Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Appalachian Trail Maintaining Clubs In All 14 States

A.T. Maintaining Clubs

Maine Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 283
Augusta, ME 04330

Appalachian Mountain Club
5 Joy St.
Boston, MA 02108

Dartmouth Outing Club
P.O. Box 9
Hanover, NH 03755

Green Mountain Club
RR1, Box 650, Route 11
Waterbury, VT 05677

AMC - Berkshire Chapter
Greylock Visitors Center
P.O. Box 1800, Lanesboro, MA 01237

AMC - Connecticut Chapter
Greylock Visitors Center
P.O. Box 1800, Lanesboro, MA 01237

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
232 Madison Ave., Room 802
New York, NY 10016

Wilmington Trail Club
P.O. Box 1184
Wilmington, DE 19899

Batona Hiking Club
514 Inman Terrace
Willow Grove, PA 19090

AMC - Delaware Valley Chapter
1180 Greenleaf Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18017

Philadelphia Trail Club
741 Golf Drive
Warrington, PA 18976

Allentown Hiking Club
P.O. Box 1542
Allentown, PA 18105

Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club
P.O. Box 14982
Reading, PA 19612

Brandywine Valley Outing Club
P.O. Box 134
Rockland, DE 19732

Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club
Box 610001
Harrisburg, PA 17106

Cumberland Valley A.T. Management Association
P.O. Box 395
Boiling Springs, PA 17007

Mountain Club of Maryland
802 Kingston Road
Baltimore, MD 21212

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
118 Park St. S.E.
Vienna, VA 22180

Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 25283
Richmond, VA 23260

Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 8246
Norfolk, VA 23503

Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 3012
Lynchburg, VA 24503

Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 12282
Roanoke, VA 24024

Outing Club at Virginia Tech
314 Bruce Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers
P.O. Box 4423
Greensboro, NC 27404

Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club
Route 7, Box 345
Abingdon, VA 24210

Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club
P.O. Box 511
Kingsport, TN 37662

Carolina Mountain Club
P.O. Box 68
Asheville, NC 28802

Smoky Mountains Hiking Club
P.O. Box 1454
Knoxville, TN 37938

Nantahala Hiking Club
173 Carl Slagle Road
Franklin, NC 28734

Georgia Appalachian Trail Club
P.O. Box 654
Atlanta, GA 30301 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Most Popular Towns On The Appalachian Trail

Many small towns are located close enough to the A.T. for hikers to get mail, supplies or special treats. The A.T. Thru-Hikers' Companion has information describing services and prices in lots of them. Below is a list of some of the towns that long-distance hikers find especially convenient or inviting:

Hot Springs, N.C.

Damascus, Va.

Pearisburg, Va.

Waynesboro, Va.

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Duncannon, Pa.

Delaware Water Gap, Pa.  Kent, Conn.

Cheshire, Mass.

Manchester Center, Vt.

Hanover, N.H.

Gorham, N.H.

Stratton, Maine

Monson, Maine 

Types Of Animals That You Might Encounter On The Appalachian Trail

If you hike quietly and by yourself, especially in the early morning and late evening, you stand a good chance of seeing everything from mice to moose, with deer, bears, snakes, foxes, coyotes and turkeys in between.

Of course, the greatest concern seems to be about bears, snakes and mice. There are no grizzly bears on the A.T. The black bears in the protected parks (Great Smoky, Shenandoah) have become accustomed to being fed by ignorant people. Thus, they pose somewhat of a problem to your pack full of food, and to you, should you be wearing your pack. In the Smokies, the shelters are fenced in to keep the bears out.

Poisonous snakes (rattlesnakes and copperheads) are rarely seen. There are plenty in some areas but they can usually feel the vibrations from your feet hitting the trail well in advance so you may just catch a glimpse of a tail slithering into the bushes. Read the guidebooks for warnings about snakes and stay on the trail. Do some research on their habits so you will feel more at ease while hiking in their territory.

Mice can damage your pack as they eat their way into the food. You should hang your food and pack separately at night. It is also a good idea to open all the pack compartments. There really is no way to keep a curious mouse out of your pack - it's better if he comes in through an open door than if he opens a new one himself.Remember, wildlife should be left alone. After all, they had no voice in deciding that a trail would be blazed through their home. The least we can do is respect their rights.

One further caution on the subject of animals: it may come as a surprise but one domestic animal causes more concern to hikers than any of the above-mentioned wildlife. Dogs are frequently encountered on road walks, and some are not friendly.

Information Provided By The ALDHA

Monday, May 13, 2013

Preparation For The Physical Hike Of The Appalachian Trail

Physical preparation

The first few miles of any hike are often the toughest, and you will appreciate any physical edge you can bring to your trip during these first few miles. Don't overlook the basics: Take a few overnight training hikes; be sure to seek out mountainous terrain or you won't have a clue about what you are getting into for 6 months. Be sure to put some mileage on your footwear. Your shoes or boots should be at least 1/2 size larger than your normal size. Get used to carrying your pack, fully loaded and adjusted. You'll be surprised to find how unnecessary some items become after you've carried them uphill for 5 miles.

