Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Camping in Tennessee Soars During Pandemic

Camping in the last two months reached historic highs in Tennessee State Parks.

The parks saw 62,124 nights camping in October, a one-month record for camping stays in the system, topping the mark of 57,472 nights set in June 2020. November saw over 36,000 camping nights sold, the highest number for November ever and exceeding November 2019 by 15,000 nights.

Four of the top 10 camping months ever in the state parks have occurred in 2020, driven by visitors seeking the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The impact of COVID-19 simply underscores a growing awareness that the outdoors are a sanctuary for mental and physical health,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “The appeal of louder, busier, and crowded entertainment venues has given way to the space, freedom and connection the outdoors provide.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated outdoor recreation trends that have steadily grown over the last several years. Statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released recently show the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States for 2019. In Tennessee, outdoor recreation value added as a share of GDP was 2.4 percent.

July 2020 saw 56,033 camping nights sold in Tennessee State Parks, which makes June, July and October of this year the top three months ever recorded. September saw 48,350 camping nights sold, making it the sixth best month ever, following July 2019 (49,217) and October 2016 (49,003). The November total for 2020 was the overall 32nd best month ever.

Tennessee State Parks operate over 3,000 campsites ranging from RV sites with full hookups to backcountry spots deep in the woods.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

New Protections for McAfee Knob, Appalachian Trail Access

One of the most famous vistas on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), McAfee Knob, has been given additional protection with the acquisition of three tracts of land near Roanoke.

This effort, led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), The Conservation Fund and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), will add almost 600 acres of permanently protected land to the area. These acquisitions will help preserve iconic views from McAfee Knob, improve access to the Trail and provide greater conservation of the surrounding area.

The protection of these properties builds on the acquisition and conservation of the Hogan Hollow tract in 2019, which is located below the nearby and similarly renowned Tinker Cliffs. The ongoing work to conserve lands in the viewshed of McAfee Knob represents the dedication and collaboration of multiple partners to protect and improve the A.T. experience at one of Virginia’s most beloved outdoor destinations.

Early in 2020, the ATC and RATC began a fundraising campaign for the acquisition and restoration of a property adjacent to the McAfee Knob trailhead on Route 311. RATC raised over $44,000 from hundreds of individual donations from Roanoke Valley residents and trail lovers across the county. While the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately halted these efforts, the voluntary stewardship agreement signed between the ATC, The Conservation Fund and Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC provided the remainder of funds needed to purchase the McAfee Knob trailhead property. This tract will now be included in an ongoing study to improve safety and the visitor experience at the Route 311 parking area.

Utilizing additional funds from the agreement and in partnership with the ATC, The Conservation Fund acquired a 197-acre property along Blacksburg Road, where the Trail was located on a narrow easement. An additional 353-acre parcel was also secured just below the famed McAfee Knob summit, adding to the conserved land in the shadow of this famed viewpoint along the Trail.

These conservation efforts will significantly improve access, help conserve the world’s most famous footpath and protect views that millions of visitors have come to love. Special thanks go to the private landowners who chose to work with the ATC, RATC and The Conservation Fund to preserve the unique character of the Catawba Valley and the A.T. landscape.

“Protecting the areas surrounding McAfee Knob is a clear example of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s focus on conserving the areas essential to the unique experience the Appalachian Trail provides,” said Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the ATC. “Land conservation is an essential element of our work, helping ensure the ecosystems and inspiring views the Trail is known for are available for all of us to enjoy and benefit from for centuries to come.”

For more information about the ATC’s land conservation work, please click here.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Last Minute Shoppers - There's Still Time!

Christmas is just over a week away! The good news is that you still have time to purchase stocking stuffers for all your favorite hikers. If you need a gift idea, both the paperback and E-book versions of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, are available on Amazon. If you order now you'll still have plenty of time to have shipped to your home.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the 19th century, the first trails built specifically for hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel. It also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, such as Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is a great stocking stuffer for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

For more information, and to purchase on Amazon, please click here.

Once again, thank you very much!



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, December 14, 2020

Public Input Sought for Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail Master Plan

The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation launched a new web page to seek public input as staff develop the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail master plan. The master plan is a long-term strategy for the park that details how and where access will be provided and prioritizes projects and investments. Master plan development involves identifying recreation and conservation needs for the trail and collecting stakeholder input on priorities for the park.

The new web page includes a survey, informational maps and a narrated presentation that highlights the master planning process and initial concepts for the new state trail. The site can be accessed here. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the new site, view the presentation and informational documents and provide their input via the online survey.

Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail is one of nine state trails and crosses Henderson, Rutherford, and Buncombe counties. It will connect Bearwallow Mountain, Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park, and the Florence Nature Preserve. Conserving Carolina, a land trust serving western N.C. and northern S.C., has driven the development of the trail and is one the division’s major partners in the effort. When complete, the trail will be 50 to 60 miles long.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Free Entrance Days for National Parks in 2021

The Trump Administration announced this past week that all National Park Service sites will have six entrance fee-free days in 2021. The fee-free days are part of the Administration’s unprecedented commitment to increase access, promote recreational opportunities, improve visitor facilities and conserve natural and historical treasures in national parks for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people.

The dates for 2021 are:

Monday, January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 17 – First Day of National Park Week
Wednesday, August 4 – One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
Wednesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
Saturday, September 25 – National Public Lands Day
Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day

“Each of the fee-free days celebrates or commemorates a significant event, including the establishment earlier this year by President Trump of the Great American Outdoors Act. The legislation marks the single largest investment ever in national parks and will result in enhanced facilities and expanded recreational prospects for all visitors,” said Margaret Everson, Counselor to the Secretary, exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service Director. “Throughout the country, every national park provides a variety of opportunities to get out in nature, connect with our common heritage and experience the vast array of benefits that come from spending time outdoors. Hopefully the fee-free days will encourage everyone to spend some time in their national parks.”

There are more than 400 National Park Service sites nationwide, with at least one in every state. Approximately 100 charge an entrance fee, with costs ranging from $5 to $35. The other 300-plus national parks do not have entrance fees.

Earlier this year, Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Orders 3386 and 3387, granting veterans, Gold Star Families and fifth graders free access to all national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior. Veterans and Gold Star Families will have free access forever, while fifth grade students were granted the reprieve through this academic year as some of last year’s fourth graders may have been unable to make full use of the Every Kid Outdoors Annual Fourth Grade Pass due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Active duty military and fourth grade students will continue to have free access with discounted passes also available for senior citizens. For other visitors who love visiting our public lands, the annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is a great option, which allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks.

Last year, 327 million people visited national parks and spent $21 billion in local communities. This supported 340,500 jobs across the country and had a $41.7 billion impact on the U.S. economy.







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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Big South Fork NRRA Needs You!

With over 400 miles of trails, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is seeking volunteers to assist in keeping them in great shape. If you enjoy the outdoors, and spending time in the park, join the park’s Trail Keepers program today.

The Trail Keeper program is for people who love the park’s trails and want to help take care of them. The goal of the program is to provide a presence in the backcountry, help maintain sections of trail, and provide park staff with trail condition updates.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the team. We couldn’t do what needs to get done without their knowledge, skills, and abilities,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas.

Currently, there are more than 70 different trails available for adoption. Trail keepers are expected to hike, bike, or horse ride their adopted trail at least four times during the calendar year. They also report on overall trail conditions, pick up any trash, and submit a trail report after each visit. Being a trail keeper does not involve heavy trail maintenance or the use of power equipment. Trail volunteers may use a small handsaw to remove small trees that have fallen across the trail and may move branches and other light maintenance by hand.

To learn more about the Big South Fork Trail Keeper program, email the park’s volunteer coordinator at effie_houston@nps.gov or call (423) 569-9778.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Women’s Hiking Attire During The Victorian Era

The following is a short excerpt from my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking:

For women, hiking attire during the Victorian Era was an extremely complicated affair. The subject was frequently discussed and debated throughout the pages of Appalachia during the first decade of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The December 1887 issue of Appalachia ran a lengthy article by Mrs. L. D. Pychowska on the “walking-costume for ladies.” It provided head to toe advice on how women should dress for a hike. This included wearing a grey flannel trouser beneath two skirts. The under skirt, which reached to just below the knee, was also to be made of grey flannel. The outer skirt, however, was to be made of winsey or Kentucky jean, both of which were considered to be strong enough to withstand tears from walking through briers and undergrowth. The outer skirt was also meant to be worn to ankle length. However, if the hiker were to find herself climbing steep terrain she could simply pull out a strong clasp pin and raise the skirt higher, “washwomen fashion,” until the difficult section was completed. “Basquines,” or corsets, were optional apparel according to the author. At the end of the piece the writer assured her readers that her recommendations on female tramping attire would be “sufficiently presentable to enter a hotel or a railroad car” after a long tramp through the woods, “without attracting uncomfortable attention.”


The true realities of wearing a “costume” such as this were not considered or debated in Mrs. Pychowska’s article. Conversely, a passage in an article from the June 1877 issue of Appalachia put an exclamation point on the true dangers women faced as a result of the clothing they were forced to wear while tramping. The author related the story of a guided hike on Mt. Washington during the prior year. While descending Tuckerman Ravine one of the ladies in the group paused momentarily to stand atop a large rock above a 25-foot outcrop. Unbeknownst to the hiker, her tattered dress had become caught on a sharp protrusion on the rock. When she attempted to jump to another large rock the snag violently jolted her back, and left her dangling upside down above the abyss. Fortunately her mountain guide was nearby and was able to pull her to safety before falling.


