Hiking News

For more than two decades, Lantana retiree has been working to clear Florida’s hiking trails

Posted by on Jul 12, 2013 @ 7:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When you’re a trailblazer, it’s an early-to-bed, early-to-rise life. Just ask Bea Rogers, trail coordinator for the Loxahatchee Chapter of the Florida Trail Association.

The rugged outdoorswoman laces up her hiking shoes before dawn each morning for a 2-mile trek around her Lantana neighborhood — that is if she’s not clearing trails somewhere else. That somewhere else, many days, is the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail stretching from Hobe Sound to Lake Okeechobee.

That trail is particularly dear to Rogers, 76, who helped build it with her friend Dean Drake, another longtime Florida Trail member, starting in 2002.

“He had the knowledge and compass, and I had the get-the-job-done (ability),” Rogers says. And she’s been getting it done ever since. She is responsible for maintaining 200 miles of the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail, although she doesn’t do it alone.

Rogers leads a dedicated team of volunteers who go out to maintain the trail. Some use lawn mowers, others wield chainsaws, and others come with paint and brushes to keep the trail signs up to snuff.

“As trail coordinator, it’s my job to convince others to get wet and muddy to keep the trails clear,” she says. “We call it fun.”

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A historical pictorial of the Appalachian Trail at Chester, VA Library

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 @ 9:16 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Appalachian Trail, celebrating its 75th year, will be the subject of discussion at Chester Library’s Morning Coffee Break on July 16th. A Pictorial History of Virginia’s Appalachian Trail with Leonard Adkins will provide a look at life in the mountains before and during the trail’s creation. The 2,174 mile scenic trail has been stated to be the most famous hiking trail in the world. It runs from Maine to Georgia with one-fourth of the trail passing through Virginia.

Adkins has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail five times, and is the author of 16 books about the outdoors, nature, and travel, including five concerning the trail. He has aided the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in identifying and protecting rare and endangered plants by being a Natural Heritage Monitor and a ridge runner. He has also been on the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s Board of Directors, a volunteer maintainer of a trail section near McAfee Knob, and as a field editor for the foremost guide for Appalachian Trail hikers that is updated annually.

Along with providing a pictorial history of life before and after the trail’s completion, his latest book, “Images of America: Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail” takes a look in how it came into being, who its early champions were, the many relocations the trail has experienced, and the volunteers who have constructed and maintained it.

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Hiking restrictions begin as grizzly bears feed

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 @ 11:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

It’s that time of year again.

From now until Sept. 15, seasonal trail restrictions are in effect for Lake Minnewanka Trail from Stewart Canyon Bridge to the east park boundary, Aylmer Pass Trail and the Aylmer Lookout Trail. Lake Minnewanka is a key area for grizzly bears in Banff National Park because it has lots of buffaloberries, which are in season. They are a vital food source for grizzly bears.

One has already been spotted in the area this week, according to Steve Michel, a human-wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park.

“We had a grizzly bear on a carcass in that area yesterday,” he said Tuesday. “Not related to feeding on berries, at this point, but definitely we have grizzly bears during the mid-summer months — particularly females with their offspring — that frequent that area quite regularly.”

To ensure public safety and protect the grizzly bears, hikers are asked to stay in tight groups of four or more, and carry bear spray at all times.

No cyclists are allowed on the Lake Minnewanka Trail and dogs are not permitted beyond the Stewart Canyon bridge.

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Man Sentenced for Vandalism in NC National Forest

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 @ 11:36 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

From the U.S. Forest Service:

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, announced that Tyler Pace was sentenced to 90 days incarceration by United States Magistrate Judge Dennis Lee Howell for vandalizing parts of Max Patch, a scenic area in the Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest North Carolina.

“This sentence sends a message to vandals that damaging our public lands will not be tolerated,” said United States Attorney Anne Tompkins.

Pace received the sentence during an appearance in U.S. District Court in Asheville on July 9, 2013. Prior to his sentencing hearing, Pace paid restitution for his share of the damage to Max Patch.

Pace was with a group of men who illegally drove vehicles in the Max Patch area in January 2013, causing more than $5,000 of damage to that scenic area. Pace facilitated that damage by tearing down the entrance gate and fence, thereby enabling the other persons to drive their vehicles into the protected area where vehicles are prohibited. Pace is 24 years old and a resident of Canton, North Carolina.

Max Patch sits next to the Tennessee state line in the Harmon Den area and is intersected by the Appalachian Trail. At 4,629 feet this bald offers 360-degree vistas of Mount Mitchell to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains to the southwest. An abundance of ferns and grasses blanket the area making it perfect for picnics.


