You’ve heard the phrase “take a hike,” and that’s exactly what thousands of people are doing this weekend in Damascus, Virginia.
They’re hiking the Appalachian Trail to attend the 27th annual Appalachian Trail Days.
If you’re wondering just how many hikers will be visiting this weekend, organizers say they’re expect to see 15,000 people trekking through the region.
A patch of white paint on utility poles is more or less a compass for hikers making their way along the Appalachian Trail, but this weekend it’s a welcome sign for Trail Days.
Damascus is a small town showing true Southern hospitality with free laundry services and medical care. “It’s important when [hikers] get scraped or scratched. We need to make sure that everyone has had a tetanus shot,” said Kristina Morris with Southwest Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.
Events include the hilarious Hiker Parade, a talent show, the annual gear auction, and music, music, music.
About 50 to 60 people were injured Saturday when a driver described by witnesses as an elderly man drove his car into a group of hikers marching in a parade in a small Virginia mountain town. Washington County director of emergency management Pokey Harris said no fatalities had been reported.
The injuries ranged from critical to superficial, he said. Three of the victims were flown by helicopters to regional hospitals. Another 12 to 15 were taken by ambulance. The rest were treated at the scene.
The status of the driver wasn’t released. Multiple witnesses described him as an elderly man. Authorities are still investigating, but Harris said they believe the man might have suffered a medical emergency before the accident.
It happened around 2:30 p.m. during the Hikers Parade at the Trail Days festival, an annual celebration of the Appalachian Trail in Damascus, VA, near the Tennessee state line about a half-hour drive east of Bristol.
What caused the car to drive into the crowd wasn’t immediately known. It appeared to come from a side street, and a thud could be heard. People yelled stop, and at some point, the car finally stopped. Witnesses said the car had a handicapped parking sticker and it went more than 100 feet before coming to a stop.
There’s a story in western Colorado involving Colorado National Monument that bears watching. The gist of the story is that some local community organizations are in support of redesignating the monument as a national park, but only if they can veto Park Service decisions on what uses the monument is appropriate for.
Onlookers believe that this ties in to past efforts to have a professional bike race – the 2013 USA Pro Challenge – course through the national monument along the 23-mile-long Rim Rock Drive. In the past, officials all the way up to the director of the National Park Service have said that would be an inappropriate use of the national monument.
Now, earlier this spring the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association passed a resolution in support of renaming the monument a national park. That resolution was similar to one adopted earlier by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as one passed by the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. The kicker is that the groups want the legislation to give community stakeholders veto power over any Park Service decisions on uses the agency finds are inappropriate for the monument…such as a professional bike race.
Whether legislation will be introduced into Congress this summer by either U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton or U.S. Sen. Mark Udall to redesignate the monument as a national park remains to be seen.
Park advocacy groups, though, are keeping an eye on this issue and are stressing that the Park Service’s hands should not be tied when it comes to what is appropriate for Colorado National Monument.
At first, weeds and grass grew through the trail. Not enough people walked over it to beat them down.
Now, most of the two- and four-mile loops of the Serenity Trail are hard, packed dirt from thousands of walkers and runners. The direction is clear even without the countless cairns and signs marking the way.
On a late April day, the trail’s founder and creator, Linda Hunt, kicked rocks and bits of wood off a section. Maintenance never stops.
Hunt met two inmate crews from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp on the trail. The crews would spend the day thinning trees and rebuilding sections of the trail, located several miles north of Newcastle.
Hunt, 62, is on a one-woman crusade to build a trail system outside Newcastle. She calls it “quality of life infrastructure.”
Hunt spent two summers volunteering on sections of the Continental Divide Trail in the late 2000s. That trail runs from Canada to Mexico, and crews of volunteers gathered to build or rebuild sections for walkers, backpackers, bikers and horseback riders. She learned to use trail-building tools, where to place markings and how to best angle a trail.
Then she realized she could be doing the same thing for her community, a town of 3,400 nestled between the Black Hills and the plains.
