Big Brothers Big Sisters Cabin Raffle

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina recently announced its 1st Annual Smoky Mountain Cabin fundraiser. The grand prize is a fully furnished log home, located in Bryson City, North Carolina near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The cabin is valued at $340,000!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is an organization that originated out of Cincinnati in 1904 to help children, between the ages of 6-14, by spending time with them in a one to one mentoring relationship.

The raffle ticket price is $100 each and no more than 10,000 tickets will be sold. Entrants may purchase as many available tickets as they like. The deadline for the raffle is October 7th, however, there are early bird prizes, with the deadline for the first prize being August 7, 2010.

For more information, please click here.

This could be all yours:

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Small wildfire on western end of Smokies

Monday, August 30, 2010

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are reporting that a small wildfire is burning between U.S. 129 and the shores of Calderwood and Chilhowee Lakes - roughly 7 miles west of Gregory Bald.

The fire is believed to have been started by a lightning strike on August 17 on land owned by Tapoco, but was first detected and confirmed on August 22. It has spread slowly onto national park land. Firefighters are pursuing a confine and contain suppression strategy.

According to the InciWeb Incident Information System website, the fire has grown to 160 acres and is currently 25% contained.

Now known as the Calderwood Fire, 27 fire management personnel from the National Park and the Tennessee Department of Forestry are jointly managing the low-intensity wildfire.

The estimated containment date right now is September 9, 2010. Additionally, no park trails are closed, but motorists are advised to exercise caution driving on U.S. 129 due to firefighters working adjacent to roadways and the potential for reduced visibility.

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Clawhammer Mountain: Hike and a beer

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In conjunction with its release of their fall seasonal beer, Clawhammer Oktoberfest, the Highland Brewing Company will be leading a hike to the top of Clawhammer Mountain this Saturday.

Highland Brewing, one of Asheville’s oldest micro-breweries, will be celebrating the release of Clawhammer Oktoberfest this Friday night between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The following day, in conjunction with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and the USFWS, the brewery will lead a hike to the rocky overlook atop Clawhammer Mountain.

The hike is expected to last from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Organizers ask that you be prepared with appropriate clothing, food, and water. If interested, contact

Please click here for a map of the hike location. For more information on the Highland Brewing Company as well as both events, click here.

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Foundation seeks eminent domain to build trail

Saturday, August 28, 2010

American Trails has a story posted on their trail news page concerning the use of eminent domain to build a bike/hike path through the Pocatello, Idaho valley.

When the plan was introduced by the Greenway Foundation in 1992, it called for a 23-mile contiguous path through the valley, but so far, only 6 miles have been completed.

So, since planners from the Greenway Foundation haven't been able to convince local property owners to give up their land for the project, they are now going to resort to the courts to solve their problems. In early and mid-September, the Pocatello city council will hold hearings to allow the city to seek the right to exercise eminent domain in order to secure the necessary easements to complete the Greenway trail system. In all, the Greenway Foundation is looking to acquire 27 individual parcels of land to complete the ribbon of roadway nestled alongside the Portneuf River.

Eminent domain has been used throughout history to build railways, roads, airports, national parks and even private developments such as shopping malls.

The Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1791 states; "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation".

As a hiker and cyclist I would definitely enjoy and benefit from a trail like this. But as an American I am appalled by it. To force private property owners to sell or give right-of-way use of their lands for a project such as this is completely immoral. In a word, it's called theft. Individual rights and private property ownership is the backbone of our system. If one government can steal private property under the guise of "public use" in the case of a bike trail, what's to stop other local governments from stealing your property to build a trail, or any other project deemed as "public use"?

What's your opinion?

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2010 Share the Experience Photo Contest

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The National Park Foundation and Olympus are once again promoting their Share the Experience photo contest. The annual contest is the largest national park and public land photo contest for amateur photographers, and runs now through December 31, 2010.

The National Park Service and its partners are inviting amateur photographers to submit up to three photos to the Share the Experience contest through December 31, 2010. At the end of the submission period the public will be invited to vote for their favorite photo.

Photo entries in the contest will vie for a chance to win a $1799 Olympus Camera package that includes a trip to a Federal Recreation Area of your choice. There are fourteen chances to win national recognition and many great prizes.

For more information and to enter the contest, please click here.

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America's national parks and federal recreation lands. Sponsored by Olympus and the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, the Share the Experience Photo Contest showcases the more than 500 million acres of Federal Lands and draws entries from all across the United States.

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Kayaker makes First Descent of Linville Falls

Friday, August 27, 2010

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This past Tuesday, kayaker Pat Keller made the first descent ever of Linville Falls - albeit illegally.

Linville Falls in Western North Carolina is a complicated, discontinuous series of falls that drops roughly 90 feet into the Linville Gorge. The falls begin as a twin set of upper falls, then moves down a small gorge before making a final 45-foot plunge into the basin below.

Keller, 24, a professional kayaker who grew up in and around water, has been kayaking since he was seven. In 2008 he paddled a kayak down the 83-foot La Paz Falls in Costa Rica.

His foray down Linville Falls earlier this week is against park regulations, and could cost him a maximum penalty of up to $5000 and six months in jail.

Canoe & Kayak Magazine has an article on his recent feat, as well as some pretty dramatic and amazing photographs. So far, no video has emerged.

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Broad-Winged Hawk Migration

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The first cold front of the year usually passes through the Smoky Mountains during the early-to-mid September time period. With the passing front comes Broad-winged Hawks as they make their annual migration down the Appalachian Mountain range to winter in the neo-tropics - from Mexico to as far south as Southern Brazil. This is an excellent opportunity to watch the buteos as they kettle-up over the ridges and glide from one thermal to the next.

The Broad-wings are one of the first species to begin their migration south. Flocks or “kettles” can be quite large. You may even see a few Cooper’s, Northern Harriers and Sharp-shinned hawks joining in as well.

Some of the best vantage points in the Smokies to watch the migrations are in the higher elevations such as Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome, Look Rock, or Indian Gap.

Smoky Mountain Rental Cabins
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Passport to the Parks Sweepstakes

Thursday, August 26, 2010

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The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, recently launched its "Passport to the Parks Sweepstakes".

Running through September 10th, the foundation teamed up with Sunset Magazine and Merrell to give away 5 national park "packs" loaded with national park gear and information — including a national park pass.

