Entries For: January 2011
Every once in a while, I need to remind myself to look beyond the mountains of Western North Carolina. I live in the state of North Carolina and I try to keep up a little about the outdoor issues outside the mountains.
Two items are worthy of your time.
Land for Tomorrow is organizing North Carolina's first summit on the economics of conservation. It will be held on
February 23, 2011 from 11:30 am – 4:00 p.m at the
Raleigh Convention Center. Here's what they say about the importance of this topic.
Land and water conservation has created significant economic benefits in local communities, across the state and around the country. Join Land for Tomorrow to hear conservation challenges and success stories from key leaders in economic development, government, business and the military. A new economic impact study by the Trust for Public Land will be unveiled that will, for the first time, quantify the state’s return on its investments in conservation.
All the details are on the Land for Tomorrow website.
The second item is a report entitled Unfulfilled Promise
The Million Acres Initiative and the Need to
Protect North Carolina’s Open Spaces.
To summarize the executive summary: North Carolina’s
General Assembly established the Million Acre Initiative to protect one million acres of land between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2009. While many important and beautiful places were protected in the process, it is now clear that North Carolina has fallen short of this goal.
Read the report's executive summary, at least. It's an eye opener.
Of course, the best way of discovering North Carolina beyond the mountains is to walk the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. I'll be doing another section real soon.
Yesterday (Sunday), I hiked up to Little Pisgah mountain in Hickory Nut Gorge.
We started in Florence Preserve, a small jewel of conservancy land, donated by the Florence family in the 1990s. We followed the blue trail to the top of the preserve and then hiked on Little Pisgah Road. It's a quiet, dirt road, though yesterday, it had snow and ice as well.
As we climbed, views opened up, the kind you rarely see in our mountains. It felt more like England, except for the long range views of the Blue Ridge.
We reached the top of the mountain at 4,500 feet. It was very windy and most of us tried to huddle under a large rock. This is not pristine wilderness. The reason for the road is a communications tower on top.
Lunch on top was a hurried affair. By the time, I got to the top, took a few pictures and pulled out my sandwich, Janet, our leader, started heading down. Janet took this picture on the left of some of the group under a boulder.
We were all cold and followed her down.
On the way back, we took the red trail back to the cars. We were amazed that we hiked about 10 miles in less than five hours. The combination of cold weather and a good road meant that we did the hike in record time, without feeling rushed.
A good winter hike!
It's warmer in upstate South Carolina. And though they had a great deal of snow this past storm, most of it has disappeared by now. The Carolina Mountain Club's Wednesday hike went down to Paris Mountain State Park.
Several streams were dammed to create Greenville's water supply in the late 19th Century. Our destination was North Lake, shown above. Like all South Carolina State Parks, the trails are well-maintained and well-signposted. The walking is pleasant, if not exciting but just being outside under a perfectly blue sky was wonderful.
Coming back, we passed Mountain Lake, another dammed lake - see below.
This lake had a turret, really a building to control the water flow. We took our group picture there, courtesy of two guys who had walked to the dam and were just hanging out.
The picture to the left is of Mountain Lake, a long lake still full of mushy ice.
The Park dates back from the Civilian Conservation Corps days. The bathhouse, now its visitor center, was built by the CCC of stone and timber.
In the summer, Paris Mountain is very hot; it's only at 1,000 ft. altitude but now it's a great hiking spot.
National Parks Traveler is holding a Student Essay Contest.
Three grand-prize winners of the Traveler's first Take Your Family to the National Parks essay contest will win lodging for four members of their family in one of the country's national parks, and some gear to help them enjoy the trip.
Entries are being accepted from students in three age brackets: 8-11, 12-15, and 16-18.
Elementary students in the 8-11 age bracket should address this question: "Why are national parks good for kids?"
Middle school students in the 12-15 age bracket should address this question: "If you were to write President Obama telling him why the National Parks should be saved, what would you say and why?"
High school students in the 16-18 age bracket should address this question: "What are the greatest threats to our national parks, and how can they be countered?"
The winning essays will be selected by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and announced during National Parks Week in mid-April. Now, that's impressive.
Check the National Parks Traveler page for all rules and regs.
Dupont State Forest in snow was a wonderland yesterday.
We walked in the snow for about three and a half hours - not much for an all-day hike. But hiking in the snow is arduous. We tried to walk in each other's footsteps so as not to posthole each time.
High Falls, pictured left, was magical in the snow.
The future visitor center, above, seems ready to go, though it wasn't open.
So was Lake Dense, a small lake that's out of the way. The patterns in the ice were a mystery.
What caused these patterns?
The weather forecast is predicting another snow "event" this coming week. I'm glad we got out.
