Monday, October 14, 2019

Roadside parking - be a hero not a hazard

Fall weekends are especially busy on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Beautiful views are unlimited but parking is not. Once a trailhead parking lot is full, many drivers park on roadsides. While parking is permitted on the shoulder of some roads, vehicles must not obstruct traffic. Blocked roadways can lead to accidents and delay emergency responders.

Follow these tips to be a hero and not a hazard:

* Know before you go as cell service is limited.
* Watch for pedestrians as you approach areas with parked cars.
* Check for signs that restrict roadside parking.
* Choose a spot that will not be damaged by tires on soft ground.
* Do not park on a narrow shoulder with a steep drop off.
* Park vehicles with all wheels off the road.
* Check for oncoming traffic before exiting your vehicle.

Some areas are so popular that it can be difficult to find legal parking. This is especially true during peak leaf season. High volume times are typically on the weekends during midday but well-known sites are busy from dawn to dusk. Plan several alternate locations and arrive in the early morning or late afternoon or visit on weekdays.

Popular locations with limited parking include:

* Black Balsam
* Dry Falls
* Graveyard Fields
* Max Patch
* Roan Highlands/Carvers Gap
* Any place you've seen on social media!

Explore our website to find new places to visit: www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/nfsnc/recreation



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Wildfire Risk Continues in Cherokee National Forest (and region)

Although light rain fell in some areas of the Cherokee National Forest, USDA Forest Service officials say much more moisture is needed in the days to come to significantly slow or put an end to the fall fire season.

Extended periods of hot weather and little to no rain has increased the risk of wildfires throughout the Cherokee National Forest. Wildfires are not only a threat to wildlife and the natural resources, but also to life and property.

"Without a doubt we were pleased to see the rain and cooler temperatures. It helped slow things down in some areas. We aren't letting our guard down. It doesn't take long for things to dry out and the fire hazard to rise," said Cherokee National Forest Fire Management Officer Trent Girard. "A few days of dry and windy conditions that are typical this time of year can have the woods dry and susceptible to fire in a hurry. We don't want folks to be fooled by the recent moisture we received. We still need to be very careful with fire and be aware of how quickly conditions can change."

The U.S. Forest Service reminds campers to be cautious when burning campfires. Use existing fire rings if possible and clear a safe area around them of at least 15 feet. Dig a pit in the soil to about a foot deep. Circle fire pit with rocks. Build a campfire away from overhanging branches, logs/stumps, steep slopes, dry grass and leaves/pine needles. Never leave campfires unattended, and ensure they are completely out before leaving.

The following guidelines are for safely extinguishing campfires and helping to prevent wildfires:

 Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
 Pour lots of water on the fire, drown ALL embers, not just the red ones.
 Pour water until the hissing sound stops.
 Stir campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
 Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers.
 Stir and make sure everything is wet and that embers are cold to the touch.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Living Step By Step on The Colorado Trail

Have you ever wondered what it's like to hike the entire Colorado Trail - from Denver to Durango? This video from Keith ("Spreadsheet") and Gina ("Mulch") do an excellent job of showing what to expect, what you'll see, and what it takes to tackle the 485-mile Colorado Trail. This, their second attempt. was completed in 33 days. On their first try, in 2015, they ran out of time just 75 miles short of the finish. Hope you enjoy:





Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Senate bill increases funding for the National Park Service by $133 million

Last week the United States Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations bill for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. If enacted, it would increase National Park Service funding by $133 million and improve funding for other federal agencies that support our parks’ wildlife, clean air and water. The increased funding commitment will better protect park resources, support jobs, address overdue park maintenance needs and enhance the experience for 330 million annual park visitors.

Statement by John Garder, Senior Director for Budget and Appropriations for the National Parks Conservation Association:
“Our national parks continue to face significant funding challenges for everyday operations and maintenance needs that help keep our most treasured places up and running safely for all to enjoy. This bi-partisan bill, through the leadership of Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tom Udall (D-NM) and support of the committee, provides additional resources for rangers whose numbers have been on the decline for years, and helps fix crumbling park roads and aging facilities. The bill also shows strong oversight of the administration’s damaging effort to reorganize the Department of the Interior, in part by defunding it.”
Key provisions that benefit our parks include:

• Provides a $62 million, 2% increase for the operation of national parks, supporting park stewardship, overdue park repairs, visitor programs and park rangers.

• Restricts new funding for the reorganization of the Department of the Interior, which threatens the management of our parks, their resources, the employees of the National Park Service, and its partner land management agencies.

• Increases funding for Park Service federal land acquisition, better protecting Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore and many other parks.

• Provides needed support for National Heritage Areas, supporting historic preservation and interpretation at communities throughout the country.

• Provides increases to address the Park Service’s nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog, helping to fix our park roadways and aging infrastructure.

• Urges protections for Chaco Culture National Historical Park from new oil and gas development on adjacent federal public lands.



Jeff
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TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 30, 2019

New agreement between federal, state agencies highlights cooperative approach to land management

The United States Department of Agriculture's Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment signed a Shared Stewardship agreement between USDA's Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Forest Service, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in a ceremony here yesterday.

USDA Under Secretary Jim Hubbard signed the agreement with Steve Troxler, Commissioner of NCDA&CS; Scott Bissette, Assistant Commissioner of NCFS; and Gordan Myers, Executive Director of NCWRC.

"Shared Stewardship offers a great opportunity to coordinate and prioritize land management activities in tandem," said Hubbard. "The USDA and its agencies have a long and strong history of collaboration with the State of North Carolina. This agreement will make that working relationship even stronger."

The Shared Stewardship Agreement establishes a framework for federal and state agencies to collaborate better, focus on accomplishing mutual goals, further common interests, and effectively respond to the increasing ecological challenges and natural resource concerns in North Carolina.

"Partnerships remain essential to everything we do as an agency and allows for greater success in reaching our conservation goals and in protecting our natural resources," Troxler said. "The Shared Stewardship agreement strengthens our commitment to partnership in these areas of mutual benefit."

In addition to providing a framework for how the federal and state agencies will work together, the Shared Stewardship agreement also outlines the importance of ensuring meaningful participation from state and local partners such as North Carolina's State Parks, Natural Heritage Program, Department of Transportation, Conservation Districts, and non-governmental conservation organizations.

