Picture the Blue Ridge Parkway as a crooked spine running through the Appalachian Mountains. Government stewardship of public lands is splashed across the map in confusing variety – a national park at either end, national forests, historic sites, monuments and state parks along its 469 miles.
The road snakes through some of the most glorious fall color in North America and wraps around some of the highest mountains east of the Mississippi River. All those curves and dips offer up opportunities aplenty for hiking, fishing, picnicking, camping and viewing waterfalls.
Though administered by the National Park Service, the parkway is not really a park. Many of its attractions are technically off the parkway in small communities within an easy drive. The attractions are diverse and many and range from mountaintops to museums, mills to mansions.
The North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association will lead one of its most challenging – and rewarding – hikes of the year when the club takes on the Black Mountain Crest Trail on Oct. 18, 2014. The outing will be followed by a pot luck supper and party in the Cattail Community.
The 8-mile jaunt will begin at Mt. Mitchell, proceed down to Deep Gap and then descend steeply to the Cattail Community. Only seasoned hikers should consider joining because the 3,000-foot descent will be tough on the knees.
Hikers should assemble at the Cattail Community Center at 8:30 a.m. and will be ferried to Mt. Mitchell aboard a Yancey County Transportation Van for a donation of $5 per person. Pets are not allowed on the vans, so if you want to bring your leashed dog you must arrange your own transportation.
Bring warm clothes, foul weather gear, lunch, snacks, plenty of water and hiking poles if you have them, since they are great for cushioning the impact of steep downhill hikes.
All are welcome to join in a potluck dinner after the hike at the Cattail home of Worth and Susan Weller, which will begin between 4 and 5 p.m. If you want to join in the fun, please bring your beverage of choice and a side dish that will be collected before the hike begins.
As always, check the High Peaks website, www.nchighpeaks.org, for last-minute changes due to weather. For more information and to reserve your seat on the van, contact hike leader Dennis Smith at 828-284-4000 or [email protected]
As summer comes to an end, don’t let the colder temperatures and snow keep you indoors … some of the best hiking is yet to come. Hiking in the crisp autumn air with the blazing colors of fall against a bright blue sky is a beautiful experience. As the season progresses, the quiet calm of new-fallen snow coupled with the sparkling of ice crystals on the ground turns the trails of the Wasatch Front into a winter wonderland.
The key to successful cold weather hiking is learning how to layer properly, keep extremities warm, stay hydrated and fueled, use microspikes/snowshoes in winter, hike on avalanche-safe and sunny trails, and keep certain essentials in your daypack.
Protecting against moisture and wind are your two biggest concerns in creating a good layering system. Evaporation of sweat cools you off rapidly, while wind convection pulls heat away from your body. The most important rule to remember when learning the layering system is to avoid cotton, at all costs. This means you ditch the T-shirt, sweatshirt and denims on a cold day in favor of synthetic materials. Cotton can be deadly, as it has no insulating properties when wet, and absorbs and holds moisture against your skin.
Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver, British Columbia, is part of a luxuriant temperate rainforest. The park contains an informative Ecology Centre, a breathtaking suspension bridge, and several beautiful hiking trails along a pristine river.
During the last decades of the 19th century the conifer forests on the mountains located north of the Burrard Inlet were logged for timber exports to eastern Canada, the United States and Europe. Most of the giant ancient trees (Douglas fir and Pacific red cedar), many as old as 1,000 years, disappeared and were reduced to stumps. Secondary forest growth, favored by moderate temperatures, abundant rainfall, and protective measures, led to the lush vegetation that currently covers the mountains around the Valley of the Lynn River and Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver, B.C.
Besides the beautiful views of the rain forest and numerous waterfalls and lagoons along the steep river, one of the main attractions of the park is the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. The bridge is 48 meters long and hangs at a height of 50 meters above the waters of the river. Lynn Canyon Park has an Ecology Centre focusing on the local ecosystem and on educating people about local and global environmental concerns.
