Friday, December 30, 2016

Missing Aircraft Found in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Officials announced the completion of the recovery efforts for the victims associated with the Cessna 182 that went down in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Monday, December 26th. At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday the park’s technical rescue team along with a Tennessee Army National Guard helicopter extricated the three victims from the wreckage.

The plane was in route to the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport from Florida on Monday when it went missing over the park at approximately 4:01 pm. The three occupants of the plane, David Starling, 41, Kim Smith, 42, and Hunter Starling, 8, were from Bradford County, FL. 

Ground teams searched the steep and heavily wooded area on foot Tuesday, but were unable to access some areas due to rough terrain. A reconnaissance flight by the Tennessee Army National Guard located the missing single engine airplane within Great Smoky Mountains National Park at approximately 4:43 pm on Tuesday, December 27th. The plane was found in steep terrain on an unnamed ridge between Cole Creek and Bearpen Hollow Branch. Paramedics on board were hoisted down to the crash site and confirmed that there were no survivors.

The National Park Service worked closely with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Civil Air Patrol, Federal Aviation Administration, and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in this search effort. The National Transportation Safety Board will take the lead in the investigation of the plane crash.



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

NC National Forests Cautions Visitors on Additional Hazards This Winter

The U.S. Forest Service encourages visitors to the National Forests of North Carolina to use caution when recreating this winter because of additional hazards in the woods.

Natural settings have inherent risks and winter weather can increase the danger. Falling trees and branches are an ever-present hazard; the addition of snow and ice makes tree failure more likely. Visitors should be especially cautious when entering areas burned by recent wildfires because fires may have killed or weakened trees. Fire and the freeze-thaw cycle can loosen rocks which can roll onto roads and trails. Motorists and hikers should also be aware of the potential for icy conditions on shaded areas of roads and trails.

Know before you go. Many places in the forest do not have cell phone service. Plan and prepare accordingly. Check with the National Weather Service before your trip so you know what weather to expect but be prepared for changing conditions. Contact your local Ranger District office to get the latest information about current trail conditions and seasonal closures.

Your safety is your responsibility. Take these preventative measures to help keep yourself safe: Avoid traveling alone. If you must travel alone, share your plans. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

* Know your limits and choose activities that are appropriate for your physical condition.

* Use appropriate tires and footwear and adjust your speed or pace where there is snow or ice.

* Carry emergency kits containing water, food, blankets, and matches.

* Dress in layers which can be adjusted to the conditions and bring extra clothing in case you get wet.

You can click here for more outdoor safety tips.

If the wildfire recovery in the Southern Appalachians is anything like what I saw in Rocky Mountain National Park a couple of years ago, we may see quite an abundance of wildflowers next spring. While hiking to Granite Falls in 2014 we passed through a zone that was burned by the Big Meadows Fire during the prior year. We were expecting to see total desolation, but in fact we were treated to some relatively unique photographic opportunities. There were literally thousands and thousands of wildflowers sprouting along the forest floor, which marked the beginning of the natural renewal process.



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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Winter Adventure in the Smokies

Even though Old Man Winter is already tightening his icy grip on the mountains, it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Winter is an excellent time to visit the Smokies, especially for those seeking solitude. Although the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees more visitors year-round than any other park, winter is by far the slowest tourist season.

While it might be rather frosty at Newfound Gap, temperatures in the lower elevations of the park are usually quite balmy during the winter months. Roughly half the days have high temperatures of 50 degrees or more – some even reach into the 70s. On average, you can expect a snowfall of one inch or more just 1 to 5 times a year. This means that on most days you’ll still find plenty of opportunities for some great hiking on trails such as Abrams Falls, Little River, or Porters Creek - just to name a couple.

For the more ambitious who wish to venture into the higher elevations, you should expect snow and ice, especially on trails in the upper reaches of the park. You may even want to consider taking a pair of strap-on crampons (made for hiking boots) along with you. Even packed snow has a tendency to turn to ice overnight, and if you’re on a trail with steep drop-offs, such as Alum Cave, you’ll appreciate the extra traction they’ll give you.

If your preference is for sports that rely on snow you can usually count on plenty of it at the highest elevations. Although Gatlinburg averages only about seven inches of snow throughout the winter, Clingmans Dome, on the other hand, normally receives a whopping 85 inches. Up to two feet can fall during one winter storm!

One of the best places to be in the park when there’s snow on the ground is at Newfound Gap. The seven-mile road to Clingmans Dome, closed to traffic from December through March, provides excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Appalachian Trail - spanning the crest of the Smokies and crossing over Newfound Gap - also provides for some great snowshoeing opportunities when conditions are right.

Sledding is another popular activity on or near Newfound Gap, especially for children and those who are still kids at heart themselves.

Adrenaline junkies looking for the speed and thrills of downhill skiing or snowboarding can get their fix at nearby Ober Gatlinburg or the Cataloochee Ski Area. Cataloochee offers 14 different runs, while Ober Gatlinburg has eight, including one that’s almost a mile in length. Both resorts also offer snow tubing opportunities as well.

Winter in the Great Smoky Mountains is truly magical. After a blanket of fresh snow the landscape turns into a scenic wonderland, especially in the spruce-fir forests of the upper elevations of the park. For those that have only visited during the warmer months, winter is an excellent time to experience the Smokies in a whole new way.

If you're considering a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains this winter, please remember a visit during this time period - the "off-season" - will go a long way in helping to support the victims of the recent wildfires. Spend a day or week, either way, your vacation dollars will help the entire community. I know our advertisers from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge would love your support!






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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Smokies Lifts Campfire Ban Today

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have lifted the fire ban effective today, December 23rd. Campfires and open grills have been banned in the backcountry since November 1 and throughout the park and frontcountry areas since November 15. Beginning Friday, visitors can have campfires in designated backcountry campsite firerings and resume use of grills and campfires at established frontcountry campsites and picnic areas. Recent rains, along with the containment of the Chimney Tops 2 Fire, led park officials to consider lifting the fire ban. The fire was considered 100% contained as of Sunday, December 18th.

