Hiking News

Healing from cancer, inside and out, with hiking

Posted by on May 8, 2017 @ 1:01 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Healing from cancer, inside and out, with hiking

After being diagnosed with an invasive, aggressive, triple-positive Stage I breast cancer in the fall of 2012, Patti McCarthy wasn’t sure she’d be able to continue her beloved hiking. And she’d had plans: She and her husband spent the previous months preparing to hike the whole Pacific Crest Trail, all 2,650 miles of it from Mexico to Canada.

“After the diagnosis, I had a lot of concerns about being able to continue. I knew, as a nurse, what chemo could do,” she says. “Initially convinced my hiking days were over, we took a ‘last’ hike before surgery. I literally kissed the ground, and with tears in my eyes, said goodbye.”

But she found that she didn’t have to give it up, she just had to make adjustments and relearn what her body could handle. The process of hiking helped her heal emotionally and mentally, too. She found herself writing in a journal again and turned her journal into a book, “Hiking Cancer,” to inspire others with her illness and those who are just considering hiking.

“Hiking became my sanity, my saving grace. I had wanted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for years. We’d started the May before and had I not finally convinced my husband we could do this, I certainly would not have started after being diagnosed. From May to September, we started with baby steps, 5- to 11-mile daytime hikes until we felt comfortable doing overnights. We ended the summer with a five-day trip to celebrate our 25th anniversary. By this time, we had hiked 122.5 miles over six trips.”

Read complete interview…


Tips for Hiking New Zealand’s 2,000-Mile Te Araroa

Posted by on May 8, 2017 @ 7:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Tips for Hiking New Zealand’s 2,000-Mile Te Araroa

Thirty people attempted a thru-hike its inaugural year. The 2016-17 season saw more than 500 people try it. With the number of hikers on one of the world’s newest long-distance trails more than doubling year after year, chances are you will begin hearing more about Te Araroa.

Even though it may be impossible not to fall in love with New Zealand, Te Araroa is challenging enough to turn away plenty of hikers. The forests are better named jungles. The plant life is more dangerous than the wildlife. Nothing in New Zealand can kill you—not snakes, not insects, not bears. But the plant life will try.

Knowledge is power. Get ready for a diverse terrain of mountains, volcanoes, valleys, rivers, lakes, beaches, and farms. Te Araroa is unlike other trails, but if you had to compare it to America’s top three long-distance trails, it could be called a hybrid of the three.

It has the wet and crazy weather you experience on the Appalachian Trail, the exposure to elements and views you experience on the Pacific Crest Trail, and the navigational challenges you experience on the Continental Divide Trail.

Still, no amount of preparation can equal an open mind.

Learn how to be prepared here…


Life returns slowly to Shortoff Mountain after fire

Posted by on May 7, 2017 @ 11:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Life returns slowly to Shortoff Mountain after fire

Topping out at just over 3,000 feet, its height alone does not make Shortoff Mountain one of the most famous peaks in all of Western North Carolina. It is also a destination for hikers, rock climbers, campers and lovers of wilderness adventure.

Instead, Shortoff draws its fame from two outstanding physical features. One is its location at the southern end of Linville Gorge, the federally-protected wilderness area that is home to some of the most rugged landscapes in all of the Eastern United States. The second is the towering, dizzying, vertigo-inducing cliff face where the eastern side of Linville Gorge abruptly ends.

Normally, April is the month in which spring, and its accompanying greenery, creeps up the slopes of Shortoff. This year, however, the greenery and the wildflowers and the mountain laurel will have a far more difficult return to the lushness of spring. In mid-March a wildfire, believed to have been started by a lightning strike, burned more than 6,000 acres on the mountain and its lower slopes.

Twenty years ago, a hiker making his way to the summit of Shortoff was surrounded by the lush forests that are a hallmark of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now, a trek to the top is through a landscape almost lunar in its sense of barren desolation.

So, should hikers and nature lovers avoid Shortoff and the rugged trails leading to its summit? Absolutely not. For even in the desolation, the charred trees, and the blackened ground, there is a raw, powerful beauty.

Read full story…


Hiking race between Missouri state parks coming in June

Posted by on May 7, 2017 @ 7:30 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking race between Missouri state parks coming in June

The Ozark Trail Association has an upcoming event that hiking enthusiasts may want to join. The association has recently announced its inaugural Taum-A-Hawk Hiking Race set for June 10, 2017.

