Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: My Top Five Hikes I want to do this Winter

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: My Top Five Hikes I want to do this Winter: I have found a hiking buddy for the Winter! Very excited about doing some snowshoeing and regular hiking up a few great White Mountains...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiking Tips

Datto's Tip -- Clothes
As some of you prepare for the start of your upcoming AT thru-hike I'll bet you might be in the process of cutting pack weight. Clothes are certainly an area to consider when looking to shed those ounces. Pretty much every single AT thru-hiker that I met in Georgia on the AT during Year 2000 was carrying way too many clothes, including me.
Basically, look at it this way -- if it gets so bitter cold that you'd need big heavy clothes just to stay warm, you'll likely be getting off the Trail for a few days to wait out the weather. Getting off the Trail for a day or two to wait out weather is not unusual, particularly during the early spring and during autumn.
On the other hand, you don't want to cut back on weight so much that you never get warm while you're on the Trail. And that's what your sleeping bag is for. If you are out on the Trail and the temps do drop so far that you get very cold, get into your sleeping bag, take a break and get warm.
If you haven't yet had the chance to be backpacking in colder temps then you may not be aware of how much heat your body generates while carrying that thing called a backpack. It's not uncommon to see AT thru-hikers wearing only a t-shirt and shorts in 40-50* temps. So, while you're hiking it's likely you'll be warm -- it's only when you stop hiking to take a break or set up camp does the cold seem apparent.
Raincoat -- something on the order of 18 ounces or less. You can actually find a thru-hiker raincoat for about 13 ounces or less. If you're carrying a raincoat that weighs 30 ounces you have a big opportunity to shed some pack weight. Keep in mind that as an AT thru-hiker, the purpose of the raincoat isn't so much to keep you dry but to keep you warm when it's raining and windy. Right now I'm carrying a Red Ledge Thunderlight raincoat which, for me, would be fine to handle the task on an AT thru-hike. Here's what that raincoat looks like
Insulated Jacket -- Get something at 20 ounces or less with man-made insulation in it (not a down jacket -- a down jacket will be soaked and worthless for insulation). Polarguard 3D insulation or Primaloft -- both are pretty good for insulating when the insulation gets wet. Right now if I was to start a northbound AT thru-hike this spring I'd be taking either my Patagonia Puffball jacket or my Golite Coal jacket. I took the Puffball on my Year 2000 northbound AT thru-hike and it performed admirably. The jacket design from Patagonia for the Puffball isn't the same today though. The Golite Coal jacket has a removable insulating hood and the Puffball doesn't. There were definitely times on the AT in Year 2000 I wished I'd have had that hood. Both of my insulated jackets are insulated with Polarguard 3D, both have DWR finish (either one would be soaked often either due to sweat or by being worn under my raincoat, regardless of the DWR finish). Both are very warm for the ounce weight.
Long-underwear -- one pair at 8 ounces or less (two pair is overkill) -- make sure these are made entirely of man-made materials -- no cotton percentage at all. The one's I wore on my northbound AT Year 2000 thru-hiker were the Ozark brand from Wal-mart and they did well for the weight. I wore one pair for the south end of the AT and then swapped in a new pair for the north end of the AT.
Lightweight Nylon Pants -- one pair, 8-10 ounces (two pairs are overkill) -- these are for warmth and wind resistance. They should have no cotton percentage in them at all. Typically in cold weather if you needed more warmth on your lower body than what you'd have with your long-underwear and outside shorts then wear these nylon pants overtop. If it got colder than that while you're hiking with your backpack, then it's probably too cold to be on the Trail. I only had maybe 4-5 days on the Trail where I'd wished I'd had something warmer on my legs while I was hiking.
Outside Shorts -- one pair (two pairs are overkill) . The liner of these shorts, if you have one, is your underwear -- most men won't need real underwear on the Trail. Some thru-hikers wore bike shorts rather than gym shorts or swim suits. These outside shorts alone are for hiking in warmer weather -- slightly colder temps might have you wearing your long-johns underneath these outside shorts (gives you that chic thru-hiker look). Certainly would be good to have at least one pocket on the outside shorts be a zippered pocket so valuables don't go jangling out of your pockets while you're hiking. Speaking of jangling, some thru-hikers cut out the liner of their shorts and went bo jangles so they didn't get jock rot.
Fleece Balaclava -- definitely the warmest type of hat to have around. I hiked more than a few days on my thru-hike wearing a balaclava during the day.
Baseball Hat -- not only does it keep your head warm and keep the sun out of your eyes (the sun is quite bright in the springtime before the leaves fill the trees) but also, for me anyhow, a way to combat some of the gnats that will be attacking your face while you're hiking (bill down through the gnats -- the gnats are attracted to carbon dioxide from your breathing and the bill of my baseball hat seemed to keep them from getting the full blast of my carbon dioxide).
Gloves -- bring the type of gloves that will keep you warm when your gloves are soaked from being rained on for days on end. For me, the Outdoor Research fleece gloves that I carried on my thru-hike and intended for this purpose were worthless. My hands always seemed to be cold when I wore those OR fleece gloves regardless of whether it was while I was hiking or while I was at the shelter. If I was to go on an AT thru-hike today I'd take my heavier gloves that I know are warm and leave the lightweight fleece gloves at home. Or leave all the gloves at home and just put my hands in my coat pockets if my hands were cold while I was standing around.
Socks -- bring two pair of good hiking socks (and two pairs of man-made fiber liner socks if you're the kind that wears liner socks -- make sure your boots are over-sized if you're going to use thick socks and/or liner socks). On my AT thru-hike I used Smartwool brand Expedition Trekking socks or Thorlo brand Hiker or Light Hiker socks. The Smartwool Expedition Trekking socks definitely held up the best but were also the most expensive. If I was going to start an AT thru-hike this spring I'd probably just get some Smartwool Expedition Trekking socks and swap in a new pair every 400 miles or so.
Insoles -- for me these were very important in making my boots more comfortable. I used several types on my AT thru-hike and eventually settled on Spenco because I thought they were the best value. I'd swap out the insoles about every 500-600 Trail miles or so.
Long sleeve T-shirt -- I carried one of these -- only during the colder months. The shirt was a Duofold Coolmax turtleneck type that had the five rings of the Olympic Games on it. Town folk would see the Olympic rings and joke with me asking if I was training for the Olympics. I told them, "Yeah, I'm a downhill skier. That's why I carry these ski poles with me wherever I go." Then I'd make swooshing sounds and move my hips back and forth while slaloming my Leki hiking poles to the left and right..
Lastly, make sure you cut off all of the tags from the shirts -- otherwise you may get a rubbing spot or skin burn from a tag moving back and forth as you hike.
Short sleeve T-shirt -- for the one's you wear on the Trail while you're hiking, make sure they're made of man-made materials -- no cotton in them at all. Most people wore either the less expensive Duofold Coolmax type T-shirts or the more expensive Patagonia lightweight Capilene or silkweight Capilene T-shirts. I wore the Duofold Coolmax T-shirts and swapped in new ones every 700 miles or so. Note the T-shirts you wear on your thru-hike are likely going to be so skanked up that it's likely they'll stink bad after your thru-hike (at least to the people around you who aren't thru-hikers that is -- Ha, probably most thru-hikers won't notice your skank above their own, which they'll be thinking is the normal way things are supposed to smell). During the hot summer months a few thru-hikers wore cotton T-shirts -- I had a cotton T-shirt that I never wore while I was hiking but wore only in town.

