Saturday, July 21, 2012

Video of Going-to-the-Sun Road Rockslide

Below is some fairly dramatic video footage of the rock and mud slides that occurred on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this past Tuesday. After seeing this, I can only think that it's extremely fortunate that no one was seriously injured:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Great Smoky Mountains - 1936

The Department of Interior takes a look at its effort in the Great Smoky Mountains in this vintage film. This film and other shots from the 1930s are available on the National Archives YouTube channel at:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Great Smoky Mountains Storm

Volunteers Needed for Adopt-a-Cabin in Smokies

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Volunteers Needed for Adopt-a-Cabin in Smokies:Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting for volunteers to participate in the Adopt-a-Cabin (AAC) program, which will provide light maintenance on selected cabins among the Park s over 90 historic structures. The AAC program joins a number of Volunteers in Park (VIP) programs which utilize volunteers for such park operations as trail maintenance and campsite clean-up.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Houses, barns, outbuildings churches, schools and grist mills have been preserved or rehabilitated and are popular destinations for park visitors. Regular clean-up of these buildings is needed to remove trash, debris and graffiti which are often left behind by park visitors.

AAC volunteers will be assigned to a specific building and are expected to visit the structure at least once a month to sweep, wipe and dry walls with a light dishwashing solution, clean the windows, and remove graffiti using a special removal solution. A work report will be required for each trip so the Park can track the maintenance performed and help assess needs.

For more information on the AAC program, or to sign up as a park volunteer, please contact Dana Soehn, Volunteer Coordinator, at 865-436-1265.

This program is supported through donations to Friends of the Smokies, which will provide $1,100 in 2012 for this new volunteer opportunity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Abrams Creek Campground Reopens / Trail Status Upd...

 Abrams Creek Campground Reopens / Trail Status : After being closed for more than a week the Abrams Creek Campground reopened over the weekend. The campground, along with several roads and trails, were closed as a result of a devastating windstorm that blew through the western portion of the park on July 5th. The Great Smoky Mountains also published a trail status update yesterday morning. Here are the latest closings and warnings:

The following trails have been closed to all use:

• Ace Gap Trail
• Beard Cane Trail and Campsites #3 and #11 (damaged by tornado in 2011)
• Chestnut Top Trail
• Cooper Road Trail and Campsite #1
• Goshen Prong Trail
• Hatcher Mountain Trail (damaged by tornado in 2011)
• Rabbit Creek Trail and Campsite #15
• Scott Mountain Trail and Campsite #6
• West Prong Trail and Campsite # 18

The following trails have numerous areas that are impassible to stock and are closed to horse riding, but open to hikers:

• Gold Mine Trail
• Miry Ridge Trail
• Springhouse Branch Trail

Hikers have reported that the following trails have significant damage. Park staff have not been able to assess these trails yet, so these reports are unconfirmed. However hikers are advised to avoid these trails until they can be assessed:

• Twentymile Loop Trail
• Twentymile Trail
• Wolf Ridge Trail
• Deep Creek Trail above campsite #60
• Eagle Creek Trail from campsite #90 to Spence
• Jonas Creek Trail
• Welch Ridge Trail
• Bear Creek Trail
• Laurel Falls (above the falls)
• Cove Mountain Trail
• Goshen Prong Trail
• Hazel Creek Trail
• Appalachian Trail south of Mollies Ridge
• Ramsey Cascades Trail
• Little Greenbrier Trail
• Long Hungry Ridge Trail

The following roads are closed and may affect access to trailheads:

• Parson Branch Road
• Tremont Road past the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Laurel Falls In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grotto Falls in the Smoky Mountains

Mingo Falls, Mingus Mill Day Trip

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lightning and what you can do while hiking

  Lightning can be one of the most frightening hazards that hikers encounter during the summer months. With warmer weather comes an increased chance of running into a thunderstorm while out on the trail, especially during the afternoons. Hikers need to be watchful for storms that produce lightning, particularly in open areas where you may be the highest object in the immediate area.