Meanderthals Has New Interviews Section

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 @ 9:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Meanderthals today introduces the new Interviews section of the Hiking Blog.

A few weeks ago, Meanderthals spoke with Ron Strickland Founder of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, author, and conservationist about helping us introduce this new section. Ron graciously agreed. The process was a remarkable education for me personally. I learned of Ron’s tremendous passion and drive, and the wit that has kept him sane through all the red tape he had to handle through the decades. Hikers all over the world can appreciate the efforts of Ron Strickland to accomplish this monumental feat that will last for generations to come.

There are more interviews already in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled for future updates. Better yet, use the Subscribe by Email button over there —-> to be notified whenever Meanderthals adds new content.


The Future of the Outdoor Industry

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 @ 4:29 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Picture a huge corporation that has an absolutely enormous portfolio of incredibly valuable assets, a vast customer base, and a product that improves the health and quality of life of anyone who tries it. What if I told you that this company operates without anyone overseeing it all, without adequate financial resources, and without good collaboration among departments? Sounds a little far-fetched, huh?

This is the reality when it comes to outdoor recreation resources in the United States. Think about it. Our country has a veritable kaleidoscope of outdoor recreation assets—from the backyard to the backcountry. Local rivers and parks, bicycle trails, state parks, national parks, national forests, wetlands, high deserts and canyons, wild and scenic waters, greenways … the list goes on and on. But for the most part, public land agencies operate independently and with limited funding, which threatens their ability to manage the recreation resources under their watch.

It wasn’t always this way. Nearly 50 years ago, the federal government established a Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in order to create outdoor recreation opportunities in communities across the country. Too bad this commitment didn’t stick.

The harsh reality is that since 1980, federal funding for recreation access and conservation of America’s public lands and waters has declined by more than 50 percent. And the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation was eliminated in 1981. From our perspective, this stings a bit.

Not to mention, it sort of runs contrary to the reality that outdoor recreation contributes $646 billion annually to the U.S. economy and supports 6.1 million jobs. Since the 1960s, the outdoor industry has grown into an economic powerhouse, relying on the public lands legacy of the 1960s and early 1970s. If the outdoor industry has managed to grow, despite waning federal funding and commitment to outdoor places and outdoor recreation, it kind of makes you wonder how huge outdoor recreation would be if the outdoor industry and government worked together to promote it.

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Appalachian Trail conference serves up full buffet of hiking fare

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 @ 11:43 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Appalachian Trail conference serves up full buffet of hiking fare

Coming to Cullowhee, NC soon: four days of total immersion in everything trail.

Camaraderie with fellow trail enthusiasts and taking in the region’s trails is the top draw that will land hundreds of hikers at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial conference held July 19-26 at Western Carolina University.

But the real trail geeks will revel in nitty-gritty nuances of trail construction or philosophical discussions on the human phenomenon of recreation hiking.

The event is hosted by the five southern Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs and convenes trail managers, hikers, and fans to celebrate and conserve the iconic footpath. Organizers expect 1,000 participants of all ages to come in celebration of the A.T. and take part in the many happenings. The event rotates its location among the regions of the A.T. This year, Cullowhee will host the Southeast’s festival and act as base camp to the Southern A.T. and the region surrounding it.

“This event is only held in the Southeast once every eight years,” said Morgan Sommerville, regional director of the ATC. “So the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited to bring this informative and entertaining event to North Carolina to showcase the Appalachian Trail and the surrounding beauty.”

The program will include nearly 150 organized hikes, more than 70 workshops and two dozen excursions, live music, dancing, and outings to some of the region’s best locations.

Go here to discover a sampling of what the conference will bring…


There’s a rumble in the jungle

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 @ 4:25 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

There’s a rumble in the jungle. And it’s emanating from my stomach.

Breakfast feels as if it was a long time ago, which would explain the gurgling coming from my mid-section. And even then, it was only a few pieces of sweet roti and a slice of cassava cake. I’ve hiked for miles since eating it.

Perhaps sensing my hunger, or more likely hearing the evidence of it, Mr Epi stops on the jungle track and smiles back at me. “Don’t worry, Mr. Ben, we will have lunch soon. Edible ferns, eh?”

Ah, edible ferns. My favourite type of ferns. At least for eating.

Mr. Epi has been gathering handfuls of them from the side of the track, hacking at their base with his machete and tearing at their long green stems. He’s got a pretty decent handful now, which he assures me will make a smashing salad to go with our yams.

