Hiking News

Elkmont cabin preservation underway; some to be demolished

Posted by on Jan 29, 2017 @ 6:29 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Elkmont cabin preservation underway; some to be demolished

The evolution of historic Elkmont soon should be taking another step forward.

The historic former logging/resort community in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been in an evolving state since 2009 when the National Park Service announced a plan to preserve part of the community after conducting an environmental impact study from 1992 through 2008.

The plan has been to preserve 19 structures at Elkmont while razing 55. Two of those structures – the Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin – have already been renovated and preserved. The park has now received funding to preserve four more structures and tear down 29.

Elkmont has been among the park’s most visited attractions. Located off Fighting Creek Gap Road, it began as a logging community in the late 1800s before evolving into a vacation resort. The park allowed owners to keep their cabins there until the early 1990s. It has since fallen into disrepair.

Those scheduled for preservation will be much like the structures in Cades Cove that are stabilized and made safe for visitors to tour.

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My recent hike in Elkmont…


Federal hiring freeze to impact WNC

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 @ 1:09 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The federal hiring freeze of all civilian employees, ordered by President Trump on Jan. 23, 2017, could negatively impact employment in Western North Carolina and the public services those agencies provide. According to the executive order, no vacant positions existing at noon Jan. 22 may be filled and no new positions may be created. The order does not include or apply to military personnel or positions with national security or public safety. The order also prohibits the hiring of contract workers who might be hired to circumvent the hiring freeze.

The Asheville area is home to some 3,300 federal employees and many federal agencies, including two of the most visited parks in the National Park Service, one of the most visited national forests in the United States, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, which tracks all climate and weather data for the country, and many others such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs through Asheville on its 469-mile linear path, received 15.2 million visitors in 2016. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has a half-million acres across North Carolina and Tennessee, set a visitation record last year with 11.3 million visitors.

The Pisgah and Nantahala national forests in WNC comprise more than 1 million acres of land. The Pisgah National Forest is the second busiest in the country, with an estimated 6 million visitors a year.

Seasonal workers, hired for the busiest months from April to October, make up close to half the parks’ workforce. Their hiring might be delayed, which could lead to a delay in park and forest facility openings.

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Adelaide walking trails: Belair National Park

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 @ 11:12 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Adelaide walking trails: Belair National Park

Belair National Park, near Adelaide, Australia is the ideal place to experience a sense of adventure, with many trail options to explore in a beautiful bushland setting.

In 1840, the land was set aside by Governor George Gawler as a government farm. It was later used to farm hay and care for police horses in the gold escort and other services.

Through the early to mid-1900s, approaches to the preservation of native flora and fauna in the park changed so that all future planting in the area would be restricted to native South Australian plants. As a result, the last non-native planting in the park was of 700 Japanese cherry trees. Remains of the plantation can be found in the park along RSL walk.

Today, there are many options available for those visiting the park, which has woodlands and lakes, shared-use trails, cricket pitches and tennis courts to hire. You can explore Old Government House, and let the kids go wild on the adventure playground.

Learn more here…


Featured National Recreation Trails: Tunnel Hill State Rail Trail, Illinois

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 @ 6:33 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Featured National Recreation Trails: Tunnel Hill State Rail Trail, Illinois

The trail runs for 45 miles from downtown Harrisburg to Karmak in southern Illinois. The tail is managed by Illinois Department of Natural Resouces with an additional 2.5 miles managed by the City of Harrisburg. A 543-foot long tunnel gave the nearby town its name, and now the trail.

Beginning in Harrisburg, the trail is at 370 feet above sea level, rising to 680 feet at Tunnel Hill and then dropping to 340 feet at Karnak. The trail crosses 23 trestles ranging from 34 feet long to 450 feet. The longest, Breeden Trestle, is also the highest at 90 feet. The abandoned railroad right-of-way varies between 40 and 200 feet in width.

The Tunnel Hill Trail is part of a former railroad founded by Civil War General Ambrose Burnside. In 1872 Burnside and others began the Vincennes & Cairo Railroad, which connected Vincennes, Indiana and Cariro, Illinois.

The central section of Tunnel Hill Trail passes through the Shawnee National Forest, Illinois’ only national forest. The southern section of the trail traverses the Cache River State Natural Area, a significant state, national, and international wetland resource.

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John Muir’s Southern Trek, 150 Years

Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 @ 5:38 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

John Muir’s Southern Trek, 150 Years

As 2017 is the sesquicentennial year for John Muir’s thousand-mile walk across the southeastern U.S. (1867-68), it is likely that many people will be attempting to trace his path.

