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September 29, 2007

Voice of America:
Hikers, Bikers Reach for Agreement on Continental Divide Trail

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Hikers, Bikers Reach for Agreement on Continental Divide Trail
By Brian Larson for Voice of America
Breckenridge, Colorado
17 September 2007


Listen to Larson report — Download 1MB (mp3) audio clip

America's national parks and forests belong to the people, and are managed by government agencies. When managers want to make changes, the owners get to have their say, and they often say it loudly and forcefully. That's the case with proposed changes along the 5000-kilometer Continental Divide Trail, which stretches from Canada to the border of Mexico, along the crest of the Rocky Mountains.

Breckenridge, Colorado, is near the mid-point of the trail. The resort town is probably best known for its spacious runs and deep powder during ski season, but people also flock here for another form of downhill recreation.

"For us, mountain biking is one of the main summer attractions," says Heide Andersen, an Open Space and Trails Planner for the town. "You know, it's a part of our local economy. It's one of the reasons that people are attracted to Breckenridge." She explains that the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is the backbone of the local trail system, because it's the only scenic trail in the national park system accessible to mountain bikers.

From a narrow dirt path through forested areas of lodgepole pine to wide open vistas and rocky cliffs above timberline, the CDT is a combination of small roads and dedicated trails through some of the most visually stunning parts of the Rocky Mountains. But there are uncompleted sections, and Deputy Regional Forester Richard Stem is in charge of closing those gaps. "We're at various stations of completion right now, depending upon what state you're in. We've been trying to ramp that up in the last three years to try to get that thing completed all the way from Montana to the bottom of New Mexico."

Stem is also charged with determining who may use what was originally intended as a trail for just hikers and horseback riders. "For instance, in Wyoming, … you have people with four-wheel-drive pick-up trucks going down the Continental Divide Trail and then hikers with backpacks and then horses, and they all meet. Those are the kind of conflicts that we've got going on right now." He says, no one could have foreseen the growing popularity of mountain biking when the trail was established in 1978.

Bicycling and Trail Biking were listed as allowable activities on designated sections of the trail in its 1985 Comprehensive Plan. But the new Forest Service proposal uses the words prohibitions and restrictions to describe mountain biking, and says actions that would promote or increase bike use should not occur.

That has mountain bikers like Mark Eller on the defensive. "Why would there be specific language pointing out mountain biking as a non-preferred use unless you were being thought of as a second-class citizen?" he asks.

Eller is Communications Director for the Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association. He acknowledges that some riders ignore trail etiquette (by going too fast or not dismounting when horses go by), but he insists that's not enough of a reason to be singled out. "We think foot and horse travel are great," he says, and allows that there are sections where bikes don't need to be, "but for a vast majority of the trail, shared use philosophy is working out great and we'd hate to see a directive adopted that limits or curtails that access."

But access to the CDT is limited in ways that have nothing to do with philosophy. Nearly three decades after it was established "for the scenic enjoyment of those using it," only 70 percent of the five-state trail is done.

The Continental Divide Trail Alliance is the main non-governmental partner assisting the Forest Service with the trail's management and completion. Co-founder Paula Ward says compromises will have to be made at all levels to complete the trail. "There are a lot of people who enjoy that activity [biking] and there's a lot of it on the Continental Divide Trail," she points out. "Its just a matter of let's make a decision as to whether mountain biking is appropriate or not, and if it is appropriate, where is it appropriate?"

Back in Breckenridge, community leaders have written a letter to the Forest Service expressing their concerns over the proposal. Still, Heide Andersen believes it's unlikely that any changes would lead to restrictions near Breckenridge, where the trail is already completed.

"There is some animosity between hikers and mountain bikers," she admits, "and I think that there is a group of people out there that would like to see mountain bike use restricted on this trail. And we just want to be sure that they look very carefully at that, and if they are restricted or separated, that it's for good reasons."

The final say on any Forest Service directive affecting mountain biking along the Continental Divide Trail will come from Richard Stem. And he's quick to point out that the proposal at this stage is just a draft. "The worst thing we can do is make those directives so tight that it creates a very dumb situation on the ground," he says, but adds, "on the other hand, we don't want it all just kind of willy-nilly everywhere based on where people want to go, anytime, anyplace."