                                                     Information By Datto ( AT Thru-Hiker )

Appalachian Trail Videos

These are some very interesting hikes through and along the Appalachian Trail that I thought some might like to view or they may contain helpful information.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hike To Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls begins from a field at stop number ten on the Cades Cove Loop Road. To reach the Abrams Falls trailhead, drive five miles on the Cades Cove Loop. After crossing Abrams Creek, turn right on a gravel road which runs through a grassy field. Park at the back of the field where there are signs and a wooden bridge that mark the beginning of the trail.

                                                 Trail Features:           Waterfalls

                                                 Trail Location:           Cades Cove

                                                 Roundtrip Length:          5.0 miles

                                                 Total Elevation Gain:      340 feet

                                                 Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:     136 feet

                                                 Trail Difficulty Rating:   5.68 (moderate)        

                                                 Highest Elevation:         1710 feet

Up A Little Rise Hiking To Abrams Falls

Beautiful WildFlowers

Brenda And Atti Sitting At Abrams Falls

Lots Of Hikers Wade In To Cool Off During The Summer

Log Jam !

Atti At Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls

Monday, November 21, 2011

SnowShoes Information For Hiking

Modern Snowshoes
A snowshoe is footwear for walking over the snow. Snowshoes work by distributing the weight of the person over a larger area so that the person's foot does not sink completely into the snow, a quality called "flotation".

Traditional snowshoes have a hardwood frame with rawhide lacings. Some modern snowshoes are similar, but most are made of materials such as lightweight metal, plastic, and synthetic fabric. In addition to distributing the weight, snowshoes are generally raised at the toe for maneuverability. They must not accumulate snow, hence the latticework, and require bindings to attach them to the feet.

Orginal SnowShoe
In the past, snowshoes were essential tools for fur traders, trappers and anyone whose life or living depended on the ability to get around in areas of deep and frequent snowfall, and they remain necessary equipment for forest rangers and others who must be able to get around areas inaccessible to motorized vehicles when the snow is deep. However, today snowshoes are mainly used for recreation, primarily by hikers and runners who like to continue their hobby in wintertime. Snowshoeing is easy to learn, and in appropriate conditions is a relatively safe and inexpensive recreational activity. However, snowshoeing in icy, steep terrain is more dangerous.

As many winter recreationists rediscover snowshoeing, many more new models of snowshoe are becoming available. Ski areas and outdoor equipment stores are offering snowshoes for rent.
Snowshoes today are divided into three types:
aerobic/running (small and light; not intended for backcountry use);
recreational (a bit larger; meant for use in gentle-to moderate walks of 3–5 miles ; and
mountaineering (the largest, meant for serious hill-climbing, long-distance trips and off-trail use).

Sizes are often given in inches, even though snowshoes are nowhere near perfectly rectangular. Mountaineering shoes can be at least 30 inches  long by 10 inches  wide; a lighter pair of racing shoes can be slightly narrower and 25 inches  or shorter.
Regardless of configuration, all wooden shoes are referred to as "traditional" and all shoes made of other materials are called "modern."
Notwithstanding these variations in planned use, larger users should plan on buying larger snowshoes. A common formula is that for every pound of body weight, there should be one square inch of snowshoe surface  per snowshoe to adequately support the wearer. Users should also consider the weight of any gear they will be packing, especially if they expect to break trail. Those planning to travel into deep powder look for even larger shoes.
Many manufacturers now include weight-based flotation ratings for their shoes, although there is no standard for setting this as of yet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: Franconia Notch: Basin and Cannon Mt.