January 8 is a day that is to live in infamy in my small world. It's the day, two years ago, when I was run over by an SUV. It happened in the Mission Hospital parking lot by a Mission employee. The driver was late, distracted, and speeding - you know the type.
She ran me over and I fell backwards on the concrete, resulting in a concussion and cracked vertebrae in my back. After a lot of tests in the emergency room, I went home. Then the hard work of rehabilitation started.
I don't obsess about it; the accident does not defines me. I would have forgotten the exact date but January 8 is my friend's birthday. I send her a card and take her out for sushi - it's becoming a tradition. So the date was on my mind when I heard about Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords being shot in the head by a crazed man. This was not an accident, a natural disaster, or an act of God. Just like the woman who ran me over, this tragedy was perpetrated by a person. But this is where the similarities end.
With a lot of luck, perseverance, and hard work, I am back on the hiking trail. Rep. Giffords may not be that lucky. A bullet went through her brain. "Her doctors have declined to speculate on what specific disabilities the 40-year-old congresswoman may face," according to an Associated Press report. But they will be severe.
I searched for Giffords' biography and found that after she graduated college she was a small business woman and a politician; some now call her presidential material. But I couldn't find anything about what sports she had engaged in or her exercise routine. It probably doesn't seem important to the press right now. Getting to where she can walk and talk will entail a lot of hard work.
But I wonder if she was a runner or a cyclist. Did she play golf? Was this an important part of her life? It's not good to pretend that Giffords will recover completely. Maybe her mental capabilities will be questioned. Certainly she will have physical difficulties.
If you hike with me, you'll think that I've recovered completely. I can walk 15 miles a day and I work hard at staying fit. I exercise almost every day. I still do all the routines that my physical therapist gave me. But I have random headaches and backaches which I try to ignore or explain away as an exception. My neck is giving more trouble contributing to the headaches. I've started to go to a chiropractor regularly. He says I have osteoarthritis, a condition I don't really understand. It's associated with age and trauma. Well, as you get older, you're more likely to have had a couple of traumas. Everything I read about it says that you can't do anything about osteoarthritis other than move and take pain killers. I do a lot of moving and try to avoid pain killers.
Small problems compared to what Giffords is going to have to go through. And for what? Because some crazed man used a gun instead of fighting her with words. Even by some miracle Giffords recovers enough to go back to Congress, she'll still be the woman who was shot on January 8.
Florence Preserve is a little gem on US 74A on the way to Chimney Rock. The area is owned and maintained by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. The Carolina Mountain Club has helped them maintain this lovely tract with five miles of hiking trails.
Now CMLC is looking to formalize their maintenance efforts. Here's what they say:
Be a part of CMLC's new team of volunteers dedicated to helping take care of our Florence Nature Preserve in Gerton! Some have already volunteered at Florence in one capacity or other, but CMLC is now moving towards creating a more formalized team. Volunteers will help in a number of different roles, varying in interest area and time commitment. If you've been waiting for an outdoor, hands-on way to volunteer and make a difference with CMLC, we hope that you will be a part of this new team.
Please join us on Saturday, January 22nd @ 10 am at the Gerton Community Center to learn more about the Florence Nature Preserve Management Team. Attendance at the meeting does not sign you up for a volunteer commitment, but will give you the opportunity to learn about the kinds of volunteer help Florence Nature Preserve needs and CMLC's plans for management.
See our website for more details: CMLC's Florence Nature Preserve Management Team.
If you would like to attend e-mail Julianne Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (828)697-5777*207.
When I taught at Kean University, a mostly commuter university in Northern New Jersey, we had snow days. Unlike school snow days, in college, you don't make up the days; it's up to the students and their profs to help them with the material they missed.
On these snow days, I caught up with stuff and took a long walk on quiet streets.
Hiking is now my job and I had a snow day today.
My pictures look like they were taken in black and white. It was that gray out side.
I was not the first person at Beaver Lake. There were plenty of footsteps and even some cross-country ski lines.
The snow was fresh and light at Beaver Lake. Nothing seemed to have melted yet. I greeted each person I met. i even gave the cyclist the thumbs up, though I was worried about his safety.
There's something relaxing about a snow day and I wonder if I used it to its best advantage. But now, it's time for things to get back to normal and for me to get back on the trail. Now if the roads would clear up.
I shouldn't be here to write this blog. I should be on my way to start another section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the Piedmont.
I've been working on this trip for a while.
I've worked out the start and end of each hiking day, using Scot Ward's MST guide and then checked this with the North Carolina Gazetter. I reconfirmed with each one of my wonderful helpers. I shopped and repackaged my food. I packed. And then the snow started.