All parties are talking, and the Forest Service is also taking public comment on the proposal through October 12th. Stem believes they can find a solution that everyone will be happy with.

To learn more about, or to comment on the US Forest Service proposed directive for the Continental Divide Trail, please visit the US Forest Service website.



Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 11:07 AM

Jenna Bush's Boyfriend Proposed on Hike

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Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine

Like her mom, First Lady Laura Bush, it looks like Jenna enjoys hiking too. The AP just reported that Jenna's boyfriend proposed to her after an early morning hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Congratulations Jenna!

Here's a link to the full AP Story.


Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 9:13 AM

September 28, 2007

Tennessee State Parks System Named Best in the Country

Congratulations to Mike Carlton and the rest of the Team at Tennessee State Parks!

TENNESSEE WINS GOLD MEDAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PARKS MANAGEMENT

Nashville, Tenn. – Governor Phil Bredesen and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today that the Tennessee State Parks System has been named the best state parks system in the country by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.

The 2007 Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in the state parks category was presented to Fyke today at NRPA’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

“This award affirms the steps we’re taking to protect special places and to offer a wide range of recreational opportunities to both Tennesseans and visitors to our state alike,” said Bredesen. “I’m particularly pleased to see Commissioner Fyke and his dedicated team of parks professionals receive this recognition, and I urge all Tennesseans to get out and take advantage of our award-winning parks system.”

Tennessee has 54 state parks and 77 natural areas with a wide range of recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, swimming, golf, boating, whitewater rafting and more. The state parks system includes resort parks with inns, conference centers and restaurants. Tennessee State Parks and natural areas also play an important role in environmental protection of ecologically significant land and preservation of cultural and historic sites.

“Governor Bredesen continues to be instrumental in protecting lands with ecological, scenic, historic and cultural significance for the enjoyment of future generations of Tennesseans,” said Fyke. “I’m proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish in the areas of land conservation and parks management under his leadership.”

Some of the key accomplishments of Tennessee State Parks since 2003 include:


Bredesen also announced in 2006 plans to pursue the construction of a scenic state park lodge in Southeast Tennessee and to add a new state park in Middle Tennessee during his second term.

“Tennessee’s park professionals take pride in their parks and in being able to interpret these special places for the public who enjoy them,” said Fyke. “This wonderful accomplishment is a tribute to their dedication, expertise and commitment.”

In addition to Tennessee, the states of Georgia and Utah were finalists for the Gold Medal Award. In grading award entries, a panel of judges comprised of parks and recreation professionals reviewed application materials with an emphasis on long-range planning, resource management, citizen support systems, environmental stewardship, program and professional development and agency recognition. State parks systems are judged every two years, and Tennessee was also a finalist for the Gold Medal Award in 2005.

For more information about the Gold Medal Awards, visit NRPA’s Web site at: www.nrpa.org.

To learn more about what’s available at Tennessee State Parks, visit the Web site at www.tnstateparks.com.

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Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 8:57 AM

National Park Service seeks comments related to Trail of Tears

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The National Park Service recently release a Draft National Historic Trail Feasibility Study Amendment and Environmental Assessment for the Trail of Tears. The Study looks at the Bell and Benge Routes that the Cherokee detachments traveled as well as the collection points for the Cherokees and additional water routes. This document is open for public comments through October 18, 2007.

To view the study, please visit the following link.

Let your voices be heard! And please, support our National Parks!



Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 8:44 AM

September 25, 2007

Red Wolves in Chattanooga!
An Interview with Wildlife Curator Tish Gailmard

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Red Wolf pups at 5 week - Photo provided by Chattanooga Nature Center

Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to many great places for people to visit and to hike. One place that is little known outside of the Scenic City is the Chattanooga Nature Center.

Situated on the flanks of Lookout Mountain, the nature center is home to 11 endangered Red Wolves. The Red Wolf is one of the most endangered mammals found in North America.