In one particular instance the burdensome attire that women were expected to wear may have been at least partially responsible for the death of one hiker. On September 13, 1855, 22-year-old Lizzie Bourne of Kennebunk, Maine became the first woman to die while climbing Mt. Washington, and quite possibly the first woman to die while hiking in America. On that late summer day Lizzie had planned to hike to the Tip Top House atop Mount Washington with her uncle George and her cousin Lucy. As a result of early morning rain, however, the trio was forced to postpone the start of their trip. Just after lunch the weather finally cleared and they set out by trekking up the partially completed carriage road. However, as they continued towards the summit of the peak, the threesome encountered another round of bad weather while proceeding along the Glen House Bridle Path, which continued to worsen as they climbed higher. In a letter to the Boston Journal, which was intended to provide “a correct account of the whole affair,” George Bourne attested that as they ascended towards the summit, “Elizabeth began to show signs of weariness, and needed assistance.” As night fell upon the mountain, darkness and fog completely obscured the view of their destination. Fatigue had also crept in on each of the hikers. Not knowing where they were, or how far they were from their destination, the trio made the decision to lie down on the trail and wait out the night. Despite building a wind break from nearby rocks, George was convinced that each of them would perish due to the extreme cold and the violent wind. Indeed, that night, around ten o'clock, Lizzie quietly passed away while lying on the trail. In his letter to the Boston Journal, Bourne stated that it was “evident that Elizabeth did not die from the cold alone, but from some organic affection of the heart or lungs, induced by fatigue and exposure.”

With the arrival of daylight the next morning George and Lucy tragically discovered that they were within sight of the Tip Top House. Had they known that they were that close they could’ve easily made it to safety, and Lizzie likely would’ve survived. After her death tourists and hikers began piling stones on the spot where Ms. Bourne died. A stone monument now stands on that same spot to mark and commemorate her passing.

Did Lizzie’s attire contribute to her death? Perhaps. She wore a heavy skirt, petticoat, pantaloons and stockings. Nicholas Howe, author of Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire, estimates that Lizzie may have worn as much as 45 yards of fabric! When this outfit became soaked in cold rain there’s no doubt this would’ve weighed her down, resulting in more stress on her heart, and certainly would have accelerated the effects of fatigue, exposure and hypothermia.

While Mrs. Pychowska was espousing the benefits of wearing the proper costume to coincide with the mores of the Victorian Era, there was a long debate, at least among female members in the Appalachian Mountain Club, about what women should wear while hiking. During the May 9th meeting chronicled in the June 1877 edition of Appalachia, a Miss Whitman suggested that skirts be designed in a manner so that they “could be shortened to any necessary extent by rolling it up.” A Mrs. Nowell discussed the “disadvantage of ladies on mountain excursions on account of their long skirts, and recommended the use of gymnasium dresses or something similar, as an outside garment for such occasions.” In that same edition of Appalachia, Mrs. W.G. Nowell, one of the founding members of the club, and presumably the same Mrs. Nowell who spoke out during the May 9th meeting, published an article titled, “A Mountain Suit for Women.” In this piece Harriet Nowell once again took issue with the garb women were expected to wear during this era. She also mentioned the discussions she had with other women about the impracticalities and dangers of women’s hiking attire. Apparently they had carefully deliberated over what their alternatives were, and presented one possible solution: “The only thing we could think of was a good flannel bathing suit.” Mrs. Nowell continued by stating that they “could not see why it should be more improper to wear this” suit while hiking, “than it would be along a crowded and fashionable beach.” She went on to make the point that women would be “relieved of the excessive weight of her ordinary dress,“ thus allowing them to carry their own gear. She concluded her piece by declaring that “Our dress has done all the mischief. For years it has kept us away from the glory of the woods and the grandeur of the mountain heights. It is time we should reform.”

An article published on the Tramp and Trail Club of Utica website notes that by the 1920s women had solved the problem of impractical skirts by stuffing them in knapsacks once they had reached the trailhead, and then putting them back on before returning to town. Bold and daring women eschewed skirts altogether and simply wore knickers with long socks from their home. An online exhibit on the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University website, titled, Taking the Lead: Women and the White Mountains, notes that skirts had virtually disappeared by the mid-1910s, and by the 1930s women were wearing clothes similar to what female hikers wear today, including shorts and halter tops.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking chronicles the history of the first hikers, trails and hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel, including many other stories about the attire both men and women wore during the early years of the sport. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, December 7, 2020

No Guided First Day Hikes in North Carolina

This was posted on the North Carolina state parks website this past week:
All North Carolina state parks are closed on Christmas Day, December 25. Parks are open every other day of the holiday season, including New Year's Day.

