The Appalachian Trail Conservancy seeks volunteers, 18 and over, to help maintain the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as part of the Smokies Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail Crew for the 2015 season. A position on the S.W.E.A.T. Crew is physically demanding and is designed for experienced hikers who love to work hard, live in the backcountry, and create lasting friendships.
S.W.E.A.T. Crew is a mobile group that focuses on trail maintenance in the heart of the Smokies on sections more than five miles from the nearest road.
Crew members carry tools, water, food, and camping supplies to support their work. Each session lasts six days in the field where the crew focuses on clearing the A.T. and repairing it with materials they find. Food, lodging, training, equipment and transportation to and from the work site is provided.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy encourages all hikers and Appalachian Trail supporters to get involved with a Trail Crew,” said Chris Binder, the ATC’s trail specialist. “These all-volunteer crews are instrumental in completing large-scale projects along the Trail.”
Members of the S.W.E.A.T. Crew arrive at the ATC’s base camp the day before their crew session begins to meet the professional crew leaders, prepare for the work trip and check out any gear they need.
A hike in the high desert followed by a soak at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs is one of New Mexico’s true pleasures. The plateau above Ojo Caliente offers gentle hikes through the desert landscape and views of mesas, cliffs, and mountains. The hot mineral waters soothe muscles tired from hiking and provide a feeling of deep relaxation.
There are several trails that begin near the springs and lead up to the plateau. Joseph Mica Mines is one of the destinations. The mica mines are caves cut into a pink granite cliff surrounded by sparkling bits of silvery mica. It can be reached by taking a mostly easy two-mile hike.
The trail begins just west of the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. Look for the map that says Posi, just beyond the picnic shelter.
The Posi Pueblo and Mica Mine Trails are part of a system administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Starting at about 6,200 feet, the trail climbs up through the rocky pink granite. The mica mines were primarily used beginning in 1900 until the 1940s. According to BLM archaeologist Merrill Dicks, the first reference to the Joseph Mine appears in a land transaction in 1910.
“Nur die harten kommen in den garten” (only tough guys get into the garden). With this Teutonic exhortation the guide leads us – a group of “soft Scottish mens” – up into the mountains of the South Tirol for a week-long trek around the Sarntal (or Sarentino) Valley.
Our collective mountaineering level amounts, approximately, to the endurance required to huff and puff up a few munros. But we have previously undertaken one Alpine trek together. That was six years ago in the North Tirol – on the Austrian side of the border – when our average age was 40 and we took to the hills to shake off a collective midlife crisis.
Now we’re back, this time on the south side, technically in Italy, but still noticeably Austrian in its mountain culture. National distinctions are only a part of the complexity. The Tirol is a mosaic of valleys, self-enclosed with their individual dialects; worlds unto themselves.
The Tirolean Alps are young mountains – a mere 160 million years old – which is why their peaks are high. They are pimply adolescents next to the Grampians of Scotland, which are geologically ancient at 470m years old, worn down by eons of deep time.
As we inch round a shoulder of the Penser Joch Pass and reach Rifugio Santa Croce Di Lazfons, a mountain hut whose small chapel was built in 1860 on the ruins of a 16th-century pilgrim church. To our left, we look out on what must be one of the most impressive geographical sights in Europe: the Dolomites, rising like the spikes of a grey geological eruption from green surrounding hills.
The Scandinavian mountain range, running through most of Sweden and Norway, is one of the most underrated hiking locations on the planet. With its vast valleys and low, snow-capped mountains, this northern mountain chain presents a unique landscape filled to the brink with natural treasures to be discovered.
Everyone’s heard of the magical fjords of Norway, but few people are aware that they actually make up part of the Scandinavian mountain chain. There aren’t a lot of mountain chains overlooking the ocean like this, making this such a rare location, where the mountains fall into the waters to form these famously beautiful fjords.
With its highest peak resting at a modest 2,400 meters, the Scandinavian mountain chain is not one of the highest – or steepest – mountain chains out there. And although this doesn’t exactly make it a hotspot for hardcore mountain climbers, it makes the area more than perfect for the thrill-seeking hiker.
There aren’t a lot of mountains in the world that can boast a view of regular and plentiful aurora. But being located so far to the north, the Scandinavian mountains provide a perfect location for spotting this heavenly phenomenon. Whenever the sky is clear and dark enough, there is a high chance of seeing the Aurora.