Today I spent some time talking with Wildlife Curator Tish Gailmard. Tish and I had a nearly 20-minute conversation about Red Wolves. To learn more about these amazing animals, please click here to launch the interview. (9 MB)

To view the Red Wolf pups live on webcam, please visit the Chattanooga Nature Center website. After learning about the wolves, you might want to consider making a trip to see these beautiful and critically endangered mammals live and in-person. While you're there, you can hike on more than 50 miles of trails on National Park Service property, or on the adjacent Reflection Riding Arboretum & Botanical Garden.

Happy Trails!

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Red Wolf pup on examining table - Photo provided by Chattanooga Nature Center



Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 3:21 PM

September 14, 2007

Father-daughter team volunteer and bond

Father-daughter team volunteer and bond
By Stephen Huba for The Independent

At 64, David Winter admits he’s no spring chicken, but that’s not keeping him from volunteering for a week-long service project in the wilds of southeast Maine.
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Winter, of Massillon, leaves on Friday with his adult daughter, Angela Winter, for a volunteer vacation at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge near Calais, Maine, home of the bald eagle, the black bear, the moose and other wildlife.

Winter and his daughter will be among 10 volunteers who will clear and maintain hiking trails at Moosehorn under the supervision of the American Hiking Society and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“A guy like me recognizes that he’s got more years behind him than he’s got ahead of him. With a trip like this, you forge a bond with your daughter,” he said. “Maybe it can show that you can be a senior and still be pretty active and give back a few things by way of volunteering.”

The idea for the service vacation came in the spring when Winter and his daughter were talking. She suggested they do something different and began doing some research on the Internet.

After discovering the American Hiking Society opportunity, the father and daughter registered online and waited to see if they were accepted.

“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work, but I’ve never participated in anything like this,” he said. “This is a first for me.”

A retired FBI agent, Winter said he’s close to all three of his children and enjoys spending time with them. “We were very much an outdoor-type of family,” he said.

Winter and his daughter still go fishing and hiking on a regular basis, so the idea of spending a week in the woods of Maine was not a stretch.

“We do travel quite a bit together,” said Angela Winter, 33, of Perry Township. “As kids, we used to travel a lot as a family.”

Father and daughter are scheduled to arrive in Maine and begin their work on Sunday. They’ll spend the week clearing and maintaining more than 11 miles of trails at Moosehorn.

According the American Hiking Society Web site, the crew will use crosscut saws, bow saws, pruners/clippers and axes to cut back vegetation. Trails will also be raked, groomed and properly marked with directional signage and interpretive panels.

Moosehorn consists of 24,400 acres of wilderness that is protected as habitat for migrating waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, upland game birds, songbirds and birds of prey, including several nesting bald eagle pairs, according to the Fish & Wildlife Service.

The refuge is open to the public but only for walking and bicycling. Refuge roads are closed to all private vehicle traffic.

The project is described on the Web site as “moderate to difficult.” Crew members will stay in a dormitory facility with bathroom and showers. Food will be provided.

Winter said he’s up for the challenge. “I’m guessing that I might be one of the oldest (on the crew),” he said.

Father and daughter will wrap up and return home on Sept. 22



Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 2:51 PM

September 11, 2007

Become Friends of the Forest at the Bradwell Bay F-Troop

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Sandra Friend
Florida Trail Association
Phone: 352-378-8823


Volunteers: Become Friends of the Forest® at
The Bradwell Bay F-Troop
Call for Volunteers – September 15th and 16th


Volunteers are invited to join the Florida Trail Association, National Forest Foundation (NFF), and the U.S. Forest Service for a volunteer weekend of trail maintenance and good company along the Florida National Scenic Trail in the Bradwell Bay Wilderness Area of the Apalachicola National Forest. The Friends of the Forest Day F-Troop event will take place from September 15th – 16th. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to participate, and may register on-line at www.becomeafriend.org or by sending an e-mail to join@f-Troop.org.

Volunteers will be helping to restore the trail throughout the wilderness area which has experienced several wildfires in recent years. There will be work for all ability levels from painting blazed and clearing small brush to removing fallen trees from the trail corridor. All meals for volunteers will be provided and Saturday night’s campfire will include a discussion on Leave No Trace ethics. Additional information about what to wear, what to bring, where to meet, etc., will be provided to registered volunteers.