“With the fire containment and recent wet, moist conditions, we are relieved that our winter campers can once again have warming fires which can be critical when camping in single digits,” said Chief Ranger Steve Kloster. “We remind hikers and campers to dress in layers and to be prepared for changing weather at all elevations.”

The park has received between 7 to 10 inches of rain since November 28 which has helped relieve dry conditions across the park. Overall, rainfall is down approximately 16 inches (31%) for the year at Park Headquarters near Gatlinburg, making it one of the driest years in park history. Park Headquarters received record low precipitation in 2007 with only 34 inches reported for the entire year which was well below the normal average of 55 inches per year for this location. To date, the park has received approximately 39 inches of rain this year at Park Headquarters.

Park trail crews continue to clear and assess trails throughout the burned area. The following areas reopened on Wednesday: Cherokee Orchard Road, Twin Creeks Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail, and Old Sugarlands Trail. Hikers are reminded to stay on established trails and to be cautious of overhead limbs and trail hazards throughout the area including loose rocks, falling trees, flooding, and debris flows. Hikers should be alert and avoid hiking through the areas during high winds.

The following trails remain closed: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Sugarlands Mountain Trail, Bull Head Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Cove Mountain Trail, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, and Sugarlands Riding Stables concession trails. For updated information on backcountry closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm or call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.

Maps and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data related to the Chimney Tops 2 and Cobbly Nob Fires are published by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and are available for download by following the links at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/maps.htm.



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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winter Specials at Heartland Rentals

As Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains continue to recover from last month's devastating wildfires, it's important to note that the vast majority of the park was untouched by the fires, and all of downtown Gatlinburg is open and ready for you to visit. In order to encourage visitors to return to the area and help the region recover, I wanted to highlight some of the specials that Heartland Rentals, one of our long-time advertisers, is offering during this winter season. This is a great opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful national parks in the country - while helping the local economy recover with your vacation dollars! Here's a look at how you can save this winter:

January 2–January 31: Stay 3 nights, get one night free*

Make your Smoky Mountain Memories! Stay 3 that includes a Tuesday in January, receive one of the nights FREE ! Management reserves all rights. Cannot be combined with any other special or discount. All nights must be consecutive. Subject to terms and availability. Call now for best availability! On new reservations EXCLUDES Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, and Weekends. Must book between March 1, 2016 and December 29, 2016


January 2–February 4: Stay 4 nights, get one night free*

January Special - pay for 3 nights and the 4th night is FREE. Valid on remaining cabins and chalets and for new reservations. Free night is least expensive rate. Management reserves all rights. Cannot be combined with any other special or discount.All nights must be consecutive. Subject to terms and availability. Call now for best availability! Must book between March 1, 2016 and December 29, 2016


January 3–March 10: Stay 7 nights, get two nights free*

Chase away the winter blues with a rejuvenating week in the mountains! We make it affordable ~ you make it fun! Stay 7 nights, but you only pay for 5! Must book between March 1, 2016 and December 29, 2016


February 15–March 10: Stay 4 nights, get one night free*

Heartland Cabin Rentals is sharing the love this February and First of March! Book 4 or more nights and you will receive one of the nights free. Special must be mentioned at time reservation is made to be honored. Free night is least expensive rate. *Holiday periods are excluded from this special*. Management reserves all rights. Cannot be combined with any other special or discount. All nights must be consecutive. Subject to terms and availability. Call now for best availability! Must book between March 1, 2016 and December 29, 2016


February 24–March 31: Stay 6 nights, get one night free*

Stay 6 nights or more and receive one of the nights FREE Month of March! This Valid on remaining cabins and chalets and for new reservations only. Special must be mentioned or online special at time reservation is made to be honored. Free night is least expensive rate.*ALL HOLIDAY PERIODS and Easter Week are excluded from this special. * Management reserves all rights. Cannot be combined with any other special or discount.All nights must be consecutive. Subject to terms and availability. Must book between October 14, 2016 and December 29, 2016

For more information, please visit the Heartland Rentals website.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Smokies Reopens Several More Trails After Wildfire

According to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website several more trails that were closed due to the Chimney Tops 2 Fire have reopened. Hikers are reminded to stay on established trails and to be cautious of overhead limbs and trail hazards throughout the area.

As of December 21st, the following trails are now open: Baskin Creek Falls, Old Sugarlands Trail, Twin Creeks Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail and the Trillium Gap Trail, which includes Grotto Falls.

Last week the following backcountry areas were reopened: The Gatlinburg Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Huskey Gap Trail, Backcountry Campsite 21, and quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Newfound Gap. Park trail crews continue to clear and assess trails throughout the burned area.

Only a handful of trails remained closed at this point. For the most up-to-date information on backcountry closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm or call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.

The fire ban remains in place at this time and applies to the use of all campfires and grills throughout the park including frontcountry and backcountry campsites and picnic areas. No use of wood or charcoal fires is permitted. Campers may continue to use gas camp stoves at designated campsites throughout the park.



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

Sunday, December 18, 2016

U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes the National Park Service Centennial Act

Championed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), the U.S. Senate passed the National Park Service Centennial Act, which will expand the Centennial Challenge, a public-private funding partnership, establish and fund a national parks endowment, and provide additional opportunities for young people and volunteers to serve in and learn from our parks. The act passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week.

In a prepared statement on their website, Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association, said that “Our national parks safeguard our most significant places but face funding levels that are not adequate. Our park superintendents face tough decisions for distributing resources to maintain trails or repair historic buildings and are forced to cut youth education programs. Passage of this bill will help by advancing smart, effective initiatives that fund maintenance needs in our parks and enrich visitors’ experiences.”

The National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680) will help address some of the $12 billion in needed repairs to park infrastructure, such as unmaintained trails and deteriorating buildings and structures that help tell America’s story but are in danger of falling apart. These delayed repairs hamper visitor access and enjoyment just when parks are experiencing record-breaking attendance as they celebrate their centennial year. The legislation would also help fund educational programs to better connect younger Americans to parks.

Funding for these national park needs would come in part from formally establishing and providing dedicated funding for the Centennial Challenge, a proven and successful public-private partnership that leverages federal funds with private dollars for visitor-oriented projects in our national parks. Another important funding component is the establishment of an endowment to provide a path toward the long-term fiscal health of our national parks.