This past year Adam Nutting of HikingTheTrail.com put together and orchestrated an awesome trip called Hell Hike and Raft. Together with an outfitter, they took 12 adventure bloggers and social media influencers into the backcountry of Idaho for 6 days of backpacking and white water rafting. The trip went so well that they are going to be doing it again. This time they are cranking up the volume to 11. On November 1st 2014, Adam along with Scott Gauvin from HikingForward.com are launching a new venture called Epic Social Adventures. You too can get involved. Here’s how:
Epic Social Adventures is a new organization that matches adventure writers, bloggers, and social media influencers with brands. The way to test out the products and your adventurous spirits is to create epic adventures in even more awesome environments.
Yes it all sounds somewhat vague but if they gave away all of the secrets it would not be as EPIC.
How do you get involved?
ESA Adventures promises they will not be selling or giving away your email to anyone and it will only be used to contact you about further ESA Awesomeness.
Like their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/epicsocialadventures
Follow their Twitter Accounts @EpicSocialAdv and @HellHikeAndRaft
Use the hashtags #EpicSocialAdventures and #HellHikeAndRaft
Please share ESA with your friends, followers, fans, and readers.
If you would like further information or would like to feature Epic Social Adventures on your blog or podcast please email [email protected] and they will gladly answer any questions and provide further details.
Google unveiled panoramic imagery and mapping that was collected by Google Trekkers who hiked some of California’s state parks this summer. The initial launch included imagery of 10 state parks, Point Lobos State Reserve, three state beaches, and more than 25 hiking trails, many of which are in Big Sur.
The Mountain View-based company took the technology of its popular Street View car camera system and fit it into a backpack that a hiker can wear. The funky looking backpack takes thousands of still photos as a hiker walks up a trail.
Images that Google Trekker collected allow online viewers from all over the world to virtually travel along trails and beaches via their computers or mobile devices in a 360-degree angle.
Google partnered with the California State Parks Department for their latest mapping project. This week’s unveiling is part of an ongoing project that will eventually cover more state parks across California.
Grand Canyon officials have reduced waste by banning disposable plastic water bottles and installing water stations for visitors. But a new problem sprung up: Elk are helping themselves to water at the stations by lifting spring-loaded levers with their noses.
Now, officials plan to elk-proof the stations to outsmart the animals, conserve water and protect visitors from aggressive behavior by the animals. They are experimenting with a cage around the spouts at one water station and will change the way it’s turned on.
“They got a little aggressive about it,” chief resource manager Martha Hahn said. “They were pretty protective of that water and wanting to get it first.”
About a dozen of the filling stations are set up throughout the park, but the elk favor one at South Kaibab Trail because it allows them to easily duck back into the woods.
The elk don’t always back down when visitors approach. Instead, they take a firm stance, particularly when protecting calves or during fall rutting season.
by Julie Fast
The Appalachian trail became my therapist. As a way to recover from a friend’s suicide, I set out on the trail that extends more than 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. I needed time to follow my thoughts to completion and find peace in nature. What I found instead was a motley crew of diverse people who entertained, challenged, and accepted me with no questions asked, merely because I was walking in the same direction.
Carrying a tightly packed 50-liter backpack and the immeasurable weight of grief, I took my first determined steps on Springer Mountain in Georgia on the brisk morning of April 2, 2014. As I sweated through three layers of wicking material and fell into the rhythm of pushing my body up and over quiet hills, my mind meandered slowly and painfully through the memories of Andrew.
“Why are you thru-hiking?” was a common enough question along the Appalachian Trail, but no matter how many times I responded, I couldn’t bring myself to tell the full answer. I couldn’t share that I was walking away from something violent and unexplainable as much as I was walking toward Mount Katahdin in Maine. When I met Tigger, however, I felt as if I could expose my darker reasons. Named for the way she bounced up hills, Tigger became my unofficial walking partner in the South, as we always seemed to synchronize schedules and distances.
Ryan and Rebecca Means recently hiked 75 miles round-trip in Yellowstone National Park. Ryan shouldered a 71-pound pack. Rebecca lugged 54 pounds, including their 5-year-old daughter, Skyla. That’s what passes for a vacation in the Means family.
“We cherish our right to be remote,” Ryan said. And they want others to cherish it, too. They’re on a quest to identify and visit the most remote location in each of the 50 states, with the hope of inspiring others to protect and enjoy the country’s remaining wild and roadless sites.