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: Franconia Notch: Basin and Cannon Mt.: So, after the snow storm New England had a few weeks ago, I went to see how Franconia Notch held up beginning of last week. I love snow, and...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pets In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads, but must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must not exceed 6 feet in length. Dogs are only allowed on two short walking paths—the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other park trails. Pet excrement must be immediately collected by the pet handler and disposed of in a trash receptacle. Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles or RVs.
Large national parks that have extensive backcountry areas as a rule do not allow dogs on trails. These include parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Rocky Mountains, and several others. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has prohibited dogs in the backcountry since the park was first established in the 1930s. The park prohibits dogs on hiking trails for several reasons:
• Dogs can carry disease into the park's wildlife populations.

• Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, scaring birds and other animals away from nesting, feeding, and resting sites. The scent left behind by a dog can signal the presence of a predator, disrupting or altering the behavior of park wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.

• Dogs bark and disturb the quiet of the wilderness. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.

• Pets may become prey for larger predators such as coyotes and bears. In addition, if your dog disturbs and enrages a bear, it may lead the angry bear directly to you. Dogs can also encounter insects that bite and transmit disease and plants that are poisonous or full of painful thorns and burrs.

• Many people, especially children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors.

The Southern Highlands region offers an amazing variety of federal public lands for recreation and enjoyment. Some public lands outside the Smokies offer a wider range of recreational opportunities than are available here, including hiking with your pet. For maps and information about these national forests and recreation areas please contact the offices listed below. (By clicking on these links, you will leave the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.)

                   Information provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Charlies Bunion A Must Hike In The GSMNP

The first 2 miles is a steady climb, you will come to the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail, take a quick 25-yard walk for a great view. Go back to the A.T. and proceed for about 1 mile to the intersection of "The Boulevard" trail, which leads to Mount Leconte. If you want include the Jumpoff in your hike take this trail for a few yards and to your right will be the "unmarked" trail that leads to the Jumpoff. The views from here are incredible but it is a steep drop-off with a trail that dead-ends so you will have to backtrack to the A.T. to continue onto Charlies Bunion. A little over a mile you will get a glimpse of Charlies Bunion which was formed by a fire,1925, killing much of the trees and plants on this peak over 5500 ft. 4 years later a flood finished off the soil and any hope of reclaiming the mountain back. Great views of Mt. LeConte and Mt. Chapman. Pack a lunch for this is a picnic table that is indescribable!

Hiking up the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion

Atti Hanging Out At IceWater Shelter

View From IceWater Shelter On The Appalachian Trail

View Of Mt.LeConte From The Appalachian Trail

Charlies Bunion In The Great Smoky Mountains

Atti At Charlies Bunion In GSMNP

View From The Top Over Looking Charlies Bunion

Cute Little Doe At Mt.LeConte

This was a beautiful hike this summer in July , 2011 to Mt.LeConte via Rainbow Falls trail . At the the top i came back down the trail from Myrtle Point were I Come upon this cute little doe just grazing away without a care in the world . The same frame of mind that the rest of us had that day just enjoying all that the mountain and nature had to give that day . Sometimes I am amazed at how man/woman can coincide in such close proximity with nature without destroying the other . Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder and in the wilderness that is us all !

Cute Little Doe At The Cabins At Mt.LeConte

She Was Just Grazing Away With About 12 Hikers Watching Her

She Is Still Eatting ......LoL

Nothing As Sweet As Enjoying Nature On A Hike

Junior Ranger Program In The GSMNP

Bring the whole family for a hands-on exploration of the diversity of life within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Together, you will discover the wonders of the Smokies and learn of ideas to preserve natural and cultural treasures in your own backyard.

During spring, summer, and fall, ranger-led programs suitable for children are offered. These programs offer children an opportunity to explore and learn about the park. Read through the schedule of ranger-led programs to find programs especially for children.
Kids—if you're between the ages of 5-12, you can become a Junior Ranger! Learn how!

Kids—if you're between the ages of 5-12, you can become a Junior Ranger! Pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for $2.50 at any park visitor center or at the Cades Cove or Elkmont campground. Complete the activities in the booklet then stop by a visitor center to talk to a ranger and receive your Junior Ranger badge.
You can become a Junior Ranger at any time of year, but during spring, summer, and fall, ranger-led Junior Ranger programs are offered especially for children. Read through the schedule of ranger-led programs to find these special Junior Ranger programs.

Junior Ranger: Blacksmithing
Want to see what Junior Ranger programs are all about? Watch a video of the Junior Ranger Blacksmith program at the Mountain Farm Museum.

Online Opportunities to explore your National Parks.
Can't visit the park in person? Explore the Great Smoky Mountains and other national parks through the following online games and activities:

Take an electronic field-trip to the park!
Search for life in the Great Smoky Mountains with downloadable acitivities, videos, and interactive games.

Become A WebRanger!
The National Park Service's online Junior Ranger program is for kids of all ages. With more than 50 online games, you can have fun learning about your national parks, monuments, and historic sites.

                  Information provided by : National Park Service

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: Five White Mountain Pictures and Views

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: Five White Mountain Pictures and Views: I enjoy hiking and taking pictures along the way. Here are a few of some pictures that I haven't shared yet, that I took this summer along s...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Winter Hiking 10 Safe Tips