There is a successful track record for leveraging private dollars when Congress commits to a federal match. Over the last two years, a federal investment of $25 million from appropriated dollars cultivated twice that amount in private donations. This money was used for such projects as improving visitor walkways in Yellowstone and making critical repairs to the Old State House in Boston.

Other policy provisions provide clear authority to the National Park Service for better interpretation and education programs, offer additional opportunities for young people and veterans by expanding the Public Land Corps, and allow for extra funding support for volunteer programs.

Pierno also said that “One initiative is the Centennial Challenge Fund, a proven public-private partnership that uses federal funding to leverage private dollars for our national parks. Also, the bill establishes an endowment to build long-term funding support for our parks as they start their next 100 years. As the Park Service concludes its centennial year, there has never been a better time for Congress to help restore America’s national treasures. We hope the new administration and the next Congress continue this progress of better funding our national parks and directly addressing its $12 billion infrastructure repair backlog.”



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

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cabins USA Open For Business After The Fires

The following is a guest blog by Cabins USA:

On the evening of November 28th, 2016, a wildfire that originated inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park swept through its neighboring communities of Gatlinburg, Wears Valley, and Pigeon Forge.

Hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed in this tragedy. Thankfully, in the wake of the fire, the outpouring of concern and support for the Smoky Mountains has been overwhelming.

We at Cabins USA are sincerely grateful for the incredible response to the Smoky Mountains during this time of need. As the Smoky Mountains region comes together to overcome the fire, here are the things that we are thankful for.

Cabins USA is Open For Business Cabins USA and nearly all of our properties have made it through the fire unscathed. We are open for business and are committed now more than ever to providing our guests with a quality Smoky Mountain vacation experience. We are thankful to have this opportunity and look forward to providing the best cabin rentals in the Smokies for many years to come.

The Great Smoky Mountains Are Still Beautiful
While there's no denying that the fire was a major event, it is also true that the wildfire only burned in a small section of the national park near Gatlinburg. In fact, it's estimated that only 3% of the national park was affected by the fire.

This means that most places in the national park show no signs of the wildfire at all. Areas of the park like Cades Cove, Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome, Elkmont, and Tremont were untouched by this event.

Even in places where the fire swept through, the affected area is spotty and irregular. Based on images from impacted areas in the national park, it appears as though the fire mostly burned on the forest floor.

Though wildfires may appear destructive, they are really a natural part of this ecosystem. The beautiful trees of the Smokies are intact and burned areas of the forest typically thrive after a wildfire, because the fire enriches the soil with nutrients.

Since the fire only burned on the forest floor, it may be impossible to tell that there was a fire at all in a few months time.

The Smoky Mountains Are Still Fun
While this event was far reaching, you may be surprised by what you see when you visit the Smokies. Nearly all of the areas you would normally go on a Smoky Mountain vacation show no signs of the fire.

Popular areas like Downtown Gatlinburg and the Pigeon Forge Parkway were virtually untouched by the fire. All of the major attractions in the Smokies received no damage during this event. Thankfully, we can all continue enjoying trips to these popular attractions:

Dollywood
Dollywood Splash Country
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Ober Gatlinburg
The Gatlinburg Space Needle
Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
The Island
Dixie Stampede
The Village Shops
Tanger Outlets
The Historic Old Mill
Sweet Fanny Adams Theater
The Titanic Museum
And More!

Everything that you love about the Smokies, the national park, the hiking trails, the attractions, and the restaurants, are all still here for you to enjoy!

How Can You Help
In the aftermath of the fire, we've seen many caring individuals give their time, skills, and resources to help our community rebuild.

If you're looking for a way to help, consider donating to the Gatlinburg Fire Relief Fund operated by the local Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce.

Another excellent way to help the Smoky Mountains is to plan a Smoky Mountain vacation! Tourism is the most important industry in this region and our community is eager to get back to serving visitors from all over the country. In reality, the best way to help the Smoky Mountains recover from the fire is to come visit.

Since most of the Smoky Mountains were untouched by the fire, you won't regret it. In the aftermath of this event, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is still beautiful and all of your favorite attractions are here to enjoy. Our community is strong and work is already underway to make the Smoky Mountains rise from the ashes.

Cabins USA is currently offering discount rates on select cabin rentals. To start your getaway, visit our website to view hundreds of cabin rentals or contact our reservations office at (800) 583-6168 for a Smoky Mountain vacation you won't soon forget!



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Friday, December 16, 2016

Smokies Reopens Several Trails!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced today that they have reopened several trails that were closed due to the Chimney Tops 2 Fire. Hikers are reminded to stay on established trails and to be cautious of overhead limbs and trail hazards throughout the area.

The following areas are now open: The Gatlinburg Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Huskey Gap Trail, Backcountry Campsite 21, and quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Newfound Gap. Park trail crews continue to clear and assess trails throughout the burned area. For updated information on backcountry closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm or call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.

The fire ban remains in place at this time and applies to the use of all campfires and grills throughout the park including frontcountry and backcountry campsites and picnic areas. No use of wood or charcoal fires is permitted. Campers may continue to use gas camp stoves at designated campsites throughout the park.



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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cabins For YOU Is Still Open!

I am happy to report that one of the very first sponsors to advertise on our website, Cabins for YOU cabin rentals, is currently open and ready to welcome you this Christmas and holiday season.

Although they did experience the pain of losing some of their cabins, they are very happy to report that they're open for business and have many cabin rentals available in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

While there was a lot of destruction and damage from the fires, many businesses – restaurants, shops, and attractions – did not sustain any damage at all. In fact, downtown Gatlinburg was virtually untouched - and is already open to the public.

Park enthusiasts and hikers should also note that the vast majority of the park was untouched, and the vast majority of the more than 800 miles of trails in the park are currently open, including the Alum Cave Trail which has recently reopened after the completion of a two-year rehabilitation project.

Cabins For YOU would also like to mention that many of the cabin owners who lost properties are ready to rebuild and can’t wait for guests who have made wonderful memories in those cabins to return for many years to come.

