Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Closures From Snow From Hurricane Sandy

Here are all  closings for parks in The Great Smoky Mountains  region: (Most are due to Snow from hurricane Sandy )

• Newfound Gap Road, Clingmans Dome Road, Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail, Cataloochee Entrance Road, Foothill Parkway East, Twin Creeks Road above the science center, and Old NC-284 between Big Creek and Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains are closed due to snow and ice.

• Snow, rain, and extreme wind have forced the closure of most sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Until the weather improves and cleanup is completed, travel on the Parkway is not advised.

• Foothills Parkway (unfinished section) - the entire unfinished section between Walland and Wears Valley is now closed to all public use until 2015 due to construction.

• Shenandoah National Park remains closed. Yesterday afternoon, rangers reported approximately 12 inches of snow at milepost 35 on Skyline Drive.

• In North Carolina, Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain and Mount Jefferson are closed due to snow; hazardous road conditions exist near most mountain parks.

• Please be advised to use extreme caution when hiking above the 5,000 foot line in the Great Smoky Mountains . Although no trails are closed at this time the snow is very deep from 32 inches to almost 40 inches in some places with snow drifts from 4 feet to 6 feet . In snow this deep you can just about triple your normal time . 

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Already Being Felt in Smokies Region

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Impacts of Hurricane Sandy Already Being Felt in Smokies Region:

Hurricane Sandy is already having a significant impact on eastern national parks. Snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet are expected in the mountains of West Virginia, from 1 to 2 feet in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, and 12 to 18 inches in the mountains near the North Carolina/Tennessee border and in the mountains of western Maryland.

Shenandoah National Park is scheduled to completely shut down at noon today.

As of 7:00 am this morning, the Mt. LeConte Lodge has already recorded 6.5 inches of snow on the ground. On their blog, the lodge is reporting that snow was still coming down pretty hard at the time of their last posting.

Here are a few closings as of this morning:

• Newfound Gap Road (US-441) and Cataloochee Entrance Road in the Great Smoky Mountains are closed due to snow and ice.

• Blue Ridge Parkway from US-441 near Cherokee, NC to US-276 is closed due to snow and ice

• In preparation for Hurricane Sandy, Shenandoah National Park's north (mile 0-31.5) and south (mile 65-105) districts, including concessions facilities, campgrounds, picnic areas, and visitor center, were closed at dusk on Sunday. Skyline Drive gates into both districts have also been closed. The Central District (mile 31.5-65), including all concessions facilities (Skyland Resort, Big Meadows Lodge and Wayside, and Lewis Mountain Cabins), park facilities, and the Skyline Drive, will close today at noon. All visitors and park and concessions employees will be required to leave the mountain by noon. On Sunday, park staff swept trailhead parking lots and the backcountry to warn hikers and backpackers about the approaching storm and park closures. The entire park will remain closed until Hurricane Sandy has moved away from the northern Virginia area.

• A High Wind Warning is in effect today through 8:00 am EDT Tuesday, for the Northeast Georgia Mountains. Areas in this advisory include all recreation areas within the counties of Union, Towns, Lumpkin, and White, especially for elevations above 1500 feet. Expect winds of 15-25 MPH with gusts up to 50 MPH. Exercise caution as winds could down trees and power lines and make driving difficult.

For the latest updates on closings in the Great Smoky Mountains, please click here.

For updates on current weather and forecasts for the region, please visit the weather page on

Hiking in the Smokies

Sunday, October 28, 2012

GSMNP Fall Color Report

Fall color report October 26

Fall colors are now at peak at the lower elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains. Some of the best places to enjoy them right now are Rich Mountain Road (out of Cades Cove), The Foothills Parkway East (Cosby area) and West (Walland area), Little River Road, and the Deep Creek and Cosby areas of the park. Suggested hikes include Little River Trail, Deep Creek Trail, Abrams Falls, Smokemont Loop, and Hen Wallow Falls.

Elevations 4,500 feet and above leaves are falling off fast very fast !

Fall color season will soon be coming to an end, so don’t wait any longer!

Happy Hiking ,
Atti's Taxi

Friday, October 26, 2012

Properly Take Care Of Your Business While Hiking

Before you leave home, decide what you will do about toilet paper. If you insist on having it, be warned you will have to carry the used paper out with you, preferably double-bagged. A more environmentally-friendly method is to use "natural toilet paper" - leaves, sticks, etc... I Use a biodegradable toilet paper that can be buried also.

When you feel the urge to go, always tell someone else in the group where you are going. This way, they can look out for you, and if you do not return after a short time, they will look for you to make sure you are safe.

Head out into the forest far enough so that people can no longer see you. If it is dark, do not wander too far from your camp, ask someone to accompany you, and always take a flashlight with you. Find a place at least 150 feet from camp and the trail, and 200 feet  from water sources.

Once you reach a desired place, grab a stick (or bring a small shovel) and dig a hole no more than 6 inches deep (the bacteria that properly break down this waste don't live deeper than that). This hole will function the same as an outhouse hole.

Do your business in the hole, and take care of the paperwork or if you use biodegradable wipes like i do you can bury them in the hole with your business .

Use a stick to stir some soil into your dropping, so soil bacteria can break it down more quickly. Then completely cover the material you deposited in the hole with dirt.

Head back to camp and wash or sanitize your hands before heading back to hiking or fixing you something to eat.

Please do not defecate in the snow. When the snow melts someone else will find your "present", as well as there is a possibility that the run-off, mixed with feces, will contaminate a water source.