Individuals can enter daily for their chance to win one of the five national park pack giveaways:

* America The Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass

* $200 Merrell gift certificate and Merrell Search backpack

* Fodor’s Official Guide to America’s National Parks

* National Park Foundation baseball cap

* 12-edition subscription to Sunset Magazine, Sunset outdoor fleece, Sunset T-shirt and Sunset water bottle.

No purchase is necessary to enter, and the sweepstakes are open to contiguous U.S. residents 18 and older. For complete contest rules and to enter, please click here.

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Ash tree mapping volunteers needed this Saturday

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is once again looking for Citizen Scientist volunteers to help researchers collect scientific data on ash trees by mapping the locations of the trees within the Park.

The mapping project, which will take several years to complete, will be used to monitor future threats from a non-native insect. There are four dates left to volunteer this year, with the next being held this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Volunteers will learn how to identify ash and other common trees found in the Smoky Mountains, read a topographic map, and use a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit.

Volunteers should be prepared to hike up to 5 miles on park trails and in rough terrain off the main paths. It's recommended that participants wear long pants and comfortable closed-toe shoes or boots for hiking and bring snacks, water, sunscreen, and rain gear. Reservations are necessary and participation is limited to 16 people (children 12 and under must bring an adult).

The ash trees are at risk from the invasive, non-native Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a beetle that can travel undetected in firewood and nursery stock from quarantined areas of the country into new locations in the Park. In 2009 the park installed EAB traps as part of a detection plan.

The traps are the bright purple triangular objects hanging in trees near campgrounds and picnic areas. U.S. Department of Agriculture research indicates the beetles are attracted to the color purple and a lure that smells like a stressed ash tree. The trap exterior is coated with a sticky material which captures insects for periodic removal by park staff.

So far no EABs have been found.

For more information on the EAB, please click here.

To volunteer this weekend, contact Ranger Susan Simpson at 865-436-1200, ext. 762, to RSVP and for the meeting location.

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Taking care of your hiking feet

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The following are a few tips, suggestions and strategies for taking care of your feet before and during a hike to help ensure that it isn’t ruined as a result of blisters:

Toenails: Make sure you take the time to trim your toenails before a big hike, especially one that involves long descents. It’s best to clip your toenails as short as possible so that there’s no extra nail length. If need be, file the nails down until they’re flush with the skin. Sometimes I forget to do this and end up with a long nail digging into the flesh of a neighboring toe!

Socks: One way of preventing blisters is to wear proper socks. This means staying far away from 100% cotton socks which absorb sweat and can lead to blisters. It’s best to wear socks made from synthetics, or a blend of synthetics and cotton, which wicks moisture away and keeps your feet drier and cooler. Also, make sure you wear socks that fit properly. Socks that are too big can bunch together in boots and create friction areas that result in blisters.

Finally, I always keep an extra pair of socks in my backpack just in case the ones I’m wearing get wet.

Boots: Much has already been written on boots, including what type to wear, proper fit, etc. That discussion is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’re looking for an informative article on the subject I highly recommend this one. Also, my wife has had problems with blisters, and even lost a toenail while hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon several years ago. She’s since discovered that as a result of her narrow feet, she wasn't wearing boots that fit her properly. This article on Backpacker Mag offers solutions for people who have similar issues.

Boot laces: One way to help prevent blisters from forming on your heels, and toes from hitting the front of your boot, is to make sure your boots are properly laced, especially on descents.

When heading downhill it’s important to make sure that your heel doesn’t slip forward, thus causing friction which leads to blisters. The key is to keep your heel secure within the boot, while still allowing some room for natural swelling that occurs in the fore and mid areas of your foot.

Most good hiking boots have two types of eyelets: closed metal rings along the top of the foot, and quick-release types on the top of the boot above the ankle.

On the lower eyelets along the top of the foot, it’s best to lace your shoes with a little give. In other words, not snug, but not real loose either. This will give your foot room to expand as your foot swells during a hike.

Then, on that last lace before you start lacing through the quick release eyelets, do a single, very snug, overhand loop. Lace through the first pair of quick release eyelets and then do another snug overhand loop. Do the same all the way to the top of the eyelets (don’t strangle your ankle though!). This will anchor your heel area to the boot and keep it from sliding.

Another option for lacing boots, especially if you have narrow feet, is to use the technique outlined by the Hiking Lady in this video:

Gaiters: Most people would agree that wet socks suck. Wet socks are not only uncomfortable, but can also be dangerous if it’s cold out. Moreover, hiking for long periods in wet socks is a prescription for blisters.

One way to combat wet terrain, snow, and even sand and pebbles from jumping into your boots, is to wear gaiters. Basically there are two types: high and low. High gaiters are used for snowshoeing and mountaineering, extend to just below your knees, and are designed to keep your socks and pants dry. Short gaiters generally cover the lower part of your shin and are used in warmer weather to protect against wet terrain, sand and pebbles.

Blisters: The following are a few other suggestions for avoiding blisters:

* Train your feet. Don’t go out on a long hike without taking the time to toughen up your feet by doing walks or short hikes leading up to the big day.

* Don’t try to break in brand new boots on a long hike either. Wear a new pair around town, or on short hikes, before taking them long distance.

* Walking barefoot around the house, especially outside, will toughen the skin of your feet.

* Stop and remove dirt, sand, or any other debris that gets in your boots ASAP.

* Air your feet out during a break in order to cool and dry them off.

* For people with feet that sweat excessively, try using extra-strength antiperspirant creams, roll-ons, or powders to reduce sweating.

* If you have areas on your foot that have caused problems in the past, try putting moleskin or athletic tape on before blisters have a chance to form.

* If you do develop a hot spot, cover them immediately with moleskin, athletic tape, Adventure Medical Kits GlacierGel pads, or even duct tape before they become blisters.

Treating Blisters: Well, if all of the above fails, and you still wind up with a blister, here are a few tips for treating them (and another good reason for keeping a small first aid kit in your pack).

* If the blister isn’t torn and is full of liquid, pierce it from the side with a sterile needle at its base and let all the fluid drain out. If the affected skin is still intact, don't remove it. Instead, cover the drained blister with moleskin.

* If the blister is already torn, carefully cut away the loose skin and clean the area with antiseptic. Allow it to dry and harden in the open air for as long possible. Before resuming your hike, put a band-aid or gauze over the torn blister and then put a layer of moleskin over the blister area. It’s best to cut a doughnut shaped piece of moleskin that fits around the blister rather than putting it directly on it.

