Hiking News

Giant sequoia planted by John Muir is cloned

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 @ 6:42 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Giant sequoia planted by John Muir is cloned

Horticulturists announced they have successfully cloned a genetic replica of an ailing 130-year-old giant sequoia planted by conservationist John Muir in the 1880s on his ranch in Martinez, Calif. And many more are apparently on the way, they say.

If all goes according to plan, the first clone nurtured in a Michigan laboratory will be shipped within a year to California for planting at Muir’s homestead, which is now a national historic site about 35 miles northeast of San Francisco, said David Milarch, cofounder of the nonprofit Archangel Ancient Tree Archive.

“That tree is the last living witness to Muir’s life and times,” Milarch said. “We expect to ship its clone to the John Muir National Historic Site when it’s about 18 inches tall. Once rooted, it’ll grow several feet a year.”

Muir, regarded as the father of the modern conservation movement, returned from a Sierra Nevada trip with the original seedling wrapped in a damp handkerchief. He planted the specimen beside a carriage house on his family’s Martinez fruit ranch. Today, the sequoia is 70 feet tall and dying of an airborne fungus.

As part of an effort to preserve a living connection with Muir at the site, Keith Park, a National Park Service horticulturist, trimmed two dozen cuttings from healthy young branches and shipped them to Archangel, which has successfully cloned trees planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon.

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MCCD offers after-dark hiking, skiing

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 @ 3:04 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The McHenry County Conservation District in Illinois reminds residents that they can get out to enjoy some fresh air and exercise every night after dark. The district has two sites open late for hiking or cross country skiing when the conditions are right.

Now through March 9, residents can hike or ski until 9 p.m. every evening on the Solar Lit Trails at Pleasant Valley, Woodstock (half-mile beginner loop) or Hickory Grove Highlands, Cary (1-mile intermediate loop).

The Pleasant Valley Trail, 13315 Pleasant Valley Road in Woodstock, is a short 0.5-mile trail located on the east side of the entrance drive and traverses relatively flat terrain, perfect for beginners or shorter outings. Park in the first parking area and sign in.

The trail at Hickory Grove Highlands, 500 Hickory Nut Grove Lane in Cary. is a longer 1.25-mile looped trail that travels through a restored savanna, offering a longer scenic route with some hills and turns, suitable for intermediate skiers. Visitors should sign in at the trailhead.



Forest Service acquires 10 more acres for Pisgah National Forest

Posted by on Nov 11, 2013 @ 7:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest Service acquires 10 more acres for Pisgah National Forest

Hikers to Catawba Falls and anglers along the Catawba River in North Carolina have 10 more acres of Pisgah National Forest to call their own.

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, a regional land trust, has sold and transferred the private in-holding property to the U.S. Forest Service for $105,200. The land shelters views and pristine trout waters along the way to spectacular Catawba Falls.

The Forest Service acquired the 10-acre tract from the land trust using Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds set aside for acquiring in-holdings – unique properties mostly surrounded by existing public conservation lands.

“This is a big accomplishment for Foothills Conservancy, which brought together partners from the county, state and federal levels to ensure public access to this beautiful property,” said Nick Larson, Pisgah’s Grandfather District ranger. “I appreciate the Conservancy’s efforts in transferring this loved landscape to the Forest Service for future generations to enjoy and connect with the forest.”

The U.S. Forest Service and McDowell County opened and dedicated a new parking area and trailhead to Catawba Falls in July 2012. The transferred in-holding property is within close view of the trail and includes almost one-quarter mile of additional Catawba River frontage for public trout fishing.

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Bridge of the Gods trail a scenic getaway on Columbia River

Posted by on Nov 10, 2013 @ 8:49 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Such a grandiose name for a bridge. But the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River between Cascade Locks and Stevenson, Wash., has a more colorful history than most similar structures.

The enormous Bonneville landslide nearly 1,000 years ago dammed the river, which eventually broke through the dam to create a land bridge. Native Americans used this natural bridge until it fell around the time of the great Cascadia earthquake of 1700, forming the Cascade Rapids in the river near Cascade Locks.