On the Trail, start out with low mileage (eight miles a day for the first week is a good goal) and gradually increase distance to avoid injury. Allow two to four weeks on the Trail to get into peak condition if you are already fit; six to eight if you are not. Knee and foot injuries, stress fractures, and shin splints force many hikers off the Trail; the risk of these can be minimized by keeping your pack light and your mileage conservative in the beginning.

How should I get my body in shape for a long hike?

There is no better way than to put on your boots, load up your backpack with what you think you'll want to take on the A.T. and go for a hike. Start with short distances first and not just on level ground. There is an extra benefit to this conditioning process. After a few miles with the pack, which mysteriously grows heavier each hour, you will discover that you are carrying at least one item you can do without. The lighter the pack at the beginning of the hike the less strain on your body as well as on your spirit.

Stretching exercises before hiking seem to help some hikers avoid common injuries such as shin splints, sprains and knee problems. Again there is plenty of material already written on this subject.
Are there any other things I can do to help me prepare for my hike?

A variety of workshops are given at the annual ALDHA Gathering. Recent workshops have covered such topics as equipment and food tips, women and backpacking, psychological and philosophical aspects of hiking, wilderness medicine, and packing maildrops. Members of the current year's class of thru-hikers usually conduct a workshop for the following year's class of thru-hiker wannabes. And as mentioned before, just talking informally to some of the hundreds of people who are there will be enormously helpful.

Check with local colleges, hiking clubs and backpacking stores. They often sponsor hiking-related classes or outings. Join an online discussion group via the Internet, where you can communicate on a daily basis with like-minded souls all around the world. You can even pay to attend a five-day program geared specifically to preparing dreamers for an A.T. thru-hike, conducted by the Appalachian Trail Institute. Although it's not affiliated with the ATC, details are sometimes available through the ATC office.

Information From Appalachian Trail Conservancy & ALDHA

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Trail Updates And Changes In All 14 States Of Appalachian Trail

Georgia :

No additions or corrections at this time.

North Carolina :

Page 24: Addition
Ron Haven has re-opened his hostel across from Haven's Budget Inn during foul weather and for hikers on a strict budget . $10 per night, no pets. Ask Ron during the shuttle into town.

Page 28: Addition
The Cabin in the Woods is now between $15-70/night. Second phone number: (828) 735-3368.

Page 28: Addition
N.C. 143/Stecoah Gap: Lodging
Buffalo Creek Bed & Breakfast, (828)479-3892,,
$100 per room (doubles) with up to 30% hiker discount. Season runs from April - October, call for availability November - March. Will shuttle to and from the Trail and Robbinsville, NC. Laundry, internet, breakfast. Ask about pets.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park :

No additions or corrections at this time.

North Carolina and Tennessee Border :

No additions or corrections at this time.


No additions or corrections at this time.

Southwest Virginia :

Southwest Virginia Field Editors:
Ken and Nora Bennett aka Big Cranky & DragonFly (Damascus to Atkins) and Chase Davidson (Atkins to Pearisburg)

Page 63: Correction
U.S. 58/Damascus, VA
The Place is closed for the winter until late March. Stays and parking (with permission) are limited to two days.

Page 64: Correction
Quincey’s Pizza has new management and is doing business as Blue Blaze Cafe.

CENTRAL Virginia :

Page 78: Correction
U.S. 460/Pearisburg, Va
The Rendevous Motel is closed due to a fire that severely damaged it in March 2013.

Page 89: Addition
U.S. 60/Lexington: Lodging
Brierley Hill B&B, (540) 464-8421,  >$50 thru-hiker rate, shuttle to/from trail, free laundry, internet access, no pets allowed; mail drops to: 985 Borden Rd. Lexington, VA 24450

Page 98: Addition
Waynesboro, VA: Lodging
Stanimals, (540) 290-4002, $20 PP, WiFi, optional AYCE D/B, laundry, shuttles. In residential district, mail drops to: 328 Lee Drive, Waynesboro, VA 22980

Shenandoah National Park :

No additions or corrections at this time

Northern Virginia :

No additions or corrections at this time.


Page 117: Correction
Harpers Ferry, WV: Lodging
Teahorse Hostel is $32 per night, not $28 as listed.

Maryland :

No additions or corrections at this time.


No additions or corrections at this time.

New Jersey :

No additions or corrections at this time.

New York :

Page 161: Addition
N.Y. 17A/ Greenwood Lake, NY: Lodging
Lake Lodging, (1145 Route 17A/ Greenwood Lake, N.Y. 10925), Ingrid King, (845)-477-0700. Used to be called Greenwood Country Motel. Ask for special rates.

Page 167: Addition
Pawling, NY: Camping
Registration is now required at the Edward R. Murrow Memorial Park. A security officer checks in each evening.