This Friends of the Forest Day, like all Florida Trail events, is a great opportunity for families to experience their National Forest lands, have fun while learning something new and contribute to the well being of our public lands. The Friends of the Forest Day is being co-hosted by the Florida Trail Association and the National Forest Foundation.



Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 11:39 AM

Royal Highness: Tribute to a life well-lived

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Approaching Half Dome - Photo by Jeffrey Hunter

The Modesto Bee has a story in today's paper written by Royal Robbins. The article is entitled, Royal Highness: Tribute to a life well-lived. The article informs the reader on how plan, prepare, and undertake a climb of Half Dome. That's something that I did last year, and I highly recommend it!

Here at American Hiking Society, we take our hats off to Royal Robbins. The life that he has led, and the adventures that he has undertaken are an inspiration to us all.


Royal Highness: Tribute to a life well-lived

On the 50th anniversary of his historic ascent of Half Dome's Northwest Face, Royal Robbins, the father of big-wall climbing, tells you to go climb a rock ... and tells you when and how

By ROYAL ROBBINS

September 11, 2007

There has been a lot of press lately on hiking to the top of Yosemite's beautiful monolith, Half Dome, much of it focused on crowded conditions on the final section using cables and on several unfortunate accidents that have taken place there.

My goal is to suggest a way of getting to the top of the celebrated peak while avoiding crowds and injury.

I have been to the top of Half Dome often, five times via new routes on the big Northwest Face. In fact, this year, my companions, Mike Sherrick and Jerry Gallwas, and I celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the face in June of 1957. I also have climbed the Southwest Face by two routes that were there when I arrived. And I have gone up the cable stairway several times.

I mention these ascents because I want to establish that what follows is born of personal experience, not book-learning.

Let's begin at the beginning ... what we do in advance of the actual ascent.

First, let's deal with the question "Why climb Half Dome"?

The answer is that it's the most prominent peak in Yosemite. After you have climbed it, you can always look back up from the valley and say, "I was there!"

Make no mistake, climbing Half Dome by any route is a genuine accomplishment. It's a 16-mile round trip and a gain (and loss) of nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, starting at about the 4,000 foot level in Yosemite Valley and ending atop the dome at an elevation of 8,842 feet.

That's why you climb Half Dome. It's prominent. It's beautiful. And it's a grueling accomplishment for which you will be forever proud. It perfectly answers that call of the human spirit that urges us to climb mountains. A mountaintop is a symbol, a symbol of challenge we are capable of overcoming if we set our minds and hearts to the task.

PREPARATION

Let's divide this section into four parts: (1) imagining the ascent, (2) setting a date, (3) training and (4) gear.

1. Picture yourself doing it.

It's helpful to get a mental image of what you are proposing and how you are going to do it.

You start early in the morning, with a headlamp to light the way. The trail leads you up to the bridge across the cataract below Vernal Fall. You cross the bridge and climb up beside Vernal. It's steep, with more than 100 stone steps. From the top of Vernal, you follow the path back across another bridge over the Merced River and then up more stone steps to the top of Nevada Fall.

Shortly after reaching the top, the trail forks and you take the left branch to the north. This trail leads slowly up and up through the giant Sierra forest with its sugar pines, red firs and groves of incense ciders to the "shoulder" below the cable leading up the northeast flank of the dome. Here you find more stone steps and climb these, placing one foot above another until you are at the beginning of the cable.

With a hand on each cable, you ascend the final 500 feet to the top of the dome, breathless, but wide-eyed and happy. You've done it! The world lies at your feet.

2. Set a date

I recommend late summer or early fall. Anytime in September and the first half of October usually is good. Unless a storm is coming through (always a possibility), it's a period of usually fine weather. The air is crystal clear, there are no insects, and thunderstorms are less likely. Also, the walk up past Vernal Fall is drier. Spring is very beautiful, with water flowing everywhere, but the weather is more changeable and insects are abundant. The same is mostly true of summer, with the additional challenge of lots and lots of people eager to enjoy Yosemite Valley, and many eager to get to the top of Half Dome.

If you climb Half Dome in the summer, definitely do not do so on weekends; even during other times of the year, go midweek if you can. One nice thing about being close to Yosemite is that you have greater choice about when to visit. If you come from afar, as most visitors do, you are more limited in your choices. Also, it's good to remember that the cables are taken down in October to keep them from being avalanched away. They are put back up at the end of the winter season, usually in April. The dates will vary depending upon snow conditions, so check with the National Park Service Web site to make sure the cables will be there for you.