* If you have a blister that's buried deep in the skin and doesn't hold a lot of liquid, it’s best not to puncture them. Instead, just cover them with a moleskin doughnut to relieve the friction.

If you have any other helpful tips, please feel free to add them in the comments section.

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Smokies seeks comments on elk management

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Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are seeking public comment on the Park's plans to transition the management of its elk herd from an experiment to a long-term management strategy. Under provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the public has 30 days to provide comments before the National Park Service can make a decision. Comments will be accepted through September 27th.

Elk were first released in the national park in 2001 as an experiment to determine whether they could re-populate the lands within the Smokies after a nearly 200-year absence. The Park and biologists from the University of Tennessee have been gathering data to assess the long-term viability of elk in the Smokies, along with evaluating the impacts of elk on the Park's natural and cultural resources, as well as their interaction with humans both in the Park and on surrounding lands.

Based upon the slow growth in numbers from 52 to about 125, including 25 new calves in 2010, officials have concluded that a sustainable elk population over the long term is viable. The Environmental Assessment is being performed to evaluate alternative strategies for making the transition from the management practices employed during the experiment release phase to a long-term elk management program.

The plan the park prefers would require less intensive monitoring of elk and would mean state and tribal wildlife agencies would handle issues with the animals outside the 500,000-acre park.

The public is invited to make comments, online, by clicking here, or sending written comments to:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738

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New Outdoor Gear Partnerships

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1 comment is proud to announce a brand new partnership with Altrec Outdoors and in order to provide you with all the latest and greatest hiking and outdoor gear.

I think you’ll find shopping for gear and clothing from to be much easier now. In addition to far better navigation tools, you’ll find a much wider selection of the best gear from the top brands like The North Face, Patagonia, Black Diamond, Petzl, Mountain Hardwear, Arc'teryx, Nike, Outdoor Research and more – at very competitive prices.

Bargain shoppers should note that both sites have “Outlet Stores” that sell overstock, closeouts, and items from last year at even much lower prices.

In addition to hiking gear, you can find backpacking, mountaineering and camping equipment, as well as gear for a variety of other outdoor pursuits.

Of course you can still find a wide selection of books and maps related to the Smokies and the surrounding Southern Appalachian region from our Amazon Affiliate program.

Anything you purchase through this website helps support so that we can continue to provide you with free trail information as well as the latest news on what’s going on in the Great Smoky Mountains and beyond.

You can visit our store by clicking here, or, to go directly to one of our new partners, you can just click on one of the following logos:

Thanks again!

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Six injured in RV crash on Newfound Gap Road

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Yesterday was not a good day on Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441). After being shut-down as a result of a rock slide on Sunday evening, the main artery through the park was reopened late in the morning, only to be shut-down once again just a couple of hours later.

Around noon yesterday, a large motor home went off the road and slid about 100 feet down an extremely steep embankment, injuring six of its seven occupants – two seriously. The accident occurred on the North Carolina side of the park - roughly 3 miles south of Newfound Gap.

The driver of the motor home was attempting to pull off the Newfound Gap Road onto the shoulder, but was unable to stop before the shoulder became too narrow to support the vehicle. The RV fell onto its side and slid about 100 feet down the embankment. The driver was uninjured, but all six passengers were hurt – two with severe injuries were flown to a hospital in Asheville, while the other four were taken by ambulance to Cherokee Hospital with less serious injuries.

Newfound Gap Road was shut-down around 12:30 p.m. as emergency personnel from the park and several North Carolina agencies converged on the scene to provide medical assistance to the patients and conduct technical rescue operations. When emergency personnel arrived on scene, all but two of the passengers were alongside the road. The two victims who were airlifted out had to be hoisted up the embankment by medical personnel.

The road remained closed through the early evening in order to allow a crane service to remove the RV from the site.

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Lost and Found

Monday, August 23, 2010

Q: Where are people most likely to get lost?

A: The Great Smokies

The online version of the August issue of Backpacker Magazine has an outstanding article that offers 33 essential tips to remember if you or your partner goes missing, including "ways to stay found," and what to do if you do become lost. I highly recommend reading this; whether you're a hiking newby or a grizzled outdoor veteran. Hey, everyone needs to brush up on this invaluable knowledge every now and then.

The magazine also published a pretty good video on how to get "Un-Lost" using a GPS and a topo map.

The typical person who gets lost is a male, age 38, hiking solo, during the months of July or August, in the mountains, and often lacking a map and/or compass.

Finally, Backpacker posted a very interesting Q & A with SAR Statistician Robert Koester. Koester has spent the past seven years creating the International Search and Rescue Database. With 50,000 documented incidents, it's the largest, and first, compendium of its kind in the world. He uses the data to analyze risk, and predict who will live, who will die, and, most importantly, where lost hikers may be found.

Further reading: Top 10 Items to have on a Day Hike

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Rockslide shuts-down Newfound Gap Road

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Update: U.S. 441 (Newfound Gap Road) is now reopened.


A rockslide in the Smokies on U.S. 441 (Newfound Gap Road) yesterday evening has shut down the road to all traffic from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC.

The slide occurred near Collins Creek roughly six miles north of Cherokee and has impacted both sides of the road.

The road is expected to open sometime mid-morning today.

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Visits to the Smokies up fo the year

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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Visits to Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year have remained strong - despite several road construction projects.

For the year-to-date, through July, visits are up 2.4%. This figure is even more impressive when you consider that the park was celebrating its 75th anniversary last year.

Although overall July visits were flat compared to the same month last year, Gatlinburg saw a 7.4% increase, Townsend reported a 12.8% increase, and Cherokee reported a whopping 26.9% increase.

However, those entrances were offset by a 32.4% decrease in the outlying park entrances for the month.

Comparatively, the Blue Ridge Parkway reported a 3.8% decline in July, and is down 16.6% for the YTD. Shenandoah National Park saw a 7.1% increase in July and is up 2.6% for the YTD.

Smoky Mountain Rental Cabins
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Cades Cove Picnic Area to be closed August 23-24

Saturday, August 21, 2010

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park managers have announced plans to close the Cades Cove Picnic Area on Monday and Tuesday, August 23-24. During the closure, Park crews and contract personnel will repave all of the deteriorated parking areas in the picnic area.