Rebecca uses Geographic Information Systems technology to find the remote spot in each state, and Ryan plans their route to the spot by foot, or sometimes by boat. “Some people take vacations to Disney World,” Rebecca said, “and we do Project Remote.”
They’ve been to their self-determined most remote spots in 27 states during the past four years, helped with the aid of donations from foundations and individuals. They chronicle their trips online at remotefootprints.org and hope to someday present their findings about remoteness in a scientific journal.
Route 113 weaves back and forth along the Maine–New Hampshire border between Fryeburg and Gilead for 30 miles, threading a route through some of the prettiest mountain country in New England. Between Stow and Route 2, the road slices through the White Mountain National Forest, where a bounty of foot trails leads deep into the wild and rugged country that characterizes this region.
The Maine section of the WMNF includes 49,000 acres of the sprawling 728,000-acre forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service. East of Evans Notch is the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness, a 14,000-acre gem encompassing Caribou, Red Rock, Butters, Durgin, Speckled, Ames and Blueberry mountains, Spruce Hill and a handful of trail-less summits.
Established in 1990, the Wilderness is home to a dozen trails and 25 miles of great hiking possibilities as well as a good measure of solitude. It’s one of my favorite hiking areas in Maine, especially come the cool weather and colorful foliage of autumn.
The top pick for a day hike in the Wilderness is Caribou Mountain. The mountain has all the elements of a perfect day hike: two clear and cold streams, a waterfall with a swimming hole, extensive open edges and incredible summit views, all reached via a loop hike of moderate mileage. The half-day’s walk allows plenty of other time for a leisurely drive to and from the trailhead, sightseeing in the Evans Notch area.
Some people feel the need to do big things, to do things others can’t or won’t, and to do them alone. These people go further, climb higher, dive deeper and move faster than the rest of us dare. No one sees their pained expressions, hears their cries of frustration or knows the moments of doubt that haunt their quiet thoughts. These adventurers are completely alone in the wilds– except for the inspiration they bring along with them.
For 23-year-old Seattle native, Joe McConaughy (a.k.a. String Bean), he brought a whole host of inspiration with him when he set the record for the fastest supported thru-hike (endurance run) of the 2,650 mile Pacific Coast Trail from the border of California and Mexico to the border of Washington and Canada this summer.
One person that was ever present with Joe on this epic journey was Colin; Colin is Joe’s cousin who died of pediatric brain cancer in 2012, a month after his second birthday. Joe dedicated the world record effort to celebrating Colin’s life and raising money and awareness for Cancer Care, an organization that helps families of cancer patients. Joe still gets choked up talking about his cousin, “He was my inspiration every day,” says Joe.
In today’s job market, there are all kinds of opportunities for adventurous souls if you know where to look. That’s the point of Outside Magazine’s seventh annual Best Places to Work project.
The 100 amazing companies on the 2014 list made it through a year-long vetting process overseen by an independent research partner, come in many forms, but they all agree that the secret to success is empowering employees to live bigger, better lives.
Which is why they go so far as to cover your lift tickets and gym memberships, invite your dog into the office, and even pay for you to take better vacations. Best of all, many of them are hiring.
Outdoors enthusiasts tend to think of the San Juans and B.C.’s Gulf Islands as a water-recreation paradise, not a hiking destination. Outdoors writer Craig Romano makes the case that these archipelagos are just as majestic by foot as by boat.
To prove his point, he wrote the recently published “Day Hiking the San Juans and Gulf Islands”, with 136 hikes on both the Washington and British Columbia sides of the border.
“People don’t realize there are so many hiking trails on the islands,” he said. “You might see only a few parks on an island map, but all the islands have land-trust preserves. They are private, protected land that are usually open to the public.”
Most hikes in his guide can be reached by ferry or car. And the few hikes that can’t be accessed by ferry can be reached by water taxi. There are hikes on coastal ledges and bluffs, beaches and coves. Others visit lighthouses, or traverse forests that were old even when George Vancouver sailed into the Salish Sea, Romano said.
Fall is his favorite time to visit since ferry and hotel rates are lower, crowds are sparse and the forecast is often still sunny.
As the weather turns cooler and more hikers head out to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, they’ll find the trails easier to navigate than a few months ago.
