Thursday, October 12, 2017

Amazing Interview With Man Who Survived a Grizzly Bear Attack - Twice

This is a truly an amazing story. Todd Orr, an all-around outdoorsman from Bozeman, Montana, sat down with Jason Matzinger to discuss the sow grizzly bear that attacked him twice last fall. This guy was so incredibly calm and collected that he had the wherewithal to walk the three miles back to the trailhead by himself, and then shoot a short video of himself to show the damage done by the bear. That short clip is included in this video:

Before venturing into grizzly bear country it's always a good idea to educate yourself on how to prevent an encounter, and what to do should you see a grizzly while on the trail.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017 Adds Four New Hikes to Website

Before venturing into the Canadian Rockies this past September (see blog posts from the past two weeks), we stopped in Glacier National Park for a few days of hiking. Other than Yellowstone, it may have been the highest concentration of wildlife we've ever seen in only a few days. In addition to the amazing scenery atop Grinnell Glacier Overlook, the highlight of our trip was the white wolf we saw in the Medicine Grizzly valley. It was the first wolf any of us had ever seen in Glacier.

As a result of this trip we've added four new hikes to our website at Here's a quick rundown of each of those hikes:

* Grinnell Glacier Overlook is quite possibly the best view in Glacier National Park! This is in addition to all the stunning scenery you'll see along the Highline Trail before reaching the overlook. As we sat there soaking in the magnificent views, a nanny mountain goat and her kid raced past us - within 10 feet! At first we thought we were being charged, but she just wanted to get to the other side safely.

* Lake Josephine Loop - This loop takes you around both Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier area. The hike is mostly flat, making it a great choice for almost everyone in the family. Oh yea, the views are simply outstanding! Almost every time we've hiked in this area we've seen at least one moose.

* Triple Divide Pass - If you're looking for a little bit of solitude in Glacier National Park, Triple Divide Pass just may be the ticket. The trailhead is located in Cut Bank, roughly half-way between Two Medicine and St. Mary. The pass lies just below Triple Divide Peak, the only hydrological apex in North America - or is it? After soaking in the panoramic views from the pass, while proceeding down the mountain, we saw a white wolf trotting through a meadow in the valley below.

* Two Medicine Pass - Our wildlife tour definitely continued on this hike. During this trek we saw an owl as it soared through the trees just up the trail, saw an extremely large bull moose just below Rockwell Falls, and then, as we neared the pass, we came upon a large herd of Bighorn sheep. Numbering at least three dozen, it was by far the largest herd of Bighorns we've ever seen in one place. Once atop the pass we enjoyed outstanding panoramic views on both sides of the narrow ridge.

To see all of the trails covered by our website, please click here.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Sport the Bear Plate and Support the Smokies on the Road

Scenic drives are not the only way to appreciate the mountains of Western North Carolina from a vehicle. Sales of Friends of the Smokies specialty plates for the first half of 2017 exceeded $230,000, a 6% increase over the previous year’s sales. Since the inception of the program, more than 21,000 plates in all 100 North Carolina counties have raised over $4.3 million for the North Carolina Smokies.

Jo Gilley, co-owner of Blue Ridge Books in downtown Waynesville, has a plate because it is a good cause, “but I also just love the bear,” she says. Founding member of Friends of the Smokies Steve Woody agrees: “Not only is it a good-looking plate, but it supports programs in the park enjoyed by all ages. The park is a huge economic driver of Western North Carolina, so I am proud to give back by buying the specialty license plate. It is money well spent and much appreciated by the national park.”

By sporting the green and blue license plate with the bear, drivers are contributing $20 of the $30 fee directly to projects in the park. Friends of the Smokies’ specialty license plate provides opportunities for environmental education and personal growth in the outdoors through the Parks as Classrooms program and Student Conservation Association internships. It also supports the protection of the park’s flora and fauna, like elk and ginseng, and the preservation of historic and cultural treasures, like cabins and churches.