The Scandinavian mountains also boast an annual occurrence of midnight sun. The mountains stretch above the Arctic Circle. This basically means that, for a few weeks every summer, the sun never sets. It’s quite an experience to stand atop a mountain and watch a sunset that lasts for hours without actually setting.
Hiking through the woods is one of the best ways to exercise, but those in Pennsylvania over the next week will be in for a treat as the state celebrates Hiking Week 2015 starting on Saturday, May 30.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Keystone Trails Association, there will be almost 100 organized hikes that will make their way through parks, forests and cities across the state. A full list of scheduled Hiking Week events can be found at ExplorePATrails.com.
Hiking Week is a celebration that wraps up Sunday, June 7, 2015. Before the festivities stop, though, the state will be organizing events to raise awareness for healthy lifestyles and promoting environmental stewardship.
Included in the week is National Trails Day on Saturday, June 6, a celebration of the endless amounts of walking and hiking trails throughout the United States. With the spirit of hiking in mind, novice and experienced hikers will find this to be the perfect opportunity to view the beautiful scenery of Pennsylvania.
An Ashland, Oregon-based group has begun clearing overgrown trails within the rugged Wild Rogue Wilderness Area, and a new grant means they can expand their efforts at opening foot access off these Rogue River trails.
The Siskiyou Mountain Club‘s Wilderness Conservation Corps crew has begun scouting and hand-clearing light brush to launch the club’s two-year quest to restore what will become a 30-mile hiking loop with multiple access points along the famed 40-mile Rogue River National Recreation Trail within the wilderness area downstream from Galice.
The club secured a $10,000 grant from the REI store in Medford that will help fund clearing even more spur trails in the wilderness area, opening access to areas rarely explored by visitors largely relegated to the river or the main trail that hugs its banks and rocky canyon walls. The new grant buoys a nearly $21,000 federal grant the club secured last fall through the Oregon State Recreational Trails Program that is anchoring the work.
“I think we’re going to be able to extend what we’re going to do in the Wild Rogue,” says Gabe Howe, the nonprofit club’s executive director. “It’ll strengthen the scope of the project.”
Hike it Baby began when Shanti Hodges, a young mother in Portland, Oregon joined a young mother’s group at her local hospital in 2013. She thought it would be more fun to be outside of the hospital on a hike and suggested they all meet the next week for a hike.
And it took off through social media. “Our goal is to get babies on trail,” she told an Oregon radio station, describing Hike it Baby as “a platform to bring families together.”
The website has challenges, like 30 miles in 30 days, and 30 minutes outside every day and offers advice on equipment from backpacks to strollers.
The rule is that no one is left behind, so the hike can take a lot longer than it might if you were going alone. But it would not be as much fun alone, members say.
North Carolina now has two Hike it Baby chapters offering free hikes, weekly in the Asheville and Durham areas. Hike it Baby uses social media to connect parents and babies with the outdoors.
On June 6, 2015, National Trails Day, another hike is planned for Daniel Ridge Falls & Loop Trail in Pisgah National Forest. The Asheville group plans a hike on this beautiful creek side trail May 28 from 9:30 to 1 p.m.
Scott Jurek has been eyeing the Appalachian Trail for years. On Memorial Day, he began his pursuit of the trail’s speed record.
Jurek has won nearly all of ultrarunning’s elite events, including the historic 153-mile Spartathlon, the Hardrock 100, the Badwater 135-mile Ultramarathon, the Miwok 100K, and—his signature race—the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, which he won a record seven straight times. In 2010, he set a new US all-surface record in the 24-Hour Run with 165.7 miles—6.5 marathons in one day.
Jurek was a central character in Christopher McDougall’s bestselling book Born to Run. Jurek ran alongside the Tarahumara runners in the Copper Canyon Ultra and later won the event.
Now 41 years old, Jurek has set his sights on the ultimate ultra prize: the Appalachian Trail speed title. Asheville’s Jennifer Pharr Davis holds the current A.T. speed record of 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, which she set in 2011. Davis averaged 47 miles per day and was supported by her husband, Brew Davis, as well as legendary trail runner David Horton and sixteen-time A.T. thru-hiker Warren Doyle.
Jurek is trekking northbound on the A.T. and will be passing through Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia in the next three weeks. He hopes to arrive atop Mt. Katahdin in Maine by early July.