A one-day event open to the public, hikers will traverse the 13 miles of the Ozark Trail from Taum Sauk Mountain State Park to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park located in Iron County, Missouri. Journeying across some of the most scenic and rugged areas of the state, mixed-gender teams of two (with up to 50 teams total) will hike a time-trial-formatted race beginning at the summit of Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in the state.

The hikers will follow the trail’s descent alongside Mina Sauk Falls, down into Taum Sauk Creek Valley, past the Devil’s Tollgate rock formation, heading west across Wildcat and Proffit mountains and ending at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park’s parking area.

“This is a rather rugged hike and not recommended for beginners or people who do not regularly engage in physical activity,” said the chief operations officer of the Ozark Trail Association. “An active, fit person who is not an experienced hiker could probably handle it just fine, but this will be physically demanding. This is one of the most rugged and most popular sections of the Ozark Trail.”

The 13-mile hike can take as long as 10 hours or more and will start at 7 a.m.

For more information on race requirements, rules, details on the location and where to register your team visit: The Ozark Trail Association’s registration page, or contact Abi Jackson at [email protected]



Idaho’s Black Butte is otherworldly destination

Posted by on May 5, 2017 @ 8:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Instead of an actual trail, jumbled volcanic rock dictates that you meander through its obstacle course. Each turn brings you closer to the summit that tops out just up the road from the Shoshone Ice Caves, but progress was slow.

The immense stone garden that is traversed continually changes. Early on, the ground surface contains enough soil interspersed between rocks to support a mix of native vegetation such as sagebrush, bunchgrasses and the emergence of forbs. Halfway to the top, any evidence of soil had disappeared and only the occasional sagebrush and fern bush persists. Soon after, only dark lava rock remains.

While this shield volcano was only one of many across the Snake River Plain responsible for spreading liquid basalt across the landscape, Black Butte has several features that separate it from the rest. The eruption of Black Butte occurred only 10,000 years ago.

The most dramatic sight encountered comes at the summit itself. Rather than finishing out with an indistinct crest, much of the top of Black Butte is missing. Instead, you find a crater-like basin with several stair-stepped levels that lead downward from the west to its deepest point 200 feet below the rim.

Read full story…


Experts warn of increases in tick-borne Powassan virus

Posted by on May 4, 2017 @ 6:21 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Experts warn of increases in tick-borne Powassan virus

Summer is nearly here, and it’s bringing fears of a rare tick-borne disease called Powassan. This potentially life-threatening virus is carried and transmitted by three types of ticks, including the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease.

Over the past decade, 75 cases have been reported in the northeastern states and the Great Lakes region, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though no one can say how many infections will occur this year, warmer winters have led to an increased tick population, so experts predict rising tick-borne infections of many types.

Everyone is at risk for Powassan: Newborns, 20-somethings, the middle-aged, the elderly and the immuno-compromised. Anyone bitten by an infected tick can get it. Infections are most likely during late spring, early summer and mid-fall, when ticks are most active.

About 15% of patients who are infected and have symptoms are not going survive. Of the survivors, at least 50% will have long-term neurological damage that is not going to resolve.

Scientists also believe Powassan is on the rise based on studies that have identified an increasing number of infections in deer. Similarly, Lyme is showing increasing numbers.

Read full story…


Reported Snake Bites Nearly Quadruple in North Carolina

Posted by on May 3, 2017 @ 1:22 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Reported Snake Bites Nearly Quadruple in North Carolina

The Carolinas Poison Center, which offers assistance to venomous snake bite victims and the doctors who treat them, has reported a near quadrupling in North Carolina snake bite incidents compared to this time last year.

According to a report filed by WLOS, the center received 71 calls throughout the month of April 2017. Compare that to the 19 calls the center received in April of last year.

If venomous snake bites continue at the current rate, the state could see upwards of 500 incidents for the year.

Some have speculated that the uptick in snake bites can be traced back to the mild winter the region experienced in late 2016 and early 2017.

Venomous snakes native to North Carolina and much of the Southeast include copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes (Eastern diamondback, pygmy, and timber), and the coral snake.

If you or someone you know is bitten by a venomous snake in North Carolina contact the Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or call the National Capital Poison Center switchboard at 1-800-222-1222.



Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation Begins May 8, 2017

Posted by on May 3, 2017 @ 7:39 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin next week on the popular Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail will be closed May 8, 2017 through November 16, 2017 on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. The trail will be fully open each week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and on federal holidays.