North Carolinians interested in obtaining Friends of the Smokies’ bear plate can do so at any time at or by visiting a local License Plate Agency or the North Carolina DMV website. A portion of the specialty plate fee is tax-deductible and can be purchased independently of a vehicle registration.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

NWS Issues High Wind Warning and Flash Flood Watch for Smokies

Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials posted this on their Facebook page earlier this afternoon:

NWS has issued a high wind warning in effect from 4:00 p.m. today through 4:00 a.m. tomorrow for sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts over 58 mph. The park is also under a flash flood watch in effect from 8:00 p.m. through 8:00 a.m. with between 4 to 8 inches of rain possible.

Heavy winds and rains can cause trees to fall, localized flooding, and debris movement along banks and roadways.

Consider limiting your outdoor activities in the park during this hazardous weather due to increased risk for high stream crossings and down trees throughout the park.

Park roads and areas may close due to hazardous conditions. Follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter for the latest information on main road closures in the park. For the latest weather updates, please click here.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Tropical Storm Nate Could Bring 4-10 Inches of Rain to Smokies

Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials advise that the effects of Tropical Storm Nate may impact Great Smoky Mountains National Park as early as Saturday afternoon. Preliminary estimations from the National Weather Service suggest that the storm may pass the park Saturday afternoon, overnight into Sunday and on into Monday.

Current rainfall predictions range from 4-10 inches. Early wind estimates suggest the park could receive sustained winds of 25-39 mph with gusts greater than 40 mph. Historically, flooding, landslides, road washouts, and numerous tree falls along roadways and trails are associated with these types of weather conditions.

Due to these potential hazards, officials advise front and backcountry visitors should pay close attention to current and projected weather conditions. All visitors should anticipate an increased risk for high stream crossings and down trees throughout the park. Many of the Park’s 1,000 campsites are located next to rivers and creeks which rise quickly during extreme rain events. Backcountry users are encouraged to closely examine their preparedness for backcountry travel and should consider altering their trip plans.

Park officials are closely monitoring the path of Nate and may implement additional preparations as weather forecasts further develop.


Cherokee National Forest Warns of High Wind and Rain Over Next Dew Days

USDA Forest Service officials say that Tropical Storm Nate may impact the Cherokee National Forest after it makes landfall. Depending on the intensity of the storm and which path it takes, high winds and considerable rain are probable.

Excessive rain and high wind have the potential to create high water, flash floods, falling trees, mudslides, and severe damage to roads. Much of the Cherokee National Forest is heavily forested, remote and mountainous, making the potential for hazardous conditions significant.

Due to these potential hazards, national forest visitors should pay close attention to weather reports and be prepared to cut their visit short. Anyone planning a visit to the national forest should seriously consider postponing their visit until the threat of Nate in this area diminishes.

Low laying areas are especially vulnerable to rapidly rising and swift water. These areas should be avoided during and after major storm events. Trees falling and large limbs breaking off are not uncommon occurrences during windy conditions. Excessive rain can severely damage or wash out gravel/dirt roads in the national forest.

With the uncertainty of the extent of impacts from the storm and the potential for hazardous conditions, national forest visitors are urged to take necessary safety precautions and to be aware of changing conditions.


Area Closure Implemented in Cherokee National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service is closing a portion of the Tellico Ranger District in Cherokee National Forest to public entry. The closure will remain in effect while the U.S. Navy is conducting an investigation of the October 1 crash of an aircraft from the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi. Click here for a map of the closure area.

The temporary closure order applies to the following areas:

1. FS-RD 210 - Tellico River Road from Pheasant Field Picnic Area to Stateline Campground
2. FS-RD - Beaverdam Bald Road
3. FS-RD 61 - Whigg Meadow Road
4. FS-RD – 40841
5. FS-RD – 40921
6. FS-RD – 2417 – Big Cove Branch Road
7. Benton MacKaye Trail #2 from Sandy Gap to Mud Gap
8. Kirkland Creek Trail (#85)
9. Whigg Ridge Trail (#86)
10. Brookshire Creek Trail (#180)

The Donley Cabin (access to cabin only), Dam Creek Campground and Spivey Cove Campground (access to campgrounds only) will remain open.

For information about the closure area call the Tellico Ranger District at 423-254-8400.