This Christmas season, as well as the upcoming winter "off-season," offers a great opportunity for fans of the Great Smoky Mountains, and hikers in general, to support the Gatlinburg region. Spend a day, the weekend, or an entire week; either way, your vacation dollars will help the entire community. I know that Cabins For YOU would love and appreciate your support!



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hosts Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center This Saturday

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Saturday, December 17, 2016. 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.

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 visitor center will be decorated for the holiday season and will include an exhibit on Christmas in the mountains. Hot apple cider and cookies will be served on the porch with a fire in the fireplace. 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.

This is a great opportunity to support the victims of the wildfires by visiting the Great Smoky Mountains this weekend. Spend a day, the weekend, or an entire week, either way, your vacation dollars will help the entire community. I know our advertisers from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge would love your support!



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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Programming Note: Dolly Parton Telethon Tommorow Night Will Benefit Wildfire Victims

Last week Dolly Parton announced that she will be holding a benefit telethon tomorrow night to help the victims of the recent wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains. The benefit telethon, called Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund, will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, December 13th at 8 p.m. (EST).

Dolly Parton, along with a number of her friends, including Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Chris Young, Big and Rich, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, LOCASH, Chris Janson and Montgomery Gentry, are set to perform during the benefit which will be broadcast live on several TV, Radio and online outlets. All proceeds (100%) from the telethon will benefit those displaced by the recent Gatlinburg area wildfires, and will be distributed to the families in need through the Dollywood Foundation’s My People Fund. This fund will provide $1000 each month for up to six months to Sevier County residents whose homes are uninhabitable or were completely destroyed by the wildfires. According to Dolly's website the fund raised more than $1 million in its first 36 hours, but the need is much greater than that (kudos, by the way, to Taylor Swift, who has already pledged $100,000!).

During the telethon viewers will be asked to call 1-866-CARE MORE to donate to the My People Fund. You can also make a tax-deductible contribution to the My People Fund online by visiting DollywoodFoundation.org. If you prefer to send donations via mail, those contributions should be sent to:

My People Fund
c/o Dollywood Foundation
111 Dollywood Lane
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

The following is the most current list of viewing outlets for Smoky Mountains Rise:

TELEVISION:
AXS TV
GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY (GAC)
RFD TV
THE HEARTLAND NETWORK

SOCIAL MEDIA:
DOLLY PARTON FACEBOOK
WBIR FACEBOOK

RADIO:
CUMULUS MEDIA’S NASH NIGHTS LIVE
iHEART MEDIA’S DIGITAL AND SELECT ON-AIR PLATFORMS
TUNEIN’S COUNTRY ROADS CHANNEL

ONLINE:
COMMERCIALAPPEAL.COM
DIXIESTAMPEDE.COM
DNJ.COM
DOLLYPARTON.COM
DOLLYWOODFOUNDATION.ORG
JACKSONSUN.COM
KNOXNEWS.COM
LUMBERJACKADVENTURE.COM
PIRATESVOYAGE.COM
TENNESSEAN.COM
THELEAFCHRONICLE.COM
USATODAY.COM AND USA TODAY NATIONAL NETWORKS

Additionally - and/or - you can support the victims of the fires by visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. Spend a day or week, either way, your vacation dollars will help the entire community. I know our advertisers from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge would love your support!



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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Get Wilderness First Aid Certification – Support Shenandoah National Park Trust

Want to be confident you’ll be able to handle an injury or emergency on the trail? Wilderness First Aid Certification is an excellent way to gain the skills you’ll need.

MEDIC SOLO Disaster + Wilderness Medical School certifies hundreds of hikers every year. If you register for their Saturday, January 7 class in Charlottesville, Virginia, MEDIC will donate 10% of your registration fee to the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

Topics include: patient examination and assessment; sprains, strains and fractures; cuts and lacerations; bites, stings, blisters and burns; allergic reactions; shock; and more. A portion of the training also covers disaster first aid.

No prerequisites required. The course is suitable for adults and mature youths age 12+. Upon completion, participants will receive 2-year SOLO WFA certification. (The course also counts as re-certification for WFA, AWFA, WFR and the wilderness component of W-EMT.)

The course blends classroom instruction with hands-on rescue scenario practices. It is approved by the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA and American Camping Association. Details and registration are here: http://www.solowfa.com




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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park / Gatlinburg Reopens Today

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will officially reopen to the public on Friday, December 9 in conjunction with the reopening of the city of Gatlinburg. Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, and several visitor areas have been closed since the evening of Monday, November 28 due to the Chimney Tops 2 wildfire.

“The past eleven days have been the most challenging and emotional days our community has likely ever had to endure,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The amount of love, strength, and support offered to our community has been inspirational not only to us, but also to those watching from across the world. Our community has shone brightly in the midst of this disaster and proven that we are truly mountain tough.”

The National Park Service joins Gatlinburg in welcoming visitors back to the area. Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, the Gatlinburg Bypass, and the Spur will reopen at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, December 9. Park visitor centers at Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove will resume their regularly scheduled operating hours. Cherokee Orchard Road will remain closed at this time.

The following trails are closed due to wind or fire damage: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail from Mt Collins Shelter to Little River Road, Huskey Gap Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Twin Creeks Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Bull Head Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail from Campsite 32 to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Gatlinburg Trail, Cove Mountain Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, the Sugarlands Horse Concession trails, and the quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road.

The safety of our visitors is our primary concern and we ask that everyone explore only areas of the park that remain open and abide by trail closures. Visitors are required to remain in their vehicles when passing through the burned areas and should not enter any burned areas by foot. Visitors are reminded that though the area has received heavy rains in recent days, firefighters are still actively establishing containment lines to ensure the fire is fully extinguished.

Motorists are reminded to carefully travel along the roadways and to allow crews safe work space. Public Information Officers will be on site near the Gatlinburg entrance of the park and at overlooks along Newfound Gap Road to answer questions regarding the fire.

Several upcoming park events have been postponed or cancelled. The Festival of Christmas Past, scheduled for December 10, has been cancelled. The Hike 100 Centennial Challenge celebration, scheduled for December 9 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, has been postponed. The Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Mountain Farm will take place as planned on December 17. Details regarding each of these events will be released to the public as soon as they become available.

For more information on temporary road and trail closures, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.