The work is weather-dependent so extended rain could cause the Park to delay the completion until Thursday, August 26. No closures will occur on Wednesday, August 25, because the picnic area is heavily used for parking on Wednesdays and Saturdays when the Cades Cove Loop Road is restricted to bicycle and pedestrian use until 10:00 a.m.


It looks like the low water warnings at the Mollies Ridge Shelter have been removed.

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Certified Good Hiker

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Catherine Dold, a former “trail host” volunteer for the U.S. Forest Service in the Indian Peaks Wilderness in Colorado, and former editor for Audubon Magazine, has recently developed a Certified Good Hiker Kit for children.

The kit teaches kids to be “Good Hikers.” It includes a fun fill-in-the-blanks “class” that introduces kids to the basic guidelines of hiking and trail manners: what to bring on a hike, why it’s important to stay with your group (and what to do if they get separated), and why you shouldn’t try to feed those cute animals.

The kit also helps children on how to prepare before venturing outdoors, how to stay safe, and how to treat the environment.

As part of the download is a certificate that declares each kid to be a Certified Good Hiker. The 8-page PDF download ($4.95) also includes a guide for adults who are leading the activity.

Click here to check it out.

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Work resumes on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Friday, August 20, 2010

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that the reconstruction project on the Cherokee Orchard Road and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail just outside of Gatlinburg has resumed.

The projected reopening date for the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is now October 1st.

According to Park officials, from Monday through Sept. 3, all traffic up the two-lane Cherokee Orchard Road will be required to turn around at the Noah Bud Ogle Cabin, which will prevent access to the Rainbow Falls and Bullhead Trails. During the closure Park managers are directing hikers bound for Mt. LeConte to either the Alum Cave Trail or the Boulevard Trail.

Normal traffic on the road will resume over the Labor Day weekend. However, from Sept. 7 through Sept. 10, the Cherokee Orchard Road will be closed again to public use into the Park.

Park officials emphasized that since part of the work includes repaving of the two parking areas at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead, all vehicles must be removed from those parking lots by dark on Sunday. Additionally, all vehicles parked in the lots over the Labor Day Weekend must be removed by dark on Sept. 6.

Other trailhead impacted by the project include the Baskins Creek Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail and the Grotto Falls entrance of the Trillium Gap Trail.

Both roads will be resurfaced with asphalt concrete pavement and will include resurfacing of all existing parking areas, trailheads, roadside pullouts, paving of existing gravel pullouts, reconstruction of settled road sections, minor roadway realignments, rehabilitation/reconstruction of stone masonry structures, and re-pointing of stone masonry retaining walls.

The project will also include pavement milling, repairing or replacing existing drainage culverts, installing wheel stops, replacing guardrail, shoulder work, turf establishment, replacing signs, and construction of 1,300 linear feet of new retaining wall structures or other support system below the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Permanent vault toilet facilities will be installed at the Rainbow Falls trailhead parking area as part of a separately funded project. These facilities will replace the moulded plastic port-a-johns and will be a significant improvement for visitors to this area.

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2010 Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race

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Below is a video clip from the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Adventure Race, one of the premiere events on the adventure racing calendar.

The race takes place in Patagonia, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile at the southernmost portion of South America.

I posted this video, not for the race itself, but for the stunning beauty of the land in which it takes place.

By the way, it doesn't state it anywhere, but it sounds like the video is being narrated by Phil Liggett of Tour de France fame.

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Two more bears killed in Yellowstone

Thursday, August 19, 2010

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A couple weeks ago I posted an article about several tragic deaths that have occurred in Yellowstone this summer, including that of several bears that have been killed in or just outside of the park.

Now comes word that two more bears have been found dead near Fishing Bridge in the east central section of Yellowstone National Park.

One was a giant 576-pound grizzly, currently in Bozeman undergoing a necropsy to determine the cause of death. The other, a black bear, was probably hit and killed by a vehicle sometime Tuesday afternoon.

A total of seven bears have now been killed this summer within Yellowstone park boundaries.

Earlier in the month, park biologists were forced to euthanize an adult female black bear that had been seen frequenting the Slough Creek area in the north central portion of the park. The bear was acting aggressively towards several backcountry campers in the area in recent weeks.

In two separate incidents in June, a female adult black bear and a young grizzly bear were both killed by hit and run cars.

In that same month, in two separate accidents in two days, two bears were accidentally killed during capture attempts by park biologist. One was a young grizzly and the other a young black bear.

Additionally, the mother grizzly bear that went on a rampage with her three cubs, killing one man, and injuring two others in a campground just outside of Yellowstone last month, was also euthanized.

A Yellowstone Public Affairs Officer stated that more bears may be coming down to lower elevations this year because one of their favorite foods, the whitebark pine cones, are in short supply. As a result, bears tend to do more feeding at lower elevations, thus increasing the chances of human-bear conflicts.

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BRP Ranger Hike: Sam Knob

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Blue Ridge Parkway rangers will be leading a moderate, 3-mile hike to the summit of Sam Knob in the Pisgah National Forest tomorrow. The hike begins at 10 a.m. and will climb roughly 620 feet to an elevation of 6,040 feet.

The popular trail leads through alpine-like terrain of northern hardwood forests and open meadows to a "bald" summit that offers outstanding 360-degree views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hikers should bring a snack, water, sunscreen, wear good hiking shoes, and be prepared for unpredictable mountain weather.

The hike will begin from the Black Balsam Parking Area located at the end of Forest Service Road 816, roughly one mile south of Graveyard Fields near Milepost 420.

Please note that the Blue Ridge Parkway is temporarily closed from Wagon Road Gap at Milepost 412 to the Graveyard Fields Parking Overlook at Milepost 418 through Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 (to conduct storm debris removal and hazardous tree work). Your best bet for reaching the trailhead is to access the BRP at Balsam Gap near MP 440, or at Beech Gap, via Rt. 215, near MP 423.

For additional information on the hike, call the BRP Visitor Center at 828-298-5330, ext. 304. For more information on all trails on the BRP, please click here.

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Hiking calorie calculator

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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A couple of weeks ago I posted an article that offered tips for keeping your cool during the summer hiking season. One of the most important aspects of hiking while the mercury is high is to make sure that you stay properly hydrated.

As a follow-up, I thought I would discuss the importance of food while hiking as well.

Although most people prefer to eat food that tastes good, you need to think of food as fuel while exercising. During a long hike it’s extremely important to eat before you’re hungry. Simple sugars, carbohydrates, protein, and fat all play a roll in maximizing performance during extended exercise such as hiking. Experts in sports nutrition recommend consuming 100 – 300 calories every hour during exercise.