The trees that crashed across trails during last winter’s ice storm have been cut or pushed out of the way, and a new trail marking system is almost completely installed, according to Superintendent Tracy Stakely.
Clearing fallen trees from trails takes longer than you might expect because much of the park is designated as national wilderness. That means mechanized equipment such as chain saws can’t be used, and cutting the trees down on the trails after the ice storm with hand saws took months.
Meanwhile, park law enforcement officers have joined volunteers the past few months in plotting the locations and then installing new trail markers. The plastic, reflective markers are nailed to trees at adult eye level. The markers, numbered to represent the various trails in the park, replace color-coded blazes painted on trees. The markers with a 4 on them, for instance, replace red blazes on the Oakridge Trail.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County, New York offers breathtaking views from some of the most unique vantage points the Empire State has to offer.
“There’s so many different trails to see,” said Eric Humphrey, superintendent of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. “But the accessibility of some of them, to get to some of these rugged locations via a natural, gradual carriage road is a very unique experience.”
At Minnewaska State Park Preserve, you don’t have to be a seasoned athlete to make that hike. “You’re talking 10-foot-wide gravel paths through the woods are the easier trails,” Humphrey said. “There are more rugged trails that are more the foot trails. But if people are out for a leisurely stroll, the carriage rolls can really get people out.”
It’s situated on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge and surrounded by rugged, rocky terrain. With more than 60 miles of trails, “further up” may eventually mean 2,000 feet above sea level.
ASHEVILLE, NC – September 30, 2014
— Just in time for the fall leaf season, a new waterfall guide for Android phones and tablets is ready for download!
Starting today, you can visit 50 of Western North Carolina’s popular waterfalls using this guide on your Android device. It’s packed with the same information provided by the developer’s popular waterfall web site – but with no data connection needed after installation.
Photos are provided to help you decide which of Western North Carolina’s beautiful waterfalls you’d like to visit. Search for waterfalls by name, hike difficulty, and distance from your location.
Each waterfall is described in detail, with comprehensive hike descriptions, along with full driving directions. Several waterfalls in the app are wheelchair accessible, many are family friendly, and others are perfect for adventurers, requiring a longer, more strenuous hike through the backcountry to reach.
Each waterfall also has a detailed topographical trail map that can be used with a device’s GPS to track location while hiking.
The WNC Waterfalls App for Android is available in the Google Play store for $2.98 and is compatible with Android devices running version 2.3.3 Gingerbread with 106 MB free space.
WNCOutdoors.info is an internet information network run by a husband and wife team operating from Asheville, NC. Since 1996, their mission has been to provide comprehensive, guidebook-quality information about the outdoors in Western North Carolina, online and now via their app for Android.
Visit http://app.wncwaterfalls.info for more information and to purchase the app.
A hundred years ago, when Robert Falcon Scott set out for Antarctica on his Terra Nova expedition, his two primary goals were scientific discovery and reaching the geographic South Pole. Arguably, though, Scott was really chasing what contemporary observers call a sufferfest. He set himself up for trouble: Scott brought Manchurian and Siberian ponies that quickly fell through the snow and ice; he planned, in part, for his crew to “man-haul,” meaning that the men would pull sleds full of gear, instead of relying on dogs. Even when Scott’s men faltered, they continued collecting specimens, including rocks. The expedition ended terribly; everybody who made the push to the pole died. Miserable, starving and frostbitten, one of Scott’s last four men killed himself by walking into a blizzard without even bothering to put on his boots.
In the taxonomy of travelers, the word “explorer” suggests a morally superior pioneer, a man or woman who braves the battle against nature to discover new terrain, expanding our species’ understanding of the world. “Adventurer,” by contrast, implies a self-indulgent adrenaline junkie, who scares loved ones by courting puerile risk. The former, obviously, is the far better title, but it’s tough to claim these days. The world is Google-mapped. Reaching the actual virgin territory of space or the deep ocean requires resources that few possess. In short, the noble fig leaf of terra incognita has fallen away and laid bare the peripatetic, outsize bravado of Scott’s kindred spirits. The resulting itineraries are pretty strange. We now have guys like Felix Baumgartner sky-diving from a balloon-borne capsule at 128,100 feet.