No additions or corrections at this time.

Massachusetts :

Page 192: Addition
Mass. 2/Williamstown, MA: Outfitter/Lodging
The Gear Den, (413) 458-7990, 130 Water St. Williamstown, MA 01267 (former Mountain Goat storefront) is a consignment store specializing in used outdoor clothing and gear.   Carries a small to medium inventory of backpacking equipment and supplies, including books, maps, and fuel, both canister and liquid by the ounce. Hikers are welcome to camp in the back yard next to the Green River and mail drops are welcome. Possible future plans include a small hostel, pay showers, and a laundromat.


No additions or corrections at this time.

New Hampshire :

Page 216: Correction
The Mountain Goat Outfitter in Hanover, NH closed on March 30. Packages sent to the outfitter will be returned to sender. The Hanover Post Office is the suggested alternative for sending packages. Hours: M-F 8:30-5, Sat. 8:30-12. Hikers should follow the following format and include their estimated time of arrival:
Hiker's name
c/o General Delivery
Hanover, NH 03755
Page 225: Correction
U.S. 302/Crawford Notch--East
The Crawford Notch Campground & General Store no longer accepts hiker packages and does not carry resupply items. Hiker packages that are sent there will be sent back to the Bartlett post office or returned to Fed Ex or UPS.


No updates or corrections at this time.

Information provided by Appalachian Trail Concervancy

Reduced Post Office Hours Along The Appalachian Trail

Reduced hours at Post Offices along the A.T - The U.S. Postal Service is cutting hours in many rural post offices, and several along the A.T. will be affected. Those known to have reduced hours already in effect or with proposed cuts to be announced early in 2013 - 14 are Suches, GA, Fontana Dam, NC, Troutdale, VA, Sugar Grove, VA, VA, Atkins, VA, Montebello, VA, Glencliff, NH, and  Warren, NH and potentially others. For more information, visit and check our Trail Updates page periodically. No post offices along the A.T. are expected to close in 2013 during the hiking season.

Updates to the 2013 edition are outlined here. Please send suggested changes and corrections to

All information provided by Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Friday, May 10, 2013

How To Get To Springer Mountain GA The Beginning / End Of Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail begins, or ends, depending upon one’s point of view, at Springer Mountain, located in North Georgia's Fannin County . In 1958, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail was moved from Mount Oglethorpe approximately 14 miles (23 km) to the northeast to Springer Mountain due to increased development around Mount Oglethorpe. At the peak of Springer Mountain is a bronze plaque with the Appalachian Trail logo, a register for hikers to sign, and a benchmark. An open-front trail shelter is about 400 yards down a blue-blazed and signed side trail.

Springer Mountain can be reached by the way of a blue blazed 8.5 mile approach trail at Amicalola Falls State Park. The 8.5 mile approach trail starts behind the visitors center and there are several difficult climbs before you reach Springer Mountain.
Springer can also be reached by Forest Service Road 42. From Forest Service Road 42, it is a 0.9 mile hike south to the summit of Springer Mountain.


To the Appalachian Trail Crossing on Forest Service Road 42 North of Springer Mountain
From Dahlonega, GA travel west on Highway 52 for approximately 9 miles. Turn right at an old store with a partial sign saying Store…this will be near mile marker 5. There is also a sign for Nimblewill Baptist Church.

Travel for approximately 2 miles, then turn right (before church) onto Forest Service Road 28-1. (At this turn, there is a brown/cream sign saying Nimblewill Gap/Jones Creek/Camp Wahsega). In approximately 2 miles (after you cross the bridge), the road forks. Veer left onto Forest Service Road 77 and travel for approximately 5 miles to Windingstair Gap (intersection of Forest Service Road 77, Forest Service Road 42, and Forest Service Road 58).

At Windingstair Gap, turn left onto Forest Service Road 42. In approximately 1 mile, the Benton MacKaye Trail crosses this road at Big Stamp Gap. Travel for another mile and you will see a parking area on your right. The Appalachian Trail crosses Forest Service Road 42 at this point.
Alternate Route From Dahlonega, GA travel north on Business Highway 19 to Camp Wahsega Road. Turn left on Camp Wahsega Road for approximately 9 miles to intersection at Camp Frank Merrill. Turn right onto Forest Service Road 80; go approximately 3 miles to intersection with Forest Service Road 42. Turn left on Forest Service Road 42; go approximately 10 miles to Springer Mountain Parking lot on right.

From Blue Ridge, GA – Gosouth on Aska Road to end (13.5 miles). Turn right on Newport Road, go 4.5 miles to end. Turn right onto Doublehead Gap Road; go 2.0 miles to (unmarked) USFS Road 42 on left (Mt. Pleasant Church on right). Turn onto USFS 42, drive 6.5 miles to AT crossing of Forest Road 42 and parking lot on left.