"We are excited to continue our cooperative approach to management and access on national forests, including linear wildlife openings, food plots and road maintenance upgrades for North Carolina's hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts," said Myers.

The agreement can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfsnc/sharedstewardship.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 27, 2019

Smokies Restricts Campfires in the Backcountry

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced a temporary ban on backcountry campfires effective immediately. Due to abnormally dry weather conditions, the potential for wildfires to occur in the backcountry has dramatically increased. The fire restriction will be in effect until further notice.

“The park is experiencing abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions throughout the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “With little rain and hot, dry conditions predicted over the next week, it is imperative that we reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.”

The fire restriction only applies to campers utilizing the park’s 100 backcountry sites and shelters. It does not affect campers at the park’s 9 frontcountry (developed) campgrounds or picnickers using fire grills at picnic areas. Fires at developed areas must be confined to designated fire rings and grills. All visitors are asked to take precautions to help reduce the risk of wildfires by extinguishing frontcountry fires by mixing water with embers in fire rings and grills. Use of backpacking stoves that utilize pre-packaged compressed gas canisters is still permitted at backcountry campsites.

Backpackers should be aware that drought conditions also affect the availability of water at springs at backcountry campsites and shelters throughout the park. At some locations where there is a running spring, it can take more than five minutes to fill a quart-sized bottle. Many of the springs in the higher elevations are running significantly slower than normal at this time and the following backcountry campsites are currently known to be without water: 5, 16, 26, and Mollies Ridge Shelter. This list is expected to grow as the drought conditions continue. Backpackers are encouraged to carefully consider their itinerary and carry extra water for those sites that are not located along major water sources.

For more information about regional drought conditions, please visit https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu. For more information about backcountry trip planning, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm or call the backcountry office at 865-436-1297.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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HikinginGlacier.com
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Seeks Trail Work Volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is excited to announce a number of trail maintenance volunteer workdays in North Carolina and Tennessee that showcase a number of meaningful partnerships with organizations who actively support our mission. All necessary paperwork to register as a “Volunteer in Park" (VIP) can be done on site. Prior notice of attendance is necessary. Please email adam_monroe@nps.gov or call 828-497-1949 to sign up for a workday.

Opportunities include:

Saturday, September 28th – National Public Lands Day
Volunteers are invited to take part in a trail rehabilitation project on the Kanati Fork Trail from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. The trail is located just off of Newfound Gap Road (441) in North Carolina. Volunteers will perform trail maintenance including installation of drainage features, rehabilitation of trail surfaces, and removal of brush. The workday will offer a great opportunity to learn about sustainable trail design and gain a behind the scenes look at what it takes to maintain the vast trail network of Great Smoky Mountains National park.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands across America. This year’s celebration is expected to draw more than 200,000 volunteers at more than 2,600 sites. For more information about National Public Lands visit https://www.neefusa.org/public-lands-day.

Thursday, October 17 – Brushy Mountain Trail 
Join corps members from the Southeast Conservation Corps out of Chattanooga, TN and staff from REI Knoxville from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm to accomplish much needed trail maintenance along the Brushy Mountain Trail in the Greenbrier area of the park. In addition to completing self-sufficient projects in the backcountry, the corps members are encouraged to engage with the local volunteer community to extend their reach and production. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is pleased to host this hardworking crew for extended workweeks, made possible with funding from the National Park Foundation and REI.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Fall 2019 Get On the Trail with Friends & Missy Hike Schedule Released

This year “Get on the Trail with Friends and Missy” is celebrating its 21st year as a guided hiking series to raise funds to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fall series features day hikes in the Smokies led by U.S. Olympian and personal fitness guru, Missy Kane, each Wednesday throughout October.

Oct. 2 – Oconaluftee River Trail (3.5 miles, easy-moderate)

Oct. 9 – Middle Prong to Indian Flats Falls (8 miles, moderate)

Oct. 16 – Gabes Mountain / Maddron Bald Intersection to Cosby Campground (8 miles, moderate)

Oct. 23 – Charlies Bunion on the Appalachian Trail (8 miles, difficult)

Oct. 30 – Purchase Knob to Hemphill Bald (6 miles, moderate)

Since 1998, Missy Kane has helped hikers of all ages explore the park, learn more about exercise and physical fitness, and experience the history, wildlife, and natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. To date, these hikes have raised more than $200,000 through the generous support of participants and sponsors to help fund critical park projects including wildlife conservation efforts and trail maintenance.

“It’s hard to believe we are starting our 21st year of Get on the Trail with Friends & Missy,” said Missy Kane.

To register for any of the upcoming guided hikes, hikers must pre-register by calling the Covenant Health Call Center at 865-541-4500. Space is limited and the hikes will sell out. The cost for each hike is $20 per person with proceeds supporting Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A complimentary Friends of the Smokies membership is provided with registration of the entire series.

Get on the Trail with Friends and Missy is presented by Humana and Knoxville News Sentinel, and sponsored by Home Federal Bank, Cabins of the Smoky Mountains, East Tennessee PBS, Farm Bureau Insurance, and LeConte Medical Center, with special thanks to Rocky Top Tours for logistical support.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Blue Ridge Parkway announces Finding of No Significant Impact for Planned Bridge Projects in Ashe and Alleghany Counties

The National Park Service has announced, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, that the signed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared for two bridge improvement projects on the Blue Ridge Parkway is now available. The first project, known as Project 2A16, includes the rehabilitation of Big Pine Creek Bridge #3 and #6 and Brush Creek Bridge #1 in Ashe County, NC, with an emphasis on maintaining the historic character of the bridges to the maximum extent practicable. The second project, known as Project 2D17, involves the replacement of a larger historic bridge, Laurel Fork Bridge in Alleghany County, which would be designed with consideration given to the historic character of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the original bridge.

The FONSI was signed on August 12, 2019 and is available at this link: https://go.nps.gov/1tjh0k.