Baumgartner falls squarely — and for more than four minutes, breaking the speed of sound — into the adventurer camp. But then there’s Sarah Marquis, who perhaps should be seen as an explorer like Scott, born in the wrong age. She is 42 and Swiss, and has spent three of the past four years walking about 10,000 miles by herself, from Siberia through the Gobi Desert, China, Laos and Thailand, then taking a cargo boat to Brisbane, Australia, and walking across that continent. Along the way, like Scott, she has starved, she has frozen, she has (wo)man-hauled. She has pushed herself at great physical cost to places she wanted to love but ended up feeling, as Scott wrote of the South Pole in his journal: “Great God! This is an awful place.” Despite planning a ludicrous trip, and dying on it, Scott became beloved and, somewhat improbably, hugely respected. Marquis, meanwhile, can be confounding. “You tell people what you’re doing, and they say, ‘You’re crazy,’ ” Marquis told me. “It’s never: ‘Cool project, Sarah! Go for it.’ ” Perhaps this is because the territory Marquis explores is really internal — the nature of fear, the limits of stamina and self-reliance and the meaning of traveling in nature as a female human animal, alone.
A sense of anticipation can be felt in the forest now. The leaves are changing from green to yellow and the air feels fresh and cool. Soon the aspen will be gloriously golden. Fall is the perfect time to get out and explore some of the hikes south of Taos, NM in the Carson National Forest.
Flechado Canyon Trail is a lightly-traveled hike that follows a stream through meadows and aspen groves. It climbs to Gallegos Peak with its views of Jicarita and Truchas Peaks. The hike is located just past Sipapu Ski Resort on State Road 518. Head out of town and climb up U.S. Hill for views back into Taos and ahead to the forests. The road descends and follows the Rio Pueblo, accessing a variety of trails, including Flechado Canyon. Look for the Flechado Day Use area to the right and park there. The trailhead is located across the road, at the vertical sign with “7” on the top.
The hike begins at 8,000 feet, with a steep climb up beside a trickling stream. Towering rock cliffs surround the trail. After the first half mile, the trail becomes less steep and enters the aspen and mixed evergreen forest. The trail is moderate and rolling, and reaches a series of meadows that are still full of wildflowers, including the purple mountain bellflower. Flickers and dusky grouse can be seen, along with many chipmunks and squirrels gathering food for the winter.
A devastating decline in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park bat population is forcing the closure of a popular hiking area to help protect bats and humans, park managers say. The 80 percent drop in the Indiana bat population in the park is most likely because of the deadly, rapidly spreading white-nose syndrome. Infected bats are marked by a white fungal growth on their noses, wings and tail membranes.
The White Oak Sink area, around caves where bats hibernate, will be closed through March 31, 2015. Park biologists say closing the area around caves will limit human disturbance to bats and help hikers avoid interactions with bats. It has been identified as one of only 13 sites across the country as critical habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat.
All 16 caves and two mines in the park, which straddles the mountainous North Carolina-Tennessee border, were closed in 2009, said park wildlife biologist Bill Stiver. The first confirmed presence of white-nose syndrome in the park was in 2010, he said.
“Based on estimates from a hasty survey last winter, we’ve lost about 80 percent of Indiana bats. This disease is pretty devastating,” Stiver said. “We are doing everything we can to both slow the spread of the disease and protect the remaining animals by closing caves and areas near caves to the public.”
The area now closed is a popular hiking area of about 450 acres near Cades Cove on the Tennessee side, said Molly Schroer, park spokeswoman. It does not contain any park-maintained hiking trails, and no trails will be closed, she said.
Closing in on 30 and coming off a three-year stretch he likens to a country song, Jared McCallum decided he needed more adventure.
So the former Marine from Florida set out April 1 to hike the Appalachian Trail. Nevermind that he’d never hiked before – or even camped.
In August, as he neared the end of his five-month, 2,180-mile adventure, McCallum decided the best way to get home would be to paddle 2,350 miles back down the Mississippi River. Nevermind that he’d never canoed in his life.
He found a canoe on Craigslist, picked up a redbone coon hound for company and hitched a ride to Lake Itasca.
“I was looking for experience and adventure,” he said. “What better way than to hike a trail or paddle a river?”