Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Offers Workshops on "How to Hike the Appalachian Trail"

For those wanting to learn more about a trek on the Appalachian Trail, now’s your chance! The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will offer 10 classes throughout North Carolina and Georgia in January and February 2016 for people interested in long-distance hiking. Courses will be taught by Hiker Education Accredited instructors, or individuals who have worked with the ATC to offer a comprehensive workshop that encourages enjoyment and protection of the Trail.

The courses will cover all aspects of planning a long-distance hike on the A.T., from essential gear to the diversity of the Trail experience. Participants are encouraged to find their own personal approach to hiking the Trail, while also includes being well-prepared, responsible hikers.

For a full list of workshop dates and locations, please click here.



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

Monday, December 21, 2015

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Sees Record Number of Thru-Hikers in 2015

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) continues to see a record-breaking number of hikers who pass through its Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which is considered the psychological midpoint of the 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This increase can partially be attributed to the recent releases of “A Walk in the Woods” and “Wild,” two major motion pictures depicting hikes on long-distance trails.

According to the ATC’s records as of this December, 1,385 northbound thru-hikers, or those who walk the A.T. from Georgia to Maine, have passed through Harpers Ferry, resulting in an increase of 9 percent over last year’s data. The number of southbound thru-hikers, or those who walk from Maine to Georgia, has increased by 14 percent to total 192. The number of those who choose to thru-hike the A.T. in an alternative, non-contiguous way that disperses use has increased dramatically, with 291 people passing through Harpers Ferry, an increase of 139 percent.

Upon arriving at the ATC’s Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry, hikers who are attempting to complete the entire Trail are photographed in front of the iconic “Appalachian Trail Conservancy” sign. The picture, along with other information about the hiker, is documented at the Visitor Center. This year the ATC has seen not only a significant increase in the amount of long-distance hikers who stop at the Visitor Center to be photographed, but also an increase in visitation overall. Since the release of “A Walk in the Woods” on Sept. 2, the number of visitors at the Center has increased more than 50 percent. The movie has sparked interest in the A.T. among a broad range of people, inspiring new audiences to learn about and explore this national treasure.

“These numbers reveal the importance of a proactive stewardship plan that will address the impact of growing numbers of hikers on the Appalachian Trail,” said Ron Tipton, the ATC’s executive director. “With the help of our partners, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy plans to meet the challenge of ensuring all hikers are able to have a high quality hiking experience.”

The ATC’s plan to protect the A.T. hiking experience, which is currently being implemented by A.T. stakeholders, focuses on four main areas: hike planning and registration; a visitor use analysis; the creation of new campsites and restoration of existing sites; and an increase in education and outreach initiatives. The ATC is seeking $1.3 million to fully implement this stewardship plan.

To learn more about how the ATC intends to protect the A.T. hiking experience, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/awalkinthewoods.



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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tennessee State Parks Kick off New Year with First Day Hikes

Tennessee State Parks 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 December 31st at Pickett State Park. Norris Dam, Roan Mountain, Tims Ford and Mousetail Landing 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 2016 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 2016 are part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative in all 50 states.



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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Is a trek to Everest Base Camp in your future?

Is a trek to Everest Base Camp in your future? Perhaps after watching this short video you might be enticed to put this epic trip on your bucket list!

Ian Taylor, one of the newest advertisers on our Rocky Mountain, Glacier and Grand Teton hiking websites, recently sent me a link to one of his videos showing what it's like to trek to Everest Base Camp.

To date, Ian Taylor Trekking boasts a 99% success rate on this trek. That's important to know, especially when you consider that this round-trip trek takes 16 days to complete. No doubt, this trip isn't for everyone - trekkers will reach heights above 18,000 feet after ascending to the summit of Kala Pattar on day 11.

In addition to Everest Base Camp, Ian also offers guided climbs on peaks in the Mt. Everest region, as well as Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mont Blanc in France, Denali in Alaska, and Mt. Rainier in Washington, among many other trips.



For more information on this awesome trek, as well as all the other guided trips Ian offers, please click here.



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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Discover the Joys of Winter Hiking

Many hikers tend to run from the woods as soon as the first snow flakes begin to fall. However, winter is great time to hit the trail. Not only are the crowds gone, but many parks show off their true beauty after a fresh snowfall. With just a little more attention to detail beforehand, anyone can have a safe and enjoyable hike during the winter.

Although it might feel quite frigid at the trailhead, your body will begin generating plenty of heat after just 10 or 15 minutes of walking. The best thing you can do to keep the cold out is to dress in layers: a base layer that wicks moisture off your body, a fleece jacket for insulating warmth, and a shell to keep you dry and to keep the wind from penetrating your core. Most importantly, dressing in layers allows you to adjust your attire as you heat-up or cool-off. When dressing for a winter hike, always remember the adage: cotton kills! Never wear anything made of cotton while hiking in the backcountry. Once wet, cotton no longer insulates you from the cold. Moreover, it wicks heat away from your body and puts you at risk of becoming hypothermic.

Some people are prone to cold feet in the winter. One of the keys to keeping your feet warm is to make sure they stay dry. Wear a good pair of hiking socks, made of wool blends or synthetic fabrics, that wick moisture away from your skin, retain heat when wet, and dry faster if they become wet. I always keep an extra pair in my pack in case the ones I’m wearing do get wet. (Expert Advice: How to Choose Socks) You should also wear above-the-ankle hiking boots which help to keep snow away from your feet. You may want to consider wearing gaiters, especially if there are several inches of snow on the ground.

