Hiking News

Asheville area Adventure of the Week: Hike through Butter Gap

Posted by on Nov 24, 2011 @ 5:44 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

If you’re planning to load up on starches, sweets and buttery mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving, do yourself a favor and plan a big hike afterward to burn off the calories. And on Thanksgiving weekend, what is more appropriate than a hike through Butter Gap?

The Carolina Mountain Club is conducting a guided hike in the area this weekend, but with some map perusing and weather watching ahead of time, you can take this hike whenever you wish.

Difficulty and distance: Moderate to strenuous, nine miles round trip. Total elevation gain is 2,000 feet.

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Staggeringly Tall and Mind-Blowingly Old: Some Incredible Examples of Trees

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 @ 6:58 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

One of the great joys of hiking is spending time with the trees.

In 1997, when 24-year-old Julia “Butterfly” Hill climbed a tree and didn’t come down for two years, many thought she was crazy. Julia resided near the top of the giant redwood she called “Luna” for 728 days, thus saving it – and a three acre protective area around the tree – from destruction. She also brought much needed attention to one of our most valuable resources.

As trees age, they do not rack up the kind of genetic mutations that doom people. Part of a tree can die while other parts continue to grow, allowing trees to live for thousands of years. Trees are also some of the largest organisms on earth. They are one of the most important, valuable and possibly most under-appreciated resources on the planet.

Hidden deep in Redwood National Park stands the 700-year-old Hyperion, the world’s tallest known tree, which stretches 115.5 meters above the forest floor. Coast redwoods like this one are tall, slender trees that grow in the foggy coastal strip of California. These trees are large enough to support small ecosystems of their own, with animals, lichens, plants and even small trees growing in their upper canopy.

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Five Ladders Replaced on Grandfather’s Most Famous Trail

Posted by on Nov 22, 2011 @ 6:17 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hikers taking the trek across Grandfather Mountain’s NC ridgeline can now enjoy five new ladders on the Grandfather Trail. The new ladders on MacRae Cliff replace the old ones that had been up for decades on what many people consider to be one of the most exciting spots along the ridgeline hike. The five ladders are all in a row and transport hikers along a steep rock cliff while providing unbeatable views of the surrounding landscape. The section of trail, part of Grandfather Mountain State Park property, is under a trail easement that names the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation responsible for upkeep.

Members of the Stewardship Foundation Interpretive Staff worked for months in the planning process. Wood, cables and bolts had to be purchased, ladder posts and rungs had to be cut to size and corners and edges had to be smoothed before each piece of equipment was carried out to the Mountain’s backcountry.

Chief Interpretive Ranger Gabriel Taylor estimates that close to 200 hours of work were put in during the three days in early November when the ladders were actually installed on the trail. Those helping out included Stewardship Foundation employees, State Park rangers and volunteers from Appalachian State University and the Boone Climbers Coalition.

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The lure of West Virginia’s woodlands

Posted by on Nov 22, 2011 @ 5:13 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Amid the hectic hassles of daily life – job pressures, commuter traffic, 24-hour news channels, endless politics, etc. – there’s a quiet escape: the pure simplicity of walking in the woods.

It’s free. It’s serene. It restoreth the soul. Especially in West Virginia, the opportunity is all around us in jumbled hills, shady ravines, winding ridges. All you need to do is pull on bluejeans and boots, strap on a pack, and head into the eternal forest.

No other state is better suited to woodland hiking. Hardwood forests cover 12 million of the state’s 15.4 million acres. West Virginia has 47 state parks and forests, plus two national forests and 93 public lakes, most with hiking trails and campsites. As coal-hauling declines, many abandoned spur railways are being converted into free public rail-trails. The state Trails Coalition has mapped a master network of around 150 public hiking “linear parks.”

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Jennifer Pharr Davis releases new hiking guide book, “Five-Star Trails: Asheville”

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 @ 6:41 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

As the only guide to focus solely on the Asheville area, Five-Star Trails: Asheville: Your Guide to the Area’s Most Beautiful Hikes presents trails for the hiker in all of us. Whether readers are novices, families, experienced hikers, or backpackers, this guide is sure to inspire them to hit the trails.

