Sunday, May 20, 2012

Buzz Trexler's Hike in the Smokies

A series of entertaining, interesting stories about preparing for and then hiking though the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Appalachian Trail. Somewhat inspired by Bill Bryson's book, Buzz Trexler -- the managing editor at The Maryville (TN) Daily Times -- tells us how he and a few buddies fared out there on a very crowded section of Trail.

I found these stories, the preliminaries and those from the actual trip itself, all good reads. You will, too. If Trexler ever writes a hiking memoir, I think it'll be very well received.

So, then, here are links to the stories:

"A Walk in the Smokies" columns:

Triple Crown for Hough and Hunsicker

The title "Idaho couple hikes 3 major National Scenic Trails amid romance" kind of tells it all for the article by Rich Landers of the Spokesman-Review which appears in the 17 May 2012 Tri-City Herald from Kennewick, WA.

Phil Hough and Deb Hunsicker hiked the AT in 1997, the PCT a couple years later, and the CDT in 3 sections during 2008, 2009 and 2010. Best part: they still like each other. About the AT,
"The AT is by far the most sociable trail," Hough said. "It has more people and more of a trail culture. It's been around longer and has hostels and businesses geared to hikers. It's a good place to cut your teeth on long-distance hiking because the infrastructure makes it more forgiving."

Mountains might be bigger in the West, but the trails are steeper on the AT. "They didn't know how to make switchbacks when the AT was built," he said. "It wasn't designed to accommodate stock animals. You find more ruts, roots and mud. It takes as much time to hike 2,100 miles on the AT as it does for 2,700 miles on the PCT.

"One of the most noticeable differences is the signage. You don't even need a map to find your way on the AT.

Hunt Trail to Katahdin Stream Falls on TV

Okay. I've been away from here for a while. There's actually no dearth of AT news. It there were, it would be easier to keep up with.

Anyway, today I came across a news report on WABI-TV channel 5 ("The Spirit of Maine") which consists of video and sound of a hike from Katahdin Stream Campground up to Katahdin Stream Falls. Reporter Rob Lydick is accompanied by ranger Andy Vitze. Nice shots of the Trail, of the terrain, of the stream and the Falls. If you've been there it'll bring back (probably good) memories; if you haven't, it should whet your appetite.

The story transcript on the tv station's website is titled "Roaming Rob: Katahdin Stream Falls". It was posted on 18 May 2012 in the evening.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Park Service on Smoky Issues

The Maryville Daily Times from Maryville, TN carries "Park spokesman responds to hikers' questions, concerns about backcountry management" based on Buzz Trexler's conversations with Bob Miller, management assistant and spokesman for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The questions posed are:
  1. Why can through-hikers camp outside when the shelters are full, but not section-hikers? Does it really matter who is being put out to tent?
  2. Why are horses allowed, but not someone’s Brittany spaniel? If it’s because horses are a means of transport, then how can you stop off-road vehicles?
  3. If you can not enforce what shelter policies you currently employ, how will you be able to enforce the pending pay-for-use shelter policy? It seems there are too few rangers.
  4. Some even suggested that perhaps the Park is actually trying to deter backcountry and through-hikers. How do you respond?
See related articles in the paper about a weeklong hike that Trexler and two buddies took toward the end of April aimed at finding out what Bill Bryson and Katz missed when they skipped some of the Smokies.

National Trails Day at ATC Headquarters

An 18 May 2012 ATC press release available on is titled "African-American History Hike to Celebrate National Trails Day" and outlines the activities connected with National Trails Day at and around the ATC headquarters on 2 June 2012 10:00-2:00.

The "moderate one mile guided hike will begin with a tour of the ATC’s Visitor Center and end by following the Appalachian Trail downhill past numerous scenic spots and historic structures. At each historic site, a Harpers Ferry Park ranger will give an interpretive presentation about its significance." (They don't mention the uphill portion to get back to the starting point!)

Kweli Kitwana, A.T. Ambassador to Bolivar and Harpers Ferry, will lead the hike, along with longtime Harpers Ferry Park rangers and historians David Fox and Guinevere Roper.

At the end of the hike, participants will be have the opportunity to hear a presentation from Marcia Fairweather about her 15-year section-hike of the A.T. Ms. Fairweather is also a board member of the ATC, the first African-American to serve in this role.
Sounds like a good time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hot Springs Trailfest

The lead paragraph in the Asheville, NC Citizen-Times story on 17 May 2012 that's headlined "Hot Spring celebrates 17th annual Trailfest" reads:
The Hot Springs Community Learning Center hosted the 17th annual Trailfest in downtown Hot Springs Friday, April 20 - Sunday, April 22. Traditionally this festival is centered around the hiking community stopping hikers for a day or two as they travel through Hot Springs on their Appalachian Trail journey. This year the celebration extended to the greater community calling everyone to get outside. Over 250 people heard the call ....
The rest describes the fun events.

Hiker Rescued in Virginia

Lynchburg, Virginia's News and Advance newspaper's web site has a brief note today about a "Hiker rescued in Bedford County".
The Bedford Fire Department, on its website, described the incident on the Appalachian Trail near Sunset Field.
Hiker is described only as a male, and a local resident. He was helicoptered out after his 20 foot fall.

Avalanche's A.T. Book Reviewed

A book review for “Avalanche & Gorilla Jim – Appalachian Trail Adventures and Other Tales” by Albert Dragon (published by Morgan James Publishing) appears in the Mainline Media News. It is written by Ralph Collier, dated 17 May 2012, and titled TOURS & DETOURS: Philadelphia lawyer goes on Appalachian Trail hike and writes book about it.

The review doesn't say when "Avalanche" (Philadelphia lawyer Albert Dragon) hiked, but it seems to have been recently. "Gorilla Jim" was his hiking partner for more than half the Trail. Sounds like an interesting read about an older hiker. Collier writes that Dragon
has practiced law for over five decades and was looking forward to his life-long experience and sabbatical to pursue a dream of hiking the daunting Appalachian Trail, a feat men half his age would find challenging.
So, what, he must be in his 70's?