From Blairsville, GA- Take Kiutuestia Road, go 1 mile to the end. Turn right on Old Hwy. 76; go approximately 4.5 miles to Skeenah Gap Road on the left. Turn left and go approximately 8 miles to the end and junction with Hwy. 60. Turn right on Hwy. 60, go 0.24 miles and turn left on Doublehead Gap Road. Go 8.5 miles to Forest Service Road 42 on the left (Mt. Pleasant Church on right). Turn onto USFS 42, drive 6.5 miles to AT crossing of Forest Road 42 and parking lot on left.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Items Great For Eating While Hiking , Backpacking Or ThruHiking

Number Ten - tuna and crackers. Make sure you get one of the smaller cans of tuna that has a pull top to open, that way you won't need a can opener. If the thought of dry tuna makes you shudder, than you can bring a mayonnaise packet acquired at a local fast food restaurant to make it more palatable. To make things even more tasty consider smearing your tuna salad on a bagel (pre sliced) or into some pita bread. Nutritional pluses, tuna is almost pure protein while being balanced with carbohydrates from the crackers or bread.

Number Nine - hard cheese and crackers. Hard cheeses are robust enough to survive on the trail and can take a moderate amount of heat. Sharp cheddar stood out as a favorite among the editors, getting high marks for our durability requirements. Seasoned or whole-wheat crackers add flavor to the somewhat bland experience. Nutritional pluses include plenty of protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Number Eight - peanut butter. If you bring peanut butter you will have a lot of options. We recommend repacking it into a squeeze tube; you can find them practically anywhere, even the camping supply section of most Wal-Marts. Not only can you just suck it out of the tube, you can lather peanut butter on crackers or a bagel.  Nutritional pluses, plenty of protein, a good amount of fat balanced with the carbohydrates from the crackers or bread.

Number Seven - candy bars. If you are hiking in a moderate climate, candy bars can survive well on the trail. We don't recommend them in hotter conditions, thus the reason candy bars only made it to number seven on our list. Milky Way, Snickers, Pay Day, and Whatchamacallit scored high with our editors, one said he would, "kill on command for a Whatchamacallit" and yet another editor said she'd do the same for a Snickers, "in a heart beat!"
Pluses include lots of simple carbohydrates for a quick energy fix and great flavor that almost everyone loves, and of course almost no trash to pack out.

Number Six - fresh fruit. Nothing satisfies like a good apple, orange or pear. We recommend carrying fruit that can take rolling around in your backpack, you might find peaches, bananas, and plums less than desirable when you sit down to eat. The two reasons they didn't score higher with our editors was weight, trash that needs to be packed out, and caloric bang per ounce. However they get very high marks for a natural carbohydrate fix, and almost everyone has a favorite fruit they will eat. Every editor agreed that sitting on a scenic bluff eating cheese and crackers with apple slices was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Number Five - beef jerky. When we talk about beef jerky we don't mean going to the local convenience store and getting a SlimJim. Not that we have anything against GoodMark Foods, but you haven't had beef jerky until you have had REAL beef jerky. Beef jerky is almost bullet proof, extremely lightweight, and offers a very good balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. If you have the time and a food dehydrator, consider making it yourself.

Number Four - dried fruit. Dried fruits scored higher than fresh fruit because they are more durable, there is a lot less trash to pack out, and they pack more caloric bang per ounce. Raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and dried apples were favorites. Dried fruits are packed with carbohydrates and offer a quick energy fix. They are also flexible enough to be used with peanut butter or cheese.

Number Three - granola. Granola has gone full circle when it comes to popularity. Once a fringe food associated with the hippy movement, granola was viewed as an elixir of long life during the seventies and early eighties until the dirty secret that granola is packed with fat came out. With the low fat movement of the late eighties and early nineties, granola once again took a back seat and disappeared from store shelves. Almost bullet proof, granola has grown up and comes in a variety of flavors ranging from honey, and nut to more exotic combinations like blueberry or cherry. Loaded with fat and carbohydrates, granola is an excellent food source out on the trail.

Number Two - energy bars. Whether your favorites are Power Bars, Clif Bars, Luna, 30-30-40, Myoplex or others, sports nutrition energy bars are an excellent food source out on the trail. Having the shelf life of plutonium, balanced nutrition, lightweight, almost no trash, and tasting great (well, when you find a brand you like) they are almost the perfect food. The only thing that kept energy bars from moving to the number one spot was price, with the average bar costing close to $1.25 to a $2.50. If you hike a lot we recommend buying them in bulk from a warehouse store like Sams, BJ's, or Costco.

