 mile walk.

Canebreak Trail is a moderately strenuous 10-mile roundtrip trail that ends at Lake Jocassee and the Foothills Trail. The trail follows an old forestry road along the entire route. The lake can be seen from the suspension bridge on the Foothills Trail. Camping is permitted at the Cane Brake campsites on Lake Jocassee.

The Foothills Trail runs 6.7 miles through Gorges State Park, and is one of the park's most popular pathways. The trail winds along the southern portion of the state park and wraps around Lake Jocassee where primitive campsites are available. This section of trail is actually one of the more popular segments of the larger 77-mile path that runs through Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina.

Ray Fisher Place is a 5.4 mile moderately difficult hike to a primitive campsite with six sites.

In addition to hiking, visitors have opportunities for mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, boating and fishing in the park. Mountain biking and horseback riding are currently permitted on the Auger Hole Trail from the Frozen Creek Access to Turkey Pen Gap on the western boundary of the park.

Key Links:
Gorges State Park
Gorges Park Map
The Foothills Trail






Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Place Names in the Smoky Mountains

Have you ever looked at a map of the Smoky Mountains, or maybe have been hiking in the Smokies, and wondered; “where did that name come from?" or "what in the world does that mean?". The following is a list of several place names and regional terms that help explain the meaning and historical origins of some of those names and places that may have had you perplexed.

Abrams Falls: The waterfall and the creek are named after the Cherokee Indian Chief, Oskuah, who later adopted the name Abram (or Abraham) whose village once stood several miles downstream.

Albright Grove: The grove is named after Horace Albright, the second director of the National Park Service. He was also an early advocate for national park status for the Smoky Mountains.

Alum Cave: The State of Tennessee sold this tract of land to three men who formed the Epsom Salts Manufacturing Company in 1838. The firm mined minerals at the bluff, such as alum, epsom salt, saltpeter, magnesia, and copperas. The epsom salts were used by mountain folk to dye homespun clothing a reddish brown. During the Civil War the Confederate Army mined saltpeter out of the cave, which they used to manufacture gunpowder.

Andrews Bald: Andrews Bald is probably named after Andres Thompson, an early settler who used the mountain for hunting.

Balds: Treeless mountain tops or ridges occurring below treeline in the Southern Appalachians are known as "balds". Botanists recognize a second species of "balds" known as "heath balds" which are characterized by treeless tangles of rhododendron and other shrubs in the heath family. Other names, such as laurel bed, lettuce bed, rough, slicks, wooly, and laurel hell, are all local names for balds. Botanists aren’t certain as to whether any of the balds in the Southern Appalachians are natural, or if they were all man made.

Beard Cane Trail: This trail in the far northwestern corner of the Smokies is named for the cane variety that grows in Cades Cove where the terrain is moist.

Boogerman Trail: This trail located in the Cataloochee Valley, and is named for Robert Palmer, whose nickname was "Boogerman." Legend has it that on Palmer's first day of school the teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Palmer replied "the Boogerman," and the name would stick into adulthood.

Cades Cove: Though the origin of the cove's name is disputed, most believe it was named for Cherokee Chief Cade (or Kade), who once claimed the land. Abrams Creek, which flows through Cades Cove, is named after Chief Abram. The long standing theory was that the cove was named after his wife, Kate. However, that theory has apparently been discredited in recent years.

Cataloochee: This valley in the southeastern part of the Park is thought to be a corruption of the Cherokee word “Gadalutsi," which is variously translated as "fringe standing erect" or "wave upon wave" in reference to the trees along the valley’s ridge crests.

Charlies Bunion: The name of this rock out-cropping along the Appalachian Trail was derived when Charlie Conner went hiking one day with Horace Kephart, an early proponent of a national park in the Smokies. When they paused for a rest on the rocks, Conner took his boots and socks off, exposing a bunion that looked like the surrounding rocks. Looking at Conner’s feet, Kephart remarked, "Charlie, I’m going to get this place put on a government map for you." And so he did. Charlies Bunion was originally known as Fodderstack.