Instead, walk until you find dirt as long as snow is not to deep . Try next to a tree because the snow will not be as deep plus you can use the lean method against the tree.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Steri Pen Water Purification

The SteriPEN Journey LCD is the easiest and most versatile water purifier on the market. SteriPEN uses ultra-violet light to destroy bacteria, viruses and protozoa, like Giardia, in seconds. Press the Journey’s single button once for a full liter or twice for half a liter. The LCD screen shows you the countdown. When purification is complete, a happy face appears. On the bottom, the battery status is shown. Wipe dry and enjoy safe drinking water anywhere. Avoiding travels diarrhea is easy with the Journey LCD. If the stream or lake contains particulates, first pre-filter the water – use a bandana, coffee filter or the new SteriPEN fits-all filter.
The fits-all filter can be used with narrow to wide-mouth bottles. In wide-mouth bottles use only the upper cup. Place the cup on the bottle, pull air vent and immerse in water. Wipe out the cup and remove the filter screen. The fits-all filter can now be used as a bottle adaptor for the SteriPEN Journey or Classic. Insert the Journey and flip the assembly upside down. When water covers the water sensors it triggers the UV light – gently agitate. The Journey’s durable UV lamp can purify 8,000 liters. Purifying in a commercial bottle is a key benefit when traveling in countries with unknown standards.
 In 48 seconds you can drink with confidence. To store the Journey, wipe dry and enjoy a long safe drink. The SteriPEN Journey LCD provides safe drinking water anywhere, anytime. And as one blogger said, “When’s that last time that your purifier smiled back at you?”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

All About Ginseng And Why It Is So Popular

Traditional uses

The root is most often available in dried form, either whole or sliced. Ginseng leaf, although not as highly prized, is sometimes also used; as with the root, it is most often available in dried form. By folk medicine practices, American ginseng and Asian ginseng (P. ginseng) roots may be taken orally for diverse supposed benefits, such as for aphrodisia, stimulants, type II diabetes, or for sexual dysfunction in men.

Ginseng may be included in small doses in energy drinks or tisanes. It may be found in cosmetic preparations, as well, but has not been shown to be clinically effective.


Ginsenosides, unique compounds of the Panax species, are under basic and clinical research to reveal their potential properties in humans.
Possibly an adaptogen, ginseng remains under preliminary research for its potential properties or therapeutic effects, such as for respiratory illnesses, quality of life, influenza or fatigue in cancer patients. P. ginseng may affect cancer in animal models but this effect remains unclear.
One study in laboratory animals showed possible effects of ginseng or its ginsenoside components on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues and another on penile erection.
Ginseng is known to contain phytoestrogens and may affect the pituitary gland to increase the secretion of gonadotropins.[citation needed] Other mice studies found effects on sperm production and the estrous cycle.

Side effects
A common side effect of P. ginseng may be insomnia, but this effect is disputed. Other side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, nose bleeds, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and breast pain. Ginseng may also lead to induction of mania in depressed patients who mix it with antidepressants.
Ginseng has been shown to have adverse drug reactions with phenelzine and warfarin, but has been shown to decrease blood alcohol levels.

The common adaptogen ginsengs (P. ginseng and P. quinquefolia) are generally considered to be relatively safe even in large amounts. One of the most common and characteristic symptoms of acute overdose of Panax ginseng is bleeding. Symptoms of mild overdose may include dry mouth and lips, excitation, fidgeting, irritability, tremor, palpitations, blurred vision, headache, insomnia, increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, edema, decreased appetite, increased sexual desire, dizziness, itching, eczema, early morning diarrhea, bleeding, and fatigue.
Symptoms of gross overdose with Panax ginseng may include nausea, vomiting, irritability, restlessness, urinary and bowel incontinence, fever, increased blood pressure, increased respiration, decreased sensitivity and reaction to light, decreased heart rate, cyanotic (blue) facial complexion, red facial complexion, seizures, convulsions, and delirium.
Patients experiencing any of the above symptoms are advised to discontinue the herbs and seek any necessary symptomatic treatment.

Wild ginseng
Wild ginseng grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found. It is relatively rare, and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a root to reach maturity). Wild ginseng can be either Asian or American, and can be processed to be red ginseng.
Woods-grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky, and United Plant Savers have been encouraging the planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets. Woods-grown plants have a value comparable to wild-grown ginseng of similar age.

Growth of Wild American Ginseng
The first year of growth produces a small plant with one compound leaf having three leaflets. With successive growing seasons, the plant matures and produces additional leaves until a maximum of five compound leaves or "prongs" with five leaflets is attained. Second and third year plants have two prongs, four year old plants may have three prongs, and plants older than four years of age may have three to five prongs. Some plants may remain dormant for several years. Plants are reproductively mature at three years of age. During June and July a stalked inflorescence of six to thirty small, greenish-white flowers is produced at the top of the stem. Flowers are cross-pollinated by halictid bees or are self-pollinated. Fertilized flowers produce small berries that are green at first, but turn a brilliant red when mature. Each fruit contains two or three wrinkled seeds. In early autumn the berries ripen and fall from the plant, where they become vulnerable to predation from rodents and birds. After the first frost, the leaves turn a golden-yellow before dying. Ginseng seeds require a germination period of eighteen to twenty-one months. Roots in the Southern United States grow rapidly for the first few months of late spring and early summer then level off during the warm summer months with little weight gain. After flowering and seed production is another root growth spurt before die off in mid-autumn.

Differences between Wild and Cultivated Ginseng
Wild ginseng grows naturally within its natural habitat conditions.
Cultivated ginseng is grown as a crop by sowing seeds and consists of three types: woodsgrown, wild-simulated, and field-cultivated.
Woodsgrown ginseng is sown under natural shade in prepared beds and may require the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Wild-simulated ginseng is sown under natural shade and natural habitat conditions but scattered and not in beds. This category is not recognized by all states, including Tennessee, and is treated as wild ginseng.
Field-cultivated ginseng is sown under artificial shade in prepared beds and often requires the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Wild ginseng roots are about the size of an adult's thumb and are lightweight, wrinkled, ringed, often branched, and dark tan in color . In comparison, cultivated ginseng roots are larger than an adult's thumb and are heavy, smoother, few ringed, less branched, and light straw colored. The growth of cultivated ginseng is much faster than wild ginseng under normal conditions. Cultivated ginseng plants are more robust and produce more berries and seeds than wild ginseng plants.