According to the National Weather Service there are, on average, roughly 20 million lightning strikes that result in 273 injuries and 48 deaths in the U.S. each year. Those casualty figures may seem fairly low. Indeed, National Geographic estimates the odds of being struck by lightning at only 1 in 700,000 in any given year. However, over the course of a lifetime, your odds of being struck jump to 1 in 3000!

Hikers at the higher elevations in Glacier should be especially conscious about the dangers of lightning. According to the National Outdoor Leadership School, lightning density maps show lightning strikes occurring more often at higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains, where the air and climate is drier.

The good news is that the number of lightning related fatalities has trended downward since 1940 when deaths were measured in the hundreds. There are probably several reasons for this, including a much better understanding of lightning, which has lead to better education on safety and avoidance.

So, what can you do if you’re out hiking and a storm approaches? The first thing you need to understand is that lightning can strike more than 10 miles away from the center of a thunderstorm - well beyond the audible range of thunder. Therefore, if you hear thunder, you’re already within striking range of a storm and should seek shelter immediately.

To measure the distance between you and a lightning strike, count the number of seconds between the time you see a flash and the bang of thunder. Divide that number by five. This will give you the number of miles the lighting strike is away from you.

If you do caught by a storm, and you’re below treeline, here are a few things that you can do to improve your safety:

• Buildings with exposed openings such as backcountry camping shelters or picnic pavilions are not safe.
• Avoid caves as they can channel electricity fairly well.
• Avoid close contact with others. Spread out at least 50 feet apart in order to minimize the chance of everyone in a group being struck.
• Get away from water, and avoid any low spots that accumulate rain run-off.
• With no other options, take shelter under a group of shorter trees among larger trees. A thick forest is far better than a lone tree or a small group of trees.
• Drop all metal objects during a storm, such as internal or external frame backpacks, trekking poles (including aluminum and carbon fiber), crampons, jewelry, etc., and move 100 feet away from them.

If you’re out in the open or above treeline:

• Avoid solitary trees – they’re one of the most dangerous places to be during a storm. Also, avoid any other objects that are higher than the rest of the terrain around you.
• If you can’t immediately get below treeline, find the lowest point of open area and move there quickly.
• Adopt the lightning position as a last resort: Crouch down on the balls of your feet and keep them as close together as possible. Cover your ears, and don’t allow other body parts to touch the ground. By keeping the surface area of your body in contact with the ground to a minimum you reduce the threat of electricity traveling across the ground from affecting you. Keep in mind that this position should only be used as a last resort.

A recent study analyzing lightning victims in Florida found that most people were struck either prior to the storm (rain) reaching their location, or after the storm (rain) had ended. Most of the people that were struck were either near water or near/under trees.

If you feel hairs on your head, leg, or arms tingling and/or standing on end, it means you’re in an extremely high electrical field. If you or any member of your group experiences any of these signs, take it as an indication of immediate and severe danger. The response to any of these signs is to instantly (seconds matter) move away from long conductors (metal fencing, power lines), tall trees, or high points, and spread out and adopt the lightning position.

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Ultimate Hike on the Foothills Trail

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Ultimate Hike on the Foothills Trail: Start training right now for the Ultimate Hike on the Foothills Trail this October. The reason you may want to start your training so soon is because the hike travels 28.3 miles - in just one day!

The hike is sponsored by Ultimate Hike, an organization that is helping to raise money towards finding a cure for children's cancer, the #1 cause of death by disease in children.

If you happen to live in the Chattanooga area, Outdoor Chattanooga will be holding an Information Meeting on July 17th, at 6:30 p.m., at their Coolidge Park facility on 200 River Street. The public is invited to learn how they can train for the event, which happens on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Leah Bartlett, from Cure Search, will be there to answer questions about training, fundraising and the hike experience. No pre-registration is required for the meeting. Additional information meetings will be held on July 18 at Rock/Creek and July 20 at Cloudland Canyon State Park.