3. Training

You want to be fit. It's true that many seemingly unfit people make it to the top of the dome, but many also get sick, fall by the wayside and don't make it to the top because they are out of shape or dehydrated. Don't be among them. Better too fit than not fit enough. So, two things are particularly challenging about climbing Half Dome. One is the combination of distance and altitude gain -- it's a long, steep slog. The other is the elevation. The air is a bit thinner up there, so train at altitude. This means get out and hike.

The high country in Yosemite around Tuolumne Meadows is perfect hiking country. And the Stanislaus National Forest to the east of us and to the north of Yosemite has terrific hiking possibilities. For a perfect combination of training and vistas, I recommend that you drive up to Sonora Pass and hike south along the Pacific Crest Trail. This is very beautiful and very scenic and at an elevation that will get you shipshape for Half Dome. Hiking north from Sonora Pass also is excellent, though I personally think the best hike in the region is to follow the St. Mary's Pass Trail, which takes off to the north from Highway 108 about half a mile below Sonora Pass. This delightful path traverses the west flank of Sonora Peak past some natural springs that water abundant wildflowers, even in October, when they have disappeared everywhere else.

4. Selecting gear

First and foremost is your footwear. It's astonishing but true that some Half Dome ascensionists get to the top with strange things on their feet, such as sandals or street shoes. But why ask for trouble? After hiking 16 miles, your feet will tell you if you do not have the right shoes. I personally use Ecco hiking boots. This import from Denmark is flexible and soft -- very comfortable. I wouldn't claim they offer much support, though. If you want support, you need a stiffer shoe. Sneakers also are a good choice. My wife, Liz, often uses them to good advantage in her hiking. The main thing is, whatever shoes you choose, get out and train in them. Take long hikes to make sure your feet will be happy in them for a prolonged period.

Besides proper footwear, rugged outdoor clothing is essential. Shorts or pants that allow free movement are recommended, along with a woven, long-sleeved cotton shirt. Take along a spare sweater in case it gets cool and a poncho or waterproof jacket in case it gets wet. Don't forget a hat to shield your head from the sun, plus bug stuff depending upon the season.

You will want a day pack to put the spare gear in. That spare gear, by the way, should include lunch and two liter bottles of water. (The park service recommends a gallon of water, but half of that seems enough to me.)

Lunch might include apples, salami, cheese, Triscuits, nuts, and cookies. I suggest you take a sharp folding knife for carving this stuff, sunscreen, lip balm and a headlamp for the early-morning start and possible late descent.

THE ASCENT

You are now ready. Let's climb!

Let's say you have picked a weekday in mid-September. You live in the Modesto area, so you have a choice of leaving home in the middle of the night or camping in Yosemite Valley and leaving early next morning. That's the first hurdle: leaving early in the morning. What do I mean by "early"? I mean 3 a.m. Yes, I know it's a dreadful hour, a good hour for sleeping. But if you are camping and get up at 3 a.m., you will never be sorry. If you get up later, you might well be. If you are making a one-day round trip from Modesto (tough, but doable), you will need to leave town at about midnight. If you are driving through the mountains at night, be alert for animals on the road. They are more likely to be out at that time rather than when the sun is high.

If you are camped in Yosemite Valley, you will need to drive to the east end to find the John Muir Trail trailhead. Follow signs indicating trailhead or just showing a hiker. There is a parking lot near the trailhead, just east of Curry Village. If you can reserve a camp in the Upper Pines Campground, you will not need to drive but can simply walk from your campsite to the bridge across the Merced and thence to the trailhead.

The trail is at first a wide swath covered in asphalt that has worn away here and there. Follow it as it climbs to the south before turning east to follow the course of the plunging Merced River. You will come to a bridge; on the far side is a drinking fountain where you can fill your bottles with fresh water and thus save carrying water to this point.

From the bridge, the trail leads up along the south side of the Merced River toward Vernal Fall. You will find a rock stairway here, the ascent of which is laborious but much shorter than following the alternate trail around. Earlier in the year, this is a very wet area.