Except we haven’t found any yams.

By now you’re probably wondering pretty much the same thing I’ve been wondering: Where am I, and what am I doing here?

The first part is easy: I’m in Fiji, on the island of Ovalau, halfway up a steep hillside on an old walking track between Lovoni, a village in the centre of the island, and the town of Levuka on the coast.

The second part is more of a head-scratcher. Officially, I’m here for a hike, to experience life the way Mr. Epi’s fellow villagers did before the introduction of roads and cars, to tramp through the jungle on a track that used to be the only way to Ovalau’s version of the big city.

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Volunteers needed to repair hiking trails on Mount Monadnock

Posted by on Jul 9, 2013 @ 4:26 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The annual Trails Week on Mount Monadnock, when volunteers help repair damage to trails on one of the most frequently hiked mountains in the world, is coming up.

In the annual event, conservation professionals and volunteers from the Forest Society and New Hampshire State Parks gather to work on restoring the heavily used trails, overseeing all volunteers – no experience necessary. Work ranges from light tasks such as repainting blazes and cutting back brush to heavy work such as moving rocks and digging drainage ditches, to skilled work such as building footbridges.

Trails week 2013 runs from Thursday, July 12, through Tuesday, July 16. Workdays run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’s no cost, but advance registration is requested for planning. Email Carrie Deegan cdeegan@forestsociety.org.

Meet at Monadnock State Park headquarters at the end of Poole Road in Jaffrey. Wear old clothes, bring work gloves, a bag lunch, plenty of water, and bug spray. Trail tools will be provided.



Are Hikers the Key to Saving Nature?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 @ 5:14 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Two years ago, a major survey revealed trouble in ecosystems of the United Kingdom (U.K.). A third of their functions—such as providing habitat for wild species and clean water for people—are declining.

Now the same researchers show that protecting these ecosystem functions, and in particular outdoor recreation, significantly boosts the economic value of land. But putting those protections in place nationwide would be tricky.

The 2011 UK National Ecosystem Assessment was the most comprehensive attempt to describe the state of a country’s ecological systems. Led by Ian Bateman of the University of East Anglia in London, and Georgina Mace of University College London, a team took data from this survey and created a computer model of the economic value of natural land-uses in Great Britain. They compared the economic impacts of maximizing agricultural production versus preserving land for recreation over the next 50 years, as well as the effect on the diversity of wild birds.

If agriculture is the top national priority and environmental regulations made more flexible than they are today, the annual revenue from the land increases by $1.4 billion over 2010. But if outdoor recreation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are made top goals, then the value of land increases by $29 billion a year. That more than covers the $1.5 billion cost of protecting land that is rich in biodiversity. “It costs money to save biodiversity, but it’s not as much as you’d think,” says Bateman. “That’s pretty good news.”

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Report: 3 of 4 U.S. Forest Service trails don’t meet standards

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 @ 3:54 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Report: 3 of 4 U.S. Forest Service trails don’t meet standards

New federal reporting says only one-quarter of U.S. Forest Service trails meet the agency’s own standards as it attempts to catch up with a $524 million maintenance deficit.

Volunteer groups like the Backcountry Horsemen of America and The Wilderness Society have stepped into that gap, but they worry the backlog will drive folks out of the woods.

“We found problems with trail maintenance was undermining support for wilderness and public land in general,” said Paul Spitler, director of wilderness campaigns for The Wilderness Society. “They go there and find trails aren’t maintained, and they can’t access places they want to get to. That’s not what people expect when they go visit public lands. We need to get a handle on this problem and figure out some solutions. If we don’t, we’re in danger of losing the public.”

Those two groups petitioned members of Congress to look into the matter, since the last similar study was done in 1989. U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Jim Moran, D-Va., officially requested the study.

“With the important exception of maintaining forest health to combat wildfires and insect kill, there is no other activity in the Forest Service’s portfolio that is more important than ensuring the public’s access to our forests and wilderness areas,” Lummis said in a statement, where she also described the trails maintenance program as “held together by Band-Aids and bailing wire.”

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Washington World of Waterfalls

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 @ 4:03 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

On a hot day, just looking at a waterfall can make you feel cooler – even if you have to hike a ways to do it. That at least was the prevailing feeling of those who flocked to Wallace Falls State Park near Gold Bar, WA recently.

It’s an easy round-trip of only a mile from the parking lot to the closest set of falls, and a farther and steeper hike for the other cascades.

“It’s a beautiful hike, beautiful falls and scenery, and so close,” said Brenda Wahl of Arlington, who was there with her husband and two friends.

