Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Redington Wind Farm Moves Forward

The title of the editorial (from the Kennebec Journal / Morning Sentinel folks, it appears) on 27 December 2006 says it all. Or most of it, anyway. The title is "Moving Ahead with Wind Power."

The writer opines that the approval by the "state's Land Use Regulation Commission recommended approval of the proposal to rezone 1,000 acres of Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain to accommodate construction of the towers" on 22 December would be a "diminishment of wildness in one of Maine's wildest places." However, the crisis of climate change calls for drastic, even regrettable, action of significant size. Putting the wind turbines on the ridge in sight of the AT is "a major -- albeit painful -- step in that direction."

I was interested, too, to read here that the turbines "are projected to produce enough electricity to power 40,000 Maine homes." What interested me was that I have previously heard that the electricity generated here would not be used by Mainers but be sold out of state. This report could be slippery-speak as it doesn't say that this electricity will power those 40,000 homes. Even if it will, I'm set to wondering whether those homes will be existing or new. I'd pretty much bet that developers would say, 'Hey, we now have power enough for another 40,000 new homes; let's build!'

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hikers Chris Turner and Zanne Garland Noted

In the 8 December 2006 Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, columnist Lisa O'Donnell mentions area thru-hiker Chris Turner who "gets special recognition for hiking the trail in 4 1/2 months, which is at least a month faster than the average hiker." Apparently, at Harpers Ferry, he figured it would be possible to summit Katahdin on his 24th birthday (4 August) if he really hoofed it on the second half of the trip. Making 20-25 mile days between Harpers Ferry and the Whites, and 12 mile days there, Turner "and his friends" made it on target.

O'Donnell also mentions Zanne Garland, a resident of Seattle with ties to North Carolina, who had planned to do a 1,300 mile section, but only did Springer to Pearisburg "so that she could lead a group of campers from Eagle's Nest on an adventure in Costa Rica." Well, okay! Kids to Costa Rica!! Sounds neat.

Ice Damage on the Trail in Shenandoah

An article in the 8 December 2006 Harrisonburg, VA Daily News Record by Kelly Jasper details some of the damage along the AT through the Shenandoah National Park and along the Skyline Drive from the ice storm two weeks ago.

Up to two inches of ice ... the entire Skyline Drive closed for a few days ... "No buildings were seriously damaged — only the roof of a hut along the Appalachian Trail [doesn't say which one!] and a picnic table where a giant oak fell." ... thru-hikers forced off the Trail and onto the road ... clearing of the trails being done by Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members ... and a Park Service spokesperson quoted as saying that the roadway "could be closed for even more months" though hopefully not.

With our warm weather so far this winter in the east, the ice is long gone already. You'll see the downed trees for some time to come. If you're nearby, lend a hand to the PATC maintainers.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

After the Trail is Gone?

In a catchy beginning to an article in the Erwin, TN Valley Beautiful Beacon ["Unicoi County's Community-Owned Weekly Newspaper"] of 7 December 2006, Alisa Brandenburg wonders whether "perhaps as patriotic Americans one day we’ll pay homage to the Appalachian Trail in the same way that we Remember the Alamo. “Remember the Appalachians,” we’ll tell each other gravely once they’ve disappeared."

She also suggests that "the Appalachian Trail could quickly turn into either a haven or highway for human, bio, or chemical terrorism."

I'm not personally so sure about that latter possibility. More likely, in my imagination, is that climate change, economic instability, and continuous encroachment on the Trail corridor will combine to some day make the AT a thing of the past. I'm thinking in distant science fiction terms here. I hope. And pray.

That said, Brandenburg then writes a strong and well-worded appeal to her readers to get out there and enjoy the Trail. Good article. Ask your local paper for permission to reprint it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Appalachian Trail Mega-Transect

Sounds like a new way of hiking the AT (and maybe it is), but the point of the Mega-Transect -- as reported by Vicki Smith in an Associated Press story published on 25 November 2006 in the Washington Post and a whole lot of other places -- is to count and measure stuff. And not just miles to the next shelter, and how much oatmeal, macaroni and gorp is left.

This exciting science project aims to take a deep look at the natural world of the AT. A National Park Service official "says volunteers could help with such tasks as measuring tree diameters, taking photographs to illustrate visibility, tracking the arrival times of migratory birds and dating the blooming and leaf loss of trees." The project will also be measuring ozone levels, and the like.

When I first heard about this I got to thinking that I'd like to do my part to help out. I still do.

[If the above link is dead, try the NPS Digest, which reprints the story, or search the Internet for the phrases "Vicki Smith" and "Appalachian Trail" together.]

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gulf Hagas via the AT

The Boston Globe of 1 October 2006 carries an article by correspondent Stephen Jermanok describing an 8 mile circuit hike that begins and ends on the AT. As he describes it, the loop takes 7 hours to hike (including fording a river 10 minutes into the trip).

Jermanok writes, "Gulf Hagas is hidden amid the Hundred Mile Wilderness region, the last 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, that extends from Monson in the south to Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park in the north. In this dense forest, the number of hikers is minimal, as I saw firsthand on a recent return trip to the area. My friend, Rob, and I met only four people on the trail the entire day, even though the weather was sunny and the temperatures in the mid-70s."