From the top of Vernal, follow the trail across another bridge to the north side of the river. (NOTE: Stay away from the water near the top of the fall. This treacherous section has claimed many lives.) Follow the trail up the left, or north, side of Nevada Fall to the top, where the Merced meanders along before its big plunge to the rocks below.

You will shortly come to a fork in the trail. Take the left branch and follow the slowly rising path as it skirts the south and east faces of Half Dome. You will be walking through a magnificent forest, with giant pines, firs and stately stands of incense ciders. If you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will by and by come to a natural spring on the right. It usually has water, but it is best to not count on it and to take your own. After you pass the spring, you will shortly come to the beginning of the dome's shoulder. Follow the trail and steps as they lead up to the base of the dome itself, where you will find the cable stairway.

(NOTE: If cumulus clouds are building, stay off of the dome. In fact, stay away from any exposed areas. Hang out in the forests, where the trees will protect you from lightning. Also, if the weather is bad, or looks bad, call off the climb. Save it and yourself for another day.)

If you have brought canvas gloves, put them on and firmly grasp the cables on either side. Ascend the cable stairway slowly, steadily and alertly. You shouldn't have a heavy pack at this point. In fact, you can leave almost everything below. You may want to take food and water if you wish to enjoy lunch on top. Or if you just want to zip up and down, you can leave these things below, plus your headlamp and anything else you don't need above. Be careful, however, about leaving your sweater or poncho. These things are lightweight and may come in handy if it's cooler above than you think.

After reaching the top, you have earned a moment of pride. Enjoy the magnificent view and note the absence of glacier polish on the huge top of the dome. Glaciers never passed over the crown of Half Dome, though they formed a sea around it. After enjoying the summit, it is time to begin the long descent to the valley and its sybaritic charms.

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The view atop Half Dome - Photo by Jeffrey Hunter

THE DESCENT

You start by going down the cables. Gloves are handy here, even more so than on the ascent. Also handy, going up and going down, are a couple of carabiners with nylon lines going to your waist. Carabiners are devices used by climbers. They are a sort of giant safety pin, but very strong. They can be clipped to the cable and will prevent you from falling far if you were to slip. When you come to one of the vertical poles, you can unclip one carabiner from the cable, pass it around the obstacle, and clip it in again, and repeat that process with the other carabiner, thus remaining always clipped in. Check with a sports shop for this gear.

When you reach the bottom of the cable stairway, all you need is caution as you retrace your route to the valley. You should arrive in midafternoon, with plenty of daylight, but if you get down later, that's OK, too -- you made it.

Congratulations! Go to Curry Village and treat yourself to pizza or an ice cream bar.

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Success! Jeffrey Hunter atop Half Dome



Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)

September 6, 2007

Join the Florida Trail Association's F-Troop Trail Crews

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Photo provided by Florida Trail Association

September 6, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Join the Crew! F-Troop draws volunteers to projects all over Florida
A new season of volunteerism on the 1,400 mile long Florida Trail kicks off this month with the maintenance of “one of the 10 toughest hikes in the United States” (according to Backpacker Magazine), in the Bradwell Bay Wilderness of the Apalachicola National Forest. Using traditional hand tools in wet conditions during the September 15-16 event, it'll be a challenge for volunteers who line up to get hot, wet, and dirty on the Florida Trail Association's F-Troop volunteer trail crew program, now in its third season.

This upcoming season offers exciting new projects, including building a 500-foot boardwalk in the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area through a beautiful cypress slough (December 5-9). In the Juniper Wilderness of the Ocala National Forest, canoes will be used to access our primitive base camp for trail work (November 10-17). New boardwalks will be constructed at the Fort Braden Trail System in the Lake Talquin State Forest just west of Tallahassee (October 12-14). The hiking trails of Hillsborough River State Park and Little Manatee State Park, both near Tampa, will also get some much deserved attention this season (November 30-December 2).

Last season, F-Troop constructed two of the longest free-spanning pedestrian bridges ever built entirely by Florida volunteers: the 80-foot Monkey Creek Bridge in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, with over 30 volunteers dedicating more then 1200 hours of hard work, and the 60–foot Tick Island Slough Bridge in the Kicco Wildlife Management Area. Both bridges were an experiment in a design style that uses a fiberglass composite material which is more durable, longer lasting, and easier to transport to remote locations.