The Parkway has over 180 bridges in its asset inventory. Planning for these projects began in 2016, and work is expected to begin in 2020. The bridges involved in these projects have been deemed structurally deficient with deteriorating decks and substandard height bridge rails. The proposed projects will address structural deficiencies and improve safety by meeting current roadway design standards, including installation of crashworthy railings.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 20, 2019

Overmountain Shelter on Pisgah National Forest closed until further notice due to structural damage

In order to protect public safety, the Appalachian Ranger District has closed the Overmountain Shelter which is located in Avery County near the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and Overmountain Victory Trail. U.S. Forest Service engineers have determined that the building has become structurally unsound and cannot safely accommodate people. Further evaluations will occur to identify viable management options for the site.

"People from all over have loved camping inside this old barn," said District Ranger Richard Thornburgh, "but now there's a real risk of it collapsing. Unfortunately, the barn was not originally designed to accommodate human occupancy. Slope movement has caused a significant downhill lean in the structure and a support beam snapped under the large upper loft where people sleep. The wood posts are rotting away. Strong winds from storms and heavy snow loads in the winter place additional stress on the structure. The elements have just taken their toll to the extent that, despite efforts to maintain it, the Overmountain Shelter has reached the point where it's not safe to be inside the building."

The Overmountain Shelter was originally a barn on a private farm that was acquired by the Forest Service in 1979 and became part of the Pisgah National Forest. The Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC) converted the barn into use as a trail shelter for the Appalachian Trail and provided basic maintenance for the structure. "TEHCC supports the closure in the interest of public safety," said Vic Hassler, TEHCC A.T. Committee Chair.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) added its support for the A.T. trail shelter closure. "We want all AT hikers to have a safe, enjoyable experience," said Morgan Sommerville, ATC Southern Regional Director. "With the Stan Murray Shelter just two miles to the south, there is another good shelter option nearby."

The fields around the shelter are still open for tent camping and offer beautiful views of the Roaring Creek valley. "We're just telling hikers not to pitch their tent within 40 feet of the shelter in event that there is a structural failure," said Thornburgh.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 16, 2019

Lend a Hand on National Public Lands Day

September 28th is your chance to be a part of the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers come together on the fourth Saturday in September to assist with various projects designed to restore and enhance public parks, forests, waterways and more. From trail maintenance to tree planting—volunteers of all ages and abilities roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side to care for public lands. The day also features a variety of hikes, bike rides, community festivals, paddling excursions, and other fun outdoor activities—all set on the backdrop of the country’s public lands and waterways.

America’s public lands aren’t the only ones that benefits from National Public Lands Day. Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to mental and physical well-being. Spending time in the outdoors has been found to improve short-term memory, concentration and creativity—while reducing the effects of stress and anxiety. Volunteering on NPLD is a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the many benefits that come from connecting with nature.

In celebration of the annual National Public Lands Day celebration, September 28, 2019 has been designed as a Free Entrance Day for most National Parks, Monuments, Recreation Areas and other participating federal sites. If you volunteer on this day, you will receive a fee-free day coupon to be used on a future date.

Click here to check out the official National Public Lands Day event map, which makes it easy to find all of the events that will be available later this month.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Best Fall Hikes in the Smokies

Fall hiking season is rapidly approaching, and leaf peepers will soon be out in full force across the Great Smoky Mountains.

The beauty of the Smokies is always spectacular, but never more so than during the autumn when the mountains are ablaze with the colors of fall.

The timing of the fall color season depends upon many variables, making it virtually impossible to predict the exact date of "peak" colors in advance.

One of the most important variables is elevation. At the higher elevations in the Smokies, fall color displays begin as early as mid-September when yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry begin to show their autumn colors. If you’re looking for good fall foliage hikes during this time period, you’ll want to be at the highest elevations in the park; however, you’ll also want to avoid hiking in areas that are predominantly spruce-fir forests.

Suggested mid-late September hikes: Andrews Bald, Mt. LeConte, the Jump-off or Rocky Top.

From early to mid-October, during most years, fall colors begin to reach their peak above elevations of 4,500 feet. Trees such as the American beech and yellow birch begin to turn bright yellow, while mountain ash, pin cherry and mountain maple show-off brilliant shades of red.

In the lower elevations you may notice a few dogwoods and maples that are just beginning to turn. You may also see a few scattered sourwood and sumac turning to bright reds as well.

Suggested early-mid October hikes: You’ll still want to hike in the higher elevations. In addition to the suggestions above, check out Gregory Bald, Mt. Cammerer, Spence Field, Albright Grove or the Sugerland Mountain Trail starting from Clingmans Dome Road.

Autumn colors usually reach their peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is usually the best time to be in the park as you'll see the spectacular displays of color from sugar maples, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and hickories. Your hiking choices will have greatly expanded during this time period as well. You can continue to hike at elevation to take in the fall colors from above, or you can walk among the autumn colored trees.

Suggested mid-late October hikes: If you wish to hike at elevation for spectacular fall views try exploring the Rich Mountain Loop, Alum Cave, Hemphill Bald, Shuckstack, Bullhead, Charlies Bunion or Mt. Sterling trails. If you wish to hike among the trees, check out Baskins Creek Falls, Little River, Old Settlers or the Porters Creek Trail.

As the fall color season begins to wind down in early November, you’ll want to hike at the lowest elevations in the park. Check out the Meigs Mountain Trail, Schoolhouse Gap, Abrams Falls, Oconaluftee River Trail, Indian Falls, or the Deep Creek Loop.


Monitoring Fall Color Progress:

* To get a general idea of when leaves are approaching peak colors you can follow the fall colors report on the GSMA website.

* To get a birds-eye view on changes in fall colors, you can periodically check out the four Smoky Mountain web cams.







Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, September 9, 2019

How to Climb (hike) a Mountain

Below is a short video that was featured on Outside Today a few years ago. Although the title of the video was "How to Climb a Mountain", the skills discussed in this video are actually basic mountain climbing skills that most hikers will benefit from, and should have an understanding for safer passage through the mountains. The video features Rainbow Weinstock from the Colorado Mountain School:





Jeff
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HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 6, 2019

Quick Tips for Viewing Elk Safely

Though they may look docile, elk are very large animals capable of covering large distances quickly. Armed with sturdy antlers and powerful hooves, these animals can be very aggressive and dangerous during the fall breeding season, known as the rut, which usually takes place during the months of September and October. Find out what simple precautions you should take while viewing elk in this short video from the Great Smoky Mountains Association:



If you do plan to visit the Smokies this fall 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
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Bear injures a man after a surprise encounter in his kitchen

Crazy story out of Colorado last week:
A bear injured a 71-year-old man inside his Pine, Colorado home on Monday evening after entering through a screen door, and swiping the man multiple times with its claws when the two had a surprise encounter in his kitchen.