To round-out your winter apparel, don’t forget about a good pair of gloves, a ski cap and maybe even a balaclava.

If the snow is too deep in the mountains, consider hiking at lower elevations, or even wearing snowshoes. If you expect a lot of ice, especially in areas where there might be steep drop-offs, consider bringing crampons specifically made for hiking. These are sometimes referred to as traction devices, or in-step crampons, which you can either strap-on or slide onto your boots.

Trekking poles are another excellent choice for helping to maintain your balance on sections of trail with slick ice and snow.

After outfitting yourself with the proper winter gear, hikers will then need to focus on staying hydrated and properly fueled while out on the trail. Hiking in the cold, especially in snow, burns more calories. By some estimates, hikers can burn as much as 50% more calories when compared to similar distances and terrain in the summer. By not consuming enough calories while on the trail you become prone to getting cold faster. Make sure you bring plenty of high-energy snacks with you to munch on periodically throughout your hike. Watch out for foods that can freeze solid, such as some power bars. Or, instead of storing in your backpack, put some snacks inside your fleece jacket. Your body should generate enough heat to prevent them from freezing.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it can actually be easier to experience dehydration in the winter, versus hiking in the summer. Dehydration can occur faster in cold weather because the air is much drier. Moreover, dehydration can be dangerous because it can accelerate hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure you bring plenty of liquids with you, and drink often while on the trail.

If you’re storing water bottles in your backpack during a very cold day, you may need to insulate them to prevent them from freezing. An old wool sock will work in this case. Also, you may want to turn the bottle upside down to prevent the water from freezing at the neck. If you plan to be out for several hours, consider bringing a thermos containing a hot drink, or even soup.

Other winter hazards hikers need to be aware of include hiking in steep terrain that’s prone to avalanches, or a storm that covers the trail with fresh snow, thus making navigation difficult. You should always carry a topographical map and a compass with you in case you ever need help finding your way back to the trailhead if you were to become lost.

Other gear to bring with you includes a first aid kit, firestarter, waterproof matches, a pocket knife, an emergency blanket and maybe even a bivy sack.

Finally, let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who to call if they don’t hear back from you at a specified time.

With a little care and preparation up front, anyone can discover the joys of winter hiking.





Jeff
Hiking in the Smokies

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Smokies Announces 40th Annual Festival of Christmas Past Programs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 40th annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration scheduled on Saturday, December 12 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 will include old-time mountain music, traditional harp singing, mountain craft demonstrations, and living history walks. Demonstrators will show visitors how to make historic toys, games, rag rugs, apple-head dolls, quilts, homespun thread, and apple cider throughout the day. Visitors can also experience these traditions through hands-on activities including make-and-take craft stations.

“Around Christmas time, people gathered in churches, homes, and schools where they celebrated the holiday through music, storytelling, and crafts,” said North District Resource Education Supervisor Stephanie Sutton. “The Festival of Christmas Past allows us to pause and remember some of these traditions.”

The popular Christmas Memories Walk will be held at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Costumed interpreters will lead a short walk from the visitor center and talk about life in the mountains during the holidays. Through this living history program, visitors will experience the spirit of the season in the mountains during the early days.

The full schedule of events at the Sugarlands Visitor Center includes:

• 9:30 a.m.- Old-fashioned Harp Singing

• 11:00 a.m.- Old Time Music with Boogertown Gap Band

• 11:00 a.m.- Christmas Memories Walk

• 12:00 p.m. - Old Time Music with Lost Mill String Band

• 1:00 p.m.- “Stories from the Past” presented by the Smoky Mountain Historical Society

• 2:00 p.m.- Appalachian Christmas Music and Storytelling with Mike and Kathy Gwinn

• 2:00 p.m.- Christmas Memories Walk

•3:00 p.m.- Bill Proffitt and South of the River Boys

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Appalachian Trail Volunteers Report Record Number of Hours in 2015

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy announced last week that a record-breaking 6,827 volunteers reported approximately 272,477 hours in maintaining and protecting the Appalachian Trail during the 2015 fiscal year. Since the ATC began collecting reports in 1983, individuals have contributed more than 5 million hours to the A.T., resulting in a volunteer network that is recognized worldwide.

The record number of both volunteers and hours reported reveals a loyal commitment to the Trail. Volunteers donated time equivalent to what is completed by 131 full-time workers and contributed to a wide variety of projects, including maintaining the A.T. corridor, monitoring and removing invasive species, supporting teachers in the Trail to Every Classroom (TTEC) program, assisting A.T. Communities near the Trail, and preparing for the ATC’s biennial conference, the organization’s official member gathering held every other year.

The ATC’s volunteers represent 31 A.T. Maintaining Clubs and Trail Crews; Visitor Center and regional office volunteers; and participants in additional ATC programs, such as TTEC and the Appalachian Trail Community™ program. Though Trail maintainers are perhaps the most visible, volunteers also participate in many other activities, from community outreach to local, regional and Trail-wide management efforts.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy exists because of the generosity, talents and support of our volunteers – they are the very soul of the Appalachian Trail,” said Ron Tipton, executive director of the ATC. “The record number of volunteers and volunteer hours reported for fiscal year 2015 illustrates a continued dedication to the preservation and management of the Trail.”

For more information about volunteer opportunities, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.



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