Chris Gallaway fought off swarms of mosquitoes like something out of a Biblical plague, black bears trying to get at his rotisserie chicken, and the general exhaustion and agony, anguish and heartbreak of anyone thru-hiking the 2,180-mile-long Appalachian Trail.
Although Gallaway, 32, of Black Mountain, NC began the journey in 2013 as a solo hiker, he was never really alone. Armed always with his video camera on the seven-month-long odyssey, Gallaway created the ultimate moving selfie — a documentary film called “The Long Start to the Journey,” which will debut in Asheville Saturday, May 30, 2015 at the Asheville Community Theatre.
The photographically stunning, 76-minute movie — set to original music, funded by crowd-sourcing and produced in Asheville — blends Gallaway’s personal hiking story with the history of the Appalachian Trail’s origins to tell the story about “why wilderness is something essential for people in the modern world.”
But at its core, like the heart of wilderness, “The Long Start to the Journey,” is a love story of Frost and Sunshine, two of the essential elements that create natural beauty and happen to be the trail names bestowed upon Gallaway and his wife, Larissa.
A natural born writer and storyteller, Chris knew a good story when he felt it, and decided to insert himself into the blood and guts story of hiking the longest trail on the Eastern Coast.
It’s a big idea — a 10,900-mile-long one.
Melissa Scanlan, an associate professor, associate dean and director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School, seeks to establish a hikers version of Mt. Everest — the Great Lakes Trail on the shores of the Great Lakes.
All of the Great Lakes. And all of their shoreline.
It would span at least eight states and two Canadian provinces, and would be the longest continuous marked trail in the world — five times larger than the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, and more than four times bigger than the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from the U.S. border with Canada to its border with Mexico.
“I love the Great Lakes,” said Scanlan, who grew up in the region in Wisconsin. “They are just an awesome, binational treasure that often goes unrecognized. We can use something like this to capture people’s attention to the awesome resources that exist in the Great Lakes region.”
It was while hiking a National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin — the Ice Age Trail — that Scanlan said the idea came to her.
The favela communities of Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho in Rio de Janiero, Brazil have restored a hiking trail along their hills in order to boost ecotourism in the communities. The peak of the trail lies on 200 meters and offers a great view over the city including Ipanema and Copacabana beach, the Lagoa and on clear days even Niterói on the other side of the bay.
The new trail will start in Cantagalo and continues on to Pavão-Pavãozinho to the border between the neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema. It was created out of several older trails with some parts now closed through reforestation.
“This was an underutilized space, with several trails that looked like Swiss cheese,” Lúcio Meirelles Palma, a eco-trail consultant, who was involved in the creation of the new trail explained.
The parts of the path that were restored were chosen based on sustainability, drainage and landscape aspects. It was labeled properly and a guide office was installed. Additionally, residents of the communities were taught how to preserve the trail, allowing the communities to take care of the trail themselves.
How about some tips on how to avoid confrontation with cows on our hiking adventures. A family friend was hiking up Mission Peak near Fremont, CA recently and was attacked by a bull. She has sustained very serious injuries and is in a lot of pain. Please advise of any suggestions you have in regards to this unfortunate incident.
Cows generally are nonaggressive unless they perceive a threat to their offspring. Bulls can be aggressive by nature, but they are most dangerous when they feel their herd is being threatened.
When hiking, if you spot some cows, keep calm and move slowly. Never try to walk through the herd, but choose a path that takes you around them.
Cows can’t see straight ahead very well — their eyes are more toward the sides of their skulls. If they suddenly catch sight of you, it might startle them and cause a response. If you aren’t sure they’ve seen you, speak calmly and quietly until you’re sure they are aware of your presence.
Never get between a calf and its mom. Mothers are extremely protective and will charge you.
If you’re hiking with a dog, get control of your pet immediately. The cows may not be able to distinguish your dog from a coyote, and they will go into protection mode.
Most important, if you don’t feel comfortable, turn back or find another path. Better to be safe.
Two of the most heavily used day-hiking routes in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in northwest Wyoming are closed for the time being because of weather damage and maintenance.
In Yellowstone, the iconic Brink of the Lower Falls trail is closed in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone because of a mud and rock slide that deposited a 7-by-8-foot boulder on the route, effectively blocking the path.