The best snacks for the trail are ones that provide you with high energy, such as fruit (dried or fresh), granola, peanut butter, bagels, power bars, fruit bars, GORP (trail mix), beef jerky, or even chocolate (in moderation of course!).

Personally, if I’m climbing a lot of elevation - say up to Gregory Bald as an example - I’ll mostly rely on Gatorade, Power Bars and trail mix that includes dried fruits, pretzels, nuts and M&Ms. These foods provide a lot of simple sugars and carbohydrates which offer quick release energy as I proceed up the mountain. Once on top, I’ll usually have a sandwich or peanut butter crackers. These foods tend to include more protein and fat which provide slow burning fuel for the trip back downhill. If you’re properly fueled for the trek up the mountain, your energy needs will be less going downhill.

So now the question is: How many calories do you need on any given hike? This is where the Hiking Dude comes to the rescue. He has an excellent calorie calculator on his website. What makes his calculator much better than the others I’ve found is that it takes into account your weight, plus the weight of you backpack, the distance you’ll be hiking, and how much elevation you’ll gain along the way.

This is an excellent resource that you can use to help give you a rough estimate of how much food you’ll need to pack for a long hike. You can click here to check it out.

Finally, take extra food with you in case your hike takes longer than expected for whatever reason. Throw a couple of extra energy bars in your pack. They’re light weight, and will pack a nice punch if needed.

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Final Full Moon hike in Cades Cove

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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Next Tuesday night, August 24th, is the final "Full Moon" hike in Cades Cove of the Great Smoky Mountains for the summer.

This is an excellent opportunity to take a stroll in Cades Cove under a full moon. If interested, meet at the Orientation Shelter near the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. The hike is from from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

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Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.
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Great Smokies taking it on the chin right now!

Monday, August 16, 2010

There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game and that is first place.
-- Vince Lombardi

Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
-- Bluto from Animal House

It’s roughly half-time for the Coca-Cola Live Positively $100,000 recreation grant contest, and the Great Smokies, quite frankly, is still getting its butt whipped by a minor state park from Minne-so-cold.

Whoever is behind the shellacking that Bear Head Lake State Park is putting on the Smokies is well organized and well motivated. We’re staring at an upset of epic proportions!

Right now we’re down by more than 340,000 votes!

There’s still time, however. Voting ends on August 31st. If you think that the Great Smoky Mountains can put this money to good use, please take the time to vote several times.

It’s pretty interesting how much press this contest/promotion is generating for Coke. Quite a marketing coup for them….

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Blue Ridge Parkway closures

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There are several temporary road closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway this week as a result of bears, construction, and storm debris removal projects.

In Virginia:

* The Peaks of Otter Picnic Area has been closed temporarily due to a sow with three cubs that have been acting aggressively and have bluff charged several people over the past week in the picnic area and on nearby trails. Employees and visitors are advised to stay out of the area until further notice.

In North Carolina:

* Tree removal projects are being conducted near Deep Gap at Milepost 275 to the Yadkin Valley Parking Overlook at Milepost 290. Parkway visitors should expect minor delays as a result of traffic control through this area.

* The Linville Falls Picnic Area, near Milepost 316, is scheduled to be temporarily closed beginning today, August 16, at 8 a.m. and will remain closed until Wednesday – August 18, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. This closure is necessary for the completion of the paving of the picnic area entrance road, which includes asphalt sidewalks, drain repairs, and re-striping of the road and parking areas.

* The Craggy Gardens Picnic Area at Milepost 367.6 will be temporarily closed from Monday, August 16, at 6:00 a.m. until noon Friday, August 20. Due to the narrow road leading up to the picnic area, pavement overlay activities require complete closure of the entrance road.

* The Blue Ridge Parkway will be temporarily closed from Wagon Road Gap at Milepost 412 to the Graveyard Fields Parking Overlook at Milepost 418 on Monday, Aug. 16 through Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010, to conduct storm debris removal and hazardous tree work. Access to the parkway from U.S. Route 276 will remain open.

For updates on parkway road and weather conditions, please call 828-298-0398.

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Students Excavate Ancestral Cherokee House

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The NPS Digest posted an article today about a group of Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian high school students from the Cherokee and Snowbird communities that spent this past July excavating a tenth century ancestral house in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The site offered an opportunity for the students to learn about a poorly understood period in Cherokee prehistory (Mississippian, AD 1000 - 1350).

You can read the article by clicking here.

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The Mt. LeConte Lodge Llama Train

Sunday, August 15, 2010

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The Mt. LeConte Lodge Llama Train is the latest video from the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Using the Trillium Gap Trail three times a week, llamas are used to keep the LeConte Lodge stocked with supplies, including fresh linens. On the return trip, the llamas transport garbage and dirty laundry back down the mountain.

The park service originally used horses, but switched to the more sure-footed llamas in 1986.

© GSMA 2010. All rights reserved.

The Trillium Gap trailhead is located off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, just east of Gatlinburg. For more information on hiking the 7-mile Trillium Gap Trail to the summit of Mt. LeConte, please click here.

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Multi-club camp and hike outing in Cherokee N.F.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

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The Carolina Mountain Club mentioned a multi-club camp and hike outing in the Cherokee National Forest in their latest newsletter.

Several hiking clubs affiliated with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy are organizing a camp and hike during the weekend of September 17 to 19.

The location for the campout will be at the Rock Creek Recreation Area in the Cherokee National Forest near Erwin, Tennessee.

There are several hikes planned with varying lengths and destinations during the weekend.

For more information, click to see the flyer, or direct any questions to

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Survivorman returns to the Discovery Channel

Friday, August 13, 2010

In November of 2008, Les Stroud, host of “Survivorman,” announced that he was ending his popular show on the Discovery Channel, and would look into other projects someday down the road.

Stroud was quoted as saying:

“You can only do seven days surviving without food a certain number of times a year. I’m pleased with what I have done, I’ve been copied around the world, but 25 times I’ve not eaten anything for a week while sleeping on rocks. I need to move on.”

It appears that Survivorman has finely found that new project. The Discovery Channel just announced that Stroud will launch a new program called, Beyond Survival with Les Stroud.

The show will premier on Friday, August 27 at 10PM ET/PT.