Number One - gorp.  Also known as trail mix, the entire staff also agreed that the best way to get gorp was make it yourself with your favorite foods. A combination of any of your favorites including M&M's, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, Cheerios, Chex cereal, raisins, peanuts, cashews, and dried coconut were among the suggestions we received. Low cost considering you probably have most of the ingredients sitting on the shelf at home, no trash to speak of, tasty if you make it from your favorites, and bullet proof, gorp is the perfect food when you're out on the trail.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Celebrate National Trails Day in the Smokies on the Appalachian Trail

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Celebrate National Trails Day in the Smokies on the Appalachain Trail:

Celebrate National Trails Day in the Smokies on the Appalachian Trail

Saturday, June 1st, is the 21st annual National Trails Day. Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Regional Office of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club invite you to participate in helping them take care of the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The A.T. Maintainers Committee of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy are responsible for maintaining the A.T. and its facilities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a continuing basis. With your help on National Trails Day, projects are completed that otherwise would not be accomplished. Also, the registration fees are an important source of funds to make improvements at housing used by A.T. Ridgerunners, the volunteer SWEAT crew, and Rocky Top trail crew in the Smokies.

Now's a great time to register to work at this year's event. For registrations postmarked by May 16th, the fee is $20.00 (After May 16th, it's $25.00).

Registering early helps the Crew Assignment Committee get workers placed in work groups and increases your chance of being assigned to your hike/work preference. Workers will receive a commemorative t-shirt and a picnic at day's end. See the registration form for details!

The picnic will be at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area following the workday.

If you have any questions you can be email Holly Scott with Friends of the Smokies at or Phyllis Henry at

Hiking in the Smokies

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hike To Conasauga Falls

Conasauga Falls Trail  is a 1.5 mile (roundtrip) trail that offers quick and easy way to see and experience a beautiful  waterfall and enjoy a quiet day by the creek.


This nice falls is in the Hiwassee Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest. From the intersection of the Cherohala Skyway and Hwy 68, head south on Hwy 68. Drive an additional 2.4 miles and turn right on FR341. Look for a large forest service sign. Drive about a mile on pavement, take the right fork and drive another 1.5 miles to a right hand turn. There may be a sign pointing towards the falls. This road ends after 0.5 miles at the parking area and trailhead. The hike is only about a mile and easy to moderate. It ends at this beautiful 30' falls.  There were plenty of smaller cascades and swimming holes.

A easy hike all down hill to the falls

A nice little getaway hike not hardly any traffic at all

A little rocky in some places

A tree down on the trail

Conasauga Falls

Conasauga Falls

Information On Lightning While Hiking Or Backpacking

Lightning is a massive electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions within clouds, or between a cloud and the Earth's surface. The charged regions within the atmosphere temporarily equalize themselves through a lightning flash, commonly referred to as a strike if it hits an object on the ground. There are three primary types; from a cloud to itself (intra-cloud or IC); from one cloud to another cloud (CC) and finally between a cloud and the ground (CG). Although lightning is always accompanied by the sound of thunder, distant lightning may be seen but be too far away for the thunder to be heard.
Lightning occurs approximately 40–50 times a second worldwide, resulting in nearly 1.4 billion flashes per year.
Many factors affect the frequency, distribution, strength, and physical properties of a "typical" lightning flash to a particular region of the world. These factors include ground elevation, latitude, prevailing wind currents, relative humidity, proximity to warm and cold bodies of water, etc. To a certain degree, the ratio between IC, CC and CG lightning may also vary by season in middle latitudes.

Sound of a thunderstormBecause human beings are terrestrial and most of their possessions are on the Earth, where lightning can damage or destroy them, CG lightning is the most studied and best understood of the three types, even though IC and CC are more common. Lightning's unpredictability limits a complete explanation of how or why it occurs, even after hundreds of years of scientific investigation. A typical cloud to ground lightning flash culminates in the formation of an electrically conducting plasma channel through the air in excess of 3 mi. The actual discharge is the final stage of a very complex process. A typical thunderstorm has three or more strikes to the Earth per minute at its peak.

How Lightning Develops Between The Cloud And The Ground

A moving thunderstorm gathers another pool of positively charged particles along the ground that travel with the storm. As the differences in charges continue to increase, positively charged particles rise up taller objects such as trees, houses, and telephone poles. Have you ever been under a storm and had your hair stand up? Yes, the particles also can move up you! This is one of nature's warning signs that says you are in the wrong place, and you may be a lightning target!
The negatively charged area in the storm will send out a charge toward the ground called a stepped leader. It is invisible to the human eye, and moves in steps in less than a second toward the ground. When it gets close to the ground, it is attracted by all these positively charged objects, and a channel develops. You see the electrical transfer in this channel as lightning. There may be several return strokes of electricity within the established channel that you will see as flickering lightning.


1. Lightning never strikes twice… it strikes the Empire State Building in NYC some 22-25 times per year!

2. Rubber tires or a foam pad will insulate me from lightning… it takes about 10,000 volts to create a one inch spark. Lightning has millions of volts and easily can jump 10-20 feet!

3. Lightning rods will protect my ropes course…lightning rods are "preferential attachment points" for lightning. You do not want to "draw" lightning to any area with people nearby.

4. We should get off the water when boating, canoeing or sailing…tall trees and rocky outcrops along shore and on nearby land may be a more dangerous place.