Chuck Roe, founding manager of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, founding director of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and Southeast U.S. Region program director for the Land Trust Alliance, was inspired to retrace the path of Muir’s long walk, but with a different focus—that being by telling the story of land conservation along the route of Muir’s Southern Trek.

An account of conserved lands and protected natural areas along Muir’s Southern walking route fits nicely with the mission of the organization that Roe now serves as president Southern Conservation Partners which is dedicated to enhancing protection, restoration, and greater public awareness of the natural heritage of the southern U.S.

Roe took a different perspective on his adventure. He followed Muir’s route largely by personal vehicle, with periodic short walks along the way. He segmented his examination of the route into sections spread over more than a year.

The intent was to observe and describe the publicly accessible parks, nature preserves, forests and wildlife management areas, and other recreational areas along Muir’s walking route, in homage and testimony to the success story of land conservation in the southeastern U.S.

See the results of Roe’s work here…


48 Hours in Tucker County, West Virginia

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 @ 5:37 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

In the northeast corner of West Virginia nestled between mountains, lakes, and rivers lies the tiny, quaint county of Tucker. Though the county has a small population of under 5,000, the large sense of community has helped create one of the most beautiful, booming outdoor areas in the United States.

Winters filled with an abundance of snow have created a serene mountain setting ideal for skiing and snowshoeing while rugged terrain leaves hikers and mountain bikers with exciting and challenging trails sure to test their ability. And the unique and diverse beauty of nature in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area is a backpacking favorite. Whatever your source of thrill, no matter the time of year, Tucker County will serve as the perfect backdrop.

On the Allegheny Plateau is the beautifully diverse Dolly Sods Wilderness. Due to a logging craze that occurred several centuries ago and an unusual climate, this stretch of land is home to rocky plains and grassy meadows, muddy bogs and damp swamps, breathtaking vistas, and plant life similar to that of northern Canada.

The unique land formations that vary from one mile to the next make for the perfect hike, lasting anywhere from several hours to several days. For a longer trip with one of the best overlooks in the region, Lions Head hike takes you on a three-day, two-night hike with over 2,500 feet of elevation gain on your way to a majestic rock formation resembling, you guessed it, a lion’s head righteously protecting to his mountains and valleys below.

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Film tells story of southern Ohio hiking legend Grandma Gatewood

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 @ 11:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Film tells story of southern Ohio hiking legend Grandma Gatewood

An incredible tale of taking to a long-distance trail to wash away the troubles in the real world was birthed in the hills of Southern Ohio.

At age 67, Gallia County, Ohio, native, the late Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, who had overcome decades of spousal abuse, and who was the mother of 11 children and 23 grandchildren, read about the Appalachian Trail in National Geographic.

She was so moved by the beauty of the new trail that Gatewood laced up her Keds sneakers, grabbed a small backpack and become the first woman to thru-hike the now famous trail in 1955.

“One of the things which is kind of important is that when you think about people of her generation, she had a really big impact being out there and going hiking. People were saying, ‘Well if a grandma could do it, I can do it.’ And so in the late 1960s and early 1970s when you had the hiking boom that hit, in some ways, she was instrumental in making some of that really come to fruition.”

The inspirational story of Gatewood will be shared at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 in the Grayson Room of the lodge at Carter Caves State Resort Park, as Winter Adventure Weekend presents a special free screening of the film “Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story.” After the film, Peter Huston, the director of “Trail Magic,” will do a Q&A session with the audience.

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East Coast Greenway: 3,000 Mile Hike or Bike from Canada to Key West

Posted by on Jan 22, 2017 @ 6:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

East Coast Greenway: 3,000 Mile Hike or Bike from Canada to Key West

Maybe you’ve always dreamt of trekking across the U.S., but didn’t have the time, money, or know-how to make the full trip from east to west. Or maybe hiking the Appalachian Trail has been a secret goal, but you’re terrified of sleeping in tents. Luckily, there’s another option.

It’s called the East Coast Greenway—3,000 miles of marked trails and roads from Key West, Florida all the way up to Canada. Whether you hike it or bike it, you’re sure to be challenged, but always close enough to civilization to calm your fears of being lost in the great outdoors. If you’re looking for a new goal to tackle or just a place to spend a day or a weekend on your bike, try the East Coast Greenway.

The plan for the East Coast Greenway started in the mid-nineties in downtown SoHo in New York City, when a few of the founding members—outdoorsy, activist types with big dreams—decided it would be a life-changing project to tackle.

Conceptually, the greenway wasn’t designed to appeal to thru-hikers, though that’s certainly a side benefit. More than that, the plan was to link major cities on the Eastern Seaboard together to create safe, accessible routes, and to help promote healthy, outdoor-friendly lifestyles.