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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

TBI Arrests, Charges 2 Juveniles in Ongoing Investigation of Gatlinburg Wildfires

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has resulted in charges being placed against two people in connection with the deadly wildfires in Sevier County.

Last week, at the request of 4th District Attorney General James Dunn, TBI Special Agents began working alongside the National Park Service and ATF to investigate the wildfires that began last month.

During the course of the investigation, information was developed that two juveniles allegedly started the fire.

Today, a petition was filed in juvenile court charging the juveniles with Aggravated Arson. Both were taken into custody and transported to the Sevier County Juvenile Detention Center. At this time the investigation is active and ongoing.




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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Nearly Every Wildfire in North Carolina at 100% Containment

This is a supplemental update to the fires in North Carolina. The National Forests in North Carolina announced this afternoon that all the fires in the state are at 100% containment, with the exception of the Camp Branch (at 85%) and Rock Mountain, which is at 95% containment. All fires are at various stages of mop up and suppression repair. A Burned Area Emergency Repair, BAER, team has arrived and started their assessment of repair needs and developing plans for the fire areas. Excess resources have moved to other fires in the southern region or are making their way back to their home units for much-needed rest.

The U.S. Forest Service would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the communities in Western North Carolina that were affected by the fires. Your support of the thousands of firefighters and support staff, many from across the nation, was friendly, thoughtful, caring and generous. The hospitality and kindness shown by the people in the communities, from meals at Thanksgiving, to supplies and signs on the side of the road, were touching.




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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Gatlinburg Scheduled to Open to the Public on Friday

The Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page just published the following update:

On Tuesday, December 6, property owners, business owners, renters, and lease holders will continue to have daily access to properties to allow appropriate time for cleaning, smoke removal, and securing their properties. Daily access will be allowed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through the East Parkway (Hwy. 321) entry point. The curfew remains in effect from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

On Wednesday, December 7, property owners, business owners, renters, and lease holders will be allowed to return to full-time occupancy beginning at 7:00 a.m. through the East Parkway (Hwy. 321) entry point. The curfew will then be in effect from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. on both Wednesday and Thursday.

The City of Gatlinburg plans to reopen for business and to the general public on Friday, December 9 at 7:00 a.m. Major roadways are expected to be open, but some city roadways may remain closed to accommodate utility work. More information will be provided throughout the week.

Local officials have provided the following update:

• To date, there are 14 confirmed fatalities.

• To date, there have been 145 injuries/illnesses.

• 1,753 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fire.

• There are currently 25 crews, 46 engines, 6 helicopters, 2 dozers, 780 total personnel fighting the Chimney Top 2 Fire as a part of the Type 1 Federal Incident Management Team.

• The Chimney Top 2 Fire is estimated to be 42% contained. The Cobbly Nob Fire is estimated to be 53% contained.

• The Spur parkway is open only from Pigeon Forge to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center. There will be no access to Wiley Oakley from the Spur.

• Wiley Oakley Drive and Greystone Heights Road remain inaccessible due to critical utility work. Emergency crews are working to open it as soon as possible.

• The Water Boil Advisory is still in effect for the following areas in Gatlinburg: Ski Mountain, Chalet Village, Greystone Heights, and Campbell Lead areas. The Water Boil Advisory was lifted for the downtown area.




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

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Region Seeks Volunteers

Over the last 24 hours the Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page has published information on ways you can volunteer your time to help the victims of the wildfires. Here are two ways you can help:

* Want to help Great Smoky Mountains National Park recover?? Please give them a few days to get back to work, but then give them a call and offer to Volunteer? Call 865-436-1265, or send an email to Adam Monroe at adam_monroe@nps.gov.

* Interested in volunteering to help others? Our partners in Pigeon Forge sent us this link: http://Volunteertn.org.

If you wish to donate money, WBIR has published some detailed information on how you can help fire evacuees - please click here for the most up-to-date information. Knox News also has an updated list of ways to help.

The great news this morning is that it's raining right now, and appears to be an all day event!




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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Park Requests Information Regarding Chimney Tops 2 Fire

The National Park Service Investigative Branch Services (IBS) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) continue to investigate the origin of the Chimney Tops 2 fire. The cause of the fire near the summit on Chimney Tops appears to be human caused. The park is asking for assistance from the public to gather information.

The park is requesting that every person who hiked, or knew someone who hiked, the Chimney Tops Trail on Wednesday, November 23, to contact the investigative team to respond to a series of questions that will help provide much–needed information. Hikers can contact the investigators through any of the following means: Calling the Tip Line at 1-888-653-0009; sending an email to the Tip Line at nps_isb@nps.gov; sending a tweet to @SpecialAgentNPS, or filling out an online tip form at www.surveymonkey.com/r/TipLine_InvestigativeServicesNPS

Also: Fire officials are getting reports from lots of folks who are seeing smoke. Officials said they expected smoke within the fire footprint. However, if you see smoke in areas outside the fire perimeter, please call 865-407-0025, or email at chimney2fire@gmail.com, to report any new fires.




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

Thousands Donate to Smokies’ Fire Relief Effort on #GivingTuesday

In less than 48 hours, thousands of individual donors contributed more than $100,000 to Friends of the Smokies in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on #GivingTuesday. One hundred percent of these donations will help meet the greatest needs of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, beginning immediately with emergency relief efforts related to the recent wildfires.

“We are truly humbled by the outpouring of support for our park,” said Jim Hart, President. “Donors came forward in record numbers, from right here in east Tennessee and as far away as Sweden, all looking for ways to help the park they love.”

Friends of the Smokies’ corporate partners answered the call as well. Scripps Networks is donating a total of $100,000 for wildfire relief to four area nonprofits, including Friends of the Smokies. On top of this generous gift, Scripps Networks has pledged to match its employees’ donations to Friends of the Smokies.

Mast General Store, Patagonia, and Travelers Insurance had already agreed to match up to $15,000 in #GivingTuesday gifts, and every dollar of these donations will continue to be used to support the park. #GivingTuesday is a globally-recognized day inspiring people to donate to nonprofit organizations in their communities. Friends of the Smokies has participated in this effort each year since 2013.

“We want people to know that they can still give to Friends of the Smokies. Right now the need is maybe the greatest it has ever been,” said Marketing Director Brent McDaniel.

