Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Warning To Hikers In GSMNP Hiking Above 5,000 Feet

The Snow from Hurricane Sandy that has fell on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in some words just unbelievable . Mt.LeConte totals are nearing 40 inches of snow with snow drifts at the lodge and going up the trails over 5 feet of snow . Trees are down everywhere on the mountain and trails due to the weight of all the snow on trees and branches . The National Park service of The Great smoky Mountains is going to attempt to clear Rainbow Falls trail today so that the guests that are still up at Mt. LeConte Lodge will be able to make it back down safely . Wind and snow have hindered any sort of clean up  and inundated all  efforts to clear any trails so far . Snow totals in the elevations above 5,000 feet are unheard of in the smokies and this time probably record breaking from Sandy .
                                                                                                       A snowdrift is a deposit of snow sculpted by wind into a mound during a snowstorm. Snowdrifts resemble sand dunes and are formed in a similar manner, namely, by wind moving light snow and depositing it when the wind has virtually stopped, usually against a stationary object. Snow normally crests and slopes off toward the surface on the windward side of a large object. On the leeward side, areas near the object are a bit lower than surrounding areas, but are generally flatter.
The impact of snowdrifts on the trail can be more significant than the snowfall itself, Snowdrifts are many times found at or on tree beds or tree lines or a turn in the trail against a embankment, as the crest of a hill  or the furrows along the trail create the disruption to the wind needed to shed its carried snow. Snow fences may be employed on the windward side of the trail that intentionally creates a drift along the trail which can blind a hiker to cause one to walk off a cliff or over hang .

 Allyson Virden the manger of Mt. LeConte Lodge is asking that ;" Once again, I can not stress enough, please do not attempt to hike up in these conditions. We are asking all overnight guests to call our reservations office and make alternative plans. I apologize for any inconvenience, but this is for your safety. We look forward to seeing all of you at the lodge in better conditions" .

This being said I will put my two cents in on this : I am not by any means the best hiker in the world or in the smokies but I have done many hikes in the winter and the snow . I can't stress enough that if you have not hiked in snow before over 12 inches DON'T  ! Your first trip could be your last , i have seen so many people hiking in the snow in jeans and a cotton shirt . We have all been beginners in hiking but trust me when i say this " This is not a snow for a beginner to be hiking in , it could cost you your life " I am not hiking it till tomorrow after the park service works on Rainbow Falls trail and clears some of the trees . A few pretty pictures are not worth anyones life so please hike smart . With snowfalls of this magnitude you can fall into a snow drift or snow bank and become trapped especially with the cold temps at above 5,000 feet . Just to let you know it took some people 12 to 16 hours to hike up to Mt. LeConte yesterday to check in for their cabins some not getting there till 11 pm last night .

Use your head and hike smart under these conditions ! Happy Hiking !
Atti ' s Taxi

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