In Grand Teton, the trail beyond Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point is closed and being rerouted so crews can replace bridges over Cascade Creek and rebuild the rocky ledge trails and steps that lead up to the popular Jenny Lake overlook.
Work can’t begin to remove the enormous rock on the Brink of the Lower Falls trail in Yellowstone because of wet weather, Yellowstone spokeswoman Traci Weaver said Thursday.
“It’s closed until further notice,” she said, “until we get a drying trend and are able to get in there and deal with it.” The Brink of the Lower Falls trail, which leads hikers to a perch right above the 308-foot waterfall, may end up being rerouted, she said.
The trail work on the west shore of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton is more of a long-term situation, and the half-mile stretch leading up to Inspiration Point will be closed for “most of the hiking season,” according to the National Park Service.
Destinations up Cascade Canyon are also affected.Those trails are “the most popular and highly used” in Grand Teton, the Park Service says.
The West Bank is much more than the Israeli military occupation that has come to define it for the outside world. From the Byzantine ruins of Sebastia to the lush flora of Wadi Qelt to the vast Jericho desert, the West Bank is a varied and dazzling landscape. You might break bread with Palestinian families in Jericho’s Aqbat Jabar refugee camp, at a women’s cooperative in Burqin, or in an apartment building in Nablus.
The West Bank hiking route is actually a small portion of a new long-distance walking trail called Abraham Path. It is intended to span vast portions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. The path follows the ancient caravan route of the patriarch Abraham, improbably linking countries in conflict with one another or mired in domestic wars. Run-ins with the Israel Defense Forces are rare, except for in Hebron, where Israeli troops guard hundreds of Jewish settlers.
William Ury, a Harvard-based negotiation expert, came up with the idea for the trail in 2006. He wanted to find a way to overcome suspicion between Easterners and Westerners in the wake of September 11 and the war in Iraq. Ury’s Harvard team studied other cross-border trails, such as the Santiago de Compostela in Spain and France. Then they charted a path that would loosely trace the sites visited by Abraham on the fabled journey from his birthplace in the ancient city of Ur, in present day Iraq, to the Promised Land in the Bible. Abraham is central to three major Middle Eastern religions — Islam, Judaism and Christianity — and according to Ury, the legendary hospitality of the patriarch infuses the project.
Join the Conservation Trust for North Carolina for kid-friendly hikes this 2015 summer that will connect you and your family to the natural world.
—Saturday, June 13th, 9:00 AM
Join CTNC and Triangle Land Conservancy for an exclusive hike on TLC’s 613-acre nature preserve in Orange County. Enjoy a preview of the vision for making Brumley Forest Nature Preserve a family destination for recreation.
—Saturday, July 25th, 11:30 AM
Come explore the 502-acre Saddle Mountain portion of the Mitchell Rive Game Lands, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 222 in Allegheny County. The trail forms a loop around the top of Saddle Mountain and leads to the Horn of Saddle Mountain.
—Saturday, August 22th, 2:00 PM
Be one of the first groups to hike the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps’ new improved trail. The NCYCC will have just completed seven weeks of work to make the trail an official U.S. Forest Service supported trail. Hike around Globe Valley and Pisgah National Forest below Blowing Rock.
—Saturday, September 26th, 11:00 AM
Bring your family and experience the Orchard at Altapass near Little Switzerland, at Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 328. CTNC recently protected this historic and natural treasure. Enjoy interpreters in Revolutionary War period costume, home-made ice cream, and live music.
Please respond early. Space is limited. To RSVP, call Rebecca at 919-828-4199 ext. 17 or email [email protected]
The time for lacing up your hiking boots is here. And just in time for the summer season — when hundreds of hikers will descend upon the area — TetonHikingTrails.com has launched.
The user-friendly website offers hikers interested in Grand Teton National Park a “source of trail information at their fingertips,” Jeff Doran, the site’s founder, said.
TetonHikingTrails presents detailed information on more than 40 hikes in the park such as trail descriptions and key features, elevation profiles and pictures of the trails as well as maps. Each trail is listed alphabetically, and the site is set up to make it easier for hikers to compare and choose trails that best suit their hiking abilities and preferences.
The site presents Grand Teton trails grouped by general location within the park, such as trails near Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake or Teton Village. More precise locations are listed in the table on the home page, with trailhead directions on each individual trail page.