Five-Star Trails: Asheville: Your Guide to the Area’s Most Beautiful Hikes leads hikers off the beaten path to find exceptional beauty as well as peace of mind. Armed with this pocket sized guide, hikers will enjoy strolls through the woods, adventurous treks into the Blue Ridge Mountains, and breathtaking waterfall vistas, plus much more.

This book offers easy-to-moderate trails that are within driving distance of the Asheville area. Without this book, readers might miss the hidden hiking treasures of Asheville, but with the expert help of Jennifer Pharr Davis, they’re sure to enjoy 35 of the region’s best trails!

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Top 5 Winter Hiking Destinations

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 @ 7:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The thrill of summer is long gone. The warm air breaks for a cool breeze and the spirit for adventure breaks with it. Hiking boots get thrown to the back of the closet and camping gear gets a special corner in the back of the garage. It’s time to hide indoors for another winter.

It’s no surprise people don’t hike as much in the off-season. Winter totally changes the lay of the land. Rocky trails turn into snow beds. Mountains freeze over, and temperatures drop way below the comfort zone.

That’s why hiking is all about location. You don’t have to hit the Rockies or the Sierras just to find good hiking ground. The winter-time blues come with an easy cure: Change your destination. Hundreds of trail systems across the U.S. offer beautiful scenery, diverse terrain, mild winters and virtually no snow.

The only way to escape the snow is to fly south for the winter. But don’t get the wrong idea. Snow cover doesn’t necessarily make a bad hike. Snowshoeing is another great option for winter hiking. For some, snow cover is the attraction.

“Trails are beautiful in the winter,” said Lucas St. Clair, co-author of AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping: Everything You Need to Plan Your Next Cold-Weather Adventure. “The landscape totally changes from rocky trails to wide open white expanses … and you get views you’d never get in the summer.”

  • Santa Catalina Mountains (Arizona)
  • Big Bend National Park (Texas)
  • Petit Jean State Park (Arkansas)
  • Grafton Notch, (Maine)
  • Ozark Highlands (Mountain View, Arkansas)

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Land preservation effort melds ecology, economy

Posted by on Nov 19, 2011 @ 7:18 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The dramatic gorges, waterfalls and forests of the Southern Cumberland Plateau 80 miles southeast of Nashville have drawn Middle Tennessee residents for more than a century to enjoy cool mountain air and clean water. But with thousands of acres of privately owned timberland poised to be sold, the natural playground for sightseers, rock climbers, hikers and hunters is standing at a precipice.

The Land Trust for Tennessee has put together a vision with the help of dozens of community and government agencies that outlines strategies for protecting the area’s landscape and cultural resources while also growing the local economies.

They hope to persuade South Cumberland residents to work with them on a conservation agenda that leans on sustainable forestry and tourism for long-term economic stability.

The report, called “Cumberland Voices: A Conservation Vision for the South Cumberland Region,” covers 4 million acres, much in Tennessee, with parts stretching into Alabama and Georgia. The raised land runs like a slash through Middle and East Tennessee — north to southwest — from Interstate 40 near Cookeville to U.S. 431 in Alabama.

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Loving Laredo Mega Clean-Up of Chacon Hike & Bike Trail

Posted by on Nov 19, 2011 @ 7:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Volunteers from throughout the community are needed this Sunday for a unique partnership that will involve nearly 60 soldiers from the National Guard unit, members of RGISC and Laredo, Tx city staff.

Civilian volunteers and soldiers will haul off debris and trash from the Chacon Creek bed and trail route. The targeted area will be the stretch from Hwy 359 to S. Zapata Hwy.

This is a great opportunity for adults, as well as students who need to earn community service hours.

The Cleanup will take place this Sunday, Nov. 20, starting at 8 a.m . Volunteers will meet at the parking lot of Dryden Park, located at 2700 Diaz Street between New York Ave. and S. Zapata Hwy.