A book that aims to make hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park fun and educational for kids, Scavenger Hike Adventures by Kat and John Lafevre, is on Smokies visitor center bookshelves now. The book features 13 hikes, seven are relatively easy, three are moderate and three are extreme. All are set up like scavenger hunts and lead to discoveries within the park, most of which are missed by casual hikers and other visitors.
In addition to the hikes, points for finding important park features and scavenger hunts, the book goes into detail about conservation, black bear tips and the park’s cultural history. The park’s plant and animal life also receive attention, with extra points awarded for finding and identifying things like hemlock trees, black-bellied salamanders and quartz boulders.
Scavenger Hike Adventures is a series of books by the LaFevres that also include Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
National Kids to Parks Day is a nationwide grassroots movement which was established as part of National Park Trust’s ongoing efforts to connect youth across the country with nature and encourage them to explore outdoors – especially at parks in their communities. National Kids to Parks Day is held on the third Saturday every May and is responsible for bringing more than 100,000 kids and families to parks.
Children, families, teachers, cities, towns, and parks are gearing up for this year’s National Kids to Parks Day (KTP), a nation-wide day of outdoor play organized by National Park Trust (NPT) in cooperation with a host of national collaborators. This year’s KTP Day will be held on Saturday May 18, 2013.
NPT is encouraging children across the country to explore their neighborhood parks and discover the history, nature and adventure right around the corner or just across town.
Warmer weather is finally here, and droves of hikers are hitting the trails in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
For some, that means a leisurely stroll along the level paths of the Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest. For others, it means striving to climb the many steep ridges along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
No matter which path you choose, the right foods and drinks are necessary to keep energy levels high and dehydration at bay.
To compile a food and drink “best of” list, the Hendersonville, NC Times-News checked in with several local environmental groups — populated by lots of avid hikers, campers and general outdoorsy types — to ask what the experts pack on a typical day hike. Here’s what they had to say:
Communications Director Angela Shepherd surveyed her co-workers at Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in Asheville to compile this list of their top 10 hiking foods: nuts/trail mix, fish (particularly canned tuna or sardines), jerky, baby carrots, Snickers bars, sandwiches, hummus, salami, granola bars and fruit.
Research shows lupus is more pervasive and more severe than people think. May is Lupus Awareness Month. Put on purple for lupus awareness and tell people why. Help the Lupus Foundation of America raise awareness of lupus and show support for those who suffer its brutal impact.
Ask your friends, family, coworkers and employer to Put on Purple on Friday, May 17, 2013 to help raise awareness of lupus
and show support for those living with the disease. Wear purple proudly and tell people why!
– Consider organizing office-wide or company-wide participation. May 17 is on a Friday.
– Take pictures of your participation and share them with others:
– Send your pictures to the Lupus Foundation of America at PutOnPURPLE@lupus.org.
– Post photos on Twitter using the hashtag #PutOnPurple.
– Send pictures to your social networks, along with details about how you Put On Purple for lupus awareness to help solve the cruel mystery of the disease.
– Tell all of your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors about your participation in Put on Purple Day.
– Send letters/emails/Facebook/Twitter messages to everyone you know announcing your commitment. Invite them to join you by wearing purple on May 17. Share lupus facts from the Put on Purple Day fact sheet to educate your co-workers, friends and family members about the day and the brutal impact of lupus.
– Ask for support in person. A personal appeal is still one of the most effective ways to engage someone to join your effort. If possible, letters and emails should always be followed-up with a phone call.
– Ask the highest-ranking person in your company or group to send out an endorsement memo announcing that he/she will Put On Purple on May 17 to raise awareness of lupus and ask others to do the same.
It appears little is free from graffiti vandalism, not even age-old saguaro cacti at Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona.
Park Superintendent Darla Sidles reports that at least eight saguaros and some boulders along the Douglas Springs Trail in the park’s Rincon District were tagged by the spray-paint-wielding vandals sometime last weekend.
Some of the saguaros that were defaced were as much as 150 years old, according to the superintendent.
“They were seedlings during our nation’s civil war and have stood this long inside what is now a national park-designated wilderness area, designed to protect them,” Superintendent Sidles said in a news release.