The man was downstairs watching TV with his wife when he heard noises coming from upstairs. After going up the stairs and turning a corner into his kitchen, he was face-to-face with a bear. The man and the sow then engaged in what was described as a boxing match, as the man tried to fend off this sow bear that attacked after the surprise run-in. The wife rushed upstairs and hit the bear multiple times with a baseball bat, causing the bear to run away outside of the home. A cub was inside the home with the sow, and ran away with its mother after the encounter.

The man received a number of lacerations to his face, chest and both arms. He was treated at the scene, but was not taken to a hospital.

The attacked occurred around 8:45 p.m.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers searched the area until approximately midnight. The search resumed at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday when a dog team from the USDA Wildlife Services arrived to aid in the effort to find the attacking bear. It was the same dog team that assisted last week with a mountain lion attack in Bailey, Colo.

By 5:50 a.m. Tuesday, the dog team had located a bear in the immediate area and over the course of the next hour, the dogs, CPW wildlife officers and the officials from the USDA Wildlife Services tracked that bear. The bear was euthanized shortly before 7 a.m., roughly 900 yards from the home where the attack occurred. The cub has not been located.

DNA samples will be sent to the University of Wyoming Forensics Lab for analysis to confirm if this is the bear from the attack. CPW policy states that when a bear attacks a human resulting in injury, that bear must be euthanized.

Wildlife officers continue to monitor the area.




Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, August 30, 2019

Time to Make Plans for Your Fall Hiking Trip to the Smokies

For anyone considering a trip to see the beautiful fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains, now is the time to make plans and have your reservations in place. October in the Smokies is the second most popular month in terms of park visitation. And with the awesome beauty the autumn season provides, it's really no wonder.

If you do plan to visit the Smokies this fall - or even during the upcoming Holiday 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.

We really appreciate you supporting our sponsors, which helps to keep this blog and the HikingintheSmokys.com website up and running.

Finally, if you need any help on where to hike this fall, check out our fall hiking page for the best hikes throughout the autumn period.

As always, thank you very much!



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, August 26, 2019

Great Smoky Mountains Announces Major Road and Campground Closures

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that the main access roads into Cades Cove and Cataloochee will be closed for road construction projects for several months this upcoming winter.

Cove Creek Road, the main access road into Cataloochee, is expected to be closed from November 1 through February 29, 2020 for roadwork while the NC Department of Transportation repairs a landslide just outside of the park along the county road. This full road closure will prevent access into Cataloochee from the south. The Cataloochee area will remain accessible via old Highway 284, which is a narrow, winding gravel road leading from the Big Creek area of the park into Cataloochee Valley. Weather depending, this road may be closed at any time due to snow, ice, or downed trees. This route is not recommended for low clearance vehicles or trailers. The Cataloochee Campground is expected to reopen for the 2020 season by March 26.

Laurel Creek Road, the seven-mile access road leading from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove will be closed to all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians from January 3 through February 29, 2020 to repair the Bote Mountain Tunnel. The full closure, beginning just past Tremont Road, is necessary to allow equipment set-up for the repair of the internal drainage system in the walls and ceiling of the 121-foot long tunnel. Crews will enclose and heat the tunnel, allowing the temperature-sensitive repairs to be conducted during the winter months when visitation is lower. Intermittent single-lane closures will be necessary between March 1 and June 15, 2020 to complete the tunnel repairs and to re-pave the tunnel area.

The Cades Cove Campground, normally open through the winter, will be closed from December 30, 2019 through March 5, 2020. To accommodate winter campers, both Elkmont Campground in TN and Smokemont Campground in NC will remain open through the year.

The Bote Mountain Tunnel, constructed in 1948, has not had any significant rehabilitation work since that time. Crews will replace nine drainage chases requiring track-mounted saws to cut through the concrete liner along the arc of the 18-foot high tunnel opening. Cracks throughout the tunnel will also be sealed and repaired. Without repairs, leaks will lead to compromised concrete walls and the development of ice hazards during the winter months.

For more information on road closures in the park, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
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HikinginGlacier.com
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Nantahala Gorge is Closed After Landslides

Update from NCDOT as of Monday afternoon:
NCDOT officials are preparing to open U.S. 19/74 through the Nantahala Gorge TONIGHT around 8p.m. Crews have made significant strides in rebuilding a side of the road and clearing debris.


The Jackson County Rescue Squad posted this blurb about a massive landslide in the Nantahala Gorge on their Facebook page last night. The landslide occurred near where N.C. 28 joins U.S. 19/74 near Bryson City in Swain County:
Two large landslides have trapped over 20-30 civilians and responders between slides...and currently working on an evac plan... no one trapped in debris. Rescue crews are advising the river has been choked down to 10 wide in these spots and Duke Energy is shutting down the river. NC HWY 74/19 will be shutdown for several days possibly while crews remove debris and assess for potential hazards. Avoid the area!!!
Since that posting the vehicles that were trapped have been able to get out. However, according to the NCDOT Twitter feed, as of this morning:
Operations will continue at least into Tuesday. A detour has been established. Westbound vehicles will take N.C. 28 West to N.C. 143 South to N.C. 129 South U.S. 19/74.
Also from NCDOT:
NCDOT crews have started rebuilding the embankment and shoulder by the a slide in the Nantahala Gorge. The slide washed out a section 80-feet wide and knocked down branches 25 feet high above the road.
This was mentioned on the U.S. Forest Service - National Forests in North Carolina Facebook page early this afternoon:
Rafting and kayaking on the Nantahala River has been temporarily suspended. Debris from the landslides has entered the river making passage extremely hazardous.




Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
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Friday, August 23, 2019

Noah Bud Ogle Cabin and Nature Trail Temporary Closure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced a temporary, weekday closure of the Noah Bud Ogle Cabin, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail, and associated parking area to allow crews to make needed cabin repairs. The area will be closed August 26 through September 12 on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. The area will be fully open each week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and on federal holidays.

The Noah Bud Ogle cabin is located on Cherokee Orchard Road near Gatlinburg, TN. The cabin, barn, and tub mill are preserved along a mile-long nature trail. The unique cabin design joins two structures together by a common chimney. Crews will be making much-needed repairs to the chimney.

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



Jeff
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Monday, August 19, 2019

Shenandoah National Park Announces Reopening of Big Meadows Wayside

Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Jennifer Flynn is pleased to announce the reopening of Big Meadows Wayside at mile 51 on Skyline Drive. The popular historic campstore, gift shop, and restaurant has been undergoing renovations since last winter.

Superintendent Flynn said, “This work has prepared the Wayside for another 50 years of service while retaining the historic fabric of the building.” Among the most visible changes is the reconfiguration of the interior space. The restaurant has been returned to its historic placement on the meadow side of the building so diners have a view of the iconic Big Meadow.

Other changes include a fire suppression system and an entirely new electrical system. The renovation was completed by the Park’s concessioner Delaware North, Inc. (DNC). DNC officials joined Superintendent Flynn for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, August 15, 2019.



Jeff
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Smokies Resumes Paving Work on Little River Road

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the pavement preservation project on Little River Road will resume Monday, August 19. A thin pavement overlay will be applied to the entire length of the roadway between Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Townsend Wye, along with associated pull-offs and parking lots, and Elkmont Road leading to the campground. The project should be completed by September 20, 2019, though work schedules are subject to revision as needed for inclement weather.

Visitors traveling on Little River Road should expect weekday, single-lane closures and traffic delays from August 19 through September 20. Single-lane, daytime and nighttime closures are permitted from 7:00 p.m. on Sundays through 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. The lane closures will be managed with flagging operations. Parking areas and pull-offs will be closed intermittently for pavement application. To better accommodate visitors during periods of high visitation, no lane closures will be allowed during weekends, holidays, or on Sunday, September 15 due to anticipated high traffic associated with the annual Fall Rod Run in Pigeon Forge.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded the $ 6.5 million paving contract to GC Works, Inc. Road work will include the application of a thin lift overlay to preserve the life of the pavement. Potholes will be patched before application of the pavement overlay.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.



Jeff
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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Programming Note: Friends Across the Mountains Telethon Tonight

Tonight is the 25th annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon. As in years past, the event will again be broadcasted on WBIR-TV Channel 10 in Knoxville, TN and WLOS-TV Channel 13 in Asheville, NC from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM.

The broadcast will highlight projects and programs that Friends of the Smokies has funded over the years. It's a fun event that raises awareness of both the Park's needs (as the only major national park without an entrance fee), and the ways that Friends of the Smokies helps to fulfill some of those needs every year. The telethon raises roughly $200,000 each year, and has raised more than $3.6 million dollars over the last 24 years.

Volunteers will be on hand to help answer phones and keep running totals of the money raised throughout the evening.

If you wish, you can make a donation right now by clicking here.



Jeff
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Monday, August 12, 2019

USDA Forest Service extends comment period for draft regulations on management of national forests

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is extending the public comment period on proposed changes to modernize how the agency complies with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposed rule would give the Forest Service the tools and flexibility to manage land and tackle critical challenges like wildfire, insects and disease while improving service to the American people. Based on the importance of the proposed rule, the Forest Service is extending the comment period by 14 days to allow more time for public review and comment.

The proposed rule was published June 13, 2019, and the public comment period was originally set to end on August 12, 2019. With the extension, the comment period now ends on August 26, 2019.

Revising the rule will improve forest conditions and make it simpler for people to use and enjoy their national forests and grasslands at lower cost to the taxpayer. The revised rule will also make it easier to maintain the roads, trails, campgrounds and other facilities people need to use and enjoy their public lands.

This announcement will also be published in the Federal Register. Public comments are reviewed and considered when developing the final rule. Instructions on how to provide comments are included in the online notice.

More information is available at https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/revisions/index.shtml.

Comments may be submitted through www.regulations.gov by searching docket number FS-2019-0010. Comments can also be submitted by mail to NEPA Services Group, care of Amy Barker, USDA Forest Service, 125 South State Street, Suite 1705, Salt Lake City, UT 84138; or by email at nepa-procedures-revision@fs.fed.us



Jeff
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Friday, August 9, 2019

Smokey Bear turns 75 today!

Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear, the mascot of the U. S. Forest Service created to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires.

Smokey Bear's famous message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was created in 1944 by the Ad Council, making it the longest running Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign in U.S. history.

Smokey's correct full name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a hit with "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused confusion among Smokey fans ever since.

The U.S. Forest Service authorized the creation of Smokey Bear on August 9, 1944. Smokey's debut poster (see picture above - on right) was delivered on October 10 of that year by artist Albert Staehle.

Be sure to check out the Smokey Bear website to see the history of the AD campaign. The site includes an interactive trail by decade with an extensive collection of old posters, TV/radio spots (including the famous Bambi TV spot), and other memorabilia.



Jeff
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Thursday, August 8, 2019

N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation Seeks Public Input on Elk Knob State Park Master Plan

The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation is seeking public input on the Elk Knob State Park Master Plan. The Master Plan will be a twenty-year plan that covers the entire state park, which contains over 4,200 acres spanning Watauga and Ashe Counties. The park is sited within the Amphibolite Mountains, an ecological hotspot of global significance.

E2 Landscape Architecture in Asheville is working with the Division and the public to develop the master plan, initially identifying both the recreation and conservation needs for the park. Stakeholder input is important to the process, and the open house-style public meeting will allow feedback from the community.

The public meeting will be held on Aug. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Optimist Park Clubhouse, located at 1012 State Farm Road in Boone. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and can expect to spend 20-30 minutes to review, discuss, and weigh in on their preferred recreational amenities for the park.

Amenities that will be considered for the master plan include a natural and cultural heritage center or visitor center, day use areas, campground areas, and hiking trails including sections of the Northern Peaks State Trail.