Chimney Tops: Chimney Tops was given its name as a result of its unique dual-humped peak tops. The Cherokee name for Chimney Tops is Duniskwalgunyi, or "forked antler", referring to its resemblance to the antlers of a deer.

Clingmans Dome: The highest point in the Smokies, at 6643 feet, is named for Thomas Lanier Clingman, the first man to accurately measure the peak's elevation. Arnold Guyot named the mountain after the former Confederate general because of an argument between Clingman and a professor at the University of North Carolina, Elisha Mitchell, over which mountain was actually the highest in the region.

Cove: A cove is a widening out of a mountain valley, or a meadow land between mountains. Coves are closely related to "hollows" or "hollers" which are small valleys; or bottoms, which is characterized by flat terrain, usually along a stream.

Cucumber Gap Trail: This trail gets its name from the cucumber magnolia that grows in this area. The immature seed cones from the tree look like cucumbers.

Elkmont: The Knoxville Elks Club once held its summer meetings in this area. The gatherings gave rise to the land being called "Elk Mountain," which was later shortened to Elkmont.

Gatlinburg: Originally called White Oaks Flats, there are many stories as to how Gatlinburg got its name, all involving a controversial figure who settled here in 1854. Radford C. Gatlin opened the town's second general store. After the post office was established in his store in the mid-1800s, the town was renamed to Gatlinburg.

Gracie’s Pulpit: This landmark just past Alum Cave is named after Gracie McNichol, who hiked to Mount LeConte on her 92nd birthday. The pulpit marks the halfway point to the summit of Mt. LeConte along the Alum Cave Trail.

Grapeyard Ridge Trail: This trail located off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is named after the wild grapes that grew in this area.

Gregory Bald: This bald overlooking Cades Cove is named after Russell Gregory, an early settler in the area. He and other cove residents used the field to graze cattle during the spring and summer when the fields in the cove were needed for growing crops. Like most Cades Cove residents, Gregory supported the Union during the Civil War. He was ambushed and murdered by Confederate guerillas from North Carolina in 1863.

Holy Butt: Allegedly for religious reasons, an area resident known as Aunt Lydia renamed the mountain and stream from "Holly Branch" to "Holy Butt."

Juney Whank Branch: The stream and the falls are more than likely named for Junaluska "Juney" Whank, a man said to be buried in the area. However, there are some people who believe Juney Whank is a Cherokee phrase that means "where the bear passes".

Knob: A “knob" is a mountain top.

Lead Cove Trail: The name of this trail near Cades Cove is supposedly derived from the ore that was extracted here in the 1800s.

Licklog Branch: Herders used to cut deep notches into fallen trees and fill them with salt for their livestock near rivers and streams.

Mellinger Death Ridge: The ridge purportedly received its name when Jasper Mellinger went walking along the ridge and became caught in an illegal bear trap. Sometime later the trappers found him alive. Rather than risk their illegal operation being discovered, they opted to kill him. Mellinger's body was found a year later after one of the culprits confessed to the crime.

Meigs Mountain: Is named after Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, a Revolutionary War veteran who conducted an early survey of the Smokies around 1802. He also served as Indian Agent for the Cherokee Nation from 1801 to 1823. Although the reason for naming this particular mountain after Meigs is unknown, Meigs supposedly hung a brightly-colored blanket atop the adjacent mountain, now known as Blanket Mountain, for use as a compass reference point, suggesting he conducted operations in the area.

Mount Cammerer: The mountain is named after Arno Cammerer, the well liked Director of the National Park Service in the 1930s. Cammerer was an instrumental figure in helping to establish a national park in the Smokies. With the help of Colonel David C. Chapman of Knoxville, Cammerer convinced John D. Rockefeller Jr. to make a gift of $5 Million, which was used to purchase the lands that would become the national park. After his death in 1941 the peak formerly known as "White Rocks" received his name. Mount Cammerer is also known for the historic fire tower that sits atop the mountain.

