Monday, November 23, 2015

Great Smokies Offers Black Friday Hiking Options

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is inviting visitors to join them for a series of ranger-led hikes across the park on Friday, November 27. Hikes will be offered in the Cataloochee, Elkmont, and Cades Cove areas of the park providing an outstanding opportunity for people of all ages to #OptOutside and enjoy the park.

Rangers, park volunteers, and Friends of the Smokies staff will help visitors discover special cultural and natural resources along the hikes. Visitors may also choose to hike on their own and can come to any of the park’s visitor centers throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to receive information about hiking options, including several short nature trails that are perfect for children.

The park has over 800 miles of trails to explore throughout the year with every season offering its own special rewards. During late fall and winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas revealing stone walls, chimneys, and foundations. These reminders of past communities allow hikers to discover a glimpse of history along park trails.

Here are the ranger-led hikes being offered this Friday:

Friday, November 27 at 10:00 a.m.– Hike to Abrams Falls in Cades Cove
Join park staff for a 5-mile, roundtrip hike to one of the largest waterfalls in the park. The hike is rated moderate with several steep, rocky sections. Expect 4 hours total for the hike. Participants will learn about the parks 2,900 miles of streams, wildlife that depend on the streams, and the significance of Abrams Creek to the diversity of the park. Meet at the Abrams Falls Trailhead, halfway around the Cades Cove Loop Road at 10:00 a.m. The program is subject to cancellation if the weather is bad. For more information, call Cades Cove at 865-448-4104. For more information on this outstanding hike, please click here.

Friday, November 27 at 10:00 a.m. – Little Cataloochee Trail near Cataloochee
The 5-mile, roundtrip hike on the Little Cataloochee Trail is rated moderate but does have several steep sections. The trail follows an old road that provided access between Big Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee in the past. Stops on the hike include the Hannah cabin, the Little Cataloochee Church and cemetery, and the Cook cabin as well several former homesites.

The ranger leading the hike will have historic photos and maps of the area to share with participants. The guided portion of the hike will end after 2.5 miles at the restored Cook family cabin. Participants can return to their cars at their own pace or further explore the area. Meet at the parking area on the left just after entering Cataloochee Valley. From there, participants will follow the ranger and drive 5 miles to the Little Cataloochee trailhead.

The best route into Cataloochee is Cove Creek Road which is accessible from Hwy. 276 near its intersection with Interstate 40. Participants driving to the area on I-40 should use Exit 20 (Hwy. 276 exit) and immediately turn right on to Cove Creek Road. The drive from Hwy. 276 into Cataloochee is 10 miles. Cove Creek Road is a winding, two-lane road and includes a four-mile section that is unpaved. For more information, call the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at 828-497-1904.

Friday, November 27 at 9:00 a.m. – Cucumber Gap near Elkmont
This easy, 4.8-mile roundtrip hike follows the river through a beautiful, cove hardwood forest. Participants will learn about the rich history of the area including the logging operations of the Little River Lumber Company. Expect 3-4 hours total for the hike. One river crossing may be required. Meet at the Little River trailhead at 9:00 a.m., 7 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center in Elkmont. For more information, call Sugarlands Visitor Center at 865-436-1291. For more information on this hike, please click here.

What to bring: Weather in the Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable, especially in the fall. Rangers recommend participants dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring rain gear. Participants should also bring a bag lunch, snacks, and plenty of water.



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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Prescribed Burn in Cataloochee to Begin Tomorrow

Great Smoky Mountains National Park fire management officials will make a final attempt at a 600-acre prescribed burn in the Canadian Top project area adjacent to Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina. Weather permitting, burn operations will begin on Saturday, November 21. Crews should be able to complete the burn on Saturday, but smoke may be present in the area through Sunday. The burn unit is located on Bald Top and Jesse Ridge adjacent to the Little Cataloochee Trail between Davidson Branch and Mossy Branch.