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Gorilla Trekking in Uganda: Up Close with Silverbacks

Posted by on Jan 21, 2017 @ 1:05 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda: Up Close with Silverbacks

Only three countries in the world are home to mountain gorillas: Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). About 18,000 permits were given out in Uganda last year to see these gentle giants, with about 30,000 permits given in Rwanda. In total there are fewer than 900 gorillas in the wild—fewer than the white rhino (20,000), and fewer still than the Bengal tiger (2,500). They remain critically endangered due to poaching and humans moving in on their territory, and the chance to see them, to understand them, is increasingly rare.

When it comes to gorilla trekking, many wonder if they should go to Rwanda or Uganda. The experience in each country is similar: Tours are small, no more than eight people, with one guided hour with the gorillas. The volcanoes in both Uganda and Rwanda provide an amazing backdrop for the whole experience, and due to conflict in the DRC, most tourists choose one of the other two countries to see the gorillas.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda is home to the Nyakagezi gorilla family with its five silverbacks (adult males). It holds a certain allure, boasting one of the highest concentrations of silverbacks within a family in all three countries. The mountain gorillas share 98 percent of our DNA.

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Man’s winter thru-hike a first for the Ice Age Trail

Posted by on Jan 21, 2017 @ 7:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Man’s winter thru-hike a first for the Ice Age Trail

Mike Summers was in good company last week as he relaxed in a leather conference chair, munched on a supreme slice from Tano’s Pizza and sipped a Sprecher’s Hard Root Beer.

At the end of the conference table was Tim Malzhan, 59, who thru-hiked the 1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail more than 25 years ago. Across the table to his right was Luke Kloberdanz, 40, who hiked the trail in one continuous trip in 2003. And seated directly across from Summers was Dave Caliebe, 34, who in 2010 thru-hiked the trail that winds through Wisconsin along the terminal moraine created by a glacier that receded more than 10,000 years ago.

The trio all work for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, a nonprofit based in Cross Plains that builds, maintains and promotes the trail. Malzhan, Kloberdanz and Caliebe all did their hikes in summer and fall. But on this day, they gathered in the Alliance’s conference room to welcome and refuel Summers, a skinny, bearded 26-year-old from Portland, Oregon, who is attempting a winter thru-hike of the trail, something never before accomplished.

He started the trip at Potawatomi State Park near Sturgeon Bay on Dec. 22, 2016 and is hoping to be at the trail’s western terminus at Interstate Park near St. Croix Falls by mid-March.

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Tie Your Things with Perfect Knots

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 @ 6:09 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Tie Your Things with Perfect Knots

New to fishing? Here are some tips for choosing your first reel.


In our day to day life, knots plays a vital role. Starting from the shoe lace to camping and fishing, a perfect knot can be an essential requirement. There are several steps to tie knots perfectly for various purposes. For example, the square knot is useful for camping and hiking. A clove hitch knot is for securing rope around things. Fisherman’s knot is for sailing and fishing and bowline knot is for securing a boat, mountain climbing etc. Knots are also very important for safety while hiking or climbing.

The following infographic from Sarah Brown at PT Winchester shows the steps to tie different types of knots for different purposes.



700 percent increase coming in cost of senior passes to national parks

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 @ 12:28 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

700 percent increase coming in cost of senior passes to national parks

Perhaps you are 62 or older and think you might want to visit a national park or two before you die. Let us offer you some advice: Get thee to a federal recreation site – be it a national park, national forest or Bureau of Land Management office – and buy a lifetime senior pass that gains you entrance to all federal lands that charge entrance fees, for as long as you live. The cost of one will be increasing by 800%.

To be clear, the current price – $10 for a lifetime of access to any and all national parks and federal lands – may be the best of all bargains available to America’s seniors. For less than the price of a pizza, you can gain admittance to every national park, from Acadia to Yosemite, from Denali to the Everglades, and every Glacier and Yellowstone in between, at any time, for the rest of your life.

In all, the $10 pass gains seniors access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas. But last month, Congress raised the price of a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands senior pass to $80.

The steep hike was a little-discussed provision of the National Parks Centennial Act, which received bipartisan support in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate when it was passed in December.

“Eighty dollars for a lifetime senior pass is still pretty reasonable,” said National Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson. “Everybody else pays $80 a year” for an annual pass.