Donations can be made online on Facebook at www.facebook.com/smokiesfriends, by phone to 865-932-4794 or 828-452-0720, or by mail to Friends of the Smokies, P.O. Box 1660, Kodak, TN 37764.

In additional news, Friends of the Smokies also announced today that AT&T is donating $20,000 to aid communities following the East Tennessee wildfires. The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Fire Relief Fund and Friends of the Smokies will both receive $10,000 each to support aid where needs are the greatest.




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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Gatlinburg Fire Summary - Key Websites to Follow

As of 12:00 pm on December 1st, the Chimney Tops 2 Fire has burned 17,108 acres (including roughly 10,000 acres inside the park). Arson is suspected. According to InciWeb, there is 0% containment of the fire. Although Sevier County received significant amounts of moisture yesterday, more will be needed. “We had really good rain, but not enough to make up the deficit. Don’t let this rain give you a false sense of security.” Michael Proud, Incident Meteorologist, warned. Warmer weather, wind and decreased humidity will increase fire activity during the peak of the day. “The fire is not out, it is just knocked down.” Mark Jamieson, Operations Section Chief, stated.

Gatlinburg officials announced today that they anticipate the downtown Parkway business district, along with the River Road area, will open to public on Monday, December 5th.


Road and Trail Closure Status in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park and trails are closed from the Gatlinburg entrance along Highway 441 to Smokemont, near Cherokee, North Carolina. Highway 441, Little River Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Sugarlands Visitor Center and Clingmans Dome are currently closed. The Cades Cove and Oconoluftee Visitor Centers are now open.

• The following trails and campsites are closed to due fire until further notice: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Huskey Gap Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Little River Trail, Cucumber Gap Trail, Jakes Creek Trail, Miry Ridge Trail, Goshen Prong Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Bullhead Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Brushy Mountain Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Porters Creek Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail, Campsites 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, Mt. Le Conte shelter, and Mt. Collins shelter.

Here are a few key websites to follow:

* The recently launched Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page appears to be the central information hub concerning the wildfire, covering Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the park itself. They just published an interactive map that allows you to view the footprint of the burn area. If you pan out, you will see that the park has several fires burning all around it. 

* InciWeb, the Federal incident information system, provides details on the current fire situation. They also have a map of the impacted area.

* WBIR has published some detailed information on how you can help fire evacuees - please click here for the most up-to-date information. Knox News also has an updated list of ways to help.

* WBIR has published a list on the status of several businesses and buildings in the Gatlinburg area. They appear to be updating this as more information becomes available.

* Knox News has published a timeline showing how the fire essentially blew up.

* For the latest on road and trail closures and openings in the Great Smoky Mountains, visit this park page, or the park Twitter account.

* For the latest weather conditions and forecasts, please click here.




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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gatlinburg Fire Update: 7 Fatalities and 700 Structures Lost

Here's the latest Chimney Tops 2 Fire Update as of this evening. This was just posted on the new Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page (see additional updates below).

Incident Summary: The Chimney Tops 2 Fire was reported in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at approximately 5:20 p.m. The wildfire began burning in a remote location (Chimney Tops) of the park in steep terrain with vertical cliffs and narrow rocky ridges making access to the wildfire area difficult for firefighting efforts. On Monday, November 27th, continuous exceptional drought conditions and extreme winds caused the wildfire to grow rapidly, causing numerous new wildfire starts from embers carried miles away and downed powerlines in and adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The wildfire was determined to be human-caused and is currently under investigation.

To date, there are 7 confirmed fatalities and 700 confirmed structures lost (300 in Gatlinburg, 400 in other parts of Sevier County).

The Southern Area Red Team assumed command of the Chimney Tops 2 Fire today, Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. The Red Team, the Type 3 Grey Incident Management Team from Colorado, and other firefighters and equipment are on site.

Chimney Tops 2 Fire is currently burning in brush, hardwood slash, and leaf litter. Fire crews are working to assess fire damage and coordinate with local resources to provide structure protection.

From our Fire Behavior Analyst, “The area around the Chimney 2 Fire received rainfall today ranging from 1.2 to 1.7" as of 3:30pm. The same area has been experiencing drought that has persisted over the past four months. Knoxville has received only 2.24” of rain over past 100 days, 13.48 is normal for same period. The rainfall received today will only last for 1 to 2 days due to prolong drought. Fire activity will increase until significant rainfall is received over several days. Indices used to predict fire danger were at or approaching all-time highs before the rainfall. These indices will start to move back towards the same level as before the fire over next couple days if no rainfall is received”. This means the rain we received may have slowed this fire for a day or two at a critical time, but the threat from this fire is still there.

Size: 15,653 acres Containment: 10% Start Date: November 23

Incident Resources: 9 crews, 22 engines, 7 helicopters, 4 dozers, 285 total personnel

Weather: Temperatures are expected to decrease as the week progresses, with afternoon highs reaching the 50s and 60s. Relative humidity is predicted to increase; however gusty winds may still contribute to active fire behavior. You can click here to see the latest forecast for the area.

Road and Trail Closure Status: Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park and trails are closed from the Gatlinburg entrance along Highway 441 to Smokemont, near Cherokee, North Carolina. Cades Cove and Oconoluftee Visitor Centers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park have re-opened today.

• A mandatory evacuation is still in effect for most of the City of Gatlinburg.

You can click here to view a map of the impacted area.


Updates as of 10:45 pm:

* Total acres burned is now 17,108

* According to latest InciWeb update, officials don't expect any spread over next 12 hours due to rainfall today. "a cold front pushed through the fire area Wednesday producing significant rainfall. Amounts across the area ranged from 2 to 5 inches. Although the rainfall reduced fore behavior, exceptional drought conditions persist across the area. Some roads may be slick due to mud and ash while low lying areas may still contain pools of standing water. High pressure will build back into the region Thursday through Saturday with the next chance of rain arriving Saturday night and Sunday."

* However, over the next 72 hours: "After 3 days of drying, fire behavior should be increasing. Fire spread in the timber litter should be expected. 1-2 ft flame lengths with minimum rates of spread of 1-3 chains per hour."