Tribal lore associates this series of events with the creation of the Cascade Range volcanoes. As the Klickitat tribe tells it, the Great Spirit had two warring sons, Pahto to the north of the river and Wy’east to the south. The Bridge of the Gods was created as a way for the family to meet, but the brothers fought over a beautiful woman named Loowit. Their anger shook the earth with fire. The bridge fell into the river.

Loowit could not choose between the brothers, and some say she perished in the fighting. For punishment, the Great Spirit turned his sons into mountains — Pahto into Mount Adams and Wy’east into Mount Hood. Loowit became beautiful Mount St. Helens.

The modern-day Bridge of the Gods, a steel structure, is the path the Pacific Crest Trail takes between Oregon and Washington as it dips down from the mountains through the Columbia River Gorge.

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Youngs Mountain near Lake Lure, NC conserved

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 @ 11:22 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Deciding, ultimately, that pretty mountains and sparkling lake views are best enjoyed by bunches of people, rather than a few, a Rutherford County, NC family sold nearly 100 acres of prime real estate for eventual inclusion in a long-distance trail system and county park in one of the region’s most scenic spots.

Tommy and Julie Hartzog, who live near the property, worked with Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy to conserve Youngs Mountain, a scenic and rock cliff-riddled mountain peak next to Lake Lure.

The tract will soon become a Rutherford County public park and one day will feature a hiking trail to dramatic cliffs with long-range views to be incorporated into the planned 30-mile Lake Lure Summits Trail.

“It’s a critical piece in developing the Summits Trail, which is planned to circumnavigate Lake Lure and connect protected places, including Chimney Rock State Park, Rumbling Bald, CMLC’s Weed Patch Mountain and the Town of Lake Lure’s 200-acre Buffalo Creek Park.

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Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests release flood damage assessment

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 @ 8:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A draft report detailing damage done in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado during September’s flooding was released November 8th. The report covers approximately 609,000 acres that were surveyed by an assessment team both on the ground and in the air.

Initial findings indicate a total of 232 roads, covering 382 miles; 70 trails, covering 236 miles; four bridges; and 42 facilities were damaged in the flood.

Multiple debris slides ran through the affected areas, including at least one covering two miles and crossing several different properties and roads. Piles of debris were deposited in streams and culverts throughout the affected areas, and many roads, trails and recreation areas are “unrecognizable,” according to the report.

Further, “annual run-off and snow melt is expected to result in additional damage over the next one to three years,” the report said.

The next step for the National Forest Service will be to set up an organization that will work with the Federal Highway Administration and begin prioritizing for the work that needs to be done.

“The timeframe for addressing all of these needs will take years,” the forest service said.



Top 10 Survival Tips Every Hiker Should Know

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 @ 4:58 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

If you’re planning on going hiking sometime soon, that’s terrific — it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these 10 hiking safety tips.

For starters, tell people where you’re going, and mention when you expect to be back, whether you’re alone or in a group. In the event you don’t make it back, because you’re injured or lost, someone will notice, and search parties can be sent out right away. It really helps if they know where you were headed – there’s a lot of nature out there, and only one you to find.

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Himalaya girl power: Treks ‘by women, for women’

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 @ 3:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Himalaya girl power: Treks ‘by women, for women’

When sisters Lucky, Dicky and Nicky Chhetri began guiding trekkers through Nepal’s challenging mountain routes in 1994, disbelief came from many angles.

“At first, people thought we were doing sex tourism, not trekking – going into the mountains with foreigners for weeks,” says Lucky.

Surrounded by skeptics in an industry dominated by men – of 452 Nepalis who summited one of the country’s peaks in 2011 only three were female – the three sisters, now all in their mid-forties, have established not only a successful company of female guides and porters, but a pathway for girls from Nepal’s most remote and rugged areas toward employment and empowerment.

The first company to employ female guides in Nepal, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking now employs around 25 women as guides and 40 as assistant guides and porters.

Two years after starting the company, they established Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN), a non-profit organization that provides training for girls over the age of 16 to become mountain guides.

During the six-month training periods, girls from around Nepal come to EWN to learn practical mountain skills, including rock climbing, guiding, cartography and first aid, as well as women’s health, leadership, English and flora and fauna of the Himalayas, in both a classroom and field setting.