Mount Chapman: The 4th highest mountain in the Smokies is named after Colonel David C. Chapman, a Knoxville business leader who led efforts to establish a national park in the Smokies. As head of the Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission from 1927-1937, Chapman raised funds and negotiated hundreds of land purchases that made the establishment of the park possible.

Mount Guyot: The second highest mountain in the Smokies is named after a distinguished Swiss-born physical geographer, Arnold Guyot. In 1856, 1859, and 1860, Guyot, who was assisted by a local guide, conducted the first detailed surveys of the area now inside the Park.

Mount Kephart: is named for Horace Kephart, who quit his job as a librarian in St. Louis to live among the people of the Smoky Mountains. His book, Our Southern Highlanders, details his experiences during that time period. He also campaigned for the establishment of a national park in the Smokies, and lived just long enough to know that the park would be created. He died tragically in a car accident in 1931. Two months before his death, Mount Kephart was named in his honor.

Mount LeConte: There is considerable controversy over which member of the LeConte family the third highest mountain in the Smokies was named for. Most people, including the USGS, assume that Joseph LeConte, the famous geologist and charter member of the Sierra Club, is the man for whom the mountain was named. However, that claim has been challenged in recent years. The authors of A Natural History of Mount Le Conte, and the Georgia Encyclopedia, both claim the name honors Joseph’s older brother, John, who was famous as a scientist and as president of the University of California, at Berkeley. Allegedly, Samuel Buckley, a geologist, named the peak after John to thank him for his help measuring the peak's elevation.

Mount Sequoyah: Named after the Cherokee silversmith who created an alphabet for the Cherokee language. In the space of two years nearly all of his people could read and write the language.

Mount Sterling: According to early residents of the area the mountain was named after a 2-foot wide lead streak was discovered in the bed of the Pigeon River, near the mountain's northern base. The early residents mistakenly thought the lead was silver.

Newfound Gap: Named after a new passage was discovered in the late 1850s, which offered settlers a shorter route through the main range of the Smoky Mountains.

Oconaluftee: comes from the Cherokee word egwanulti, which means "by the river," a reference to one of the oldest Cherokee villages along the river. The Cherokee word was corrupted in pronunciation and spelling by the European settlers who arrived in the early 1800s. The word became Oconaluftee, and soon, by association, grew to mean the river itself.

Road to Nowhere: Lakeview Drive just outside of Bryson City is now known as "The Road To Nowhere" by most local residents. The construction of the 6-mile scenic drive came about when citizens of Swain County gave up the majority of their land for the creation of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During the 1930s and 40s hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes to make way for these Federal projects. Additionally, when the TVA filled Fontana Lake, Old Highway 288 was buried beneath its waters, and with it, many of those people lost access to their family cemeteries. In exchange for their lands, however, the Federal Government promised to replace Highway 288 with a new road along the north shore of the lake, thus giving displaced residents access to old family cemeteries. Unfortunately for Swain County citizens, environmental issues stopped construction of the road at the tunnel, and it was never completed. As you might expect, lawsuits ensued. After a decades-long fight the dispute with Swain County residents was finally resolved in February of 2010 when the US Department of Interior signed a settlement agreement that paid Swain County $52 million in lieu of building the road.

Russell Field: This bald on the Appalachian Trail is thought to be named after Russell Gregory, an early settler in the Cades Cove area. He and other cove residents used the field to graze cattle during the spring and summer when the fields in the cove were needed for growing crops. Like most Cades Cove residents, Gregory supported the Union during the Civil War. He was ambushed and murdered by Confederate guerillas from North Carolina in 1863.

Shuckstack: The peak earned its name for its resemblance to corn stalks during fall harvest.

Smokemont: As one of the base camps for the Champion Fibre Company, Smokemont was once a thriving lumber town with homes, businesses and a school. It also housed a logging mill, commissary, a club house, and even a hotel. In the early 1920s the sawmill at Smokemont produced up to 45,000 feet of lumber and pulp wood per day. It’s now a campground maintained by the National Park Service.