An online public survey is available for those who cannot attend the public meeting. Interested citizens can take the survey by visiting https://www.ncparks.gov/elk-knob-state-park/future-development.



Jeff
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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Kevin Lynch Found This Afternoon Near the Cataloochee Divide Trail

After spending four nights lost in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Kevin Mark Lynch was found by searchers. At approximately 4:25 p.m. searchers discovered Lynch, alert and responsive, in the southeast area of the park near the Cataloochee Divide Trail.

Earlier this afternoon, grid search team members discovered the first significant leads in the search for Lynch when his hat and pair of sunglasses were discovered approximately 1,600 feet south east of the Cataloochee Divide trail. Shortly after, a second grid search team, found what appeared to be fresh footprints leading toward the Ferguson Cabin. At these discoveries, search efforts were consolidated and redirected to the areas adjacent to where the clues were discovered in a focused search effort. Within a few hours, Lynch was discovered after he responded to searcher’s yells. Lynch was only ¾ of a mile from the point last seen.

Lynch was transported by Haywood County EMS to Haywood Regional Medical Center for assessment where he will be reunited with his family, whom has gathered near the command center daily since his disappearance.

“From the moment we learned of Lynch’s disappearance, Haywood County Emergency Management and National Park Service staff worked quickly to take an aggressive and proactive approach with search tactics due to the dire circumstances surrounding Lynch’s health condition,” said Park Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy. The successful utilization of a joint command structure was definitely a contributing factor to the success of this operation. We cannot thank all of the agencies who supported this effort enough for their dedicated commitment to bringing Mr. Lynch home safely to his family.”



Jeff
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More Than 200 Searchers Continue Efforts to Locate Kevin Lynch on North Carolina Side of the Smokies

Over the course of the last four days, grid searchers, trackers, and numerous dog teams have searched a five mile radius intensely looking for any clues as to Lynch’s direction of travel. Searchers have hiked all trails in the area looking for Lynch, posting informational flyers at trailheads, and interviewing hikers.

On Sunday, July 28, North Carolina Highway Patrol utilized a helicopter with FLIR technology, forward looking infrared (FLIR), in an effort to locate sources of heat in the search area. Since Sunday, drones have been utilized daily to get a bird’s eye view of the area. Law enforcement officials and fire departments have gone door to door notifying home owners adjacent to the park boundary to be on the lookout for Lynch. Over 400 residences have been contacted thus far and their associated outbuildings and barns searched.

Yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, July 30, a contract helicopter was deployed to scan the terrain for specific geologic features, such as rock outcrops and grassy balds, to help identify areas that may be utilized by Lynch. Today, trackers and search dog teams will examine any points of interest. Grid teams will expand their search corridor from 100 ft. to 300 ft. off trails and streams. All-terrain vehicles will be utilized to search several old logging roads and manways located on private land in the search area.

A total of 209 searchers, trackers, and incident command personnel associated with 32 agencies are being utilized in the search effort today, with approximately 60 agencies assisting over the course of the entire operation.

“We are very fortunate to have had such an outpouring of support from local emergency services agencies” said Incident Commander Mike Scheid. “We have the best of the best out in the field searching for Mr. Lynch and we are doing everything we can to bring him home safely”. “We continue to be very optimistic that the outcome of this search operation will be a positive one”.

Lynch is a white male approximately 5’5” feet tall, weighs 150 pounds, has brown (salt/pepper) hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing brown cotton shorts, a brown shirt with a white tail deer on it, and a camouflage baseball cap. He was last seen at approximately 3:20 p.m. walking along the park boundary at the Swag resort in Haywood County, North Carolina. Lynch, from Woodbridge New Jersey, suffers from dementia and may be confused as to his location. If anyone has seen Lynch since Saturday afternoon please call or text the Investigative Services Branch Tip Line at (888) 653-0009 or go to www.nps.gov/ISB and click “submit a tip.



Jeff
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New Mexico man charged after his dog kills fawn

A New Mexico man who allowed his dog to kill a fawn in southern Colorado has been charged with several wildlife crimes.

Michael Garcia, 36, of Las Cruces, N.M., has been charged with illegal possession of wildlife, allowing his dog to harass wildlife and unlawful manner of take of wildlife. He was issued a citation by a Colorado Parks & Wildlife wildlife officer on July 23. The fines for the offenses are $1,372.50 and an assessment of 20 license-suspension points.

Garcia may elect to pay the fines or appear in court, explained Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for CPW in the San Luis Valley. If he does not pay the fine, he will be required to appear in court on Sept. 16.

“This is a disturbing case; we’ve heard from many members of the public wanting CPW to investigate,” Basagoitia said. “Information that they’ve provided has been greatly helpful to CPW efforts.”

According to the officer’s report, the man was in an area near the Conejos River when his dog chased the fawn and killed it. Garcia posted photos of the dog and the dead fawn on social media. Someone saw the post, reported it to Operation Game Thief and CPW began to investigate.

Garcia was working as a fishing guide on the Conejos River. District Wildlife Officer Rod Ruybalid located him, conducted an interview and issued the citation.

In addition to the fines, Garcia will also be issued 20 license-suspension points, which means he must appear before a CPW suspension-hearing officer. This is a separate process that could result in the suspension of license privileges from one to five years. Only the Parks and Wildlife Commission has the authority to impose suspensions.

Wildlife crimes can be reported anonymously to Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Those who report are eligible for a cash reward if the tip results in the issuance of a ticket or a conviction.

Chasing and killing wildlife is one of the reasons cited on most national park websites as to why they don't allow dogs on backcountry trails.



Jeff
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Search Operations Amplify for Missing New Jersey Man in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers continue to search for 58 year-old Kevin Mark Lynch who went missing on Saturday, July 27. Lynch was reportedly last seen walking along the boundary of the park at the Swag resort in Haywood County, NC near the Cataloochee Divide Trail.

Lynch is a white male approximately 5’5” feet tall, weighs between 150 pounds and has brown (salt/pepper) hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing brown cotton shorts, a brown shirt with a white tail deer on it, and a camouflage baseball cap. Mr. Lynch, from Woodbridge NJ, suffers from dementia and may be confused as to his location. If anyone has seen Mr. Lynch after Saturday afternoon please contact Great Smoky Mountains National Park dispatch at (865) 436-1230.