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Residents embrace newly completed River Mountains Trail

Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 @ 9:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Southern Nevadans who enjoy the outdoors are willing to endure summer’s stop-drop-and-roll heat because they know the sun will eventually retreat from the Mojave Desert and give way to perfect fall days.

Those days have arrived, and that means bicyclists and hikers, joggers, dog walkers and picnickers are heading to the just-finished River Mountains Trail, a 35-mile loop linking Henderson, Boulder City, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.

The vegetation is sparse, dominated with creosote bushes, jimson weed and the occasional cactus. But by March — a more colorful time for hiking and biking – the primrose, buckwheat and lily, three of the many wildflowers of the Mojave, will carpet the desert floor.

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Hiking the Redwoods with California’s ‘Squatchers’

Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 @ 9:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Amateur researchers in the United States continue to eagerly search for the mysterious creature known as Bigfoot, staking out California’s redwood forests at night in their hunt for the elusive beast. Despite many claimed sightings, the existence of Sasquatch has never been proven. Yet that hasn’t stopped the obsessed from pursuing his giant footprints.

Brandon Kiel, 41, is a field researcher with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), a group based in the United States. The creature he is looking for is said to be clever, shy and stealthy – an expert at camouflaging itself. But here in the redwood forests of northern California, Kiel is hoping he’ll be blessed with hunter’s luck. He and 20 fellow field researchers are on an expedition to track down Bigfoot.

Kiel calls the ominous creature “Squatch,” short for “Sasquatch,” a word in a Native American language that means “wild man of the woods.” The shaggy, mythical creature – half ape, half human – is believed to be powerfully built, reach heights of up to 2.5 meters (over 8 feet) and weigh up to 230 kilograms (500 pounds), and it allegedly spends its time skulking through the forests of North America. So far, there is no real evidence of the existence of this alleged primate species. Indeed, human beings have never actually gotten their hands on a Sasquatch, either dead or alive.

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World War One’s lasting legacy: A stroll through South Tyrol’s turbulent past

Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 @ 3:13 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Incredible as it seems, the Col di Lana was not the only northern Italian mountain to lose its peak during the First World War. While historians always focus their attention on the flat fields of Flanders as the epicentre of fighting during the Great War, right here in South Tyrol, the Austrians and Italians spent two years slugging it out in a battle that yielded a measly 18 miles of territory.

Thousands of young men perished – many of them in avalanches – before the Italians were finally beaten back. When the war ended, both sides simply dropped their weapons and walked away, leaving most of their equipment behind.

Much of it is still lying around today – including empty shell casings, barbed wire, trenches and even furniture; and you don’t need a treasure map to find it.

Having started our hike outside the Tre Sassi fort near Cortina, where Isidoro had given me a crash course in the history of the ‘White War’ as it’s known locally, we’d grabbed our backpacks and headed straight onto a trail that led from the rear of the museum. Within minutes we were entering an Austrian trench.

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NPCA Enhances Website and Information Exchange

Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 @ 8:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

NPCA Enhances Website and Information Exchange

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) updated their website design overnight, enhancing the attractiveness and overall ease of use. The color choices and large text are very easy to read and soothing. I didn’t have to reach for my reading glasses. The integration of outstanding landscape photography makes an appealing background.

Navigation of the site is neatly organized with hierarchical menus that drop down from the top of the pages. Sections of content include information about the association, its mission, history and accountability. They describe in detail how they are protecting our national parks, their studies, projects, reports and recommendations. For those of us who love hiking and exploring in our national parks, there’s a large section devoted to exploring the parks that includes stories, trail reports, articles and photography submitted by adventurers just like you and me.

There is a section of news and developments, including media press releases, publications and the NPCA magazine; and an enticement to all of us to get involved whether through communication with our congressional delegations or volunteering on location. They of course can’t do all this marvelous work without contributions, whether from large benefactors, or individual donations.