For the past forty years, the planning, building, and maintenance of the Florida Trail has been led by a network of volunteers working locally to reach a common goal. F-Troop is a way to bring great minds and strong backs together, to learn from each other’s successes and failures, and to do so in a way that everyone takes back a little something more to add to their local chapter. “It’s all about getting outside, having fun and giving back to the trail that I enjoy hiking on; plus, it’s good exercise,“ said Jennifer Robertson, FSU graduate student and Florida Trail volunteer.

For more information about these projects, visit www.f-troop.org, or call 1-877-HIKE-FLA. If you are interested in learning more about the Florida Trail, visit www.floridatrail.org. F-Troop is an ongoing Florida Trail Association program that offers skills training and camaraderie in the outdoors while enabling volunteers to keep hiking trails open on your public resource—the Florida Trail, Florida’s own National Scenic Trail.


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Photo provided by Florida Trail Association


Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 8:40 PM

September 5, 2007

NY Times: No More Privies, So Hikers Add a Carry-Along

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View from near the summit of Mt. Whitney - Photo by Jeffrey Hunter

In August 2006 I had the extreme pleasure of hiking the 221-mile John Muir Trail in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. I was joined on this journey by my good friend Jeff Brewer of the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail. Along the way, we encountered no privies or shelters. On the final evening before we climbed Mt Whitney, which at 14,497 feet is the highest point in the lower 48, a National Park Service Ranger gave us each a WAG bag so we could pack out any human waste from this heavily used area. WAG bags are now required to be carried and used by hikers who climb Mt. Whitney.

Today, the NY Times has a feature story about the elimination of privies on Mt. Whitney. You can read the story at the link below below, and view a 7 minute 31 second video from the NY Times here. Enjoy!

Permalink to No More Privies, So Hikers Add a Carry-Along by Felicity Barringer

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The hut atop Mt. Whitney. Photo by Jeffrey Hunter

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This privy on the Mt. Whitney Trail was removed in spring 2007
Photo by Jeff Brewer


Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 7:59 AM

September 4, 2007

Interview with American Hiking Society's Trail Information Specialist - Ed Talone

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Ed Talone on the Benton MacKaye Trail

American Hiking Society is a great place to work. As an employee, I have the privilege of working with a team of professionals who are dedicated to protecting hiking trails and the natural areas that surround them.

One of the more fascinating employees at American Hiking Society is Ed Talone. Ed is the Office Manager and Trail Information Specialist at American Hiking. He is a regular contributor to American Hiker magazine (the official publication of American Hiking Society), and is the co-author of the recently published Potomac Heritage Trail - A Hikers Guide.

Ed is an extraordinarily accomplished hiker. He has hiked all 8 of America's National Scenic Trails and many thousand of miles of lesser known trails. Ed was the first person to thru-hike the North Country National Scenic Trail, when he did so with his close friend Sue Lockwood in 1994. You can read more about that epic adventure here. Ed is also a big fan of railroads, and loves hiking rail trails.

To listen to this 11 minute 23 second interview, please click here (5.4 MB) Enjoy!


Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 8:52 AM | Comments (1)

The National Trails Fund:
An Interview with American Hiking Society's Ivan Levin

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American Hiking Society's Trail Programs Manager - Ivan Levin

American Hiking Society is proud to administer the nation's only privately funded grant program dedicated solely to protecting America's hiking trails. Approximately $50,000 is awarded annually to trail and conservation organizations to support a wide range of projects. The trails fund is supported in part by generous donations from L.L. Bean, Therm-a-Rest and MSR.

On Friday August 31, I was in Silver Spring, Maryland where I sat down to chat with my colleague Ivan Levin. Ivan is American Hiking Society's Trail Programs Manager, and he oversees the National Trails Fund. To listen to this 7 minute 48 second interview, please click here (3.7 MB).

For more information about the National Trails Fund or to download an application, please visit the American Hiking Society website.

Download a copy of the 2008 National Trails Fund Guidelines.


Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 8:25 AM