I blog about my outdoor life, mostly in the Southern Appalachians and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across North Carolina and our national parks.
I’m writing a book on visiting all the national parks in the Southeast – the battlefields, monuments, historic sites as well as the traditional national parks. My book, titled Forests, Alligators, Battlefields, will come out next year, 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
I’m involved in outdoor and conservation issues. I hope these blog notes will inspire you to go and explore the outdoors, wherever you are.
On October 1, that’s yesterday, North Carolina made it legal to hunt on Sunday, but only on private land. The main reason I’m writing this post is to dispel rumors and false beliefs about the new law. So hikers aren’t supposed to be on other people’s private land, anyhow, so no worries there.
Hunting is still illegal on public land on Sunday.
But hunting season is around the corner. So while I’m here, a recap of our hunting laws might be useful.
The Appalachian Trail, though a National Scenic Trail, follows the laws of the managing agency, i.e. Pisgah National Forest, so you’ll have to pay attention there.
In state parks. So don’t worry about Mt. Mitchell State Park or any other state park. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, though a state trail, doesn’t have that protection since it takes on the laws of the land it’s on, just like the A.T.
Dupont State Forest is a recreational forest, but it does allow hunting in a very limited area. You’ll see signs when you enter the hunting zone. Check out the website for all the rules and regs.
So where do you have to wear orange in Western North Carolina? Basically in national forests such as Pisgah National Forests and Nantahala National Forests.
Here’s a little synopsis of the Warrior Hike program:
In 1948, Earl Shaffer told a friend he was going to “walk off the war” to work out the sights, sounds, and losses of World War II. Four months later, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
Following in Earl Shaffer’s footsteps and in recognizing the therapeutic effects of long distance hiking, Warrior Hike has created the “Walk Off The War” Program which is designed to support combat veterans transitioning from their military service by thru-hiking America’s National Scenic Trails.
But now, the program isn’t just about the A.T. They have several trails including the Arizona Trail, the Ice Age Trail and the Florida Trail.
Next year, they will include the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across North Carolina. It looks like new trails aren’t added all that often. The Warrior Hike organization provides logistical support as well as other help. So including the MST is a big deal.
The fundraising event will be on Saturday from 2 pm to 8 pm, featuring bands, beer and barbecue — and me. It’s at Atagahi Park, in the Connestee Falls estates. Just getting in to see these falls is probably worth the price of admission.
A few days ago, I went to see Everest, a gripping film about the 1996 climbing disaster.
Eight climbers died in two days when an unexpected blizzard came in. At the time, the events held me spell bound. I read and watched everything about it. The book at the time was Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, still one of my favorite books of all times.
You don’t have to have remembered the incident to find the movie fascinating. It was the beginning of commercialization of mountain climbing. Companies like those owned by Rob Hall of New Zealand and Scott Fisher of the United States took anyone they saw fit on the mountain. A quick scene shows a guide teaching his clients how to put on crampons. Most hadn’t had climbing experience; they were “treadmill fit.”
The preparations and life at Everest base camp are well depicted. They show the acclimatization (even the word is hard to write and say) climbs, the partying, and the packing of oxygen tanks. The doctor gives a lecture, where she says that people are not meant to climb this high.
Professional reviews stress the beauty of the filming in 3D over the human aspects but they are wrong. Sure, Keira Knightley plays the teary pregnant wife back in New Zealand. But the struggle of the clients and leaders against the mountain are heart-breaking. They made mistakes in an environment that allows for none. And they never used the word “issue” when they had a problem.
But it’s the cold that seemed so visceral to me.
Like many others, inquiries about climbing shot up. Even I looked into what it meant to attempt to reach the top. Hah! Two years later, I completed the Appalachian Trail, a much-more achievable goal.
I feel like I’ve just discovered something that everyone else has known for years. Tucked away in a corridor inSevierville, TN, there are wonderful pictures of our national parks by Stan Jorstad, a leader in panoramic photography.
Now notice that I didn’t say “hidden away” or that it’s a secret that I’ve just uncovered.
I don’t want to be like that joker who said that he just discovered the abandoned houses in Elkmont. And the mainstream media jumped on it.
No, anyone can admire these Jorstad photos for free, without being a national park insider. The exhibit is at the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) visitor center in Kodak, Tennessee on TN 66 (3099 Winfield Dunn Parkway, 1.25 miles from Interstate Exit 407). The GSMA visitor center and bookstore shares space with the Sevier County Visitor Center on one side of the building.
The twenty-four panoramic photographs are hung in the hallway between those two organizations. They were at the Sugarlands visitor center before that, but I didn’t pay attention, then.
Jorstad was friends with Ansel Adams and Elliot Porter. He was the first professional photographer to capture the breathtaking beauty of every one of our national parks. How lucky we are to have those, but I wonder how many people have seen them.
I love to discover something like this, tucked away and hiding in plain sight. I had been to all the GSMA visitor centers but I went to the one in Sevierville, years ago before I was on the board of directors and before I really paid attention to what was in these spaces.
So go to the GSMA visitor center. Buy a bear or a book and take the time to look at the Jorstad photographs. If you’ve seen the pictures, let me know.
Your other favorite parks, battlefield, historic home such as Carl Sandburg Home, will also be off-limits.
We are not helpless. This is a request/plea to email your Congress representative in the House and tell them how important the parks are to you and to the health of the community they’re in.
Please do it now and don’t “wait and see”.
You can find out who your Congressional representative is on http://www.house.gov/
If you go down a bit, you’ll see where you can put in your zip code.
You may need to put in your 9 digit zip code, as I have to, if your zip code is split. To find out your full nine-digit zip code, see the post office website.
Write an email telling your representative that national parks are very important to you and the country. October is one of the busiest times to visit national parks.
You may hike, walk, or just look at trees. Your child may visit on a field trip to a battlefield or national monument.