* Major-major kudos to Dolly Parton!! She just announced tonight that her foundation will donate $1,000 per month for each family who lost their homes in the fire.




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

Map of Gatlinburg Fire Impact Area

Inciweb, the Federal incident information system, has published a map of the Gatlinburg fire area. You can click here to see an enlarged version of the map. The fire so far has impacted 15,653 acres in the area.





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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

LeConte Lodge and Elkmont Undamaged by Fire

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced this evening that LeConte Lodge, the popular backcountry lodging facility at the base of Mount LeConte, and the Elkmont Campground and Historic Districts sustained no damage from the fire activities in the park on Monday evening. Some Elkmont buildings sustained roof damage from falling trees caused by heavy winds, and some roof repairs will be required.

The fires in the park and Gatlinburg community have now collectively been estimated to total over 15,000 acres. Tomorrow, November 30, the park will turn the fire management operation to the Southern Area Type I Incident Command Team (Dueitt) to manage the ongoing fire activities within the park. This team consists of federal and state interagency team members from across the country who collaboratively manages wildland fire and other incident management activities such as natural disaster relief efforts.



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

TEMA Evening Update on Gatlinburg Area Wildfires

The following is an update from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency as of this evening:

CURRENT SITUATION
Local officials in Pigeon Forge have lifted the mandatory evacuation order. Gatlinburg still remains under a mandatory evacuation order.

Pigeon Forge officials estimate 500 people were evacuated on Monday night. Approximately 125 people remain displaced and in local shelters in Pigeon Forge.

State agencies and local officials evacuated likely thousands residents and visitors from Sevier County last night due to devastating wildfires in-and-around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It is very likely 14,000+ residents and visitors evacuated from Gatlinburg alone.

The Chimney Top Fire, which began in the Great Smoky Mountains, spread very rapidly yesterday evening as high winds pushed flames onto private property.

A temporary flight restriction is in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.

Numerous roads remain closed and blocked by fallen trees and power lines. State Hwy. 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed, except for emergency traffic. State Hwy. 441 leaving Gatlinburg is open to evacuating traffic.

Gatlinburg is blocked off to the public and local officials are not providing access into the city because it is still a dangerous situation. Local officials will announce when they are ready to allow residents back into Gatlinburg.

Gatlinburg officials also have not had a chance to do a complete and through assessment of damage in Sevier County. So it is unknown at this time of an exact number of structures damaged or destroyed in Sevier County by the wildfire.


FATALITIES and INJURIES
Sevier County officials report 14 injuries and three fatalities. There is no other information available at this time.

Three persons with severe burns were transferred form University of Tennessee’s Knoxville (UTK) hospital to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville overnight. A fourth with burns to their face continues to be evaluated at UTK. Currently, there are no reports of fatalities.

POWER OUTAGES
Sevier County reports 10,693 people without power.

SHELTERS
There are three Red Cross shelters open in Sevier County, as follows:

• LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge
• Pigeon Forge Community Center
• Rocky Top Sports World

At peak, an estimated 1,300 people occupied six Red Cross or independently-operated shelters. The latest estimate is 1,100 occupants in the three shelters above.

RESPONSE ACTIVITIES
TEMA opened the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Nashville last night coordinating with Emergency Services Coordinators and representatives with the Tennessee departments of Commerce and Insurance (State Fire Marshal), General Services, Health, Human Services and Transportation, and American Red Cross, Army National Guard, Fire Mutual Aid, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (32 personnel) crews and trucks have been working continuously overnight to help clear routes of ingress and egress, fire fighters and apparatus from scores of jurisdictions responded with mutual aid.

The Tennessee National Guard is activating 111 soldiers to assist with movement of first responders, light debris removal and well ness checks. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has 15 personnel also assisting with the searches and wellness checks.

The Tennessee Department of Health is coordinating hospitals and medical services with local partners.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency this evening to secure a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) for the Chimney Top Mountain fire, which caused the wildfire outbreak in Sevier County.

WEATHER 
A line of strong to marginally severe storms is expected in East Tennessee tonight and into early Wednesday morning. Damaging straight-line winds up to 60 mph are the primary threat. Heavy downpours and lightning will also accompany these storms.

Other Info:

* Total acreage burned is now estimated at 15,000 acres.

* Pigeon Forge has halted evacuations and most businesses are now open.

* Gatlinburg has canceled the annual "Fantasy of Lights" Christmas parade that was set for Friday.

* WBIR is reporting that both the LeConte Lodge and Elkmont are intact. Here's a list of the status of several businesses and buildings in the area.

* During the press conference this afternoon, the Gatlinburg mayor announced that a "Gatlinburg Relief Fund" has been set-up. Knox News has posted information on their website on several ways you can help the victims of the fire.



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

TEMA Update on Sevier County Wildfires

The following is an update from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency as of this morning:

State agencies and local officials evacuated likely thousands residents and visitors from Sevier County last night due to devastating wildfires in-and-around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It is very likely 14,000+ residents and visitors evacuated from Gatlinburg alone.

The Chimney Top Fire, which began in the Great Smoky Mountains, spread very rapidly yesterday evening as high winds pushed flames onto private property.

Even with the rain that is currently falling there, the fires continue to burn and structures remain engulfed with little hope that the rainfall will bring immediate relief.

A temporary flight restriction is in place to prevent aircraft from complicating the response.

Numerous roads remain closed and blocked by fallen trees and power lines. State Hwy. 441 heading into Gatlinburg is closed, except for emergency traffic. State Hwy. 441 leaving Gatlinburg is open to evacuating traffic.

Additionally, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has liaison officers in Sevier County and has activated the East Tennessee Regional Coordination Center to facilitate resource requests and mission assignments.

FATALITIES and INJURIES
Three persons with severe burns were transferred form University of Tennessee’s Knoxville (UTK) hospital to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville overnight. A fourth with burns to their face continues to be evaluated at UTK. Currently, there are no reports of fatalities.

POWER OUTAGES
Sevier County reports 11,595 people without power.

SHELTERS
At a peak, an estimated 1,300 people occupied six Red Cross or independently-operated shelters. The latest estimate is 1,100 people in four shelters.