Why is Ginseng Regulated?

Wild American ginseng is one of many plant and animal species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of 1973 (CITES), an international trade agreement which the United States and 134 other nations have signed. The objective of the Convention is to monitor, control, and restrict, as necessary, the international trade of certain wild plant and animal species to prevent adverse impacts to their populations and to insure the continued existence of those species in their natural habitat.
In the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been delegated the U.S. CITES scientific and management authority since the treaty went into effect in 1975. Before a CITES export permit can be issued, the USFWS must determine whether the ginseng roots were legally acquired and whether further exports will be detrimental to the species' survival. The Office of Management Authority (OMA) determines whether the ginseng was legally acquired, and the Office of Scientific Authority (OSA) determines whether export of ginseng roots is detrimental to the species' survival.

The USFWS has established a joint ginseng management program with the states in order to monitor and regulate ginseng harvest and commerce, and meet the CITES requirements. The states must establish regulations that ensure ginseng populations under their jurisdiction will not be harmed by harvest. The Tennessee ginseng program was approved in 1978. Ginseng dealers must register with each state in which they purchase and sell ginseng roots and must report their transactions to the states. The states must inspect, weigh and certify that the ginseng was legally harvested within the state of origin. The states then compile the dealers' reports and other information on ginseng biology, harvest, regulation and commerce into an annual report that is sent to USFWS. These annual reports are used by OMA and OSA to evaluate the state ginseng management programs, harvest levels, and impacts of harvest on wild ginseng populations in order to determine whether the states should be approved for ginseng export ("non-detriment" finding). Without the annual approval of the USFWS a ban will be placed on the export of wild ginseng from Tennesee.
CITES does not require a "non-detriment" finding for cultivated ginseng, but the cultivated ginseng stock must be established in a manner not detrimental to the species' survival in the wild. "Woodsgrown" ginseng is considered "Cultivated" ginseng and should never be reported as "Wild" ginseng.
Once ginseng is approved by USFWS for export, each shipment is inspected and approved by a port inspector of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Division of Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), a division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). If all the USFWS and CITES requirements are met, the port inspector will validate the CITES export documents and approve the shipment for export.

As part of Tennessee's wild ginseng management program, the Department of Environment and Conservation is asking that all merchants or firms which purchase wild or cultivated ginseng with the intent to resale or export and/or that cultivate ginseng with the intent to export, obtain a Dealer Permit from the Department. In addition, each ginseng dealer is required to complete and submit monthly purchase reports and an annual report of their purchases. All the necessary forms and purchase receipts are provided by the Department. Unlike the 1978 management program, the Department is not asking Tennessee ginseng collectors to obtain a permit and submit an annual report of their harvests.
Without strong cooperation from the ginseng dealers of the state on providing the data on the quantity of wild ginseng harvested and the counties from which it was collected, the OSA may rule against export of Tennessee ginseng for the upcoming year. Therefore, it is in the best interest of all ginseng collectors and dealers to comply with the rules and regulations of the Tennessee Ginseng Program.

No ginseng can be harvested on State or Federal land without written permission of the land management agency. Ginseng harvesting is not permitted in State Parks, State Forests, or State Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), except Royal Blue WMA. Ginseng harvesting is not permitted in National Parks, such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Annual permits for harvesting ginseng in Cherokee National Forest may be obtained for a small fee at the District Ranger offices.

Rangers Make Two Ginseng Poaching Cases

NPS Digest is reporting that Cumberland Gap National Historic Park rangers were able to make ginseng cases against five people in two separate incidents at the end of this year's ginseng season. Ranger Brad Cope was watching a truck at the park boundary on Tuesday, October 16th, when two people walked by on the trail. Just as one of them was advising the other of presence of a ranger vehicle, Cope stepped out and said "Yes, there's a ranger." The two men admitted to digging the 84 ginseng roots in their possession and were cited and released.

Ranger Gene Wesloh noticed a suspicious vehicle at a trailhead on Wednesday and by the end of the day had contacted three ginseng poachers with 328 roots totaling almost 3.4 pounds. All three readily confessed and were charged with digging ginseng; one was also charged with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine).

Hiking in the Smokies

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hazards Of The Appalachian Trail Or Any Trails


The Appalachian Trail is relatively safe. Most injuries or incidents are consistent with comparable outdoor activities. Most hazards are related to weather conditions, human error, plants, animals, diseases, and fellow humans encountered along the trail.

Many animals live around the trail, with bears, snakes, and wild boars posing the greatest threat to human safety. Several rodent- and bug-borne illnesses are also a potential hazard. In scattered instances, foxes, raccoons, and other small animals may bite hikers, posing risk of rabies and other diseases. There has been one reported case (in 1993) of hantavirus (HPS), a rare but dangerous rodent-borne disease affecting the lungs. The afflicted hiker recovered and hiked the trail the following year.

The section of the trail that runs through the Mid-Atlantic and New England states have a very high population of deer ticks carrying Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and represents the highest density of reported Lyme Disease in the country. Hikers should understand the risks, and take appropriate precautions.

Plant life can create its own brand of problems. Poison ivy is common the length of the trail, and more plentiful in the South.

Hiking season of the trail generally starts in mid to late spring, when conditions are much more favorable in the South. However, this time may also be characterized by extreme heat, sometimes in excess of 100 °F (38 °C). Under such conditions, hydration is imperative. Light clothing and sunscreens are a must at high elevations and areas without foliage, even in relatively cool weather.

Further north and at higher elevations, the weather can be intensely cold, characterized by low temperatures, strong winds, hail or snow storms and reduced visibility. Prolonged rain, though not typically life-threatening, can undermine stamina and ruin supplies.