1. Dress like an onion.
The Quebecois have a saying, s’habiller comme un oignon, which literally means to dress like an onion, in layers. This is especially important when hiking in colder weather, as temperatures can vary at the bottom of the trail and on the summit of the mountain. Having a variety of insulating clothing will help you regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable. I like to wear a layer of long underwear, a light fleece or soft shell jacket, and waterproof pants. I keep an insulated jacket (either down or synthetic loft), fleece pants, and a waterproof shell jacket in my pack in case of foul weather. Always wear thick, winter-weight socks, since your toes are the first place you’ll feel cold. It’s also a good idea to have two layers of gloves or mittens, one for insulation and one for waterproofing. An outfit like this will keep you dry in case of precipitation and warm when you reach an exposed area or summit.
2. Start small and start early.
When planning your first winter hike, be reasonable about the distance and difficulty of the trail. While it might be a cinch to do a twelve-mile loop in summertime conditions, you may run into ice or deep snow on the same trail during the winter. Also, many access roads to your favorite trailheads are closed and unplowed over the winter, which could add significant mileage to your trip. There is nothing quite as frustrating as wading through waist deep snow for miles on end, so choose a trail you know you can handle without difficulty.
Also, be prepared for some early mornings. Don’t forget that the sun sets much earlier in the winter months. Plan to be off the trail before dark to avoid getting lost or having an accident.
3. Bring safety gear.
There are a few basic items that every winter hiker should carry in case of emergency. Aside from basic hiking gear, you should always have a trail map, a first aid kit, a compass, a pocket knife or multi-tool, hand warming packets, and a headlamp. For a day hike, it’s a good idea to split up some of the heavier safety items among the members of your group. Avid outdoorsman Frank Gibbons, who hikes and backpacks year-round in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, warns that even day hikers should be prepared to spend the night in an emergency. “Every member of the group usually carries some emergency gear like a bivy sack or sleeping bag, down parka, cell phone, sleeping pad (for laying someone down if he is hurt), etc.” While it may mean that your backpack is a bit heavier, it may also mean that you avoid frostbite if you have to stay on the mountain overnight.
4. Check the weather.
While this might seem like an obvious step, it’s important to get a complete picture of the conditions for your trip, not just the temperature. Look at the precipitation, wind speed, avalanche reports, and daylight hours. I spoke with Peter Crane, the Director of Programs at the Mount Washington Observatory. He advises winter hikers to become knowledgeable about winter weather: “Do your research, learn about winter conditions and how they vary from summer conditions. It’s really a different world in the winter. A dozen people have died on Mount Washington due to avalanches. When you get above tree line, you have the added challenge of finding your way in limited visibility, or even whiteout conditions.” Be sure your hike is planned for a day when conditions are manageable. The good news is it is very easy to find this kind of weather information, and if the conditions are scary, postpone your hike.
5. Learn to use crampons.
When the trail is icy, crampons can make the difference between summiting and turning around, but if you use them improperly it’s easy to injure yourself. If you’re new to crampons, read up on techniques and try them out on an easy trail. Practice putting them on and taking them off. Have a more experienced friend show you how to use them going uphill and downhill. I’ll never forget seeing an obvious beginner jog nonchalantly down an icy rock face in his crampons. One misstep, one stumble, and he could have cut open his leg or sprained an ankle. Take it slow when you’re starting out to avoid accidents. Never forget that crampons are in fact metal spikes attached to your feet!
6. Take an experienced friend.
Hiking with friends is always the way to go, especially in the winter. Not only is it more fun to share the adventure with others, but it’s also safer to be with a group. An experienced friend can help you with choosing gear, using crampons or snowshoes, and identifying dangerous conditions. Also, avid winter hikers usually have extra gloves, hiking poles, and goggles laying around that you could borrow to fill out your packing list. Be sure to leave at least one friend at home who knows where you’re going.
7. Make tea or cocoa.
It is essential to bring plenty of water when hiking in the winter, as dehydration is a common problem. Add some comfort to your trip by making tea, coffee, or cocoa in a lightweight portable stove, or carrying it with you in a thermos. A hot beverage can warm you up and provide a nice break from the hike. If your water is room temperature, it’s less likely to freeze and it will boil faster. There’s nothing like a hot cocoa break to motivate you for the summit push.
8. Invest in good gear.
While no two packing lists are exactly the same, there are some basic items that every winter hiker should be prepared to buy. Most avid winter hikers invest in the following items: crampons or snowshoes, waterproof pants and jacket, knee-high gaiters, waterproof boots, an insulated jacket, a lightweight backpack, hiking poles, a camp stove, hats/gloves, and goggles or wrap-around sunglasses. While it’s tempting to take the cheap route and get sub-par gear, I recommend looking for end-of-season sales and coupons instead.  It can be expensive when you’re getting started, but most of the gear you pick up can be useful in the summer season as well.
9. Be prepared to turn around.
Legendary mountaineer Ed Viesturs (who has climbed every 8,000 meter peak in the world) once said, “Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory.” Echoing this sentiment, Mr. Crane told me, “The mountains have been here for a long time, and they’ll be here for a long time still.” Don’t hesitate to turn around if you run into conditions that look dangerous. Reaching the summit of a peak is just half the journey, and you must have time and energy left over for the descent. Focus on the entire trip, not just the ascent.
10. Treat yourself to a great meal.
Lastly, be sure to reward yourself for a job well-done. When I come off a mountain, I like to find the nearest source of comfort food. Sometimes it’s a cozy Place with great burgers, sometimes it’s a lively pizza place Or a great Zaxby's salad. No worries about your appearance and aroma; restaurants at the base of any big peak are used to hikers stopping off for a meal.
While there are many considerations when transitioning from casual fair-weather hiking to winter expeditions, these tips should get you started on year-round adventures.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Approaching Wildlife While Hiking , Camping or Auto Touring