As everyone knows, there’s no shortage of water in the Pacific Northwest, and some of it comes down the mountainsides in a particularly beautiful way.

Snohomish County boasts a good share of these picturesque flows. The World Waterfall Database lists 68 waterfalls of significance in the county, all in the Cascade Range. The site lists 84 waterfalls in King County and 37 in Skagit County.

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Humpback Rocks: A hiking hot spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 @ 8:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

For the inexperienced hiker, the task might be a bit rigorous. But for anyone, be it a novice or a seasoned mountain climber, the reward for reaching the peak is spine-tingling.

Humpback Rocks, a hiker’s picturesque paradise, draws tourists from all over to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Located just outside Waynesboro, VA, about 6 miles down the parkway at the northern end, the 2-mile trail is considered one of the best representations of the natural and cultural resources seen along the parkway corridor.

The monstrous rocks at the summit, hanging off the mountain’s edge at 700 feet of elevation, require roughly a 45-minute hike up and provide a view that is breathtaking and at times slightly intimidating, with a 360-degree glimpse of the Shenandoah Valley and the Shenandoah National Park resting below.

“It is a nice spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway to be able to get some great views for just a little bit of effort,” said Adam Anderson, who operates Virginia Trail Guide with his wife, Christine. “Since it is one of the first hikes on the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is an extremely popular spot. … On a clear day from the summit, you can see panoramic views of the parkway, mountain ranges and farmlands. It’s a great introduction to the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Fluke Fire Burning Atop Sequoia Tree Leads To Small Closure Of Congress Trail At Sequoia National Park

Posted by on Jul 6, 2013 @ 8:25 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A fluke fire burning in the crown of a giant sequoia has prompted the partial closure of the Congress Trail at Sequoia National Park.

The fire is a hold-over from the Circle Meadow Prescribed Fire, conducted last summer to maintain a regular fire cycle that improves forest health by reducing the amount of dead, woody debris that can lead to larger, more intense fires, park fire officials said.

An unusual combination of conditions enabled the fire to smolder through the winter and flare up as the weather became warmer and drier, they said, adding that “the severe drought conditions of the past winter created the dry environment that allowed this fire to continue to burn within the giant sequoia. This is an unprecedented event unknown to have occurred previously in the 45-year history of the parks’ prescribed fire program.”

While the fire burns park managers have partially closed a short section of the Congress Trail in the Giant Forest. Park staff are escorting visitors through a short section of the trail. These restrictions are necessary due to the hazard of falling debris from the burning tree, a park release said.

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Renovated Rosendale trestle reopens, reconnecting long-sundered Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

Posted by on Jul 6, 2013 @ 8:43 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Renovated Rosendale trestle reopens, reconnecting long-sundered Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

“A great day for Rosendale” is how supervisor Jeanne Walsh characterized the grand opening of the renovated railroad trestle spanning the Rondout Creek, linking the northern and southern portions of the nearly completed 24-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail from Gardiner to Kingston in New York.

Four years after the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) and the Open Space Institute (OSI) teamed up to purchase 11½ miles of railbed in the towns of Rosendale and Ulster, including the 940-foot-long, 150-foot-high trestle, it finally became possible for walkers, cyclists, cross-country skiers and equestrians to traverse the Rondout Gorge safely without a long detour via local streets.

The stretch of trail leading from the Binnewater Kiln parking lot along the flank of Joppenbergh Mountain to the north end of the trestle was still a bit muddy following more than a week of muggy, thunderstormy weather. But shortly before the 11:30 a.m. scheduled start to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, cicadas began to trill as the clouds parted, the sun peeked out and a refreshing breeze swept the gorge.

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New trail christened at Baker Lake, ID

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 @ 2:53 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Baker Lake Trailhead northeast of Ketchum, ID gives recreationists access to serene views of crystal-blue alpine lakes and stunning vistas of the Boulder Mountains. Now, hikers have more options off of this versatile trailhead.

The Idaho Trails Association worked to complete an extension of the Osberg Ridge trail system. Hikers can now begin at the Baker Lake Trailhead and trek into Ketchum via the newly completed Osberg/Warm Springs Ridgeline Trail. Association volunteers constructed a brand-new trail under the guidance of a U.S. Forest Service Recreational Forester.

The trail is named after Gloria Moore Osberg, a longtime trails advocate known for her hiking book called “Day Hiking Near Sun Valley.” The trail runs 10 miles along the ridge between Fox Peak and the Baker Lake trailhead, connecting the Warm Springs drainage and the south side of the Baker Creek drainage.

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