5. A cave is a safe place in a thunderstorm…if it is shallow cave, or an old mine with metallics nearby, it can be a deadly location during lightning.

2.0 Atmospheric Physics 101. At any one time around the planet, there are 2000 thunderstorms and 100 lightning strikes to earth per second. The frequency of lightning increases in the lower latitudes (closer to the equator), and in the higher altitudes (mountainous terrain). In the USA, central Florida experiences some 10-15 lightning strikes per sq. km./yr. The Rocky Mountain west has about two thirds this activity. Central Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, and the Latin American mountain regions can experience two to three times as much lightning as central Florida.

Lightning leaders from thunderclouds proceed in steps of tens of meters, electrifying ground-based objects as they approach the earth. Ground-based objects may launch lightning streamers to meet these leaders. Streamers may be heard (some say they "sound like bacon frying") and seen (we may notice our hair standing on end). A connecting leader-streamer results in a closed circuit cloud-to-ground lightning flash. Thunder accompanying it is the acoustic shock wave from the electrical discharge. Thus, thunder and lightning are associated with one another.
3.0 Flash/Bang. We all possess a first-class lightning detection device, built into our heads as standard equipment. By referencing the time in seconds from seeing the lightning (the FLASH, or "F" ) to hearing the accompanying thunder (the BANG, or "B"), we can range lightning's distance. A "1,001 to 1,005" of five seconds equals lightning distance being one mile away. A "1,001 to 1,010" of ten = two miles; a "1,001 to 1,020" of twenty = four miles; a "1,001 to 1,030" of thirty = six miles; etc.

New information shows successive, sequential lightning strikes (distances from Strike 1 to Strike 2 to Strike 3) can be some 6-8 miles apart. Taking immediate defensive actions is recommended when lightning is indicated within 6-8 miles. The next strike could be close enough to be an immediate and severe threat.

Lightning is a capricious and random event. It cannot be predicted with any accuracy. It cannot be prevented. Advanced planning in the form of a risk management program is the best defense for maximum safety.
4.0 Standard lightning defenses. The eco-tourism environment is different from situations where substantial buildings or fully enclosed metal vehicles are the recommended shelters. Lightning in remote terrain creates dangerous conditions. Follow these guidelines:

AVOID: Avoid water. Avoid all metallic objects. Avoid the high ground. Avoid solitary tall trees. Avoid close contact with others - spread out 15-20 ft. apart. Avoid contact with dissimilar objects (water & land; boat & land; rock & ground; tree & ground). Avoid open spaces.

SEEK:Seek clumps of shrubs or trees of uniform height. Seek ditches, trenches or the low ground. Seek a low, crouching position with feet together with hands on ears to minimize acoujstic shock from thunder.

KEEP: Keep a high level of safety awareness for thirty minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder.

5.0 Medical treatment and symptoms. Treat the apparently dead first. Immediately administer CPR to restore breathing. Eighty percent of lightning strike victims survive the shock. Lightning strike victims do not retain an electric charge and are safe to handle. Common lightning aftereffects include impaired eyesight and loss of hearing. Electrical burns should be treated as other burns.

Treat lightning like a snake: if you see it or hear it, take evasive measures.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Insect Repellants for Hiking And Backpacking

You need to evaluate where you are going.  What is the environment you are going to be visiting.  The insects you will experience will be very different on the windswept mountainside of the Presidentials in New Hampshire, vs. the open tundra of Denali National Park in Alaska.

If you are going to be visiting an area that is famous for biting insects, you need to come prepared.  Remember, everything is tied together in a big circle of life.  In the extreme northern climates the clouds of summertime mosquitoes feed the millions of birds that nest there.  Without them, the birds would starve.  In the deep south, the mosquito larvae feed countless insects, crustaceans, and fish.  In temperate climates, biting insects peak in the spring and fall, once again to feed the thousands of migrating birds.  Insects usually have a peak time in each area, be aware of these times is one of the first steps in not getting eaten alive.

Have you ever been in the forest and though that every mosquito within miles has descended upon you?  You may be correct!  Mosquitoes and other biting insects find their prey by sensing carbon dioxide.  As air breathing mammals, we give off large amounts of carbon dioxide not just by breathing, but through our skin, and blood thirsty mosquitoes have been equipped to sense this release from miles away.  This is where insect repellant comes in.

DEET, or N-diethyl-meta-toluamide is the active ingredient in most insect repellants, and comes in a variety of concentrations from as low as 4% to 100%.  DEET masks our release of carbon dioxide which makes us harder to detect by biting insects.  When we cover ourselves in repellant, we literally don't smell appealing to biting insects.

DEET based repellants come in liquid form, creams, lotions, pumps, and aerosol sprays.  Generally anything below 20% DEET content should be avoided for anything more than a backyard barbeque.  Conversely, high concentrations of DEET can also cause problems.  In excess of 35% can cause rashes.  Heavy use of concentrations in excess of 80% have been linked to short term schizophrenia, while behavior will return to normal after use is discontinued.  Many people have noticed becoming irritable after extended use of high concentrations of DEET based repellants.  Almost the entire population will find, that DEET based repellants are the best and safest choice of repellant they can use.