Most visitors understand that feeding wildlife is against the law, but many people do not realize that disturbing park wildlife is also a violation of federal regulations and can result in fines and arrest.
The laws protecting park wildlife are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. It states that “Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces bear or elk is prohibited." In addition, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
As a rule of thumb, if you approach an animal so closely that it changes its behavior, you have approached too closely. Instead use binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras with telephoto lenses to enjoy wildlife. Watch for any modification in an animal's behavior that indicates that you have approached too closely. Move away from the animal until you reach a distance at which the animal feels comfortable once again and resumes whatever activity it was engaged in before you approached.
Never feed wildlife or bait animals for closer observation or photography. Feeding park wildlife usually guarantees its demise.
Viewing Tips
Viewing wildlife in the Smokies can be challenging because most of the park is covered by dense forest. Open areas like Cataloochee and Cades Cove offer some of the best opportunities to see white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoon, turkeys, woodchucks, and other animals. The narrow, winding road of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail encourages motorists to travel at a leisurely pace and sometimes yields sightings of bear and other wildlife. During winter wildlife is more visible because deciduous trees have lost their leaves.
Because many animals are most active at night, it can be advantageous to look for wildlife during morning and evening. It's also a good idea to carry binoculars. Some people like to sit quietly beside a trail to see what wildlife will come out of hiding. And don't forget to scan the trees—many animals spend their days among the branches.

Monday, November 7, 2011

National Park Vs. National Forest

What's in a name?
National Park or National Forest; park ranger or forest ranger...Is there a difference between these often confused names? The answer is yes. Although many visitors are not aware of it, national parks and national forests have very different purposes; together they provide us all with a wide spectrum of uses.

National parks emphasize strict preservation of pristine areas. They focus on protecting natural and historic resources "unimpaired for future generations." Park rangers work for the National Park Service (NPS) under the Department of Interior.

National forests, on the other hand, emphasize not only resource preservation, but other kinds of use as well. Under this concept of "multiple use," national forests are managed to provide Americans with a wide variety of services and commodities, including lumber, cattle grazing, mineral products and recreation with and without vehicles. The national forests are managed by forest rangers with the US Forest Service (USFS) under the Department of Agriculture.

Because they have different purposes, adjoining national parks and national forests may need to have very different rules. For example, national parks usually forbid hunting, while forests usually allow it. Dogs can be taken on national forest trails, but not those in national parks. National forests may provide trails for motorcycles; national parks do not. Both agencies have designated wilderness. In these areas both agencies strive for maximum protection of natural landscapes.
Because Great Smoky Mountains National Park is next to Cherokee, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, visitors need to pay attention to where they are. A perfectly legal activity in a forest may get you cited before a court of law in a park.

When you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, use the free map to see where you are and which rules apply, or ask a park ranger. In this case, there is a lot in a name.
Visit the US Forest Service website to learn more about National Forests.
National forests surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Cherokee National Forest
Nantahala National Forest
Pisgah National Forest

Emergency Information For GSMNP

Numbers to call for emergencies:
Park Rangers (865) 436-9171
Cherokee Police (828) 497-4131

Gatlinburg Police (865) 436-5181

Haywood County Sheriff (828) 452-6666

Area Hospitals:
Blount Memorial Hospital
907 E Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN
(865) 983-7211
LeConte Medical Center
742 Middle Creek Road
Sevierville, TN
(865) 446-7000

Swain County Hospital
45 Plateau Street
Bryson City, NC
(828) 488-2155

Haywood Regional Medical Center
262 Leroy George Drive
Clyde, NC
(828) 456-7311

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Field Treatment Of FrostBite

Field treatment of frostbite is possible but with exception to very minor cases, medical treatment should always be sought out. The most important step in treating frostbite is to make sure you will not refreeze the injured area. If you are in an emergency situation and come to a shelter, you will do far worse injury to yourself or an injured friend treating your frostbite and then moving on to the trailhead, only to get frostbite in the same areas when you start to move again. When treating yourself or someone else for frostbite you should also check for signs of hypothermia, as the two medical conditions typically go hand in hand. Never attempt to field treat third degree frostbite. It is a life threatening medical condition that needs to be treated by a trained professional.

The most logical step for treatment is to get out of the cold and out of the wind. Warm the frostbitten areas slowly, and start at the outer extremities and work your way in (toes to feet, fingers to hands, nose to cheeks) using warm breath or by tucking the hands or feet inside warm clothing by bare warm flesh (armpits and groin areas work best).
For broader areas of frostbite (when more than a toe or earlobe is involved) keep the frostbitten area elevated. Wrapping the injured area in warmed blankets. If possible immerse in warm water (104 to 108 degrees - similar in temperature to what you would bathe a new born baby in) for 15 to 30 minutes. Please note that immersion can become quite painful as the flesh begins to thaw out. You should never rub or massage the frozen areas, doing so only rubs the ice crystals around on the delicate cell walls and causes further injury and damage.

Unless your life absolutely depends on it, never walk on frostbitten feet. If blisters form during rewarming do not break or drain them. The skin as it thaws out may turn red, could tingle, burn or be very painful. If you experience pain during the rewarming process, get blisters, or have tissue damage you should seek medical attention immediately. Never rewarm a frostbitten area on your own if you can get conventional medical help and advice in a timely fashion.
Prevention of frostbite is actually very simple and for the most part is based on common sense.
Understand the prevailing weather conditions. Remember not only air temperature but wind speed effects how quickly frostbite can occur. Be prepared for worse than what the weatherman calls for.

Wear layers of clothing and protect exposed skin from the elements. A number of very good man made insulators are available on the market from a number of manufacturers. Wool is the best natural insulator. Cotton should be avoided if you are in conditions where you might get wet.
Wool socks, VVS, with liner socks made of Wick Dry or Cool Max, with good boots that are waterproofed help keep your feet warm.  In more extreme conditions consider wearing mountaineering boots.