Yesterday, thirteen search teams composed of a variety of different agencies are conducting on and off-trail operations searching for Lynch. Teams are navigating through dense vegetation and difficult terrain in the remote southeast area of the park looking for any evidence of human travel. Park officials requested the assistance of six canine search teams through Haywood County Emergency Management. In total, 180 searchers, investigators, and incident command personnel are being utilized in the search effort.

At this time, search operations remain limited to a select number of trained searchers to enable a systematic, thorough search of the area. By limiting the number of searchers in the area, rangers have the best chance to find Lynch quickly. Dog teams and trackers can be hampered by additional people in the area when searchers are looking for signs of hiker travel.

Over thirty agencies are assisting with the search effort and include Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team, Buncombe County Rescue Squad, North Carolina Public Safety Prison Division, South Carolina Search and Rescue K9 Unit, Sevier County Search and Rescue, Sevier County Volunteer Rescue Squad, Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue team (BUSAR), Canton Police Department, Centerview Rescue Squad, Cosby Volunteer Rescue Squad, Chattanooga Rescue Squad, Haywood County Search and Rescue, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Civil Air Patrol, Haywood County Rescue Squad, Cataloochee Ranch Wranglers, Connestee Fire Rescue, Haywood County Transit, Haywood County Emergency Management, Haywood County Communications, Randall’s Adventure and Training Search and Rescue Team(RAT-SAR), Transylvania Rescue Squad, Brevard Fire Department, Asheville Fire Department, Henderson County Rescue Squad and Great Smoky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team.



Jeff
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Monday, July 29, 2019

Senate Committee Introduces Bill to Increase Funding for National Park Roadways

Today, the United States Senate introduced a bill that includes a 21 percent increase in funding for national parks. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a surface transportation bill, would be used to repair and update roads, bridges, and transportation systems in national parks across the country. National park provisions are an important, but small portion of this nearly 500-page surface transportation bill.

“This legislation comes at a critical time for the country and our national parks,” said Emily Douce Director of Operations and Park Funding for the National Parks Conservation Association. “There are crumbling roads along the Blue Ridge Parkway, aging bridges in Great Smoky Mountains and outdated shuttle buses in Zion. Our national parks are scraping by on shoestring budgets, while facing billions of dollars in needed repairs and updates to their aging infrastructure and transportation systems. In fact, more than half of the Park Service’s $11.9 billion maintenance backlog is comprised of transportation needs. This bill is a big step in the right direction. If enacted, this would provide critical funding to repair important roads, bridges and park transit systems to ensure millions of visitors can continue to experience and enjoy national parks now and for years to come.”

The National Park System is second only to the Department of Defense in the amount of federal infrastructure it manages, including 10,000 miles of publicly accessible roads and 1,440 bridges. The America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act would authorize federal highway programs that provide $287 billion over five years.

Key park provisions included in the bill:

• Guarantees an increase in annual funding to the Park Service – an additional $310 million over the span of the five-year bill – through the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which provides funds to improve roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure in parks.

• Dedicates $50 million a year and authorizes $100 million a year for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program designed to address exceptionally large repair projects in our parks, such as the reconstruction of the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades and a portion of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone.

• Provides measures to improve the resiliency of roads and bridges to natural disasters and extreme weather events.

• Encourages innovative solutions to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, establishing a program that would support projects that protect motorist and wildlife through improved transportation infrastructure.

“Our park infrastructure is in bad shape, and the problem will only get worse if the chronic underfunding continues. We commend Chairman Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member Carper (D-DE) and the rest of the Environment and Public Works Committee for leading the effort to address the costly backlog of transportation projects throughout our country. Now, the other Senate committees and the House of Representatives must finish the work and pass final legislation to fix our country’s infrastructure, including our parks, and doing so without compromising public input and protections for our nation’s air, water and wildlife,” said Douce.



Jeff
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Consider These 2 Things Before Choosing A Pair of Hiking Socks

The following is a guest post by Ralph Scheterle of Ventury Sports. Ralph has spent the last year developing a unique hiking sock that could be a game changer for hikers of all kinds. He’s now launching that sock on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. In the process of developing his hiking sock he spent numerous hours surveying, interviewing, and hiking with other hikers to understand exactly what pain points to address when creating the best sock for hikers. The result of all that research is the knowledge he shares in this guest post:


There are a few things as important as your feet when hiking.

Some might say they are the number one asset to hikers on the trail.

As a hiker you probably know this to be intuitively true.

Think about it…

If you’re feet don’t work, they’re full of painful blisters, aching muscles, sprained bones, etc…

Then you can’t really hike.

Nearly ALL the hikers I talked to understood that foot health was our top priority if we are going to enjoy our excursions in nature.

But the question was how do we take care of our feet?

To answer this question I identified two areas that should be focused on.

How are you using your feet? (read: walking technique)

AND

What are you putting on your feet?

Walking technique is a completely separate topic that deserves a post of its own.

But for this post I’m going to focus on what are you putting your feet?

Specifically, socks… (shoes also deserve a post of their own).

Time and time again I came across hikers who were overthinking the socks they were using. Or how socks fit into their hiking total package.

In reality I was able to identify two simple areas of focus when considering the right socks foot protection and hiking bliss.

Let’s get right into the first one…


1. Blister Prevention

We had the chance to survey more than 400 hikers. When asked what is the #1 challenge or difficulty on the trail more than 85% of the hikers responded with moist feet. Why? Why is this such a big problem for hikers? Well as a hiker yourself you probably already know. Regardless of being extremely uncomfortable to hike in wet feet, it’s also THE leading cause of blisters. Painful sores that can immediately cut an enjoyable hiking trip short. So when we assess the first thing to consider when choosing a pair of hiking socks it should be a sock that helps to fight against blister development. Which means starting with a sock that is able to control the moisture on and around your foot.

Moisture Control

Imagine you’re hiking deep within a humid, heavily forested area. Naturally your feet are going to get a little warm (if not down-right hot). At this point your feet will begin sweating and your socks get soaked. Like a sponge around water, the socks that you’re wearing begin to soak up the sweat. There are two factors at play here that lead to constantly moist feet, temperature regulation and the actual removal of the moisture.