Parks are not hosting any guided First Day Hikes on January 1. We encourage park visitors to conduct their own First Day Hikes with members of their household. Please note that parks may be busy on New Year's Day, so please be prepared for parking delays and make backup plans. Please follow social distancing guidelines, and bring a cloth face covering so you can wear one when you encounter other visitors along the trail.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Section of Elkmont Road to be Temporarily Closed for Road Repair

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that a section of Elkmont Road will be temporarily closed to motorists for bridge repairs beginning Monday, December 7 through Friday, December 18. The closure will be in place Monday at 7:00 a.m. through Friday at noon each week. The area will be fully open to all access on the weekends.

The road closure begins at the Elkmont Campground and restricts motorist access to the Jakes Creek Trailhead and the Little River Trailhead. Day hikers may park at the Elkmont Campground, which is closed for the season, and walk to the trailheads. Backcountry permit holders may drive through the closure area and pass over the bridge under direction of the on-site construction crew to access the trailheads for overnight parking. Cemetery access will also be accommodated throughout the closure period.

The closure is necessary to efficiently and safely make the needed bridge repairs to the large bridge spanning Little River near the Little River Trailhead. This work is part of a larger Federal Highway Administration project to replace seven bridges and repair seven others across the park. Repair work includes repointing masonry, sealing cracks, and repairing deck joints.

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







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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Key Milestones in Hiking

The following timeline was adapted from my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking:

Over the last several decades the sport of hiking has become one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. According to the latest National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, 33.9% of all Americans above the age of 15 participated in hiking during the period between 2005 and 2009. This trend, however, leads to the burning question; when did people begin taking to the trail for pleasure? Since the dawn of humankind men and women have walked the earth to hunt, gather wild edible plants, explore, trade goods with neighboring communities, and migrate to other regions. At some point in our long evolution we as humans realized that there doesn’t have to be a utilitarian reason for walking. Somewhere along the line we discovered the joy of traipsing through the woods, observing the beauty of a wildflower, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, marveling at the roar of a waterfall, or contemplating the awe-inspiring views from the top of a mountain. Is this a recent phenomenon, or is this an innate characteristic of human beings? No matter the answer to that question, here are the key milestones in the history of hiking that has led to its popularity today:

~3300 BCE: In 1991 two German tourists found the mummified remains of “Otzi the Iceman” in the ร–tztal Alps along the Austrian–Italian border. Although scientists aren’t entirely sure what this late-Neolithic man was doing at an elevation hovering just over 10,500 feet, there are some that speculate that he may have been an early mountaineer. More importantly, the remnants of the rucksack that he carried on his back is the oldest rucksack ever found.

125: The 2nd century Roman Emperor, Hadrian, hiked to the summit of Mt. Etna on Sicily to see the sunrise, making this earliest recorded hike for pleasure.

1642: Darby Field makes the first recorded ascent of Mt. Washington, which would become the focus of the first tourist destination in the United States in the late 1700s.

1760: The Industrial Revolution begins in Great Britain, and is generally recognized as lasting until the start of World War I. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the labor movement, automobiles, environmentalism, club culture, and even art. As a result, it is arguably the single most important event to spur the development of hiking and walking for pleasure.

1778: Thomas West, an English priest, publishes A Guide to the Lakes, a detailed account of the scenery and landscape of the Lake District in northwestern England. The guide helped to popularize the idea of walking for pleasure, and is credited as being one of the first travel guides.

1786: The modern era of mountaineering is marked by the first ascent of 15,771-foot Mont Blanc in France, the tallest peak in the Alps.

1799: Williams College (of Massachusetts) President Ebenezer Fitch ascends Mt. Greylock with two other companions.

1819: Abel Crawford, along with his son Ethan, blaze an 8.25-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The path is recognized as the oldest continually used hiking trail in the United States, and is likely the first footpath in the entire world to be built specifically for recreational hiking.

1830: A crew of 100 students and professors from Williams College blaze the Hopper Trail to the summit of Mt. Greylock. Later that same year students constructed a 37-foot wooden tower atop the mountain. This tower, and its replacement, were maintained into the 1850s, and were used for sightseeing and scientific observations.

1850: The Exploring Circle is founded by Cyrus M. Tracey and three other men from Lynn, Massachusetts. The National Park Service recognizes the club as being “the first hiking club in New England", thus, in all likelihood, making it the first hiking club in the world.