The parking lot at the Rainbow Falls trailhead area will be closed May 8 through June 15, Monday through Thursday, to facilitate heavy re-construction of the trailhead area where several trails intersect. After June 15, the parking lot will be open so users can access the Old Sugarlands Trail and the Trillium Gap Trail connector trail.

“This work will be a long-term solution to the various safety and route finding issues found along this section of the Rainbow Falls Trail and will allow visitors to enjoy the trail and the scenic areas surrounding it safely for years to come,” said Tobias Miller, Trails and Roads Facility Manager. “This project would not be possible without the generous support from our park partner, Friends of the Smokies, who provide funding for the project through the trails forever endowment program.”

The Trails Forever crew will focus rehabilitation efforts on several targeted locations along the 6-mile trail to improve visitor safety and stabilize eroding trail sections. Rainbow Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park leading hikers to Rainbow Falls and Mt. Le Conte. The planned work will improve overall trail safety and protect natural resources by reducing trail braiding and improving drainage to prevent further erosion

Hikers can still reach Mt. Le Conte, LeConte Lodge, and the Le Conte Shelter by using one of the other four open trails to the summit. The Mt. LeConte Lodge and Mt. Le Conte backcountry shelter will remain open and can be accessed from any of these other routes during the Rainbow Falls Trail closure. The recently restored Alum Cave Trail along with Boulevard, Trillium Gap, and Brushy Mountain trails are all open and lead to Mt. Le Conte.


2017 National Trails Day is June 3rd. Thousands of Events. One Shared Experience.

Posted by on May 2, 2017 @ 12:48 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

2017 National Trails Day is June 3rd. Thousands of Events. One Shared Experience.

Fill up your water bottle and lace up your hiking shoes—National Trails Day is right around the corner.

National Trails Day is the only nationally coordinated event designed to unite all muscle-powered trail activities with the goal of connecting more people to trails. Every trail beckons adventure and has a story to share with any person willing to discover it, and American Hiking Society believes these trail experiences can improve the lives of every American.

Each year, on the first Saturday of June, American Hiking Society and the trails community invite Americans of all ages and abilities to find their own adventure and discover their unique story at one of the thousands of events hosted throughout the country.

By coordinating a wide array of trail activities on a single day, National Trails Day attracts new trail users and helps connect existing trail enthusiasts with local clubs and organizations with the hopes of creating trail advocates and stewards. The task to protect and maintain more than 200,000 miles of trails in the U.S. requires a collaborative effort among trail clubs, organizations, government agencies, and most importantly passionate trail advocates and stewards.

Sounds pretty awesome, right? But wait—it gets better. In anticipation of National Trails Day, AHS is running the Gear Up. Get Out. campaign. Today through May 5, 2017 you can shop for new guidebooks and gear from participating brands and 5% of online sales each day will go to American Hiking Society to protect our trails throughout the country.

Learn more here…


Festival to celebrate new relationship between Appalachian Trail and Roan Mountain

Posted by on May 2, 2017 @ 7:35 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Festival to celebrate new relationship between Appalachian Trail and Roan Mountain

The public is invited to visit the Roan Mountain community in Carter County, Tennessee for the debut of a new festival on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 10 a.m. designed to celebrate the mountain town’s relationship with the Appalachian Trail and its enthusiasts.

“This is a celebration of several community events in Roan Mountain,” a trail ambassador said. “It’s to celebrate Roan Mountain being designated as the 41st Appalachian Trail Community [as well as] the opening of the Roan Mountain Farmers Market and the dedication of the new stage at the Roan Mountain Community Park.”

“Unicoi County, Tennessee, was designated an Appalachian Trail Community several years ago, and there are two other AT Communities just north of us in Virginia,” he said. “Abingdon and Damascus in Virginia are official Appalachian Trail Communities, and we look forward to working closely with all the AT Communities in our area.”

The festival and the new designation of Roan Mountain as an official AT Community should bring tangible benefits to the mountain town.

“Being designated an official AT Community not only gives Roan Mountain the recognition that it deserves, but now Roan Mountain has the opportunity to be a major player in terms of preservation, outreach and education on the Appalachian Trail,” Chambers said. “As an official Appalachian Trail Community, Roan Mountain can now also create a true partnership between the community, Appalachian Trail maintainers and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.”