Temperature regulation

Imagine again with me for a moment that in the scenario above you constantly had a heavy duty fan blowing on your feet at all times (don’t mind the logistics of how this will happen - we’re imagining). If there was a constant flow of air on your feet, even in the hot humid environs your feet would stay cool, which would prevent them from sweating, which keeps them dry. Breathability prevents sweating - so that’s the first thing you’re looking for in a sock.

Air flow.

Most synthetic materials (and especially cotton) are not breathable fabrics. Another way to read that - there is no air flow. But with a fabric that provides air flow you can help to keep your feet cool. Merino wool is a naturally breathable material. Actually scientists are quite baffled by this fluffy New Zealand sheep that is able to keep cool during the summers with all that fur but at the same time keep warm during the winters. But it’s that amazing accomplishment of nature that can also keep the temperature around your feet well regulated. Beyond the types of fabrics in your sock you’ll also want to look for socks that use cooling zones or special areas that provide for breathability in known hotspots. Especially around the midsection of the foot, toes, and above the heel. These special breathing areas have larger than usual holes (almost like a mesh pattern) to allow more air to access your foot.

Moisture removal (rapid dry)

BUT, as any hiker worth their weight in socks knows, temperature regulation is not enough.

Why?

Sometimes it’s just too hot, but most likely the reason is that it rains, or you step in a stream, puddle, lake, pond, or some other body water. Now you have wet feet. The goal at this point is to get the water away from your feet as quickly as possible. Moisture wicking materials - lucky for you and all of your hiking companions there are special materials that literally pull water away from your foot. Remember those amazing fluffy sheep from New Zealand? The Merinos? (Sounds like the family of a distant cousin.) Well nature has figured out a way, again, to keep the Merino sheep dry even when their fur gets wet. The wool of the Merino sheep has what is called Moisture wicking qualities. It acts as a straw sucking the moisture away from the skin. When woven and used within a sock the same effect happens to your feet too. Not only does the Merino wool pull the moisture away from the skin, but it also dries incredibly fast.

Fast drying - which is the next thing you want to look for when considering moisture removal.

Because after the moisture is pulled away from your foot it’s sitting in the fabrics of the sock but now it needs to get out of the fabric. This is where a fast drying material comes in. Merino wool is traditionally very fast drying. Nylon is also fast drying, but it’s not moisture wicking or temperature regulating. So there are some trade-offs there.

Two asides to consider:

Bacteria elimination - one trade off you should not compromise on is bacteria. These pesky little microbes are the cause of a whole host of problems including inflaming blisters to be worse (more painful) than they already are. Needless to say you don’t want bacteria anywhere near your feet. There are not many options to prevent bacteria growth. Keeping your feet dry goes a long way but it’s not a 100% solution. One solution that is not mainstream yet but is a proven fighter against bacteria is silver. Yes, like the silver in jewelry and tableware. Silver ions actively destroy bacteria. And modern tech has invented a Silver infused thread that actively fights against bacteria. There is nothing else on the market that will proactively attack bacteria. But if you can get a pair of hiking socks with Silver in them they are definitely worth more than their weight in silver. ;)
       ◾Bacteria can cause wounds to fester
       ◾Increase moisture retention
       ◾Causes foot rot
Minimize rub - last but definitely not least might be the most obvious cause of blisters. Rubbing. That’s why when it comes to socks you’ll want to choose a sock that does not move too much (if at all) on your foot or within your hiking shoe. To do this many hikers have resorted to using very thin materials (think stockings) in order to form fit their feet and prevent the slippage that leads to blister causing rub. Short of getting a pair of socks tailored to your feet the next best option is going to be finding a sock with a slight compression that can keep its place on your foot without squeezing your foot too tight and causing more hot spots.


2. Comfort

Which leads us to comfort. If you’ve hiked more than 1 mile then you’ll know that if your feet aren’t comfortable on the trail then nothing is comfortable. Ultimately that’s what you’re looking for in a hiking sock, long lasting comfort. To get that it’s best to consider a few core areas of your feet. Toes, front pad, heel pad, arch, and ankles. (basically the entire foot).

Padded areas

A sock that has extra cushioning in the toes and heel areas is great in theory. For the most part it’s great in practice too. However, a word of caution is to avoid socks with too much padding. With too much padding you can fill up your hiking shoe and cause more pain than comfort as crowding can lead to foot disfigurement and eventually blisters. My best recommendation is that you take your hiking shoes with you to try on socks. If the sock brand does not let you try on socks or does not have a favourable return policy then they’re not a brand worth dealing with anyways. But that little bit of extra padding goes a long way in protecting your feet from miles of constant beatings.

Compression

Also, depending on your personal tolerances find a sock with slight compression. I say your “personal tolerances” because everyone has different levels of sensitivity to compression.

As an aside, if you have plantar fasciitis I recommend getting a sock with a good amount of compression it will make your hike much more enjoyable.

That being said, in general you want a sock that will keep the sock molded to the form of your foot - preventing slippage. But also an extra bit of compression in the arch to support your arch lift as well.

Materials

At the risk of sounding redundant, I'm going to beat the drum one more time and say the last thing you want in the comfort category is a quality material. When it comes to comfortable materials Merino wool is the gold standard. If you can’t tell I’m a huge fanboy of Merino wool, but for good reason. It has an incredible technical capability mixed with silky smooth comfort.

And that’s that…

That’s everything you should consider when buying a pair of hiking socks.

Fairly simple right?

Sometimes the most beneficial solution is a simplified analysis.

Lastly, as mentioned at the top of the post, we are crowdfunding the hiking sock we created after 1 year of analysis and research. if you want the perfect pair of hiking socks (in my opinion) I recommend you check out the hiking socks I recently created. The new Ventury Silverlight sock is made of a dual layer system that uses both Merino wool and nylon/spandex to get the best of all worlds. They are also infused with silver threads throughout to make them entirely anti-microbial. The entire sock was constructed to fight blisters and provide ultimate comfort on the trail. And they’re available now on Indiegogo if you’d like to check them out.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about what you’ve read here please don’t hesitate to send me an email at contact@venturysports.com



Jeff
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