In this new series Stroud travels to some of the most remote places on the planet to learn the survival techniques of indigenous tribes rarely shown to people outside their own tribes.

Here's a "trailer" from the new series:

Looks pretty good!

Stroud is author of a book: Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive.

He's also published several DVD videos, including Alone in the American Wilderness, Season 3 of Survivorman, Season 2 and Season 1.

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Trail workday in Cades Cove

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Danny Bernstein from the Carolina Mountain Club has organized a series of trail workdays in the Great Smoky Mountains this summer. The workdays are in conjunction with the Trails Forever program.

The next workday will be next Saturday, August 21th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Volunteers will be working on a horse and hiker trail out of Cades Cove. Work will include improvements to the trail head and the drainage structures on the trail.

If you would like to get involved and lend a much needed hand, please contact Christine Hoyer at 828.497.1949 or email her at

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.
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Annual Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Citizen astonomers, night owls and early morning risers may want to make note that the annual Perseid meteor shower will be at peak viewing tonight, and to a lesser rate, tomorrow night.

According to the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, the Perseids are predicted to reach a peak of 60 to 90 meteors per hour tonight.

The Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the more reliable showers, and lasts for several days on either side of its peak. Thus, the mornings of August 12 and 13 should be best for observing Perseids this year but a few Perseids can be spotted before or after these dates. We will have a very small waxing crescent moon in the early evening so there will be no moonlight to interfere with observations of the fainter meteors. The Perseids are best observed between about 11 p.m. and dawn from a clear, dark location with a good horizon.

Be sure to look towards the northeast.

If you're near Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, rangers will be hosting a viewing party at the remote Hensley Settlement this Friday night.

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Guided Goat Hike on Roan Mountain

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The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy will be hosting a guided Goat Hike on Roan Mountain this Saturday.

Once again this summer, Jamey Donaldson, leader of the “Baa-tany Goat Project,” is rotating goats through test plots of vegetation on the high-elevation grassy balds of Roan Mountain. The SAHC hike will visit the goats and learn about their role in preserving the grassy balds. The hike will be around five miles of moderately steep terrain.

The hike will be led by David Hall from 10am – 1pm this Saturday, August 14th. To RSVP, e-mail or call 828-253-0095, ext 209.

For more information on SAHC, please visit

For more information about hiking to Grassy Ridge Bald on Roan Mountain, please click here.

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Low water reports in the Smokies

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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The national park website, updated today, is reporting a couple of water issues that you may want to make note of.

• The Mollies Ridge Shelter has no water (located roughly 10.6 miles north of Fontana Dam).

• There is no water along Appalachian Trail for approximately 1.5 miles south of the Mollies Ridge Shelter as well.

• Water is available at the Russell Field Shelter and the Birch Spring Gap tent site, just north and south of the impacted section of AT.

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Park Rangers needed in the Smokies

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Ever wanted to be a ranger in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? There are two positions being advertised on the NPS website today. Here's what the park is looking for:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking candidates for two permanent, full-time GL-0025-9 park ranger (LE) positions. Candidates must currently possess (or be able to obtain) Level I law enforcement commissions.

The first position is in the Cades Cove Area (Tennessee), with primary duties on the Foothills Parkway West. This area includes 17 miles of road, two frontcountry campgrounds, eight backcountry campsites and 46 miles of maintained hiking and horse trails. The area generates a high volume of frontcountry enforcement activity during peak seasons. Traffic volume decreases significantly in the winter months and resource protection patrols become a major emphasis of this position. Resource protection patrols are primarily designed to mark/monitor the park boundary and to deter and detect plant and wildlife poaching. While this position is based out of the Look Rock ranger station, the ranger selected will be assigned to patrol operations in the Cades Cove area as needed.

The second position is in the Deep Creek Area (North Carolina). Law enforcement activity at Deep Creek is focused primarily on traditional resource protection activities, criminal investigations, surveillance and hunting operations. Visitor contacts are performed in frontcountry and backcountry settings. The Deep Creek area includes a 92 site campground and over 150,000 acres of patrol area, including boat operations on Fontana Lake. There are opportunities for backcountry hiking patrols, boundary and hunting patrols. This is a very diverse operation, which provides opportunities for independent patrol work in vast backcountry wilderness environments as well as in heavily visited front country areas. Typical case work involves wildlife enforcement operations, emergency medical care, motor vehicle accident response, DUI, and search and rescue. Rangers will participate in multiple park wide pre-planned events throughout the year managed under ICS.

For more information, contact Steve Spanyer ( at (865) 448-4105 for Cades Cove and KK Stuart ( at (828) 506-3016 for Deep Creek.

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The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

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Virtual Blue Ridge has announced the dates for the 8th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition. Amateur and professional photographers can begin submitting their photos on September 17, 2010.

This years' competition theme is The Parkway Tree Project. The areas comprising the Blue Ridge Parkway boast nearly 100 tree species that contribute to ecological zones of unsurpassed diversity. The Parkway Tree Project seeks to bring greater public awareness to the rich natural resources of the region and to document significant trees that contribute to the character, environment, and/or aesthetic of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Photographers are encouraged to capture images of trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway that stand out as the most beautiful, the oldest or largest, trees that tell a story or have a place in history, and those that are unique for their shape, species, or character.

The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition offers seven separate categories for submissions, and $4,000 in cash and prizes. Competition categories include:

* Adventure
* Blue Ridge Parkway Vistas and Share the Journey ®
* Culture
* Our Ecological Footprint
* Flora and Fauna
* Landscape.

A panel of professional photographers will review all entries and narrow them down to approximately forty-six, which will hang in exhibition at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, February 4 through June 4, 2011.

Registration and submissions will be open from September 17, 2010 through 5:00 pm on Friday, December 17, 2010. Amateur and professional photographers 13 years of age and older should submit at prior to the competition's close.

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The Rest Step

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The "Rest Step" is a technique used by mountaineers to slow their cadence, rest their muscles, and preserve their energy while hiking on steep terrain at high altitudes. Essentially, the “rest step” takes pressure and strain off your muscles and transfers it to your bone structure.

Although it’s mainly useful on snow, or on climbs at elevation where endurance is important, it can be employed on any trail with steep slopes. It’s worked quite well for me on a couple of trails in Colorado and the Grand Tetons in recent years.