Smoky Mountains: The Park is named for the mist or blue haze that surrounds the mountains resulting from the interaction between the moist environment of streams and waterfalls and the thick vegetation. The Cherokee name for the area, Sha-co-na-qe, means "place of blue smoke."

Spence Field: is named after James Spence who built a cabin in this area in 1830. The History of the Grassy Balds in GSMNP, an online book on the National Park Web Site, states that both Russell and Spence Fields aren't natural grassy balds, but were actually cleared by settlers for the purposes of grazing cattle.

Sugarlands: When the first American settlers arrived in the early 19th century they named this valley near Gatlinburg after the many sugar maple trees growing in the area at the time. Syrup was made from the sap in these trees, and was used as a sweetener in the days before the availability of cane sugar.

Townsend: In 1900, hoping to capitalize on the thick virgin forests of the Smokies, Colonel W.B. Townsend of Pennsylvania purchased 86,000 acres of land along Little River, stretching from Tuckaleechee Cove all the way to Clingmans Dome. The following year, Townsend received a charter for his new firm, the Little River Lumber Company. A band saw mill was erected in Tuckaleechee, and Townsend gave his name to the community that grew in the mill's vicinity.





Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tennessee State Parks to Host After Thanksgiving Hikes

Tennessee State Parks will be offering hikers an excellent chance to work off some of that turkey and dressing the day after Thanksgiving. Parks across the state will be offering free, guided hikes on Friday, November 28th. The fourth in the quarterly hikes program, the "After Thanksgiving Hikes" will be offered at each of the 55 state parks in Tennessee.

“The After Thanksgiving Hikes are a perfect way to spend time with family and friends while working off that holiday feast,” Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said. “Enjoy the beautiful fall scenery that Tennessee has to offer at one of our great state parks.”

From Meeman-Shelby to Fall Creek Falls to Roan Mountain and every state park in between, the 2014 After Thanksgiving Hikes are designed for all ages and abilities. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length and tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier and geared toward more experienced hikers. For a more in-depth look into all the planned hikes being offered, please click here.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
HikinginGlacier.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Friday, November 14, 2014

Collections Preservation Center Groundbreaking

National Park Service (NPS) officials were joined by representatives from Senator Bob Corker’s office, Representative John Duncan’s office, Friends of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, and AMEC Environment and Infrastructure Inc. to break ground on the new NPS Collections Preservation Center.

The NPS facility will preserve 418,000 artifacts and 1.3 million archival records documenting the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and four other NPS areas in East Tennessee, including Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Obed Wild and Scenic River. AMEC Environment and Infrastructure Inc. from Knoxville was awarded the contract to build the new 14,000 square-foot facility on a 1.6 acre parcel of land adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (GSMHC) in Townsend, TN which was donated to the park from GSMHC.

Funding for the $ 4.125 million facility was made possible through public-private partnerships bringing together both federal funds and public donations. The Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains Association donated $1.9 million for the construction of the building.

The new facility centralizes irreplaceable materials in a conveniently located, secure, climate-controlled space in which they will be preserved, as well as office and lab space where they can be studied by NPS staff and visiting researchers. In addition to providing construction funds, our partner Great Smoky Mountains Association is also providing support for a librarian to help catalog and care for the items as well as assist park descendants, researchers, and visitors access materials for study.

The historic artifacts include pre-historic projectile points, logging-era equipment, vintage weapons, clothing, farm implements, tools and other possessions that would have been found on the farmsteads of the Southern Appalachians in pre-park days such as everyday items including hair combs, butter churns, beds, looms, and spinning wheels, all handmade and all one-of-a-kind. The collection also includes documentary history through oral histories of Southern Appalachian speech, folklore, official documents, photographs and stories. Having these artifacts more accessible will also allow more opportunities for the NPS to share items with approved public museums for temporary display, including the adjacent Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.



Jeff
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