Wear a hat that will cover your ears. If you are in extreme cold or windy conditions, a ski mask or facemask is helpful. In the most severe conditions, total coverage of your face, including ski goggles may be required so that not the tiniest bit of skin is exposed on the face or head.
Don't drink alcohol, consume caffeinated drinks or smoke when out in the extreme cold. All of these activities encourage hypothermia and frostbite.

Frostbite is a very preventable and treatable outdoor-related injury. A little careful preparation and understanding is all it takes to protect you from serious injuries while enjoying the outdoors. Jack Frost may nip at your nose, but if it's properly covered you'll never know.


Frostbite is a medical condition that can happen to anyone. In the most basic terms frostbite is when the skin and/or the tissue under the skin freezes and causes cell damage. This is caused by exposure to cold, either through the air or through a chemical exposure, like to dry ice (frozen CO2) or highly compressed gasses. Under extreme conditions frostbite can occur in seconds.
The elderly, young children, people with circulator disorders, and people from tropical climates have a higher risk factor of getting frostbite. People who have had previous cold injuries are also particularly at risk of getting injuries again in the same places.

Frostbite comes in three levels of severity or degrees.
First degree, also called frost nip: Most people who live in very cold climates or do a lot of outdoor activity in the winter have had first degree frostbite (just as most people have had a first degree burn when they get sunburn). Frost nip presents itself as numbed skin that has turned white in color. The skin may feel stiff to the touch, but the tissue under is still warm and soft. There is very little chance of blistering, infection or permanent scarring as long as it is treated properly.

Second degree, superficial frostbite: Superficial frostbite is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. The skin will be white or blue and will feel hard and frozen. The tissue underneath is still undamaged. Blistering is likely which is why medical treatment should be sought out. Proper treatment is critical to prevent severe or permanent injuries.

Third degree, deep frostbite: The skin is white, blotchy and/or blue. The tissue underneath is hard and cold to the touch. This is a life threatening injury. Deep frostbite needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. The tissue underneath has been damaged, in severe cases amputation may be the final recourse to prevent severe infection. Blistering will happen. Proper medical treatment in a medical facility with personnel trained to deal with severe frostbite injuries is required to aid in the prevention of severe or permanent injury.

Just what does frostbite do to the tissues? When you are exposed to cold with the extremities including your feet, hands, nose, ears, and face being at the highest risk, the blood vessels constrict. This is a natural reaction to prevent body heat loss and hypothermia. With a loss of warming blood flow (or in extreme cases where blood flow can not compete with the extreme cold) the fluid within your cells and tissues start to freeze forming ice crystals. These ice crystals take up more room within the cells then when in a fluid state, and cause the cells to rupture. Also, sudden warming can cause the cells to rupture. This is why large blisters can form when there is superficial or severe frostbite.

Frostbite can occur in as little as thirty-seconds in extreme conditions, and even faster in the case of chemical injuries (which we won't cover here). Factors like wind chill, alcohol consumption, altitude, getting wet or being damp and how long you are exposed to the cold all impact how quickly and how severe frostbite can be. Long term exposure to moderate cold with wet boots can cause a more serious injury than a short-term exposure to severe cold with inadequate boots in the case of your feet. It is a complex equation that needs to be weighed careful when being outdoors in the cold.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Setting Up Your Backcounty Campsite

OK, no trails, no bugs, no water, no roots, no rocks, no water near by, no other camps setup, and no ridges.  A wonderful view is only a minute walk away, and clean water is a minute walk in the other direction.  You're ready to setup camp!  Use a drop cloth to setup your tent on.  Putting a drop cloth on the ground first helps protect the bottom of your tent, helps keep it clean, and acts as an additional barrier between you and the ground.  As children we were taught to dig a trench around our tents, no more.  Leave No Trace ethics means not ripping up the ground.  If you took the precautions above water won’t be flowing into your tent at 3:00 in the morning.

In the summer orient the openings in your tent to catch the breeze in the night.  If the site you selected has a fire ring or grate, make sure the prevailing wind doesn’t carry smoke into your tent.  Stake your tent off properly, even if it is self-erecting.  In the event of severe weather, people have been carried off in their tents as they roll along the ground!  Make sure you properly store your food products safely in a tree or in a bear canister.  Storing your food isn’t just to prevent marauding bears from coming through, raccoons, skunks, porcupines and other forest critters can wipe out your food supplies and do a lot of damage to your equipment.
Now the tent is setup, food is stored, gear set away, time to find your privy.  In the backcountry you won’t have the luxury of facilities.  If you are camping in an area where pit toilets are available, use them in favor of digging your own cat hole.  Your privy area should be downwind from your campsite and at least 200 feet from moving or standing water.  Make sure to get to the area you don’t have to pass through or near poison ivy, oak or sumac.  Also make sure the area affords some privacy as you never know when the next Scout troop will be hiking on by.  When using your privy, dig a cat hole removing a single large divot of soil, six to eight inches deep from the ground.  When you’re done, simply replace the intact divot over your waste.  If it is done right, you won’t even know where you dug the hole.  Remember to pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products if you are using a cat hole.  If you wash your dishes with soap, treat the gray water from your dishes as you would human waste.