Violent crime, including murder, has occurred on the trail in a few instances. Most have been crimes by non-hikers who crossed paths relatively randomly with the AT hiker-victims. The official website of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy points out that the number of violent crimes is extremely low when compared against the number of people (3 to 4 million) who hike on the trail every year.

The first reported homicide on the trail was in 1974 in Georgia. In 1981, the issue of violence on the Appalachian Trail received national attention when Robert Mountford Jr. and Laura Susan Ramsay, both social workers in Ellsworth, Maine, were murdered by Randall Lee Smith. Another homicide occurred in May 1996, when two women were abducted, bound and murdered near the trail in Shenandoah National Park. The primary suspect was later discovered harassing a female bicycler in the vicinity, but charges against him were dropped, and the case remains unsolved.

Forest Service Closes Shining Rock and Graveyard Fields To Camping

The U.S. Forest Service announced yesterday that it is closing the Shining Rock Wilderness and Graveyard Fields areas to overnight camping due to ongoing bear encounters with humans.

The areas will be closed to dispersed camping until further notice. The agency will monitor conditions to determine when it is safe to reopen the areas.

On Monday night, a bear damaged a tent and food bag. Two people were in the tent at the time of the encounter, but no injuries were sustained. The encounter is the latest in a series of bear encounters in recent weeks.

Questions regarding the camping closure can be directed to the Pisgah Ranger District, 828-877-3265.

Hiking in the Smokies

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Is a Sleeping Pad's R-Value?

A major consideration, when considering a sleeping pad purchase, is its temperature rating; the seasonal use for which it is designed. Some manufactures will provide a true temperature rating while others refer to an R-value and that R-value references a pads ability to retain warmth, specifically the warmth of your body during the night. More simply, the higher an R-Value the warmer a sleeping pad will be and the warmer you’ll stay throughout the night.

 The materials, the construction and design of a sleeping bag, or pad, directly impact that R-value. An inflatable, un-insulated sleeping pad is designed for summer use and probably has an R-value somewhere in the range of 1.0 maybe even 0.7, a lower number and that’s fine for summer and warm weather usage. A 4-season pad with foam insulation perhaps has an R-value as high as 9.0 or even 10.0, which you’ll need if you’re looking for winter usage. Somewhere in the range of 3.5 to 4.0 is probably worth considering if you’re looking to have a true 4-season pad.

If you’ve got a 3-season pad that you’re fond of and prefer to sleep on year round you may want to consider combining it with something like this very low profile, lightweight closed cell foam pad, which will go a long way to increasing your R-value and keeping you warm enough for 4-seasonal cold weather usage.

Smokies Announces Plans for 2nd Phase of Chimney Tops Trail Rehabilitation Project

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Smokies Announces Plans for 2nd Phase of Chimney Tops Trail Rehabilitation Project :

Officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have announced that the first phase of the rehabilitation of the popular Chimney Tops Trail, from the trailhead to the junction with the Road Prong Trail, has been completed. On Friday, October 19th, the trail will be open all week until the second phase of the trail rehabilitation begins in late April of 2013. The Chimney Tops Trailhead is located along Newfound Gap Road about 8 miles south of the Park's Gatlinburg, TN entrance.

The combination of heavy use, abundant rainfall, and steep terrain turned the Chimney Tops Trail into a badly eroded obstacle course of slick, broken rock, exposed tree roots, and mud. Since April 2012, The Park's Trails Forever Crew has been rebuilding the trail using durable stone and rot-resistant black locust timbers that will stabilize the trail for decades to come, reducing annual maintenance and greatly improving the visitor experience. The crew constructed rock steps to carry hikers up the steepest areas and prevent erosion, redefined sections of trail that have become unsafe or difficult to navigate, improved drainage by modifying water bars or constructing other types of drainage structures, and built raised turnpike structures out of sustainable materials to prevent further erosion.

Phase Two will consist of the rehabilitation of 0.4 miles of trail from the junction with Road Prong Trail to the first left hand switchback leaving the steep drainage. This section represents the most continuous technical trail reconstruction needed on the entire rehabilitation project. During Phase Two, the trail will again be closed each Monday through Thursday from late April through October to safely accommodate trail rebuilding activities which include moving and breaking large rock.

Trails Forever is a partnership program between Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Friends of the Smokies who donated $121,000 this year to support the program, and the generosity of the Knoxville based Aslan Foundation. With 848 miles of hiking trails, an average of more than 80 inches of rain a year, and significant forest vegetation, trail crews at Great Smoky Mountains National Park focus their efforts primarily on cyclic maintenance to keep the trails open (clearing windfalls, mowing/pruning and drainage). The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on the high use and high priority trails in the park. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations. The Park invites interested trail work volunteers to visit the Trails Forever website at or contact the Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator at (828) 497-1949 for more information.

For more information on hiking the Chimney Tops Trail, please click here.

Hiking in the Smokies

Fall Color Report For GSMNP

Fall Color Report October 18

A long stretch of nearly perfect sunny days and cool nights is the catalyst for a spectacular late October fall color show in the Great Smoky Mountains. Right now colors are at or near peak at many locations in the Smokies. They are at peak at elevations above 3,500 feet throughout the park and on sunny ridges where early-changing trees like sourwood, blackgum, dogwoo...
d, and chestnut oak predominate. At the lower elevations of the park some trees are still green, but colors should peak over the next 10 days.

Little River and Laurel Creek roads have excellent color right now. Cades Cove is surrounded by mountains that are nearly at peak. If you want to beat the crowds and enjoy fall splendor, try the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Foothills Parkway East and West, Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain roads, and the Deep Creek and Greenbrier areas of the park. Suggested hikes include Little River Trail, Deep Creek Trail, Abrams Falls, Smokemont Loop, and Hen Wallow Falls.