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Hike highlights unknown soldier, stagecoach route

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 @ 7:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hike highlights unknown soldier, stagecoach route

Trickling between Old Fort and Ridgecrest, Swannanoa Creek is a natural passageway into the Swannanoa Valley. Over the centuries, the storied tributary has led many travelers into Western North Carolina.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center will lead a moderate-to-difficult, mostly downhill, four-mile hike down this path on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, shedding light on the natural, social, and cultural history of this once major artery into the Blue Ridge and crossroads for tourism, commerce – and calamity.

During Stoneman’s Raid at the close of the Civil War, the thoroughfare played a critical role in the defense of the region. Using an ingenious and surprisingly simple diversion, Confederate troops were able to prevent the Union Army from using the route to make its way to Asheville. Participants will hear the full tale as they walk the same route used by the troops more than 150 years earlier.

Near the road lies a mysterious gravestone related to the skirmish. The grave’s occupant is unknown, and Confederate veterans told two conflicting versions of the story, which museum historians will share when hikers reach the site. The gravestone, marked soberly “U.S. Soldier,” is visible alongside the creek, sometimes marked with Confederate flags and Old Glory.

Despite the solemnity and mystery enveloping the creekside, during much of the 18th century the Swannanoa Creek formed the backbone of the burgeoning Western Turnpike, the main pathway in WNC. Starting in 1820, a stagecoach line ran along the road from Morganton to Old Fort, and then up the mountain to Black Mountain along the stream.

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Hiking in a Forest Born Out of Mount Fuji’s Lava

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 @ 6:16 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A thick forest thrives on hardened lava that once flowed down Mount Fuji’s northwestern flank into lakes that reflect the volcano’s snow-capped cone like rippling mirrors. Within it, the roots of hemlock and cypress trees snake out over the ground through a blanket of moss, and trails lead to deep caverns filled with ice.

The Aokigahara forest, as this tangle of woods is called, was born on 12 square miles of lava from an eruption in the year 864, the biggest in 3,500 years. The event left Japan’s rulers awe-struck and its countrymen inspired to worship the volcano as a god. A walk into this isolated place, where nature’s power to rebound from cataclysm is so clearly on display, can be intensely spiritual.

Perhaps because of that, the woods inspire an almost reverential fear in Japan and, increasingly, beyond it. In the past year alone, three North American movies have opened with plots based on the woods’ reputation as a suicide destination and warren of paranormal activity: “The Sea of Trees” with Matthew McConaughey, “The Forest” and “The People Garden.” Those films come six years after “Suicide Forest,” a Vice documentary that has gotten more than 15 million views on YouTube and has furthered the idea that the forest is a place where people end their lives.

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Search and Rescue offers tips to avoid an emergency while hiking

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 @ 7:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Search and Rescue offers tips to avoid an emergency while hiking

Wherever a Search and Rescue (SAR) member goes; they are trained not to leave home without a 24-hour pack. The pack contains everything they need to stay out for 24 hours including water, flashlight, snacks, extra clothing and maps.

Many of the searches conducted by SAR could have been prevented if the hikers had carried a map of the area; those venturing out need to know where they are going and be familiar with landmarks and places around them. A map can be a life-saver if a trail sign is missed or a trail intersection is confusing.

It’s important to plan for changing weather conditions; it might be warm at the trailhead and a jacket seems like extra weight, but what if the hikers are still out after dark and the temperature is near freezing or a storm moves in and it starts to snow?

A light source is also important. Mountains are rugged with cliffs and thick brush. Trying to walk in the dark is not smart even if the lights of a town can be seen in the distance. What if there is a cliff between the hikers and the lights?

The need to have enough water cannot be stressed enough. Keep an inconvenience from becoming an emergency by being prepared. Plan for what could happen, not just for what is happening now. Take no less than two quarts of water per person and more if it’s hot.

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Impacts of the Party Rock Fire on Hickory Nut Gorge

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 @ 12:22 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Impacts of the Party Rock Fire on Hickory Nut Gorge

Environmental experts will present information about the long-term effects of the Party Rock Fire on the natural environment in Hickory Nut Gorge on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 6 p.m. in the Community Hall at the Lake Lure Municipal Building. Experts include Clint Calhoun with the Town of Lake Lure, Marshall Ellis with NC State Parks, and Michael Cheek with the NC Forest Service.

The Party Rock Fire burned more than 7,000 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge in November of 2016. While there were no fatalities and no structures were lost during the fire, there are other ways that the fire will affect the local community. The local economy relies heavily on tourism; the Hickory Nut Gorge’s natural beauty and unique plant and animal species are a major draw for visitors. The disturbance caused by the Party Rock Fire could create the ideal conditions for non-native invasive plants to thrive, which can lower biodiversity and affect the beauty of the gorge. In contrast, some of the rare and endangered plant species of the gorge are dependent on disturbances to create suitable habitats for them. There are many potential benefits and detriments from the fire.