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Appalachian Trail film to premiere Friday

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 @ 11:47 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Kori Feener, a documentary filmmaker, will debut her film “Hard Way Home,” chronicling her attempt to “thru-hike” the Appalachian Trail, on Friday, November 8th at the Virginia Film Festival.

The 87-minute movie about her solo, 2,180-mile hike from Georgia to Maine was financed through a campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, where she raised $7,000 for the project. Along the way, she filmed the documentary herself.

“I met tons of people on the way,” Feener said of her six-month hike from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

It is more than a hiking movie, however; it’s really a film about self-discovery.

“The film is really about my attempt to find human connection and let go of some connections from the past,” said Feener, 29.

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Hiking trail languishes behind locked gate

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 @ 9:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A storm last year washed out a section of the Crystal Springs Regional Trail, prompting the county Parks Department to block that portion from public access. The roughly half-mile stretch hasn’t reopened.

While the closed-off stretch isn’t the most spectacular part of the Crystal Springs Trail – it runs near the freeway, and views of the surrounding hillsides are limited – it served as a connection between popular segments to Crystal Springs Reservoir and San Andreas Lake.

“If it was open, I would have more variety,” said Rose Chiu, a South San Francisco resident who has been using the Crystal Springs area to train for a half-marathon walk in Las Vegas.

To bypass the closure, trail users are detoured to a road through a residential area. Locked gates at both ends of the closed section of trail prevent visitors from getting onto the path and from using park benches at the southern end.

Parks officials say the closure was caused by a culvert failure. During heavy December rains, the trail gave way and became impassable.

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Waynesboro, Va. Hiking Shelter Now Equipped With Solar Power

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 @ 6:21 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Waynesboro is getting greener. The hiker shelter off Arch Street now has solar power. Many hikers stop at the shelter while walking the Appalachian Trail. Now, the hiking shelter includes a charging station for them.

Waynesboro Parks & Recreation and Sigora Solar handled the project. With the solar panel, hikers can now charge their cellphones, mp3 players and other electronic devices. There’s also a battery bank that stores the energy for nighttime use.

“Actually running power from a power line out into the middle of this field would’ve been really costly for the city. So instead we relied on donations to raise money for this project and it’s a more cost-effective way of putting in a little bit of power to keep them connected,” said Jeff Nicholson, sales consultant with Sigora Solar.



Traversing the Dragon’s Teeth

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 @ 4:25 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

New Zealand’s Kahurangi National Park is the second largest national park in the country, covering the north-western end of South Island. It is unusual for a New Zealand park in that there are no glaciers or active volcanoes.

It has been reserved mainly for its geology and botany, and the mountain ranges are similar to south-east Australia, rising just above the treeline. While less known than the alpine areas further south the park does contain some good tramping, with the best-known route along the Heaphy Track (one of New Zealand’s Great Walks).

There are several other marked tracks in the park that mainly follow valleys and cross passes—as is typical in New Zealand—such as Wangapeka and Leslie-Karamea.

Running down the park’s centre is the Douglas Range, a recently glaciated landscape with sharp arêtes, ridges and lakes. The southern end of the range is an easy but magnificent ridge walk with sweeping views. The northern end is more rugged and culminates in a series of steeply sloping, smooth buttresses that have been evocatively named the Dragons Teeth. A high sidling route was forged around the ‘teeth’ in the 60s and became known as the High Route.

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Parts of Graveyard Fields Loop Trail Closed for Improvements

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 @ 5:05 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The U.S. Forest Service has announced that portions of the Graveyard Fields Loop Trail at milepost 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed for upgrades. The agency expects to complete the work by late December.

The Forest Service will construct a board walk on the east end of the trail, which will be closed. Users can access the Upper and Second Falls via the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Also, users can park in the Graveyard Fields Loop parking lot and start at the west end of the loop.

In addition, the Blue Ridge Parkway will make improvements at the parking area for the Graveyard Fields in the near future. The work will include increasing the parking capacity and construction of a restroom facility. Dates for repairs at the parking lot have yet to be determined.

Funding for the project comes from a Scenic Byway Grant awarded to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The grant matching funds are provided by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to pay for the trail work. This work is a joint effort between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.