1854: The beginning of the systematic sport of modern mountaineering as we essentially know it today is marked by the ascent of the Wetterhorn in the Swiss Alps by Sir Alfred Wills. His book, Wanderings Among the High Alps, published two years later, helped make mountaineering fashionable in Britain, and ushered in the systematic exploration of the Alps by British mountaineers. These events also marked the beginning of the so-called “Golden Age of Alpinism”.

1857: The world's first mountaineering club, the Alpine Club, was founded in London.

1863: Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College founds the Alpine Club of Williamstown, whose stated mission was “to explore the interesting places in the vicinity, to become acquainted, to some extent at least, with the natural history of the localities, and also to improve the pedestrian powers of the members”. It was the first hiking club to accept women as members, which likely provided an important template for future hiking clubs.

1867: John Muir begins a 1000-mile walk from Indiana to Florida, which was recounted in his book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. The trek launched a lifetime career of hiking and wilderness advocacy. His conservation efforts, articles and books would help to establish several national parks during and after his lifetime.

1872: Yellowstone becomes the world’s first national park after legislation is signed by President U.S. Grant.

1876: The Appalachian Mountain Club, America’s oldest recreational organization, is founded to explore and protect the trails and mountains of New England.

1876: Newtown, England entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones designs the "Euklisia Rug", considered by many to be the forerunner of the modern sleeping bag. The rug included a wool blanket with a pocket at the top for a sewn-in, inflatable, rubber pillow. Once inside, the camper (or soldier) folded the blanket over and fastened it together, thus keeping themselves “snug in a rug”.

1877: English writer Louis Jennings publishes Field Paths and Green Lanes: Being Country Walks, Chiefly in Surrey and Sussex, which is likely the first trail guide to be published anywhere in the world.

1879: One of the first hiking clubs in England, the "Sunday Tramps", was founded by Leslie White. These early “rambling” (the English word for hiking or walking) clubs sprang up in the northern areas of England as part of a campaign for the legal "right to roam", a response to the fact that much of the land in England was privately owned.

1887: The first external frame rucksack is patented by Colonel Henry C. Merriam.

1922: Australian climber George Finch designs and wears a knee-length eiderdown parka during the 1922 British Everest Expedition. The shell of the coat was made from the waterproofed-cotton fabric of a hot-air balloon, which was filled with duck down. During the expedition Finch and climbing partner Geoffrey Bruce reached a height of 27,300 feet during their summit attempt, which set the record for the highest altitude attained by any human up to that point.

1922: Lloyd F. Nelson submits his application to the U.S. Patent Office for his "Trapper Nelson's Indian Pack Board", which is acknowledged to be the first commercially successful external-frame backpack to be sold in the U.S. The "Trapper Nelson" featured a wooden "pack board" as its frame. Attached to the frame was a canvas sack that contained the hiker's gear, which rested on the hiker's body by two canvas shoulder-straps. Prior to his invention most hikers used a rucksack, which was essentially a loose sack with shoulder straps.

1930: The Green Mountain Club completes construction of the Long Trail, making it the first long-distance hiking trail in the United States.

1937: Italian climber and mountaineering guide, Vitale Bramani, invents Carrarmato, or “tank tread". This new rubber lug pattern provides mountaineering boots with outstanding traction, and allows them to be used on a variety of surfaces. The product is launched under the brand name "Vibram".

1937: America's first “grand” trail, the Appalachian Trail, was completed in August of 1937. A forester by the name of Benton MacKaye conceived the idea in 1921.

1948: Earl Shaffer becomes the first person to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

1967: Climber Greg Lowe invents the internal frame backpack. The “Expedition Pack” also featured the first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and the first load stabilizers.

1968: The National Trails System Act is passed by Congress, resulting in thousands of miles of trails being designated as National Scenic Trails, National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails.

1969: Bob Gore accidentally stretches a heated rod of polytetrafluoroethylene by almost 800%, which forms a microporous structure that was roughly 70% air. The discovery was introduced to the public under the trademark of "Gore-Tex", which became the first breathable, waterproof, and windproof fabric.

1992: Ray Jardine introduces the concept of ultralight backpacking with the release of his book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook. During his first PCT thru-hike Jardine’s pack weighed just 25 pounds. By his third hike it weighed less than 9 pounds. “Ray’s Way” of thinking has led to several innovations that have benefitted both backpackers and hikers.

This timeline is only a brief overview of the people, events, inventions and social trends that have helped to shape the sport of hiking as we know it today. If you enjoyed this short snippet of hiking history, please check out my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, which provides a much more in-depth narrative on the history of hiking.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, November 30, 2020

U.S. Forest Service project proposes additional access to Graveyard Fields trail system from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The National Park Service (NPS) announced today it is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on a project that includes a proposal for additional access to the Graveyard Fields trail system from John Rock Overlook at Milepost 419.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Currently access to Graveyard Fields is from a single parking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway which often sees overflow parking stretching along the motor road. This USFS project would use the nearby John Rock Overlook as an additional access point for Graveyard Fields with a pedestrian crossing of the Parkway. The proposed crossing would be planned with safety as a priority, ultimately connecting the overlook to a short, new trail constructed on NPS land that leads to USFS lands. By creating an additional safe access at the overlook, use of the area can be better distributed and visitor safety can be improved.