May and June offer some of the most comfortable hiking conditions of the year, and the hiking opportunities for people of all ages — children through retirees — are abundant.
Alarmed that so many children and teens are affixed to their video games and spend little time in outdoor activities, many groups are promoting hikes especially aimed at those age groups.
Other organized hikes are geared to families, young adults or senior citizens.
WalkCT, a program of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the state’s oldest conservation organization, sponsors frequent hikes throughout the state, including Family Rambles ideal for parents and children.
“The point of the Family Rambles is really to get families out who may not have a lot of hiking experience,” said Leslie Lewis, WalkCT director. Hike leaders often bring backpacks with games and field guides intended to enhance the hiking experience for children.
Hiking enthusiast Doug Lorain admits to having been bitten by a rattlesnake, shot at by a hunter, and charged by a grizzly bear, twice. But he still returns to the great outdoors.
Lorain, who lives in Beaverton, OR, has hiked more than 30,000 miles in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, with 14,000 of those in Oregon. He is the author of 8 hiking books, with a new series to be released later this year.
All of his hikes provide him with fuel for his books, which outline thousands of treks throughout the Northwest and are complemented with photos he takes himself.
“But I’m a total technophobe,” Loraine confessed. “I own a cell phone that doesn’t work and I still write things with pen and paper.” And when he hears someone say, “We’re not out of the woods yet,” he wonders why he or she would ever want to leave the woods.
“Being out in nature is good for your general health, but also good for you psychologically,” he said. “There is no question that it fills your soul.”
Lorain, however, doesn’t shy away from talking about the physical hardships of backpacking.
“Ninety percent of the time you’re going to be uncomfortable,” Lorain said. “But you won’t remember that. What you will remember is that wildflower or that mountain goat on the cliff.”
The U.S. Forest Service announced the recent completion of work to repair the scenic Max Patch area of the Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest.
“Working with Forest Service personnel, dozens of volunteers donated close to 300 hours of service to help restore this popular site, and we’re grateful for their help,” said Acting District Ranger David McFee. “This partnership between the Forest Service and cooperating volunteers shows the combined commitment to protect, restore and improve the beauty of Max Patch.”
The Appalachian Ranger District collaborated with a number of volunteer organizations including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Carolina Mountain Club and Appalachian 4×4 Club to repair parts of Max Patch. Last winter, damage occurred to the Max Patch area when off-highway vehicles were driven in the area. The people responsible for the crime were found and cited.
The Forest Service and volunteers worked together to design a parking area that provides pedestrian access. The repair work also included the creation of a perimeter using native stones and plantings of Catawba rhododendron and mountain laurel. This project was made possible from funding by the Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Carolina Mountain Club. The Carolina Mountain Club and Appalachian 4×4 Club provided 50 volunteers who donated over 280 hours to restore the site with native plantings and soil stabilization. The work was completed over the course of three weeks.
Max Patch sits next to the Tennessee state line in the Harmon Den area. At 4,629 feet this bald offers 360-degree vistas of Mount Mitchell to the east and Great Smoky Mountains to the southwest. An abundance of ferns and grasses blanket the bald, making it perfect for picnics. Fishing is offered at the pond past the main parking lot. Camping is prohibited at the bald. The Appalachian Trail crosses this area.
U.S. Forest Service News Release
A group of municipalities and organizations have a plan to connect a series of trails on the west side of Lake George, NY, aiming to make the region a world-class hiking and biking destination.
There are opportunities for hiking and biking in the area, but if implemented, the trail connection plan could entice people to visit the area specifically for those activities, said Tracey Clothier, a senior planner with the Saratoga Springs-based LA Group.
“Hikers and bikers spend money,” Clothier said. “That’s why we support this kind of economic development initiative.”
The towns of Bolton, Hague, Lake George and Ticonderoga and the village of Lake George have partnered with organizations such as the Adirondack-Glens Falls Transportation Council and the Warren County Safe and Quality Bicycling Organization, to put together a pitch for a continuous trail system on the west side of the lake that cites economic, health, environmental and community identity benefits.