You may have heard about Avon's Skin So Soft.  Avon's Skin So Soft is a skin care product that is used as a moisturizer.  Many people swear by it as a mosquito repellant, and some non-scientific testing has indicated that it is pretty effective.  Avon has never, and will never advertise Skin So Soft as an insect repellant.  The lengthy and costly testing that goes into certifying a product is more than Avon wants to spend, and it moves away from the real features of the product.  Avon Skin So Soft only seems to work against mosquitoes, and not other members of the biting hordes.
Some real backcountry folks use kerosene, which is what was used long before the petrochemical industry gave us DEET or other repellant products.  Although kerosene is effective, it is damaging to clothing and skin, and is flammable.  I sure wouldn't want to be around the campfire after slapping some kerosene around the back of the neck and on the arms to keep the bugs away!

If you have ever felt that you are the most appetizing item on the face of the earth to insects, or conversely insects don't seem to be interested in you at all, there is some truth to this also.  Recently scientists have discovered that mosquitoes will select healthier people over sick people when selecting who to bite.  They don't understand exactly why, but speculate that our chemical signature, what the insect "smells," is different depending on our condition.  One does not have to be unhealthy to be lucky around flying insects.

When we swell up and itch from an insect bite it is because we are having an allergic reaction.  The insects fluids are injected into our skin and our bodies treat it as an immune reaction, and the bodies extreme reaction causes the bump, itch, and the redness around an insect bite.  A very lucky few, about 1% of the population do not have this reaction, and are not effected by insect bites.  The body has either built a tolerance up for the chemicals injected in an insect bite, or does not recognize them as a threat.

No Deet Products

One of the best non-deet products out on the market is from a friend of mine . His companies names is 45ºN 68ºW
The 45ºN 68ºWTM Insect Repellent Product is formulated with natural pharmaceutical grade oils of organic origin. These botanical oils have been used over thousands of years and are deemed to be safe and effective against numerous insects including various species of mosquitoes (some may carry West Nile Virus), flies, gnats, black flies, ticks, mites, and other arthropods.

Our natural insect repellent products (including insect repellent with 39% active ingredients) have undergone rigorous testing including evaluation in controlled studies with human subjects (n=5) for repellency to black salt marsh mosquitoes (Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus Wiedemann), in the Everglades National Park, FL.

Natural Insect Repellent
•Personal Protection
◦Natural Insect Repellent 4 oz – single and multi-packs◦Natural Insect Repellent Family & Refill packs (coming soon)
Main attributes of the product:

• Promotes healthier lifestyle by allowing individuals to spend uninterrupted time outdoors.
• Creates awareness of our natural surroundings by allowing you to venture in the outdoors.
• Produced using natural pharmaceutical grade products of organic origin.
• Active ingredients include Neem, Lemon Eucalyptus and other essential organic oils.
• Proven to works against numerous insects including flies, gnats, mites, ticks, no see ums, mosquitoes etc.
• Does not contain N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, abbreviated as DEET.
• Aromatherapeutic: Refreshing and energizing aroma on a hot hiking day.
• Developed and Manufactured in USA using mostly locally sourced herbals
• Environmentally responsible packaging.
To Order and read up more on this Non-Deet Product...

Understanding WildLife In The GSMNP

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.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains some of the largest tracts of wilderness in the East and is a critical sanctuary for a wide variety of animals. Protected in the park are some 65 species of mammals, over 200 varieties of birds, 50 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians.

The symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear, is perhaps the most famous resident of the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides the largest protected bear habitat in the East. Though populations are variable, biologists estimate approximately 1,500 bears live in the park, a density of approximately two bears per square mile.

Of the 65 other mammal species documented in the park, the white-tailed deer, groundhog, chipmunk, and some squirrel and bat species are the most commonly seen. Over 200 species of birds are regularly sighted in the park, 85 of those migrate from the neotropics. Some 120 species nest here. Several bird species that are listed as Species of Concern breed here, making the park an important source for repopulating areas outside the park that are showing declines in the numbers of these birds.

Information Provided By GSMNP

Hiking And Backpacking With Black Bears In GSMNP

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.

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.

Should you encounter a black bear
Stay calm - DO NOT RUN (running may elicit a chase response by the bear).
Pick up children so they don't run or scream; restrain dog; avoid eye contact and talk in soothing voice.
If the bear stands up, he is NOT going to attack but is curious and wants a better sniff or view.
Back away slowly; if bear chomps jaw, lunges, or slaps ground or brush with paw, he feels threatened.
Slowly retreat from area or make wide detour around bear; don't crowd or block bear's escape route.