The Pisgah Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest is currently seeking public input on the Graveyard Fields Project which also seeks to restore, protect, and improve one of the most highly visited destinations in the District, known for its distinctive geography, natural communities, and waterfalls. The Graveyard Fields area is located 25 miles southwest of Asheville, NC and ranges in elevation from about 5,000' to over 6,200'. The larger Graveyard Fields project, of which the proposed trail connection is one piece, is divided into four primary categories of work: Heavy trail maintenance, trail relocation and construction, stream restoration, and red spruce restoration.

For more information and to provide comments about the U.S. Forest Service Graveyard Fields Project please use this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55665. On the right side of the project webpage, click Comment/Object on project and submit your comments. Comments may also be mailed to: Pisgah Ranger District, USDA Forest Service, Attn: Jeff Owenby, 1600 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768. Comments will become part of the project record and may be released under the Freedom of Information Act.






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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Fatal Accident at Chimney Tops

At 1:40 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24, Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers responded to a Chimney Tops overlook along Newfound Gap Road after receiving a report that a man fell approximately 50 feet below the embankment. Wesley Brandon Stedham, age 48, of Warrior, AL fell after stepping down a steep slope below the overlook for a photograph. Stedham suffered severe head trauma and passed away as a result of these injuries.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Hiking books make great Christmas gifts!

Christmas is only a few weeks away. So now is a great time to begin thinking about stocking stuffers for all your favorite hikers. With that in mind, I wanted to let you know that both the paperback and E-book versions of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, are available on Amazon.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the 19th century, the first trails built specifically for hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel. It also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, such as Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is a great stocking stuffer for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

For more information, and to purchase on Amazon, please click here.

Once again, thank you very much!



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Shenandoah issues hiking safety tips

Shenandoah National Park continues to experience an increase in emergency calls, prompting park officials to remind visitors of the need to plan their hiking trips and be prepared. This is especially important during the upcoming colder months when weather is more unpredictable and can be dangerous at higher elevations. Last weekend National Park Service rangers responded to several accidents with injuries and conducted a late-night search for an overdue group of hikers.

The search for four adults began at about 9:00 p.m. when the park’s communications center received a call reporting the group overdue from a hike. A team of NPS search and rescue rangers was dispatched to the call. The NPS located their vehicle at a trailhead and Rangers hiked into the backcountry and were able to find the group at about 2:00 a.m. The hikers were cold, tired, and hungry, but otherwise uninjured.

Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Pat Kenney urges people coming to visit the Park to plan ahead and be prepared. “We have encountered numerous situations that could have been prevented or mitigated with proper planning. Hiking in Shenandoah National Park is a wonderful recreational activity, and your experience will be even better if you are fully prepared for the conditions you may encounter in this mountainous wild place.”

Shenandoah National Park offers trip planning information as well as the Ten Essentials for Hiking Smart.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Prescribed burn planned on Pisgah Ranger District

The U.S. Forest Service plans to conduct a 200-acre prescribed burn on the Pisgah Ranger District this week.

The burn will take place at Sam Knob. The goal of the burn is to maintain and improve the open area of the balds and improve wildlife habitat.

For the safety of firefighters and forest visitors there will be a few temporary closures within the burn area. These temporary closures include Black Balsam Road, FSR 816 just past the Art Loeb Trail crossing, the Black Balsam parking lot at the end of FSR 816, Flat Laurel Creek Trail #346, Sam Knob Trail #617, and Sam Knob Summit (#617A).

The dates for the burn will depend upon weather conditions. Burning days are changeable because the proper conditions are needed; wind and relative humidity are key factors in fire behavior, safety, and smoke control. Prescribed burning will only occur when environmental conditions permit. During the burns, proper personnel and equipment will be on site and some roads and trails may be closed to ensure safety.

All prescribed burns are thoroughly planned and analyzed by a team of specialists to ensure that wildlife, fisheries, rare plants, and historic sites are accounted for. Habitat for a variety of wildlife can be improved through carefully planned and executed prescribed burns. Regular burns promote the growth of plants that provide food for wildlife including important game animals such as deer and turkey as well as non-game species.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Earthquake in the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains reported that an earthquake took place in the park yesterday. Here's the post from their Facebook page:
Park officials confirmed the detection by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) of a magnitude 2.2 earthquake approximately 1 mile east of Mt. Le Conte and ½ mile south of the Brushy Mountain Trail and Porters Creek Trail area today at 9:08 a.m.