Information from : Great Smoky Mountains Association

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Triple Crown of Hiking

The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails:

Pacific Crest Trail - 2,654 miles (4,270 km) long, Washington, Oregon, and California between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range.

Appalachian Trail - 2,184 miles (3,515 km), between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine.The trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy.The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions traverse towns, roads and cross rivers.

Continental Divide Trail - 3,100 miles (5,000 km), between Mexico and Canada following the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.
The total length of the three trails is about 7,900 miles (12,700 km); vertical gain is more than 1,000,000 feet (300,000 m) (190 miles). A total of 22 states are visited if the three trails are completed. The American Long Distance Hiking Association - West (ALDA-WEST) is the only organization that recognizes this hiking feat. At the ALDHA-West Gathering, held each fall, the Triple Crown honorees are recognized and awarded plaques noting their achievement. As of October 2011, 155 hikers have been designated Triple Crowners.

The Triple Crown Award is recognition of the dedication, commitment, and achievement of those who have completed the three major National Scenic Trails; the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. ALDHA-West is the only organization that officially recognizes the accomplishment of these few intrepid hikers. At the ALDHA-West Gathering, held each fall, the Triple Crown honorees are recognized and awarded plaques noting their achievement.

Operating on the honor system, ALDHA-West gives equal recognition to thru-hikers and section-hikers and assumes that those who apply for Triple Crown status have hiked the entire length of all three trails. Reasonable alternate routes or required road walks are considered viable substitutes for an official route, assuming one exists. ALDHA-West does not consider issues such as sequence, direction, speed, duration, frequency, or whether one carries a pack. If you have reached this incredible level of hiking, then you too are entitled to be recognized at our next Gathering. As of October, 2011, 155 people hace received their Triple Crown Award.

What is a DWR and How Does it Work?

Today, most of the technical outerwear we buy comes with a DWR coating on it. DWR stands for durable water repellant and it’s a coating that applied in the factory, by the manufacturer, to the outside of the garment, whether it be waterproof jackets, parkas pants or gloves. DWR coatings are applied to the outside of a garment to prevent the fabric from absorbing water and becoming saturated.
This treatment of the fabric makes the fibers hydrophobic, meaning they do not like water and thus, repel it away. Any waterproof breathable fabric, like Gore-Tex, Membrain or Ventia, is designed to work and breath at an optimum while the exterior fabrics are not water-logged. A DWR coating keeps your garment working to the best of its abilities. DWR coatings are not meant to last forever and heavy use or a garment can make these coatings wear off even faster. When the DWR has worn off, your jacket or gloves will begin to absorb water and feel wet. This is called “wetting out” and does not mean your water proof jacket leaks but it may feel that way while you’re wearing it.
The inside of your jacket might feel cold or damp and clammy without a DWR to prevent the outside fabrics from absorbing water. At this point, the breathability of your jacket may be compromised and you might feel damp moisture on the inside of the jacket making you feel wet. Having your rain wear wet out on a trip may be miserable, but it doesn’t mean you need to buy a whole new jacket. DWR’s can be easily reapplied with a variety of products like Nikwax TX-Direct.

How to Take a Torso Measurement for Backpack Fitting

There’s certainly a number of factors to consider when selecting the appropriate backpack for your next outing or adventure. That can include size capacity, pack weight and you intended usage of that pack. When it comes to fit however, the starting point really should be taking your torso measurement and making sure you’ve got a pack with the appropriate torso fit range.
Taking your torso measurement is not difficult; in fact it’s pretty easy. It’s that much easier if you employ a second set of hands. Standing upright as you would as though you just put on your backpack and are ready to take off, lower your chin towards your chest. When you do that a vertebra will protrude from the top of the shoulders to the base of the neck, can’t miss it; Right here. Using a flexible tape measure, and that’s important, follow the spine, the contours of the spine, right down to a point that is even with top of the hip bones, the iliac crest. That’s important; the top of the hipbones and not further down the leg. As Liz is doing here, pointing her thumbs inward, that helps me identify exactly the point I should be measuring at the bottom of the spine and see a 17 ½ inch torso.
Keep in mind that torso sizing can differ in regards to backpacks in relation to torso measurement as it might be spoken of with clothing. Men’s torso lengths with backpacks often fall between 17 and 21 inches. Women’s, on average, maybe 14 inches to 18 inches but that range can differ dramatically, we’re all different. It’s important to actually take that measurement. Height feels like it should be a determinant and isn’t necessarily so. You could be 6’ 6” and be all legs with a short torso; 5’ 2” and have a longer than average torso measurement. Again, important to actually take that measurement.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fall Leaf Color Report In GSMNP

Fall Leaf Color Report October 12

Fall colors are now at their peak at the highest elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains. Birches, beeches, mountain maple, and other deciduous trees and shrubs are showing very good color above elevations of 4,000 feet. Good places to view the colors include Clingmans Dome Road, Newfound Gap Road, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and Balsam Mountain Road.

At the lower elevations the colors are coming on strong. Early changing species like blackgum, sourwood, dogwood, Virginia creeper, black walnut, and the sumacs are at peak. The birches and a few maples have also started to change. Little River Road is a beautiful drive right now. The peak of color at the lower elevations is predicted to occur in late October and early November.

Suggested trails and hiking destinations include the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Cammerer, Charlies Bunion, Sweat Heifer Creek, and upper Deep Creek.
In addition, bear, elk, and wild turkey are very conspicuous. Visitors should never approach or harass park wildlife. Approaching elk or bear closer than 50 yards is illegal and punishable by substantial fines and imprisonment.

Information by : The Smoky Mountain Association

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rules And Sites To Backcountry Camping / Backpacking In GSMNP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires a permit for all backcountry camping in the park. Backcountry permits are free and are available at the following locations: Although in 2013 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be charging 4 dollars per person for backcountry camping permits per site unless you are Thru- Hiking the Appalachian Trail and it is still free .