WEATHER
Showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m., Eastern, today with winds 5 to 15 mph, and gusts to 20 mph. High near 69. Precipitation chance 80 percent.

Tonight, a chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 10 p.m., Eastern. Mostly cloudy with a low around 59. Breezy, with a south wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent.

TEMA is asking residents in Sevier County to stay off mobile devices unless it is for emergency calls to prevent taxing the mobile system.

WBIR has published some information on how you can help fire evacuees - please click here.



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

Fire Update - All Facilities Closed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sevier County, City of Gatlinburg, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have reported widespread fire damage and continued fire activity throughout the Gatlinburg area and much of Sevier County including Wears Valley, Pigeon Forge, and Jones Cove. Gatlinburg City officials have reported numerous structures completely lost to fire including businesses in the downtown area and private homes throughout the area.

Unpredicted, extreme weather conditions on Sunday afternoon through Monday led to the exponential spread of fires both inside and outside of the National Park. Severe wind gusts of over 80 mph, unprecedented low relative humidity, and extended drought conditions caused the fire burning in the National Park to spread rapidly and unpredictably, in spite of suppression efforts on Sunday that included helicopter water drops. Wind gusts carried burning embers long distances causing new spot fires to ignite across the north-central area of the park and into Gatlinburg. In addition, high winds caused numerous trees to fall throughout the evening on Monday bringing down power lines across the area that ignited additional new fires that spread rapidly due to sustained winds of over 40 mph.

Conditions remain extremely dangerous with trees expected to continue to fall. Officials are asking that motorists stay off the roadways throughout the area. Travel in the Gatlinburg area is limited to emergency traffic only. The National Park is closed at the Gatlinburg entrance.

Officials have received tremendous support throughout the region included state resources and the deployment of the National Guard by Governor Haslam. The Red Cross established shelters in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge where over 1,300 people have gathered to seek refuge.

At this time, officials do not have information to release regarding the current size of the fire, the number of structures burned, or injuries. Additional news updates will be provided as information becomes available.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed all facilities in the park due to the extensive fire activity, and downed trees. Park Headquarters is currently without power and phone services.

WBIR has published some information on how you can help fire evacuees - please click here.



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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Smokies Closes Roads and Trails due to Chimney 2 Fire - May Be Human Caused

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed Newfound Gap Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Elkmont Road, and several trails due to the Chimney 2 Fire. The fire has grown to approximately 500 acres in size overnight due to extreme, sustained winds over 20 mph. National Park Service fire crews are focusing on suppression efforts to ensure public safety and protect park facilities at locations such as Chimneys Picnic Area.

The fire is currently moving northeast, burning primarily along the ground layer through duff and leaf litter. Gusting winds have caused the fire to spot across the ridges in the Chimney Tops and Bullhead Ridge areas. On Sunday, November 27, three helicopters dropped water throughout the area to help suppress the fire over the extremely steep, rough terrain. Currently park firefighters have been joined by firefighters from Utah and additional support resources have been ordered, including an incident management team along with 4 hand crews (total of 80 people) and air support. Additional ground firefighters were also requested to help with suppression efforts in anticipation of predicted winds for Monday afternoon.

Backcountry areas are unsafe for travel and the following trails and backcountry campsites are currently closed until further notice. Closed Backcountry Trails include Chimney Tops, Road Prong, Huskey Gap, Sugarland Mountain, Rough Creek, Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek, Miry Ridge, Goshen Prong, Old Sugarlands, Bullhead, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Brushy Mountain, Trillium Gap, Baskins Creek, Porters Creek, and Grapeyard Ridge trails. Closed Backcountry Campsites include 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, Mt. Le Conte shelter, and Mt. Collins shelter.

The cause of the fire near Chimney Tops appears to be human caused and is under investigation. If anyone has information regarding the origin of this fire, or other fires in the park, please call the park’s Tip Line at 865-436-1580.

Update:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials reported additional fire activity including the Park Headquarters area and a spot fire between Elkmont and Newfound Gap Road off of the Sugarland Mountain Trail approximately 1 mile south of the Husky Gap Trail intersection. The park has closed the Gatlinburg Bypass and Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area due to fire activity and downed trees. The park has evacuated employees from the Elkmont and Park Headquarters housing areas.

Due to continued erratic winds, the fires are very unpredictable and more fire growth is expected. Wind conditions continue to worsen with 40 mph average winds being recorded and 74 mph gusts.

WBIR is now reporting that Gatlinburg fire officials have declared a mandatory evacuation for some neighborhoods in Gatlinburg.

Fortunately rain is expected tonight - likely to arrive around 11:00 or so. Hopefully it's not too late before any major damage is done.

Update 2: WATE is reporting that downtown Gatlinburg is being evacuated.



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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

National Park Service Announces 10 Fee Free Days for 2017

Combine great scenery and history with great savings and visit a national park for free on one of 10 fee free days in 2017. The ten entrance fee-free days for 2017 will be:

• January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
• February 20: Presidents Day
• April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week Weekends
• August 25: National Park Service Birthday
• September 30: National Public Lands Day
• November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

“National parks are known for their priceless beauty,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They are a bargain anytime but on these ten days in 2017, they really will be priceless. We want everyone to visit their national parks and the fee free days provide extra incentive to experience these amazing places.”

During the fee free days, all National Park Service sites will waive their entrance fees for all visitors. Usually, 124 of the 413 national parks charge entrance fees that range from $3 to $30. The other 289 sites do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

To continue the national park adventure beyond these fee free days, the annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks,. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current military members, fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

The National Park System includes more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 413 sites including national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There is at least one national park in every state.

Last year, 307 million people visited a national park. They spent $16.9 billion which supported 295,000 jobs and had a $32 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

In addition to national parks, the National Park Service works with tribes, local governments, and partners across the country to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Programs such as the National Register of Historic Places, National Heritage Areas, National Wild and Scenic Rivers, and the Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance Program revitalize communities, celebrate local heritage, and provide places for people to get outside, be active, and have fun.

The fee free days gives hikers the chance to visit several of the crown jewels in our national park system, including Rocky Mountain, Glacier, or Grand Teton National Park. Of course the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited national park, never charges a fee.



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