This prescribed burn is one in a series of low-intensity controlled burns used over a number of years to restore the oak woodlands on the area's upper slopes and ridges. This will be the second time fire has been used on this site as part of that restoration effort. Fire and drought-tolerant natural communities are important to overall ecosystem health, and they are in decline throughout the Southern Appalachian region. The controlled burn will be conducted by national park staff and is being funded by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

"One of the goals of the prescribed burn is to improve elk forage and habitat," stated Great Smoky Wildland Fire Module Leader and Burn Boss, Shane Paxton. Over time, the increase in herbaceous vegetation on the forest floor will improve forage for elk which graze the nearby meadows. Roads and trails will remain open to the public though temporary closures to the Little Cataloochee Trail may occur if fire activity warrants. Visitors should expect to see smoke in the area.



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

National Park Service Unveils 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Designs

Designs for commemorative coins honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) were unveiled today during a ceremony at the Department of the Interior. NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and National Park Foundation (NPF) President and Chief Executive Officer Will Shafroth joined Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios for the unveiling.

Public Law 113-291 authorizes a three-coin program of $5 gold, $1 silver and half-dollar clad coins with designs emblematic of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Pricing for the National Park Service Commemorative Coins will include surcharges—$35 for each gold coin, $10 for each silver coin, and $5 for each half-dollar clad coin—which are authorized to be paid to the NPF. The funds are to be used for projects that help preserve and protect resources under the stewardship of the NPS and promote public enjoyment and appreciation of these resources.

"When fully realized, the potential impact derived from the commemorative coin sales will be tremendous," said Shafroth. "The funds will improve trails, introduce more young people to the parks, and connect our citizens to the history and culture of our nation."

The gold coin obverse (heads side) features John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt with Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome in the background. Inscriptions are "LIBERTY," "2016" and "IN GOD WE TRUST." United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart designed and sculpted the obverse.

The gold coin reverse (tails side) features the NPS logo, with the inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM" and "$5." Everhart also designed and sculpted the reverse.

The silver coin obverse features Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful geyser and a bison, with the inscriptions "LIBERTY," "NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CENTENNIAL," "IN GOD WE TRUST" and "1916-2016." United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna designed and sculpted the obverse.

The silver coin reverse depicts a Latina Folkl√≥rico dancer and the NPS logo, representing the multi-faceted cultural experience found in America’s national parks. Inscriptions are "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "$1" "HERITAGE," "CULTURE” and "PRIDE." The reverse was designed by Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Chris Costello and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz.

The clad half-dollar obverse features a hiker discovering the majesty of the wilderness and a small child discovering a frog hiding in ferns, celebrating the diversity and breadth of the NPS. Inscriptions are "LIBERTY," "2016," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "1916" and "NATIONAL PARK SERVICE." The reverse was designed by AIP artist Barbara Fox and will be sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso.

The clad half-dollar reverse features the NPS logo, with the inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM," "HALF DOLLAR," "STEWARDSHIP" and "RECREATION." The reverse was designed by AIP artist Thomas Hipschen and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Charles L. Vickers.

The United States Mint will announce the coins’ release date and additional pricing information prior to their release in 2016. The commemorative coin is one of many incredible ways to celebrate the 2016 centennial.

Sign up to receive information about the coin sales kick off and view the coin designs at www.nationalparks.org/coins



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

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Interview With Rescuers of Smoky Mountain Backpackers

I ran into this video the other day. It's an interview with a couple of backpackers and thru-hikers. You may or may not recall this story, but a couple of backpackers on the Appalachian Trail had to be rescued over Easter weekend this past April, one of which was hypothermic and had to be air-lifted. These interviews are with some of the first responders - backpackers - who detail the events that occurred on the day the events unfolded:



During his recovery, Brad Phillips, the man who was rescued via helicopter, was interviewed by WBIR from his hospitable room. You can view this short clip here.



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