LeConte Lodge staff did not experience any effects from the minor quake. The Smokies is a moderately geologically active area, with one to three minor earthquakes occurring yearly in the region. To date, none of this movement has caused any adverse impact on park visitors or facilities. Details of todays quake can be obtained from the USGS website and an interactive geology map is available on the park’s webpage at: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/geology.htm






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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Big South Fork to Open Station Camp Campground Year-Round

Effectively immediately, Station Camp Campground is open year-round for campers with or without horses. Amenities available are potable water and 30-amp electric hook-ups at each campsite, heated restrooms, hot water showers, dump station and free Wi-Fi.

Other campgrounds open year-round are Bandy Creek Campground (Loops B and C) and Alum Ford Campground.

For more information about all park campgrounds, please use this link: https://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Reservations may be made online at www.RECREATION.gov, or by calling 1-877-444-6777.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Friday, November 6, 2020

Smokies to Conduct Controlled Burns in Cades Cove

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian-Piedmont-Coastal Zone fire management staff plan to burn approximately 689 acres of fields in Cades Cove. Weather permitting, burn operations will occur ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฆ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜†, ๐—ก๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐Ÿณ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ช๐—ฒ๐—ฑ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜†, ๐—ก๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฑ.

These seasonal controlled burns help perpetuate native herbaceous species that provide high quality cover and foraging opportunities for a diversity of wildlife including deer, turkeys, and ground nesting birds.

Visitors should expect to see firefighters and equipment along Sparks Lane, Hyatt Lane, and the western end of the Cades Cove Loop Road. The loop road and historic structures will remain open to visitor use, but brief delays and temporary closures may occur to ensure public safety during burn operations. Specifically, the crew plans to burn the following units depicted in orange on the attached map: 58-acre field near the Methodist Church, 33-acre Upper Tater Branch field, 226-acre Hyatt Lane Increase Fields, 323-acre Hyatt Lane/Primitive Baptist Church field, and 49-acre Rowans Branch field.

Visitors should also expect to see fire activity and smoke during prescribed burn operations. Fire managers ask that motorists reduce speed in work zones, but refrain from stopping in the roadways. If smoke is present, motorists should roll up windows and turn on headlights.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, November 2, 2020

Red River Gorge Public Meeting Nov. 10

The Daniel Boone National Forest has begun a public planning process that will help shape the future of the Red River Gorge. Changes that have occurred in the area since the last public planning process in 2008 have highlighted the need for renewed attention to management of the Gorge.

Many of these challenges were brought into sharp relief by the Covid-19 pandemic. Visitation to the Red River Gorge is increasing at a much faster rate than anticipated as more and more new visitors make their way to the Gorge. Now is the time to work through additional management actions that strike a careful balance between preserving visitor experience and mitigating impacts on special places like the Red River Gorge.

The 2008 Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) document guides management in the Red River Gorge by describing an acceptable future condition for the Gorge and then creating a series of management actions to guide the area towards that future. Thresholds for change were established in order to gauge managers’ success at guiding the Gorge to this future condition. When these thresholds were surpassed, as has happened recently, it triggers additional collaborative problem-solving.

One aspect of this planning process will be to comply with congressional direction to establish a Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) for the Wild and Scenic Red River. The Red River CRMP will address the current status of river resources, outline goals and desired conditions, determine user capacities, and create a monitoring strategy and plan forward.

“The popularity of recreation in this region has grown much faster than our agency anticipated and, with that growth, comes tremendous opportunity and significant challenges,” said Jon Kazmierski, Cumberland District Ranger. “The goal of this new round of planning is to examine the management tools that are available and apply them in a way that ensures the public’s safety and enjoyment of their national forest while protecting the character and resources of the Red River Gorge that draw people to the area and make it so unique.”

The public is invited to join the USDA Forest Service at a virtual public meeting on Tuesday November 10, 2020 from 5-6:30 PM to discuss these upcoming management actions. Meeting information as well as more details about this process are available on https://www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf and www.facebook.com/danielboonenf.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Smokies Seeks Public Input to Improve Visitor Experiences and Congestion

During the week of October 19, Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to provide input on how the park can improve visitor experiences and alleviate congestion at some of its busiest destinations. The public can participate through virtual interactive workshops, online forms, or direct mail.

“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our local communities and visitors from across the country to thoughtfully address growing challenges associated with extremely high visitation,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Congestion at the most visited park in the nation is complex, but we believe by working together, we can find solutions that help us continue to protect the park and provide better experiences for millions of visitors.”

