May 25, 2007
The Road to Nowhere - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
American Hiking Society applauds the National Park Service for their stance on the Road to Nowhere. This is great news for hikers and all those that feel that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a gem that should be protected from additional road development on the North Shore of Fontana Lake.
Associated Press - May 25, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. — The National Park Service will recommend paying a cash settlement rather than complete the so-called "Road to Nowhere" in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials said today.
The recommendation will be part of a Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is still being written and will likely be published in September, park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said. "Even though the (final statement) will not be released for several months, we wanted to be responsive to the intense public interest in the status of this undertaking," Ditmanson said in a statement.
The unfinished road from Bryson City to Fontana Dam in far western North Carolina’s Swain County was designed to replace one the federal government promised to replace it as long as Congress provided the funding, environmental concerns and high costs halted construction in 1972.
An earlier draft of the environmental impact statement estimated it would cost about $600 million to complete the road, which would run through an undeveloped area of the nation’s most visited national park. Swain County, meanwhile, only requested $52 million to settle the issue.
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 11:28 AM
May 23, 2007
Blue Mountain Shelter on the Pinhoti Trail
The following is an article that appears in todays Anniston Star newspaper, and was written by columnist Joe Medley. This is one segment in a series of stories entitled the Pinhoti Project. Additional stories on Section 1 and Section 7 are available for you to view on the Anniston Star website. Enjoy!
12-mile hike on Section 6 of Pinhoti Trail
turns into a winding, all-night odyssey
SOMEWHERE — I never thought I could feel such peace while lost in a forest at night. Cleburne Search and Rescue had pinpointed my location way off Section 6 of the Pinhoti Trail. After nearly seven hours of hiking toward my planned takeout and two more hours hiking to get anywhere, I finally could rest my aching lower legs.
All I had to do was sit on a dirt-and-gravel road and stargaze until rescuers arrived.
I listened as what sounded like a squirrel stirred in a tree behind me. The distant baying of coyotes reminded me of a wide-eyed night at Grand Canyon; they sounded much closer then.
Back to the present, I gulped my last bottled water and thought, “At last, the peace hikers seek.”
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 01:07 PM
May 20, 2007
The Benton MacKaye Trail Databook
A new databook for the Benton MacKaye Trail is now available! Put together by volunteer Bill "Hatman" Ristom, this book is a must for all who seek to backpack on the Benton MacKaye Trail.
Weighing in at just a couple of ounces, this handy little book fits in your pocket or your backpack. It lists all road access points, campsites and water sources for the hiker.
Don't delay! Pick one up today for $5.95 at the Benton MacKaye Trail Association website. All the cool cats have one!
Jeffrey Hunter's cat "Chuka" with his databook
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 08:40 PM
May 19, 2007
Today I attended a seminar on invasive plant species found in Tennessee. The session was held at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Botanical Garden here in Chattanooga. Led by Dr. Richard Clements, A Professor at Chattanooga State Technical Community College, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council, this seminar identified about a dozen of the invasive species that are found around the Chattanooga area. After a PowerPoint presentation we headed outside and pulled privet for a couple of hours on the grounds of Reflection Riding.
American Hiking Society is poised to follow the lead set by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and get involved with educating our constituents and members about invasive species. We are also hoping to hold some Volunteer Vacations in 2008 that will involve the eradication of invasive plant species.
For more information about how you can attend an Appalachian Trail Conservancy workshop entitled Invasive/Exotic Plant Identification and Removal, planned for July 11, July 27-28, and September 29-30 in Hot Springs, North Carolina please visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.
In the meantime, you can download an excellent document entitled Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests: A Field Guide for Identification and Control. (16.9 MB)
Here are some photos taken today at Reflection Riding. Enjoy!
Dr. Richard Clements holding a Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) specimen
Close-up of Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Weed Wrenches - used to remove invasives, roots and all
Using a weed wrench to pull privet
Privet successfully removed!
Some of today's volunteers posing in front of a large pile of privet
After working all morning in poison ivy, Tecnu was used to
cleanse the oils that cause the itchy rash
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 07:14 PM
May 18, 2007
On Thursday May 3, the conservation group Southwings provided an overflight of the Pisgah National Forest and Fontana Lake adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here are some photos that were taken that day. They provide a unique perspective on a beautiful area. Enjoy!
American Hiking Society Southeast Trail Programs Director Jeffrey Hunter
The Blue Ridge Parkway snaking through Pisgah National Forest
The vast Pisgah National Forest from above
Fontana Lake with the clouds reflecting in the water
The Hazel Creek Watershed in Great Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park
Another view of Hazel Creek. The Benton MacKaye Trail is at the head of the cove.
Fontana Dam from above. The Appalachian Trail runs across the top of the dam.
The storm clouds built as we flew back to the airport over the Pisgah
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 10:18 AM
May 14, 2007
On Friday May 11, Sue Turner arrived in Chattanooga on her historic first-ever trek of the Great Eastern Trail. I accompanied her on the walk from Summerville, Georgia on our way into Chattanooga.
Here are a sample of some of the photos that we took during the 3 days that we hiked together. Enjoy!
Our hike begins in downtown Summerville, GA
Campsite in the Otting Tract WMA
Sue reaches the Walker County, GA border
Sue Turner. Dog Whisperer.
The country lane lined with trees was our route at Dougherty Gap
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 04:51 PM
May 08, 2007
Black Balsam Knob in the Pisgah National Forest
Photo by Jerry Greer - Flight made possible by Southwings
The Great Southeastern Hiking Festival held this past weekend in Montreat and Black Mountain, North Carolina was a huge success! Despite some inclement weather, nothing could dampen the spirits of the 150 folks who traveled to the Montreat Conference Center for a weekend of hiking, education, networking, and great entertainment.
On our opening day, Thursday May 3, the conservation group Southwings provided American Hiking Society with an overflight of the Pisgah National Forest and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Flying along with me was professional photographer Jerry Greer and Lindsay Nash from the Asheville Citizen Times. While Jerry snapped photos, Lindsay interviewed me about the festival and the project that I am responsible for - the Southern Appalachians Initiative.
Special thanks to our sponsors who made this festival possible. This includes the Lyndhurst Foundation, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, NC State Parks, Mast General Store and the Carolina Mountain Club.
Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 06:48 AM