The panel will present and discuss information about what the possible effects of the fire will be, when we can expect to start seeing them, and what the community can do to ensure the natural environment of the Hickory Nut Gorge stays healthy. The panel will be hosted and moderated by the Weed Action Coalition of the Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. It is free and open to the public.



Discover Chattanooga-area trails with local hiking groups

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 @ 6:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Discover Chattanooga-area trails with local hiking groups

One of the major attractions of living in the Chattanooga, TN area is the abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, which includes many miles of hiking trails close to town. As a new year gets underway, you may be thinking you’d like to get started or do more in the way of hiking some of those trails. Or you may already be an avid hiker who’s recently moved to Chattanooga from somewhere else and would like to explore the local trails.

What may be holding you back is the lack of someone to hike with. Your friends and family members may not be interested in doing serious hikes, and you may be reluctant to go hiking on your own. Well, there’s a solution to that problem. There are a number of organizations in the Chattanooga area that regularly host free guided hikes.

You generally aren’t required to be a member of these organizations in order to participate in outings, but if you plan to go on a regular basis, paying a modest membership fee will help support the organization and get you on the email list.

Besides being able to learn all you need to know about hiking from experienced experts, participating in group hikes such as these is a great way to meet interesting and like-minded people. You have no excuse for not making 2017 the year you get out and discover the wonders of hiking in the Chattanooga area and beyond.

The following list of seven such organizations is a good place to start…


New world opens to public at Shady Dell

Posted by on Jan 16, 2017 @ 6:27 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

New world opens to public at Shady Dell

The public finally has the amazing opportunity of experiencing a section of California coastline that has been closed to the public for more than 100 years.

Save the Redwoods League has opened their newly-constructed 2.3 mile trail, which cuts through 957 acres of forest known as the Shady Dell, and extends the Lost Coast Trail south, making it an even 60 miles in total length.

Save the Redwoods League purchased Shady Dell from the nonprofit Redwood Forest Foundation in 2011 for $5.5 million with the help of the California Coastal Conservancy who contributed $3 million to the acquisition.

Hikers on the trail not only get to enjoy amazing ocean views, but also the magical experience of walking through the “Enchanted Forest,” which is home to about a half dozen 500 year-old candelabra redwood trees.

As the name suggests, they grow in the shape of a candelabra, which is believed to be due to the influence of heavy winds and salt water during their growth.

To find the trail drive along California Highway 1 until you reach the Usual Road turn off, located at mile marker 90.88, then drive along this road until you see signs for the trail.

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Smokies sets visitation record for 2016

Posted by on Jan 13, 2017 @ 6:12 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Despite a late fall wildfire that shut down the park for nearly two weeks and scorched 11,000 acres, Great Smoky Mountains national park drew a record number of visitors last year.

Park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders said more than 11.3 million people visited the Smokies in 2016, helping increase a healthy connection to the outdoors while boosting the economy.

The visitation was a 5.6 percent increase over 2015 when there were 10.7 million visitors.

The Smokies is a rugged swath of a half-million acres of wilderness, front- and backcountry campsites, picnic areas, historic structures and some 900 miles of trails straddling the North Carolina-Tennessee border. It is the most visited park in the National Park Service.

Visitors used the park’s Gatlinburg, Tennessee, entrance most, with 3,715,480 visitors last year. Some 2.2 million entered through Oconaluftee in Cherokee, nearly 1.6 million through the Townsend, Tennessee entrance, and another nearly 3.2 million entered through the park’s outlying areas, such as Cataloochee and Deep Creek on the North Carolina side.

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How hiking with my autistic son reminded me of the best of WV

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 @ 12:37 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

By Scott Finn

It started out of desperation.

Winter is a hard time for my son, Max. He has autism, which means he hates any break in routine — and winter has a knack for screwing up schedules.

And not unlike most 10-year-old boys, Max is a tightly-wound ball of kinetic energy. He literally bounces off the walls during the winter. Sometimes, we get in the car and drive around, just to get out of the house.

So last January, I signed us up for the 100-mile hiking challenge in the New River Gorge. I thought hiking 100 miles over the next few months would be a good way to kill time.

I didn’t realize how the experience would change me. It reminded me what I love so much about West Virginia — its unique history, natural beauty and authentic people.

Hiking with Max became a metaphor for how we can approach the challenge of living here. I learned that our so-called weaknesses can be turned into strengths.

All it takes is the willingness to look at things in a different way.

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