• Oconaluftee Visitor Center
• Sugarlands Visitor Center
• Twentymile Ranger Station
• Fontana Marina
• Fontana Dam Visitor Center
• Deep Creek Campground Office
• Smokemont Campground Office
• Cataloochee Valley near campground
• Big Creek Ranger Station
• Cosby Campground Office
• Greenbrier Ranger Station
• Elkmont Campground Office
• Tremont Environmental Center
• Cades Cove Campground Office
• Abrams Creek Ranger Station
• Balsam Mountain Campground (permits only available June-August at this location)

Backcountry permit registration areas are accessible 24 hours a day. Permits must be picked up in the park at one of the locations listed above. They are not available on the Internet or through email.

The park requires that you stay at designated campsites and shelters while camping in the backcountry.

Advance reservations are required to camp at the following sites:
• All shelters
• Backcountry Campsites 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 36, 37, 38, 46, 47, 50, 55, 57, 60, 61, 71, 83, 84, 85, 86, 90, 113.

Plan your trip and determine which sites you wish to camp at. If your itinerary includes a reserved site or any shelter, you must have a reservation in addition to a permit. For reservations, call the Backcountry Reservation Office at (865) 436-1231. The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily. You may make reservations up to one month in advance of the first day of your trip. (For example, if you wish to backpack on August 8-12, you may call the Backcountry Reservation Office on July 8 to make reservations for the entire length of time you will be backpacking.) Be prepared to give your complete trip plan when calling the Backcountry Reservations Office.

Reservations for backcountry campsites may be obtained only by calling the phone number listed above. They are not available on the Internet or through email.

Please direct all questions concerning backpacking trip planning to the Backcountry Information Office at (865) 436-1297. The information office is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until noon (Eastern Standard Time).

When you arrive in the park, you must complete a permit at one of the 15 self-registration stations listed above. Your permit must designate the campsite or shelter at which you will stay for each night of your trip. Keep the permit with you and drop the top copy in the registration box.
If you do not plan to camp at a shelter or reserved campsite, then you only need to complete a permit. You do not need to call the Backcountry Reservation Office with your itinerary since no reservation is necessary.

The maximum stay at a campsite is three consecutive nights. You may not stay more than one night at any individual shelter. The use of tents at shelters is prohibited. The maximum group size is 8 persons, except at the following campsites where parties of 12 are permitted: 17, 20, 46, 60, 86, and 90. Please note that some campsites have a group size limit of fewer than 8 persons.
The park does not allow pets on backcountry trails.
Please call the reservations office to cancel any nights or spaces that become available because of changes in your plans.
 Backpackers and hikers are subject to all Backcountry Rules and Regulations. Failure to abide by park regulations may subject you to a fine under Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations. Maximum fine for each violation is $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail. 

Information provided by : Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Thursday, October 11, 2012

River Otters At Abrams Falls In GSMNP

Once commonly sited in Cades Cove, otters were all but eliminated from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the 1920's. The reason? Their beautiful pelts brought a pretty price in those days. What a shame as Cades Cove was once an especially safe haven for the funny semi-aquatic creatures. The Cherokee called Cades Cove "Tsiyahi" meaning otter place. Fortunately otters have come back to the cove. One hundred-forty otters were reintroduced into the ecosystem by the officials of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the 1980's. Under the protective rules of GSMNP, the otters are now well established, especially in Abrams Creek and Little River.

River otter belong to the same family as weasels, skunks and minks. The are playful, cute animals that spend a good deal of their time in the water. They have a face that vaguely resembles a seal with small eyes, ears and lots of whiskers. Their bodies are fur-covered and they have short legs, webbed toes and a thick tail. Being nocturnal, they are rarely seen by the Smokies visitor.

A Family of otters was at Abrams Falls today swimming around enjoying the cool water on beautiful fall day .

Scientific Name: Lutra canadensis

Length: 35-52" with tail

Weight: 10-30 lbs.

Life span: Wild, 11-15 years

Captive, up to 20 years

Frogs, turtles, snakes, fish, crayfish and crabs. Occasionally rodents and birds.

Entire U.S., excluding deserts and the Florida Keys. Eliminated in parts of its historical range. Found along rivers, ponds, lakes and marshes. Dens in bank burrows, under trees and stumps, or in thick vegetation.

Special characteristics:
A river otter can dive to a depth of 55 feet. Otter populations are slowly increasing after being diminished in the past by excessive trapping for the fur trade.

First Phase Of Chimney Tops Trail Rehabilitation Completed

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: First Phase Of Chimney Tops Trail Rehabilitation Completed: The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a steep, two-mile hike to a rock outcropping that provides spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains. Combine the high use with the steep grade and a large amount of rainfall and the result is serious safety, resource damage, and sustainability challenges.

Since April, the Trails Forever crew – crew leader Josh Shapiro, assistant crew leader Eric Wood, crew members Brad Davis, Brian Holda, and Margaret Milikin – has been hard at work on phase one of the rehabilitation of the Chimney Tops Trail. The photo above is just one example of the one mile of rehabilitation that has been completed on the trail during this work season. In places like this, the grade is steep, people have picked their way around exposed rock, and water that cascades down the trail. The Trails Forever crew used local rock to create an aesthetically pleasing, easily walkable, sustainable staircase with integrated step over and inside drainage. With the design of the staircase and revegetation efforts, what formally was a ten-foot impact corridor is currently a solid four-foot trail.

Trails Forever is a partnership program between the Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With 848 miles of hiking trails, an average of more than 80 inches of rain a year, and significant forest vegetation, trail crews at Great Smoky Mountains National Park focus their efforts primarily on cyclic maintenance to keep the trails open (clearing windfalls, mowing/pruning and drainage). The Trails Forever program provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on the high use and high priority trails in the park.