The tool is most effective on slopes that gain - say - more than 800 feet per mile. Although I can’t think of a lot of trails in the Smokies where this would be appropriate, that last mile up to Chimney Tops would definitely qualify. Sections of Baxter Creek or the Mt. Sterling Trail, or the upper sections of Anthony Creek and Bote Mountain up to Spence Field are some other examples of where this technique may come in handy. Nevertheless, there are still many trails in the Southern Appalachian region where this technique could be employed.

Here’s how it works:

As you step forward on a climb, lock your rear knee and keep all of your weight on that rear leg. As you’re swinging your other leg forward, relax the muscles in that leg. Once your forward foot comes to rest on the ground, keep it relaxed so that there’s no weight on it. You can stop in that position for as long as you need to. When you're ready to take the next step, shift your weight to the front foot, step forward with the other and lock the rear knee again, and repeat the entire process.

The locked rear knee provides support for your weight without requiring help from the leg muscle. That means your leg, hip, and back muscles get a rest, if only for a short moment. Stay paused in that position for however long it takes to avoid running out of breath.

In this short video Ward Luthi from Walking The World demonstrates how this technique is put into action on the trail:

A mountain climber in the Himalayas may stay motionless between steps for 10 seconds or more. At lower altitudes, you might only need a half-second pause. The key is to get into a steady rhythm of doing the same thing for each step you take. You can adjust the cadence and the length of your stride according to the steepness of the terrain.

Continuous movement is a great strain on your muscles. Moreover, stopping and starting, slowing down and speeding up, wastes energy. The key to preserving your energy for the long haul is to be the tortoise, rather than the hare.

You can quickly get an idea of how this works by practicing on your steps at home. The benefits are especially clear if you can try it after a long hike, run or bike ride when your leg muscles are already tired. Go up the steps as you normally do and you’ll probably feel a little bit of a burn in your quadriceps. Now, try the rest step and notice how the burn is substantially reduced.

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The Great Smokies needs your help - ASAP!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A few days ago I posted about a $100,000 recreation grant that Coca-Cola was offering to a state or national park that received the most votes in its Live Positively initiative.

At that time the Great Smoky Mountains appeared to be in firm control of first place as they had a wide lead over Little Ocmulgee State Park out of Georgia.

Somewhere along the way, in the last day or two, a small state park out of Minnesota has taken a commanding lead: as in 341,000 votes to only 181,000 votes for GSMNP, which is still in second place.

I hope this is only like a 16 seed jumping out in front of a #1 seed early in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Yea, they're excited to be there, and have nothing to lose, but once the big power house comes back to Earth after getting chewed-out by their coach they start to flex their muscle and take command of the court.

That small upstart in question, Bear Head Lake State Park, I happened to visit on the same day that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait back in 1990. It's a very beautiful park, but the mosquitoes and black flies were just horrible. Maybe it was the time of year, but the locals say that the lowly mosquito is the state bird in Minnesota.

Anyway, I digress.

Between now and 8/31, you can vote as often as you like. As we all know, the Smokies sure could use that money.

Please click here to vote and vote often!

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Local author returns from Alaska

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In case you've missed her blog recently, Danny Bernstein, author of two NC hiking guides, has been posting about her trip to Alaska.

Her travels took her to Anchorage, Barrow, the Kenai Peninsula, and a short cruise in Prince William Sound.

She's also published an excellent article on the National Parks Traveler website that goes into a little detail about her experiences in Denali National Park, as well as her stay at Camp Denali.

Danny does a great job of providing the overview of her experiences from the perspective of her "home" national park - Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

You can read her Denali article by clicking here, and visit her blog by clicking here.

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16th Annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon

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This Thursday, August 12th, is the 16th annual Friends Across the Mountains Telethon. The telethon will be broadcast 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 highlights projects and programs that Friends of the Smokies has funded. The telethon raises roughly $200,000 each year. 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.

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

You can also make a donation right now by clicking here.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.
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Shooting Star viewing party at Cumberland Gap NHP

Sunday, August 8, 2010

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The public is invited to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower with Cumberland Gap park rangers at the remote Hensley Settlement this Friday night.

As darkness falls in the southern mountains, the historic Hensley Settlement in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park becomes the stage for a shooting star spectacular. Its remote location high upon Brush Mountain provides an incredible opportunity to view the night sky and the famous Perseid meteor shower.

Visible each year beginning in mid July, the Perseid meteor shower has been observed for almost 200 years. The shower, which consists of dust and debris associated with a comet called Swift-Tuttle, appears as streaks of light in the evening sky. “These streaks can be seen at rates of up to 90 per hour,” explains Park Naturalist Scott Teodorski. “The dark skies found up on Brush Mountain provide the perfect environment to view this spectacular show. It is a sight to behold.”

A fire will be available and sticks will be provided for those who wish to bring marshmallows and hot dogs to roast. Star gazing enthusiasts are encouraged to bring binoculars, blankets or chairs and appropriate clothing.

Visitors interested in participating in this free program should meet at the park visitor center at 6:30 p.m. to caravan to the settlement. Vehicles will be allowed to only travel up to the settlement via the Shillalah Creek Road from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Vehicles will be allowed to only travel down the road from the settlement from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

In case of rain, the program will be cancelled. For more information on this or other ranger-guided programs, please call the park visitor center at (606) 248-2817, extension 1075.

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Predicting weather in the backcountry

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Exposure is the leading cause of death in the mountains. One of the skills that will help keep you out of trouble while in the backcountry is learning how to predict the weather.

Deep in the wilderness it's highly unlikely you'll be able to get updated local weather forecasts. Essentially, you must become your own forecaster.

Obviously predicting the weather is difficult - even for the local weatherman - and especially in the mountains. However, there are several things that can help hikers to better understand weather patterns.

One of those is learning how to identify cloud formations. Being able to assess the clouds approaching from a distance can help you determine if it's just a short front passing through, or a long lasting storm.

The most recent online issue of Backpacker Magazine has a very helpful article that explains how to identify the various cloud formations and what they mean. They even have a quiz to make sure you understood what you just read.

Having a little knowledge on weather forecasting could mean the difference between a great hike and a horrible one.

As far as keeping up with updated forecasts before heading into the Smokies, as well as finding historical climate information, please click here.

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Tips for keeping your cool in the summer

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Given how hot of a summer we've already endured so far, and the fact that high temps won't be leaving anytime soon, I thought I'd take this time to revisit a previous post that offered a few tips for dealing with the heat while out on the trail:

Summer hiking season is already upon us. Anyone who has ever been to the Smoky Mountains during the summer knows how hot and humid it can get in the Southern Appalachians. I’d like to offer some tips for beating the heat this summer.