For more information, find Roan Mountain AT Community on Facebook. For more information about the AT Community program, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/atcommunity. More information about the town of Roan Mountain can be found online at www.roanmountain.com. You can email AT Community Ambassador Jim Chambers at [email protected]



Dreams by Cliff Williams of Argyle Multimedia

Posted by on May 1, 2017 @ 8:58 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Dreams by Cliff Williams of Argyle Multimedia

On a recent visit to Little Bradley Falls, I happened to meet and chat with Cliff Williams of the local video production company Argyle Multimedia. As Cliff demonstrated to me that day, he is quite adept at operating camera drones, just one more means of achieving priceless photography of the great outdoors.

Cliff just put together a compilation video that includes some of his drone footage, as well as timelapse and still photographs. It has a marvelous soundtrack by local musician Sharon Gerber. I asked Cliff if he would mind me sharing his new video with you, and he graciously accepted. So with no further ado, here is Dreams:



How to hike Costa Rica’s pristine Osa Peninsula

Posted by on Apr 29, 2017 @ 12:48 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

How to hike Costa Rica’s pristine Osa Peninsula

Situated on the Pacific coast, close to Costa Rica’s border with Panama, the Osa Peninsula should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. Touted as the most biologically intense place on Earth, it crams an astounding 2.5 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity into an area roughly twice the size of Hong Kong. More than three-quarters of it is protected, mostly by the Corcovado National Park, home to scarlet macaws, jaguars, tapirs and an astonishing array of other fauna and flora.

By developing three distinct hiking trails through the area around Corcovado, each one connecting locally owned accommodation and attractions, the locals are able to promote destination packages, instead of individual businesses. The Camino de la Selva (“jungle trail”) focuses on Osa’s rich plant life, the Camino del Agua (“water trail”) traverses the picturesque Drake Bay coastline and the Camino del Oro (“gold trail”) passes through land with a long history of gold mining.

Those hiking the Caminos de Osa soon find that life in the remote Costa Rican campo (“countryside”) moves at a very different pace. The phone network is patchy, working Wi-fi an even rarer commodity.

“There are jaguars on the Osa Peninsula, but it’s incredibly rare to see one,” says one local. “A puma or ocelot is more likely. Either way, one thing you won’t be short of here is close encounters with wildlife.”

Read full story…


Six ways to stay safe on mountain hiking trails

Posted by on Apr 29, 2017 @ 9:44 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

There was sad news this week for the Los Angeles hiking community. The body of Seuk “Sam” Doo Kim, famous for climbing Mount Baldy nearly 800 times, was found on the mountain after a few days missing.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department was in charge of the search. Its spokesperson said that to lose such an experienced hiker was rare. Usually, rescue operations are sent out to find people who were ill-equipped for their outing.

Improvising a hiking route by going off-trail is a common reason hikers run into trouble on a mountain. Even the most experienced hikers can get turned around. Ultimately, sudden changes in weather and medical emergencies or injuries can happen to anyone.

So, what should you do to avoid trouble on a mountain trail? And if you find yourself in an urgent situation, what can be done to maximize your chances of rescue?

Here is a discussion of tips for staying safe on mountain trails…


Help Hike 1,175 Miles in One Day

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 @ 6:38 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Help Hike 1,175 Miles in One Day

On September 9, 2017, Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail need you to collaborate with hundreds of others across North Carolina to hike and paddle the entire 1,175 miles of the MST in one day. Registration is now open for all legs – follow the instructions on mstinaday.org to sign up.

MST in a Day commemorates a speech on September 9, 1977 by Howard Lee, then the NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development. He told a National Trails Symposium in Waynesville that North Carolina should create a “state trail from the mountains to the coast, leading through communities as well as natural areas.”

That speech was the catalyst for the trail that now stretches through 36 counties from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. Now, this year, Friends of the MST is celebrating its 40th anniversary all across the state.

They are asking people to sign up to complete a “leg” of the trail any time on September 9. Most legs are three to five miles, although some are longer in remote parts of the trail. You can hike your leg alone or with friends or family. While you’re at it, send several photos of your hike or paddle so they can compile photos taken by everyone who participates into a video of the trail.

Sign up here…


Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 @ 11:29 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the 2017 dates for firefly viewing in Elkmont. Shuttle service to the viewing area will be provided on Tuesday, May 30 through Tuesday, June 6. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass distributed through the lottery system at www.recreation.gov.

Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited to shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the critical two-week mating period.