DuPont Forest model shows waterfalls

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 @ 10:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

DuPont State Recreational Forest, NC is installing a three-dimensional scale model of its major waterfalls in the Aleen Steinberg Center. An event to commemorate the installation will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the visitor center at 89 Buck Forest Road.

Designed and constructed by Apply Valley Model Railroad Club, the exhibit focuses on the main stem of the Little River and the major waterfalls: High Falls, Triple Falls and Hooker Falls. It also will include the major trails, roads, bridges and facilities in those areas.

The visitor center and the scale model are the result of efforts by many public and private organizations, including the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Friends of DuPont Forest and WNC Communities, among others, said Jason Guidry, forest supervisor.

To learn more about the event, contact DuPont State Recreational Forest at 828-877-6527.



Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards Blaze Today’s Conservation Trail

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 @ 10:12 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards Blaze Today’s Conservation Trail

Twenty-four-year-old Brenna Irrer admits it openly: she just loves using a crosscut saw.

“There is nothing that compares with getting through a big tree,” says Brenna. “When you use a crosscut saw, you’ve really got to pick the right spot to cut. It takes a lot of planning.”

Brenna is the education and volunteer engagement coordinator for Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS), and manages teams of volunteers who build and maintain trails in National Forest wilderness areas such as Nantahala-Pisgah, Cherokee, Chattahoochee, and Sumter in North Carolina.

A project of The Wilderness Society in Sylva, NC, SAWS is introducing a new generation of environmentalists to public land stewardship and pioneering a new brand of wilderness management in the Southern Appalachians.

The program coordinates crews of volunteers year-round, but particularly in the summer, to build and maintain public trails enjoyed by thousands of hikers and equestrians each year. This past spring and summer, volunteer crews helped relocate portions of the Turkey Pen Gap section of the Appalachian Trail, Beech Bottoms Trail, and Hawksbill Trail, and worked on others.

To help prepare for such intense projects, SAWS cohosts a yearly Wilderness Skills Institute offering extensive training in wilderness management and stewardship. SAWS also creates Wilderness Rangers who keep the wilderness protected and manage nonnative invasive species.

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Big Valley Vista perfect hike for Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 @ 5:09 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Central Pennsylvania is blessed with many natural wonders and a great network of trails for exploring those special wild places. If you want to see such a place and burn off a few Thanksgiving calories, then the hike to Big Valley Vista is perfect for you.

Accessible only from the westbound lanes of U.S. Route 322 as it crests the Seven Mountains region, the Seven Mountains Rest Stop is the trailhead for this hike. It features a nature trail along with spurs of the long-distance Mid State Trail, and leads hikers to an outstanding overlook called Big Valley Vista. This moderate hike is about 2 miles long.

At the rest stop’s parking lot, look for the large wooden map board near the gravel entrance driveway. The map shows the trails leading to Big Valley Vista. After examining it to orient yourself, bear right to a mailbox that sometimes contains maps and brochures and continue on to the yellow-blazed nature trail.

A short walk on this trail will bring you to an old overgrown sunken road that runs perpendicular to the trail, the old Bellefonte-Lewistown Pike, which offered horse-drawn carriage passengers in the early 1800s a route through the Seven Mountains. This pike followed the older Kishacoquillas Indian Path and is just one of several Native American paths whose traces can still be found.

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Interior Secretary Jewell Calls On Congress To Step Up For Conservation

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 @ 7:01 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Washington politics are infuriating, disappointing, enlightening, and entertaining. They rarely are dull. That is obvious based on what has transpired since October 1, when the federal government ran out of money.

* We saw a 16-day closure of the National Park System initially spurred by House Republicans…who then castigated National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis for how the parks were shuttered.

* We received a 208-page report from U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, that blamed the current state of the park system largely on those in Congress, but also on Park Service management.

* Most recently, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called on Congress to support President Obama’s broad conservation agenda…or the president will use his executive powers to move forward on parts of it.

In a speech last week before the National Press Club, the Interior secretary pointed to the value of public lands when it comes to climate change, clean air and water, and local economies. She talked about preserving these lands for generations yet to be born, of the need to “think about what conservation legacy we will leave for the next 50 years, for the next 100 years.”

In short, she urged Congress to put up or shut up.

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