Links to AccuWeather.com, a hiking checklist, lodging in the park as well as Jackson Hole, Teton Valley and more locations in the immediate region and other outdoor activities are part of the information the website provides.
Toms Creek Falls, a breathtaking 80-foot cascade waterfall near Marion, NC, is now accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities.
The Grandfather Ranger District has completed work on the Falls Branch Trail (#214) and trail head parking area. Trail work included installation of an accessible observation deck below the falls and resurfacing of the ½ mile trail and parking area.
To visit Toms Creek Falls: From I-40, take US 221 North (exit 85) about 12 miles to Huskins Branch Road. Turn left and go 1.2 miles to the trailhead.
Call the district office (828) 652-2144 for more information regarding this trail and other recreational opportunities.
It’s the sun peeking through the trees, the slight breeze on a cool day and the crackling of the leaves beneath your feet that bring people closer to the world around them.
“You feel surfaces people have never experienced,” said Kevin McDermott who’s been barefoot hiking for seven years. “It’s like living in a different world.”
The bareness of barefoot hiking brought this group together for many different reasons. “I just love the feeling, it adds another dimension to hiking,” said McDermott. “I just started because my knees started to hurt doing some hiking,” said Dave Ellis who’s been barefoot hiking since 1999.
I did research and it said your knees are hurting probably because your feet are weak.” Ellis took off his shoes on his next hike and from then on he’s been hiking shoeless. He says it’s relieved him of his pain and built strong muscles.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park closed the Mt. LeConte backcountry shelter and the popular Cliff Tops area due to aggressive bear activity in the area.
Trails leading to the summit of Mt. LeConte are still open, but the park is encouraging hikers to walk in tight groups of three or more and carry bear spray. The park has extra staff stationed to monitor the situation as well.
According to a release, one of the park’s wildlife technicians ran into an aggressive bear near the trail to Cliff Tops. The ranger, who is trained to deal with bears, explained that loud noises and attempts to scare the creature did nothing to deter it from advancing. The bear followed the ranger back to the LeConte Lodge area before finally retreating into the forest.
“Hiking in bear country requires caution at all times,” said Deputy Superintendent Clay Jordan in a release. “We seldom fully close trail areas, but the unusually aggressive behavior exhibited by this bear warrants action by staff and special precautions by hikers.”
In addition to closing the Mt. Le Conte backcountry shelter and Cliff Tops trail, officials have updated the park website to list bear warnings in the following places:
– Laurel Falls Trail
– Mt. Le Conte Lodge area
– Shuckstack Tower along the AT
– Russell Field Shelter
– Backcountry Campsites 24, 113
Rangers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had to euthanize a black bear May 19, 2015. They said the bear was so aggressive, there was no other choice.
Rangers caught the bear near Mt. Le Conte Tuesday morning. After going through several steps, they decided it had to be put down.
That bear chased a park ranger Sunday evening and prompted a trail closure.
“Clearly when you looked at the behavior of the bear it was predatory behavior. Which is incredibly rare with black bears,” said park spokesperson Dana Soehn. “We follow a strict standard when looking at any bear situation and a decision to euthanize a bear is never made lightly here in the park.”
Rangers say this is a rare occurrence.
There are few more spectacular and humbling experiences than being at one with nature, miles from civilization, with nothing but the flora and fauna that surrounds you as company. It’s this oneness with nature that draws hikers onto trails for remote, days-long hikes. Nature lovers will challenge themselves against the elements; surviving on the bounties of Mother Nature and their own wits.
This kind of outdoor adventure can go awry very quickly, however, if your knowledge of the native plants and animals in a given area falls short.
A basic knowledge of all animal tracks in the area is key. If you’re a hunter, you’ll understand the benefits of knowing your prey’s footprints by heart, as this will allow you to track and find your meal with far more ease. It’s equally important to be able to identify predator tracks, too, so you can avoid becoming the hunted one. Sharing a hiking trail with a pack of coyotes is not recommended.
America is home to a number of fruits and berries that can sustain a hungry traveler through weeks of survivalist camping. However, there are also a number of berries and plants that should be avoided at all costs. If you’re unsure or unable to identify a plant, best practice is to avoid eating it.
Once you’re equipped with the knowledge to stay safe around flora and fauna while hiking, you’ll appreciate them, and the overall hiking experience, that much more.