If your site does not have a fire ring, grate, or fire pan, Leave No Trace ethics recommends you don’t build a fire. Don’t dig a fire pit, move rocks to make a ring, or scrape the ground bare to make a fire on the surface.  If the area does have a fire ring or grate, only use the dry wood from off of the ground.  Green and uncured wood isn’t going to burn well anyway.  Keep your fire small and under control, and always be aware of local fire regulations and burning bans.  In windy conditions seriously consider not building a fire. Try to use a lantern for light and a stove for cooking.  Take a short walk to that bluff you found could provide spectacular views of the night sky.
So now it’s time to put on your camp shoes or sandals.  Sit back, relax, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the outdoors.  If you are camping in a group, cards, games, and good old-fashioned talk can fill the time.  If you are traveling solo you can read, draw, or write in a journal.  Respect the outdoors and try not to be too loud or boisterous.  Sound can travel long distances in the outdoors, especially if you are near water.  Avoid playing radios.  If you do bring a radio with you, consider bringing a Walkman.  A good day on the trail, a hearty meal, and natural darkness will trigger your body into being sleepy.

When you break camp the next morning the rules are pretty simple, leave things looking better than when you arrived.  If you made a fire make sure the coals have been burned down to ashes and have been completely extinguished.  Crush any embers left, as they may still be white hot inside.  Pack out all your trash and check the area to make sure you didn’t leave any valuable gear.  It is easy to leave tent stakes, knives and other small objects behind that you will need 12 hours from now.  The other thing you can do if you have found that spectacular campsite?  Mark it on your map and if you have a GPS note the latitude and longitude.  A secret spot in the woods is to be cherished, and make sure you can return to it one day in the future, or share it with a couple of close friends.

Finding the perfect camp takes a little preparation and a little time, but goes a long way to increasing your enjoyment when heading to outdoor places.


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: The 4000 Footer Club...With PICTURES:)

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: The 4000 Footer Club...With PICTURES:): The 4000 Footer Club So, on my way through the Franconia Ridge Trail, we meet a guy who is in the 4000 Footer Club. I have heard of t...

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: Favorite Relax/Snack Spots in the White Mountains

The Adventure Hiker Speaks: Favorite Relax/Snack Spots in the White Mountains: While hiking, I can across many amazing spots this summer. I found them to be relaxing and I great place to take a break while hiking in th...

Finding The Ideal BackCountry Campsite

The first step to finding a good campsite when hitting the backcountry is plan ahead.  Know where you are going and the terrain you will be expecting.  Spend some time looking at topographical maps to get an idea of the area you will be camping in while you are trekking.  Although setting up camp along a river or on a ridge isn’t the most brilliant thing you can do, identifying an area that will be comfortable and scenic will be helpful.  Maybe there is a bluff a short distance away to watch the sunset over a valley, and walk out again to see the morning fog below.  If you are going out into the southwest, maybe there are nearby rock formations that will glimmer ghostly in the moonlight.

You also need to bring the right equipment with you when camping.  If you are going to be out above the tree line on a windswept mountaintop bringing an A-frame tent with regular stakes may make for a pretty poor experience.  Bring a Tunnel tent into the rocky southwest, and you may not be able to find a place to drive your stakes through the ground!  Self-erecting dome tents afford the most versatility to conditions, but they are not perfect.  If you will be camping on a beach, in soft sand or the snow, make sure to bring special stakes that are perforated or are barbed to bite into the soft ground.  Sand and snow stakes can be 9” to 12” long, or longer.

So you get to your potential spot and it hasn’t already been taken, now what?  Evaluate the area where you are going to setup camp.  You want to find a level area free of tree roots and rocks.  Unless you are setting up camp in a prepared site, never camp within 200 feet of a standing or moving water source or in a riparian habitat.  You should never setup camp on or along a trail.  Camp should be out of sight from the trail you are traveling and out of sight from fellow campers.  Never modify an area by removing rocks, logs or vegetation to create the perfect campsite.  Always follow Leave No Trace ethics.  An area with firm soil is best.
You don’t want to be directly under a tree, in the event of a sudden storm the tree could serve as a lightning rod, it could get blown down, and the tree will drip sap all over your rainfly on your tent.  Setting up camp on a rise, slightly above the rest of the terrain will aid in making sure water doesn’t start flowing through your camp if it rains.  If you are camping near water, or where water could flow, be sure to camp above the high water mark.  Washes are very tempting areas to setup camp, but could be disastrous in the middle of the night.  Even if it hasn’t rained in your area a dam release or rainstorm 500 miles away can send water rushing through.  Don’t camp on a ridge.  The exposed area is susceptible to both lightning and wind.  Again, ridges are tempting areas as they are typically flat and offer tremendous views.

Now you have narrowed the area down further, you have found a nice flat spot in a clearing, about five hundred feet from a wonderful bluff and six hundred feet from a clean water source.  A light breeze cuts through the trees that will help keep the insects away, and there are no rocks or tree roots to keep you up with a sore back.  Now what?  You’re not quite ready to pitch camp, but your close.  Look around at the area.  Are there signs of animal activity including runs, paths or droppings?  Are there signs of insect activity including anthills, trails, or a large number of spider webs or dragonflies?  Do you see signs that water has flowed through your potential campsite during heavy rain?  Setting up camp in the middle of a deer run will increase the chances of unwanted visitors in the middle of the night.  Remember that hoofed mammals aren’t the only ones using these forest trails, and a deer can do a number to a campsite if properly startled.  Setting up camp in the middle of a  fire ant colony can bring about another kind of unwanted visitor.