The Trails Forever crew produces high quality, sustainable trail solutions to some of the most challenging erosion issues on the trail system. These sustainable trail improvements include redefining sections of trail that have become unsafe or unwalkable, improving drainage by modifying water bars or constructing other types of drainage structures, and building staircases or raised turnpike structures out of sustainable materials to prevent further erosion. The program also provides a mechanism for volunteers to work alongside the trail crew on these complex trail projects to assist in making lasting improvements to preserve the trails for future generations.

To see more photos of the work and more information about the Trails Forever program, please visit their website.

For more information on hiking the Chimney Tops Trail, please click here.

Hiking in the Smokies

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

BRP Rangers Bust Ginseng Poachers

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: BRP Rangers Bust Ginseng Poachers: On Sunday, September 30th, protection rangers in the Ridge District of the Blue Ridge Parkway detected and apprehended two separate groups of poachers illegally taking ginseng from park lands.

A group of four were seen digging illegally by rangers Jeremy Sears and Marc Cyr; three of them were cited for the illegal removal of the plant. Rangers Zeph Cunningham and Miranda Cook then contacted two people as they walked along the parkway to their vehicle. Further investigation resulted in the rangers discovering a bag stashed in the woods that contained a large amount of ginseng and digging tools. One of the people they contacted admitted to digging the ginseng and was placed under arrest. A search of their vehicle resulted in the discovery of a second bag of ginseng.

Wild ginseng is currently being sold for $500 to $600 per pound.

Hiking in the Smokies

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Color Reports from 2012 - October 8

October 8

The fall colors are now superb at the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains, especially at elevations between 4,000 and 5,500 feet. Above this elevation, colors are past peak, though remnants still linger. Along Little River Road and in the Deep Creek area, and elsewhere at the lower elevations, early-changing species like blackgum, sourwood, dogwood, sumac, black walnut, and Virginia creeper are near peak.

This is a great time to take a drive on Newfound Gap Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or Balsam Mountain Road. Views from the scenic overlooks down onto the colorful forests are spectacular. Little River and Laurel Creek roads also offer pleasant fall scenery. Above average rainfall this year has meant that trees are still holding plenty of leaves and this could lead to an exceptional color season.

Look for a peak of fall colors at the lower elevations in late October and early November. Coincidentally, bears have been highly visible this month. Most bears are being sighted in trees eating wild grapes or acorns. Sightings have been in Cades Cove and along Cherokee Orchard Road. Visitors should never approach bears. Pull you car off the road when observing all wildlife.

Information by : Great Smoky Mountain Association

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kahtoola MICROSpikes Traction System

We're here today taking a look at the Kahtoola MICROspikes. Kahtoola MICROspikes are comprised of an elastomer rubber harness that fits around your footwear so it doesn't need any harnesses or straps. This elastomer harness can stretch to fit all kinds of different footwear – everything from heavy insulated winter boots, standard regular hiking boots, down to even trail running shoes. Let's take a look at how easy it is to put the MICROspikes on. Because I'm not sitting in a chair here, I've already started the front.
The front of the MICROspike is clearly labeled. There is no left or right on the MICROspike, so really what you do is just loop it over the front of the shoe. Make sure to line up that bail bar in the center of the toe. And then in the back of the MICROspike you've got a nice pull-tab. So you can just pull it right up over and around the shoe, everything will seat right in. And you're ready to go. You may need to make a couple of small adjustments, maybe slide the back up or down a little bit and make sure it's fitting comfortably on your piece of footwear. MICROspikes are available in both red and black and their sizes run from Extra Small, which will cover youth sizes 1-4 all the way up to an Extra Large which will cover a men's size 14-16 in a shoe. It's a little bit smaller if you're using a very big boot. The Extra Large will cover an 11-13.5. Of course one of the great things about MICROspikes is how small they pack up. So you can pop them in your pack for anytime that you think you may need some more traction out on the trail.
Kahtoola also sells a small tote sack as an accessory. This can be purchased separately to store your MICROspikes in your pack. The teeth of the MICROspikes consist of a 3/8 inch stainless steel spike and chain. What's nice about this system is that none of these teeth are locked into a static position, so they can have kind of a camming action when they bite into ice and snow. While we're taking a look at the spikes and the chain, it's important to take a look at this other feature here in the front which is the bail bar. This bail bar keeps these chains together and it keeps your foot from blowing out the front of the MICROspike when you're descending on a slope.

Black Bear Information You Might Need To Know

Black bear fur is usually a uniform color except for a brown muzzle and light markings that sometimes appear on their chests. Eastern populations are usually black in color while western populations often show brown, cinnamon, and blond coloration in addition to black. Black bears with white-bluish fur are known as Kermode (glacier) bears and these unique color phases are only found in coastal British Columbia, Canada.

American black bears are omnivorous: plants, fruits, nuts, insects, honey, salmon, small mammals and carrion. In northern regions, they eat spawning salmon.
Black bears will also occasionally kill young deer or moose calves.
What's for Lunch ?  A Hiker ? ....Lol

It is estimated that there are at least 600,000 black bears in North America. In the United States, there are estimated to be over 300,000 individuals. However, the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolu) and Florida black bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) are threatened subspecies with small populations (see Legal Status/Protection).

The American black bear is distributed throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico and in at least 40 states in the U.S. They historically occupied nearly all of the forested regions of North America, but in the U.S. they are now restricted to the forested areas less densely occupied by humans. In Canada, black bears still inhabit most of their historic range except for the intensively farmed areas of the central plains. In Mexico, black bears were thought to have inhabited the mountainous regions of the northern states but are now limited to a few remnant populations.

Black bears are extremely adaptable and show a great variation in habitat types, though they are primarily found in forested areas with thick ground vegetation and an abundance of fruits, nuts, and vegetation. In the northern areas, they can be found in the tundra, and they will sometimes forage in fields or meadows.