Note: Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare. A person is 180 times more likely to be killed by a bee and 160,000 times more likely to die in a car accident. Most injuries from black bears occur when people try to feed, pet, or crowd them. Bears will nip or cuff bad-mannered humans, as they will bad-mannered bears.  They are very strong and powerful animals; bears should always be treated with caution and respect.

Hiking And Backpacking In The Rain

1)    Use waterproof stuff sacks for your gear, especially clothing. Use them in different colors to indicate what type of gear is in each.

2)    As most of us do, use self-locking plastic bags to keep such items as matches, food, camera, first aid kit, books, maps, journal, cell phones,GPS,and if you use water mixers.

3)    If it is very warm and raining, remember that you can become cold from the moisture when hiking at a brisk pace. Gear up a bit and keep a steady, slow-to-moderate pace.
4)    Be a quick-change artist (our weather most certainly is) and keep an extra layer of dry clothing made very accessible.

5)    If you are hiking in intermittent rain, make sure your stops for water or snacks are during the dry moments on the trail.

6)    Take advantage of your “pit zips” and other ventilation devices in your rain clothing. Open and close them to either cool off or warm up.

7)    To keep your feet dry, put on your rain pants. These direct the flow of water down and over the waterproof exterior of your boots. If it’s too warm, gaiters will keep your feet dry for a while, but won’t keep the rain from dribbling through the tops of your boots.

8)    Be a speed eater. Keep snacks handy in your larger exterior pockets, a waste pouch or somewhere that you don’t have to take off your rain coat to open your pack and expose your gear to the weather. Be inventive.

9)    As I learned in my hike to Mt. Cammerer Firetower , just the vegetation, after a prominent rain, can make you as wet as a river otter. And, of course, trees will drip for quite a while after heavy rains. So when the sun comes out, initially keep your rain gear and pack cover on.
10) At the end of the hiking day, wring out your socks if they become wet and hang them up in your tent where your body heat can help them dry a little. (Better yet, stuff them inside your sleeping bag while you snooze.) If the next day is drier and sunnier, hang the wet socks up to dry outside. Then put them back on your feet for hiking if they’re not too wet, and save your dry backup socks for the end of the day as you enjoy camp with a warm beverage and some dinner in your stomach.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Park Reopens Trails Damaged in 2011 Tornado

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog: Park Reopens Trails Damaged in 2011 Tornado: Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced today the reopening of two trails that have been closed since 2011 after receiving extensive damage from a F4 Tornado in the western end of the Park.

The Park's Trail Crew recently completed rehabilitation work on Beard Cane and Hatcher Mountain Trails. These trails have been closed since April 2011 due to damaging tornado winds and rain that left the trails blocked by thousands of downed trees. In addition, Park crews had to rebuild the trail tread surface and construct multiple retaining walls where the trail had been completely destroyed after uprooted trees fell downslope with sections of the trail attached.

After the 2011 tornado, 50 miles of trails were initially closed including Ace Gap Trail, Beard Cane Trail, Hatcher Mountain Trail, Little Bottoms Trail, Rabbit Creek Trail, Hannah Mountain Trail, Cooper Road Trail, Cane Creek Trail, Gold Mine Trail, and Abrams Falls Trail. Twenty-four trail crew employees from across the Park responded to the incident in addition to trail crews from Canyonlands National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park. Due to the scope of the workload, coupled with the responsibility to maintain the other 800 miles of trails in the Park, Smokies Trail Crew Supervisor, Tobias Miller, reached out to fellow NPS trail crews from across the country to aid in tree clearing efforts and trail reconstruction.

“This was some of the most challenging work I have ever faced. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such hardworking professionals and the best trail crew in the NPS,” said Smokies Trail Crew Supervisor Tobias Miller. “It was clear from the first day, after I crawled through only three of the damaged trails, that we were in for some serious challenges to reopen these trails.”

All trails as a result of the tornado are now reopened for public use along with Backcountry Campsite 3. However, Backcountry Campsite 11 will remain closed. The damage to this site was so great from the storm that this location is no longer suitable as a campsite.

For more information about trail conditions, please visit the Park’s website at or call our Backcountry Information Office at 865-436-1297.

You may want to note the following backcountry areas that are currently closed:

 • Chimney Tops Trail is closed due to a washed out bridge. The bridge is scheduled to be repaired by June 30. At that time, the park's Trails Forever Crew will begin Phase 2 of the ongoing trail rehabilitation project which will necessitate closing the trail each Monday through Thursday from July 1-October 17. The trail will be open weekly on Friday-Sunday during the rehabilitation project.

• Scott Mountain Trail from campsite #6 to Schoolhouse Gap. Campsite #6 is open.

• Backcountry Campsites 11, 54, 65

 • Noland Creek Trail will be closed from the trailhead to campsite #64 from April 22-May 2 for landslide repair. Campsite #64 will remain open.

• The bridge at the southernmost end of the Smokemont Loop Trail is closed due to construction in the area.

Hiking in the Smokies