Should I go or should I stay? I find that a very uncomfortable question. I've checked the weather obsessively on the Asheville Citizen-Times website and on weather dot com, using the various places I was aiming for. Both sites hype up the weather drama.
Some snow now but big storm looking is the headline on the Citizen-Times website. It isn't looking good for the next few days.
It started snowing last night. This morning, we woke up to more snow.
Lenny went out to shovel our sidewalk early this morning. It didn't take long for the snow to cover up all the work he did. He went out again a couple of hours later.
I don't want to be on autopilot and say "I'm going no matter what the weather does." But I don't want to be so careful as to miss hiking opportunities.
I drove around the area and got on the highway. The exit ramps were not looking good. On the way back from my reconnaissance drive, I saw a truck that had rammed a power line. Neither the truck or the line looked good.
I decided to stay home until midweek.
My stuff looks forlorn, strewn all over the dining room floor. I'm hopeful and I'm not unpacking.
But each time I look at the stuff, it's a reminder that I could have been on the trail.
So was I sensible or wimpy?
A hall of fame is being established by the Appalachian Trail Museum Society to
recognize those who have made a significant contribution toward establishing and
maintaining the Appalachian Trail.
"The Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame is a natural fit with the museum that opened last June," said Larry Luxenberg, president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society.
"The trail and the museum represent the
collective efforts of volunteers who have made countless contributions in ways
that are as varied as the personalities who have been involved. The hall of fame
will recognize those people who have unselfishly devoted their time, energy and
resources toward making the Appalachian Trail a national treasure."
Deadline for nominations - March 20, 2011.
For more information and to nominate someone, see Appalachian Trail Museum website.
A fellow hiker from Texas finally prodded me to install an RSS feed to my blog. He was following my blog and asked why I didn't have one.
Now, you can sign up to be alerted each time my blog page changes. No more trying to remember to check out my blog.
If you look at the top right corner of the screen on the blog page, This Hiking Life Blog, you'll see two symbols.
Subscribe Via Email
The second one, Subscribe via Email, is the simplest. Click on that and follow the prompts. The system will ask you for your email address. You need to finish the whole process - don't just walk away after entering your address.
Then you'll get an email message asking you to confirm. After you confirm, you'll get notified each time my blog page changes. You'll get the gist of the blog post via email but no pictures. To get the full effect, you need to actually go to the blog.
But what if you want to follow several blogs? Getting an email for each is tiresome. This is where RSS comes in.
Subscribe via RSS
Click on RSS and you'll find several RSS readers. Choose one and set up an account. I chose the Google reader. Then it will let you choose the blogs you want to follow.
Each chosen blog will be listed. You can click on them to see its content without going to each individual blog.
The advantage to an RSS feed is that you don't get emails for each blog change. The disadvantage is that you still have to remember to check your Google reader site.
Either way you choose, it's better than trying to remember to look up my blog every once in a while.
A small step has been taken to save the Headwaters of the East Fork of the French Broad River. See a map of the area.
The Conservation Fund just announced the $5.5 million purchase of a privately-owned 786-acre tract that represents the last, unprotected section of the Foothills Trail, which winds along the border between North and South Carolina. The support of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and a generous donation from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury helped make this project possible.
By protecting this land for the State of North Carolina to ultimately purchase and manage, a corridor of conserved land will be established stretching more than nine miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including key headwaters of the French Broad River. The property sits adjacent to the 43,000-acre Jocassee Gorges, acquired in 1999, through the Fund, by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Preserving this property is the first phase of a potential multi-year, multi-phase effort that is contingent upon support from state and federal conservation funding programs to protect a magnificent 8,000-acre property known as the East Fork Headwaters Tract. The tract features pristine forests, waterfalls and bogs long prized by conservationists and currently owned by former Congressman Charles Taylor and his family. Protecting this entire expanse would ensure the land is publicly available for hunting, hiking and other outdoor pursuits accessible through the property’s 100 miles of trails. The Headwaters Hunting and Fishing Club currently leases the property and manages it for hunting.
“By protecting a key nine-mile stretch of Blue Ridge crest followed by the longest yet to be protected stretch of the 70-mile Foothills Trail, The Conservation Fund has focused this first phase where the general public will get the most immediate use and good,” said R. Michael Leonard, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Conservation Fund.
“The completion of this initial Headwater acquisition is an exciting first step that conserves some of the most significant features of the larger tract,” said Kieran Roe, Executive Director of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. “Due to the cooperation of the Taylor family and the generosity of public and private funders, a key link in the corridor of conservation along the Blue Ridge Escarpment is now permanently protected for the benefit of North and South Carolina.”