The National Parks Conservation Association website update is very well done, offering a simple to use presentation of their message and values. Be sure to place it in your bookmarks for your future national park informational needs.

Hikers should be cautious after wind gusts toppled trees in Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests

Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 @ 8:18 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Heavy snows in Rocky Mountain National Park have launched the snowshoeing season earlier than usual, and warm temperatures at lower elevations foster fall hiking.

However, throughout the national parks and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, recent high winds have blown down heavy, old trees on a scale not seen for nearly four decades.

Two areas in Rocky Mountain National Park – Sprague Lake and Tuxedo Park Picnic Area – have closed because of the tree hazard, and officials advise hikers, mountain bikers and snowshoers to be careful where ever they recreate.

“If you are in trees, especially if there are lots of dead trees, be really cautious about going in there,” said John Bustos, spokesman for the national forest.

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The challenges of hiking (and parenthood)

Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 @ 7:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The documentary piqued our interest in hiking. I’ve always loved the mountains – the endless succession of ridge upon ridge, each a microcosm teeming with life, with near-instant weather changes and country folk set in their ways.

I’m not like most urbanites; the word “hillbilly” doesn’t strike fear in my heart. My grandparents were first cousins. These are my people.

To tell the truth, I already own some equipment, and I have some experience backpacking. It was years ago, before babies and even before the sedentary days of early marriage. My mom and I joined a church group for a week-long trek in the Rockies. She was in her 50s, in good shape.

Still, the first day in thin air, carrying 35-pound packs, proved a particular challenge. We ascended via switchbacks in single file. About halfway up, Mom completely lost her breath, and there were several frightening moments when I thought she would have a heart attack. But there was no turning back.

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Recyling outdoor gear: first industry steps towards a greener future?

Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 @ 6:06 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

How green is your outdoor gear?

No, not the color; do you ever consider the environmental consequences of the clothes and equipment you use, or the trips you make to the mountains and lakes to enjoy your outdoor pursuits?

There are moves afoot to acknowledge the effects our outdoor activities have on the very surroundings we treasure and which are one of the main reasons for our enthusiasm in the first place.

All that fancy waterproof clothing, for instance, is likely made from synthetic materials which deplete the world’s limited resources; it is probably made on the other side of the globe and shipped here, again using finite fuel reserves; and then we jump in our cars or even on a plane to get to the destinations where we can enjoy the wild lands and adrenaline pursuits we crave.

And therein lies the paradox.

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Hiking: It’s Not Just for Professionals

Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 @ 5:46 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

When many people think of hiking, they conjure up ideas of heavily backpacked men and women with a walking stick in one hand and Sherpas by their side. They see hikers as these supernatural athletes who can (and do) walk for days while barely breaking a sweat.

But that is far from the truth. Hiking today is as simple as finding an “off road” trail and strolling down it with a good friend. It’s good for weight loss and cardiovascular health, and has great mental health benefits too.

Across America there are hundreds of opportunities for people of all shapes, sizes, and athletic abilities to get out in the fresh air and enjoy a good hike. They don’t need to go far or even work up a good sweat to get a good workout and enjoy the beauty of this great country.

The joy of hiking after all is to be able to spend time in the great outdoors, soak up some sun, and experience the wonders of nature.

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Mount LeConte llama packer reaches end of the trail

Posted by on Nov 14, 2011 @ 6:34 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Three days a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday — he leads the llama team to LeConte Lodge atop Mount LeConte, the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After delivering clean linens and fresh food, he repacks the panniers with dirty laundry and garbage and returns to the parking lot.

Householder and the llamas hike 40 miles a week while the lodge is open from late March to late November. In 10 years as the llama packer, he has made more than 900 trips to LeConte Lodge, and logged at least 117,000 miles on the Trillium Gap Trail.

Householder believes his knee injury is the result of his offseason backpacking rather than the llama packing. He has completed the entire Appalachian Trail, as well as the entire Pacific Crest Trail. In 1997 he and guidebook author Allen DeHart became the first to complete the Mountains To Sea Trail from Clingmans Dome in the Smokies to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

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