The plan calls for connecting existing hiking and biking trails on the west side of the lake, creating pedestrian connections on roads, and bike racks.
The resources that are available include 18 major trail hubs from Lake George to Ticonderoga, four nature reserves, a network of snowmobile trails and about two dozen parks.
When Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis retired this year, he left after losing “25 percent of our staff in ten years” and sequestration chopping another 5 percent off his 2013 budget.
Superintendent Francis said the National Park Service budget crisis would “require the federal government to rethink funding our parks—friends groups and foundations will need a new vision for a new role in the near future…”
The superintendent might have left, but the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is still backing the Parkway and, in fact, inventing that new and innovative role he talked about.
In 2012, the Foundation’s funding for park projects totaled $650,000 and included such innovations as a state-of-the-art Blue Ridge Parkway Communications Center that links national park offices with local law enforcement and emergency services along the 500-mile route long prone to radio dead zones. Other projects include historic restoration and fully accessible trail improvements.
The Foundation’s giving for 2013 is up to $750,000—with a variety of innovative programs that flesh out Superintendent Francis’ prognosis for the future.
The Foundation is also refining its fundraising strategies.
Its Parkway Plus Program, subheaded “Eat, Sleep, Donate,” permits guests at participating hotels and restaurants to add a dollar donation to their bill.
Another insight surfaced with the Foundation’s effort to fund individual projects, such as resurfacing the boardwalks on the Rough Ridge Trail at Grandfather Mountain.
“We used to donate the money and then invite donations on the website and with on-site signs,” says Liz Redding, the Foundation’s director of communications, “but we’re changing that to make better use of our supporters’ money—and because we have so many great projects.”
Now the Foundation will “directly fund the ‘invisible projects,’ the ones that aren’t’ sexy,” she says. “And for projects that we think people would get excited about, we’ll ask for donations first. We’ve realized that the incentive to donate is less compelling if the project’s already done.”
Tucked away at the end of a small turn-off from the U.S. Highway 41A Bypass lies something of a hidden gem in Montgomery County, TN’s trove.
It’s not one of those places you’ll find heavily advertised as a tourist center of the area. In fact, many residents hear of it only by word of mouth or else stumble across it by accident. Yet those who venture out into Rotary Park tend to return time and again, finding an aspect of it to fall in love with, then share with others.
Across its 109 acres of woods, creeks and bridges, the county-owned park plays host to such a variety of environments, it practically guarantees every visitor has a special reason for returning – whether it’s an activity or simply a favorite secluded bit of woods.
The primary feature of Rotary Park – and a frequently changing feature – is its trails. Over five miles of hiking and biking trails weave their way around the twin tracts of land that comprise the park, taking visitors on a tour around the wealth of nature Rotary has to offer.
“We try to come up here at least three times a week when the weather’s good,” said Mark Eaton, who was biking the trails. “The way the park’s set out lets us take more gentle routes when we’re feeling less energetic, but when we want a challenge, we can can go up the rougher tracks with hills.”
In years to come, Boston area locals will be able to jump on a bicycle, lace up hiking boots or leash the dog and hit 28 straight miles of trail, spanning from the New Hampshire border all the way through many of Boston’s North Shore communities.
These emerging trails will link nine local municipalities in the Border To Boston Trail, starting as far north as Salisbury and ending in Peabody. In between, the trail will run through Newburyport, Newbury, Georgetown, Boxford, Topsfield, Wenham and Danvers.
While some cities and towns like Newburyport, Wenham, Danvers and Peabody are ahead of the game with their portions of trail already built, towns like Boxford, Georgetown and Newbury are still waiting to get the OK from National Grid-owned paths before moving forward.
Some spans of trail are built in Topsfield and Salisbury, while others need approval from either National Grid or the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
The trail, which is designed along former railroad corridors, aims to connect town centers, schools, neighborhoods, parks, recreational facilities and natural areas. It even connects to the North Shore Mall so outdoor-activity enthusiasts can break for retail therapy.
Although the Border To Boston Trail connects communities through a common ground, each city or town involved has its own trail name, own committee and is moving at its own pace.
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