Prescribed Burns of Cades Cove In GSMNP

Weather permitting, during the week of November 7-10, the park will be conducting prescribed burns in Cades Cove. The Loop Road will remain open, but delays may be possible. Fires may be visible from the roadway and visitors may encounter smoke in the valley and along the roadway. Temporary closures of the Primitive Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, and Abrams Fall trailhead are possible on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fire managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park plan to complete a series of prescribed burns of fields in Cades Cove on Monday through Thursday, November 7-10, if weather conditions permit. Park managers plan to burn several tracts totaling about 550 acres.
The selected fields are being burned as part of a cost-effective strategy to prevent the open fields from being reclaimed by forest. The Park contracts to mow about 950 acres of fields that are clearly visible from the Cades Cove Loop Road twice a year. Other fields that are less visible from the Loop Road, totaling around 1,500 acres, are kept open by burning or mowing on a three year rotation.
Without being either mowed or burned, the open meadows of the Cove would very quickly revert to pine and hardwood forest. That process would both alter the historically open landscape which characterized the Cove during its period of settlement, and deprive Park visitors of the excellent wildlife viewing opportunities that the Cove affords.

The burn will be conducted by the members of the Great Smoky Wildland Fire Module and the Cumberland Gap Wildland Fire Module, with additional resources from Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Fire Modules are National Park Service teams which travel throughout the Southeast to conduct prescribed burns on National Park Service units as well as other federal lands. Firefighters and a Park engine will be assigned each day to ignite the grass lands and to make sure the fire stays within its prescribed boundaries. Strips of grass surrounding each field slated for burning have been mowed short to provide containment lines.
"At this point we do not expect to have to close the Cades Cove Loop Road, but will monitor the situation for smoke or other safety hazards," said Great Smoky Wildland Fire Module Supervisor, Shane Paxton. "The public, of course, will notice smoke in the valley but it will dissipate quickly and not unduly impact their visit," he said.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Altitude Sickness

Acute mountain sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travelers at high altitude (typically above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Acute mountain sickness is due to a combination of reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes.
The faster you climb to a high altitude, the more likely you will get acute mountain sickness. Your symptoms will also depend on the speed of your climb and how hard you push (exert) yourself.
You are at higher risk for acute mountain sickness if:
•You live at or near sea level
•You had the illness before
Symptoms range from mild to life-threatening, and can affect the nervous system, lungs, muscles, and heart.
In most cases, the symptoms are mild. Symptoms generally associated with mild to moderate acute mountain sickness include:
•Difficulty sleeping
•Dizziness or light-headedness
•Loss of appetite
•Nausea or vomiting
•Rapid pulse (heart rate)
•Shortness of breath with exertion
Symptoms generally associated with more severe acute mountain sickness include:
•Bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)
•Chest tightness or congestion
•Coughing up blood
•Decreased consciousness or withdrawal from social interaction
•Gray or pale complexion
•Inability to walk in a straight line, or to walk at all
•Shortness of breath at rest
Signs and tests
Listening to the chest with a stethoscope (auscultation) reveals sounds called crackles (rales) in the lung, which may be a sign of fluid in the lungs.

A chest x-ray may be performed.
Early diagnosis is important. Acute mountain sickness is easier to treat in the early stages.

The main treatment for all forms of mountain sickness is to climb down (descend) to a lower altitude as rapidly and safely as possible. You should not continue climbing if you develop symptoms.
Extra oxygen should be given, if available.
People with severe mountain sickness may need to be admitted to a hospital.
Acetazolamide (Diamox) may be given to help improve breathing and reduce mild symptoms. This drug can cause increased urination. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol when taking this drug.
If you have fluid in your lungs (pulmonary edema), treatment may include:
•A high blood pressure medicine called nifedipine
•A type of drug called a phosphodiesterase inhibitor (such as sildenafil)
•Lung inhalers beta agonists
•A breathing machine, in severe cases
Dexamethasone (Decadron) may help reduce swelling in the brain (cerebral edema).
Portable hyperbaric chambers allow hikers to simulate conditions at lower altitudes without actually moving from their location on the mountain. These devices are very helpful if bad weather or other factors make climbing down the mountain impossible.
Expectations (prognosis)
Most cases are mild, and symptoms improve promptly when you climb down the mountain to a lower altitude.

Severe cases may result in death due to lung problems or brain swelling.
In remote locations, emergency evacuation may not be possible, or treatment may be delayed. This can have a negative affect on your outcome.

•Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
•Swelling of the brain
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have or had symptoms of acute mountain sickness, even if you felt better when you returned to a lower altitude.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you or another climber have any of the following symptoms:
•Severe breathing problems
•Altered level of alertness
•Coughing up blood
Climb down the mountain immediately and as safely as possible.
Keys to preventing acute mountain sickness include:

•Climb the mountain gradually
•Stop for a day or two of rest for every 2,000 feet (600 meters) above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters)
•Sleep at a lower altitude when possible
•Learn how to recognize early symptoms of mountain sickness
If you are traveling above 9,840 feet (3,000 meters), you should carry enough oxygen for several days.
If you plan on quickly climbing to a high altitude, ask your doctor about a medication called acetazolamide (Diamox). This drug helps your body get used to higher altitudes more quickly, and reduces minor symptoms. It should be taken the day before you climb, and then for the next 1 to 2 days.
If you are at risk for anemia, ask your doctor if an iron supplement is right for you. Anemia lowers the amount of oxygen in your blood.
While climbing:
•Drink plenty of fluids
•Avoid alcohol
•Eat regular meals, high in carbohydrates
You should avoid high altitudes if you have heart or lung disease.

1.Hackett PH, Roach RC. High-altitude medicine. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 1.
2.Schoene RB, Swenson ER. High Altitude. In: Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, Nadel JA, eds. Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2005: chap 65.
3.Wright A, Brearey S, Imray C. High hopes at high altitudes: pharmacotherapy for acute mountain sickness and high-altitude cerebral and pulmonary oedema. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2008;9(1):119-127. [PubMed: 18076343]
4.Yaron M, Honigman B. High-altitude medicine. In: Marx, JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa : Mosby Elsevier; 2006: chap 142.