The 2017 lottery will be open for applications from Friday, April 28 at 12:00 noon until Monday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. Results of the lottery will be available on Wednesday, May 10. A total of 1,800 vehicle passes will be available for the event which includes: 1768 regular-parking passes (225 per day) which admit one passenger vehicle up to 19’ in length with a maximum of six occupants, and 32 large-vehicle parking passes (four per day) which admit one large vehicle (RV, mini-bus, etc.) from 19’ to 30’ in length, with a maximum of 24 occupants. Lottery applicants must apply for either a regular-parking pass or large-vehicle parking pass and then may choose two possible dates to attend the event over the eight-day viewing period.

The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing to select applications. There is no fee to enter the lottery this year. If selected, the lottery winner will be charged a $2.75 reservation fee and awarded a parking pass. The parking pass permits visitors to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and allows occupants to access the shuttle service to Elkmont.

Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. All lottery applicants will be notified by e-mail on May 10 that they were “successful” and awarded a parking pass or “unsuccessful” and not able to secure a parking pass.

The number of passes issued each day is based primarily on the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot capacity and the ability to accommodate a large number of viewers on site. Arrival times will be assigned in order to relieve traffic congestion in the parking lot and also for boarding the shuttles, which are provided in partnership with the City of Gatlinburg. The shuttle buses will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7:00 p.m. The cost will be $1.00 round trip per person, as in previous years, and collected when boarding the shuttle. Cash will be the only form of payment accepted.

The shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.

Guests may visit the website www.recreation.gov and search for “Firefly Event” for more information and to enter the lottery. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but park officials encourage the use of the online process. The $2.75 reservation fee covers the cost of awarding the passes.

For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm.


Centuries-old Medicine Wheel draws many to national forest in Wyoming

Posted by on Apr 24, 2017 @ 11:52 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Centuries-old Medicine Wheel draws many to national forest in Wyoming

For centuries, the Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming has been used for prayer and vision quests by the Crow Tribe and other Native people.

Visitors come from all over the world to hike up Medicine Mountain to the wheel, a National Historical Site managed by the Bighorn National Forest with guidance from the Medicine Wheel Alliance.

The Medicine Wheel’s origins are uncertain. Many believe it was built by the Sheepeaters, a Shoshone band whose name is derived from their expertise at hunting mountain sheep.

The most common Crow story is about how Burnt Face, a handsome young Crow, fell into the fire while entering his mother’s tepee. Embarrassed of his severely burned face, he left his people to live in the mountains, where he built the Medicine Wheel based on instructions he received in a vision from the Sun.

Red Plume, a Crow chief during the time of Lewis and Clark, found great spiritual power at the Medicine Wheel.

At 9,462 feet elevation, on a clear day the Medicine Wheel provides a view of the Teton Mountains more than 100 miles away. It sits halfway between Lovell and Sheridan, Wyoming, just a dozen miles from the Montana border.

Read full story…


On the trail of John Muir: Hiking in the naturalist’s footsteps around Northern California

Posted by on Apr 23, 2017 @ 11:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

On the trail of John Muir: Hiking in the naturalist’s footsteps around Northern California

John Muir had a passion for the outdoors that’s legendary and his extensive writings include accounts of his California adventures, ascending Mount Shasta in a snowstorm, walking all the way from San Francisco to Yosemite, and simply sauntering around Mount Wanda with his two daughters near his Martinez Ranch.

Muir first arrived in San Francisco from New York by Steamer on March 27, 1868, according to newspaper accounts. At the time, he was 30 years old, and the story goes that Muir asked a carpenter on Market Street for the fastest route out of town to “anywhere that’s wild.” Upon receiving the suggestion to go to Yosemite, he hopped on a ferry to Oakland and walked all the way to Yosemite Valley.

Thus began Muir’s love affair with the natural wonders of the Golden State. He went on to travel all over the country, but often came back to California and especially Yosemite, where he worked as a shepherd and lived in a tiny cabin beside a creek.

He eventually settled in the state permanently at the age of 40 when he married the daughter of a physician and horticulturist Louisa Strentzel. The couple lived in Martinez, where they raised two daughters and tended to their ranch and orchard.

He once said about his ranch that it “is a good place to be housed in during stormy weather, to write in, and to raise children in, but it is not my home. Up there,” pointing towards the Sierra Nevada, “is my home.”

Learn of many of the places where Muir hiked in California…