Before we dive into anything else, I would like to emphasize that the most important thing about hiking during the summer is staying properly hydrated. Hiking in hot, humid weather depletes your body of liquids. To replace lost fluids and electrolytes you need to drink frequently. If you wait until you feel thirsty, you’ll more than likely already be dehydrated. The more dehydrated you become, the less efficient your body is at cooling itself down. Your body becomes less efficient at walking as well.

Make sure you take plenty of water or some type of sports drink with you on any hike. Sports drinks are excellent sources of liquids because they replace both fluids and electrolytes. Good old Gatorade gets the job done for me.

You can sweat anywhere from 1/2 to 1 quart of fluid for every hour you walk in the heat. This fluid/electrolyte loss can exceed 3 quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight and during the hottest time of the day.

When it's really hot, my wife and I will fill a couple of water bottles about half-way and stick them in the freezer the night before. Then, just before leaving for our hike the next day, we'll top-off the bottles with cold water. This way we'll have cool water to drink for a much longer time on the trail. Please note that you don't want to put a full bottle of water in the freezer because it will crack the plastic.

If you’re thinking about drinking water from the backcountry, know that it must be treated for Giardia lamblia, a parasite that can cause an intestinal infection with a variety of symptoms. To avoid this infection, boil water for at least one minute or use a filter capable of removing particles as small as 1 micron.

To help offset the effects of fatigue, bring a lunch and/or snack with you. Food is your body's primary source for fuel and salts (electrolytes) while hiking. Try eating a salty snack every time you take a drink.

Finally, stay away from sodas and alcohol as they will only promote dehydration.

Besides staying properly hydrated, there are a few other things you can do to help avoid over-heating while out on the trail.

For one, go slowly and rest often. Also, try hiking in the early morning as this is coolest part of the day.

Summer provides a great opportunity to explore trails at the higher elevations of the Park where it’s naturally cooler. Keep in mind, however, that the summer season brings thunderstorms to the Smokies. Never ascend above tree line when there’s lightning in the vicinity. If you’re already above tree line when a thunderstorm approaches you’ll want to descend immediately.

Wear moisture-wicking clothing made of polypropylene or polyester to carry sweat and moisture away from your body. Moisture-wicking material keeps you dryer, cooler and more comfortable than a sweat-soaked cotton shirt. It’s also a good idea to wear light colored clothing because it tends to reflect heat away from your body.

Wearing a hat - a baseball hat, or, preferably, a wide-brimmed hat - will help protect your face and neck from the sun. Don’t forget sunscreen either. Sun-burned skin makes you feel hotter.

Finally, you should be aware of heat related health issues on the trail. As part of your first aid training you should know the signs for heat exhaustion, heatstroke and even hyponatremia; and know what to do if someone in your party has any of these signs.

* For additional safety tips, please click here.

* To make sure you have all the essentials before heading out on the trail, please review our hiking checklist.

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Traversing the Khumbu Icefall

Friday, August 6, 2010

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I saw this on the Adventure Blog the other day.

This excellent video captures the experience of crossing the infamous Khumbu Icefall from the perpective of the climber.

The video was shot with a helmet-mounted camera as climbers passed over the Khumbu glacier just above Base Camp on Mt. Everest this past spring:

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The Smokies at Twilight: Sunset Hike

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This Monday (8/9) is the final ranger led Sunset Hike in the Smokies for the year.

Join a ranger at the Clingmans Dome Parking Lot for a short walk to experience the top of the Smokies in all its glory.

The hike lasts from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Rangers ask that you wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and to bring a flashlight.

The final ranger led hike anywhere in the Smokies this year is scheduled for 8/17.

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Mark your calendars: Wilderness Wildlife Week

Thursday, August 5, 2010

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Pigeon Forge has just announced the dates for the 2011 Wilderness Wildlife Week. The 21st annual event will be held January 8-15, 2011.

More than 150 experts — nature photographers, biologists, raptor rehabilitators, social historians and just plain folks who grew up in the Smokies — will donate their time to present daily programs and a range of outdoor activities. There will be more than 250 programs and activities during the eight-day event, including more than 50 guided walks and hikes.

New for 2011 is an all-day concentration on outdoor photography called “The Smokies Through the Lens” on Jan. 15. Several seminars aimed at all skill levels are planned, and topics will include equipment, shooting techniques and editing.

Wilderness Wildlife Week has been a Southeast Tourism Society “Top 20 Event in the Southeast” 10 times now.

Admission is free to all participants for all activities. For more information on the event, please click here.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.
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DOJ: Segways not allowed on trails

American Trails has a report on their website regarding a recent final ruling by the Department of Justice with regards to wheelchairs and "Other Power Driven Mobility Devices" on trails in federally designated wilderness areas.

Basically the DOJ has ruled that the Segway® Personal Transporter is not a wheelchair because the Segway® is not designed primarily for use by individuals with disabilities, nor used primarily by persons with disabilities.

The current law states that "on National Forest System lands wherever foot travel is allowed, any wheelchair or other mobility device is allowed if the device was designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired person for locomotion and it is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area."

For more information on the subject and to read the article, please click here.

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Wildflower / Fall Foliage Report?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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Tom Harrington, Park volunteer and naturalist, has recently updated his Wildflower Report on the Great Smoky Mountain Association website.

His most recent report is from a hike on the Big Creek Trail in the northeastern corner of the Smokies. Mr. Harrington is reporting sightings for the following flowers: Heal All, Yellow Touch-me-nots (Pale Jewel Weed), Purple Flowering Raspberry, Common Milkweed, Wild Golden Glow, Crimson Bee Balm, Whitewood Aster, Black Eyed Susan, Pokeweed, Mountain Mint, Wood Nettle, Love Vine, Asiatic Dayflower, and Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil.

Last week he hiked the Chestnut Top Trail just outside of Townsend and reported the following flowers: Coreopsis, Turk Cap Lily, Reclining Saint Andrew's Cross, Whorled Wood Aster, Pokeweed, Yellow Touch-me-nots, Basil Bee Balm, and Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil.

However, what caught my eye was his "First Fall Foliage Report." In the middle of a typical summer heat wave, Mr. Harrington stated that he saw some "nice red Sourwood leaves."

To see all of his most recent reports, please click here.

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