Black bears tend to be solitary animals, with the exception of mothers and cubs. The bears usually forage alone, but will tolerate each other and forage in groups if there is an abundance of food in one area.

Most black bears hibernate depending on local weather conditions and availability of food during the winter months. In regions where there is a consistent food supply and warmer weather throughout the winter, bears may not hibernate at all or do so for a very brief time. Females give birth and usually remain denned throughout the winter, but males and females without young may leave their dens from time to time during winter months.

Mating Season: Summer.
Gestation: 63-70 days.
Litter Size: 1-6 cubs; 2 cubs are most common.
Cubs remain with the mother for a year and a half or more, even though they are weaned at 6-8 months of age. Females only reproduce every second year (or more). Should the young die for some reason, the female may reproduce again after only one year.

Height: 2-3 feet (.6-.9m) at shoulders
Length: 4-7 feet (1.2-2m) from nose to tip of tail
Weight: Males weigh an average of 150-300 lbs (68-158 kg), females are smaller. Exceptionally large males have been known to weigh 500-600 lbs .
Lifespan: Average lifespan is around ten years, though black bears can live upward of 30 years in the wild.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How To Maintain External Locking Trekking Poles

Trekking Poles with external locking systems have a lot of versatility. They’re great for use in the summer and in the winter, ah you can adjust them with gloves on or you always have that visual confirmation that your poles are locked in.
After you’ve used your poles for a while, you may find that you need to adjust the external locking mechanism to keep the pole section tight when you lock them in. Backcountry Edge stock three brands of poles that use external locking mechanisms and here’s how you adjust them. Easton’s locking mechanism is called the Rock Lock. I really like this mechanism, you know it’s very simple to open and close and if you do find yourself needing to make adjustments on the fly, you don’t really need anything to do it. You just stand up the locking mechanism, twist it to the left to loosen it, twist it to the right to tighten it, flip it back over and lock it in. Black Diamond uses the mechanism that they call the Flick Lock. What the Flock Lock does is it pulls these two plates right here together, to lock the pole section in place. If you need to make an adjustment to the Flick Lock, just turn it right here, you can see we’ve got a Phillips head screw right here. Get your screw driver in there, tighten it up a quarter of a turn and everything is good to go. A little bit more tension to lock it in and you’re set for the trail. Leki’s external locking mechanism is called the Speedlock.
So you’ve got this red lever here, that’s how you unlock and lock the pole. What that does, is there’s a couple different steel plates sandwiched back in here. When you clamp it down it pulls everything together. You get that nice click to let you know that you’re locked in, and if you need to adjust this one you’ve got kind of a knurled screw, right here, you can just twist that a little bit, make your adjustment and lock the poles in. So if ease of adjustability and use find their way to the top of your list or you’re just working on poles that you already own, these three locking mechanism are easily maintainable and give you a secure lock every time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Appalachian Trail Is Coming To Knoxville

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: The Appalachian Trail Is Coming To Knoxville: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will be showing the National Geographic film America's Wild Spaces: the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) at Halls Cinema 7, located at 3800 Neal Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. as part of their 2012 membership drive. This limited engagement is in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the completion of the A.T.

Stretching from Maine to Georgia, the A.T. is approximately 2,180 miles in length, making it one of the longest, continuously marked footpaths in the world. The film explores the natural beauty of the Trail and provides viewers the opportunity to discover the remote, and often unknown, corners of this 5-million-step journey.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from people who have hiked the Trail as well as those who volunteer to protect and maintain it. Guest speakers include Captains Sean Gobin and Mark Silvers, founders of Warrior Hike, 2012 thru hikers and US Veterans; Janet Hensley, volunteer and A.T. Community Ambassador; and Lenny Bernstein, ATC Board Member, 2,000-miler and trail maintainer.

"The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited to present this film on the big screen," stated Mark Wenger, executive director/CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. "This event provides the public with an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Appalachian Trail and how to get involved with the Conservancy through our membership and volunteer programs."

The ATC will be visiting a total of 10 theaters across the country to raise awareness and garner support for the Trail.

– $30 donation
– Free admission for children 12 and under

– Admission to the National Geographic film America's Wild Spaces: The Appalachian Trail
– Captivating stories from guest speakers
– View the winning submission from the ATC's summer video contest
– Free membership/gift membership to the ATC
– Win great prizes

This event is sponsored by the Walkabout Outfitter and Salazon Chocolate Co.

For more information about this event or to reserve your seat, visit: Enter Promo Code: PRATC12 to receive $5 off your ticket.

The movie tour is also scheduled to visit Charlotte, Raleigh, Roanoke and Cincinnati, among other locations.

By: Jeff

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How To Build A Campfire And The Preparation

If you plan to build a campfire, be sure that the area you are hiking in allows fires and if they are required to be built in developed fire pits. Before beginning to build your fire, be sure to have water available nearby and a shovel to throw dirt on the fire if it gets out of hand. Next, there should be a proper fire pit. If there isn’t one already, build a small fire ring with rocks. To prevent wind from blowing your fire out, create a depression in the ground 3-6 inches deep inside the fire ring.

If you plan to make a traditional wood campfire, the next step is to search for and gather 3 types of materials:

Tinder: Small materials that will ignite easily with a spark kindling such as dry grasses, shredded bark, fungus, or mosses. To spark, this material needs to be as dry and finely shredded as possible.

Kindling: Medium sized materials that will catch flame from the tinder quickly such as dry leaves, small twigs and sticks, or larger pieces of bark. For the kindling to catch fire, it must consist of small, dry items.

Wood logs: This is the large, sustainable material used to keep the fire going once it has caught flame from the kindling. The wood should be as dead and dry as possible to catch on fire faster. Find various sized logs to use once the fire gets larger and use an axe or knife to cut the wood into more combustible pieces.

Remember, only you can prevent wildfires!