Providing a high-quality visitor experience has grown more challenging due to recent, increased visitation. Since 2009, annual visitation to the Smokies has increased by 32%, resulting in congested roadways, overflowing parking lots, roadside soil erosion, vegetation trampling, and long lines at restrooms and visitor center facilities. The park received a record 12.5 million visits in 2019 and has set monthly visitation records in June, July, and August in 2020.

The public is invited to attend facilitator-led, two-hour workshops online with park managers on the following dates: Monday, October 19 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.; Tuesday, October 20 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.; Thursday, October 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; or Thursday, October 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Through the workshops, participants will learn about the current state of park visitation and be introduced to congestion management strategies used on public lands across the world. Participants will be asked to provide input on the following places in the park: Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls, Alum Cave, Chimney Tops, and Laurel Falls. In small online groups, participants will be asked to provide input on how the park might improve visitor experiences and alleviate congestion at these busy destinations.

Participants must register for the virtual workshop by filling out an online form here by October 14. Once registered, participants will receive instructions and a link to join the online workshop.

The public may also submit input without participating in the workshops by sending comments through October 31 to the following:

• On the web (preferred method) at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsmves-survey.

• By mail:

Visitor Experience and Stewardship Great Smoky Mountains National Park 107 Park Headquarters Rd Gatlinburg, TN 37738

For more information about visitation in the Smokies, please visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/management/VES.htm.

The Great Smoky Mountains isn't the only park to see a sharp increase in visitor traffic over the last several years. Nearly all of our parks are being crushed by visitors. A large section in the final chapter of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, offers several solutions on how we can handle the problem of crowds in our national parks.



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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The "Air Ambulance Jet Suit"

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Twitter about an "air ambulance jet suit" being tested in the Lake District of northern England. If this invention is proven to be viable, it could mean that a paramedic could "fly" to an injured hiker or climber in difficult terrain (think Grand Canyon) in a matter of minutes, rather than taking hours or more on foot. If this is the case, it could mean the difference between life and death for some accident victims.

Here's a clip from CBS News showing footage from the test:










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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Friday, October 9, 2020

Shenandoah National Park Issues Travel Tips for October

October is a popular time to visit Shenandoah National Park, typically garnering nearly a quarter of the Park’s annual visitation of 1.4 million. The Park is experiencing higher than usual visitation with numbers up for the year about 10% despite a closure in the spring due to the COVID pandemic. Park officials are expecting high visitation in October as visitors come to Shenandoah for the fall leaf display. The first weekend in October saw 14,000 cars enter the park, doubling 2019’s 7,000. According to Superintendent Patrick Kenney, “We know fall is an amazing time to visit the Park; we highly encourage visitors to recognize that is also our most popular time to visit and to anticipate higher levels of visitation and come prepared.

To help visitors plan their trips to the Park during this popular time, Park officials have issued some tips to help make your experience better:

* Purchasing passes or paying entrance fees online ahead of time at www.recreation.gov. This will reduce wait times at entrance stations. Special lanes for visitors who have pre-paid have been established at the most popular entrances at Front Royal and Thornton Gap.

* Utilizing the less popular entrances off Route 33 and Interstate 64 can also significantly reduce wait times to access Skyline Drive.

* Pre-planning. Shenandoah has over 65 overlooks and 500 miles of trails so pre-planning can help visitors have an enjoyable trip to the Park. The Park’s website (www.nps.gov/shen) and its official app (https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/photosmultimedia/app.htm) offer suggestions for how to enjoy your visit. If you want a less crowded experience, arrive early or stay late and avoid main trails, such as Old Rag, Whiteoak Canyon, Dark Hollow Falls, Stony Man, and Hawksbill Trails.

* If you see someone whose behavior might hurt them, others, or the Park, please tell a ranger or call 1-800-732-0911. The boost in visitation has also brought about some resource-protection challenges as Park staff work to stay ahead of more intense cleaning protocols due to COVID. Park officials urge visitors to be sure to secure food and trash in bear-resistant containers. “We know people enjoy the wildlife they see in the Park; managing your trash is a simple thing we all can do to ensure their protection” said Kenney.”

Shenandoah National Park is one of a few national parks that allow pets. Visitors with pets are urged to comply with regulations. Pets must be restrained on a 6-foot leash at all times and owners must bag their pets’ waste and dispose of it in a trash receptacle. Pets are prohibited on the following trails: Fox Hollow, Stony Man, Limberlost, Dark Hollow Falls, Story of the Forest, Bearfence Mountain, Frazier Discovery Trails, and Post Office Junction to Old Rag Shelter, Old Rag Ridge, Saddle, Access and Ridge Access Trails.

Additional tips and COVID-related information can be found on the Park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/know-before-you-go.htm.








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

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park