out frAsked what a typical day for the head guy at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park looks like, new Smokies superintendent Cassius Cash laughs.  

“Wow, let’s look at the calendar,” he says. 

Since starting the job in February, he’s kept pretty busy. As it turns out, when you’re the new superintendent of an 800-square-mile national park spanning two states, a lot of people want to meet with you. Staff want to hear from you. There’s a litany of issues to become familiar with, an endless inventory of park sites and experiences to log.

fr bearA bear euthanized following an attack against a backpacker in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was not the right bear, park rangers learned late last week.

out frThere was no doubt about how the Smoky Mountains got their name as day dawned on the Friends of the Smokies’ planned hike to Hemphill Bald. Sky seemed to meet earth as the carpool headed up the mountain from Maggie Valley, fog so thick the road 20 feet ahead could have been imaginary. It didn’t look like the bald at the end of the 4.4-mile hike would offer much of a view that day. 

The gloomy weather didn’t drive away Patrick Murphy, however, who’d come over from Bryson City to try out his first Friends of the Smokies hike. The morning was “dismal,” Murphy said, but not without its high points — the first one to arrive at the trailhead, he found himself sharing the spot with two elk.

fr hikerA wonderful writer. A fearless explorer. A fascinating person. An endless optimist.

fr bearattackA father-and-son backpacking expedition in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park took a terrifying turn when the teenage boy was pulled from his hammock late Saturday night by a black bear.

fr bearRangers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park shot a bear Tuesday that they believe is the same one that attacked a teenager sleeping in a hammock.

fr bearBy Katie Reeder • SMN Intern 

A bear attack that happened Saturday night in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has left many people in the area puzzled over the events of the attack. Many said they have never heard of something like this happening. 

fr tunnelgraffitiSwain County officials are hoping new leadership in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park means the start of a new relationship — one that will include better communication between the park and the county that is a gateway community. 

fr cashThe new Smokies superintendent got his introduction to the North Carolina side of the park amid plates of snacks and the homey trappings of a bed and breakfast in Bryson City last week.

out frSipping hot tea while swaddled beside a propane heater, warmth beaming as wind whips snowflakes around the mountaintop outside. A stack of books beside the bed, well-worn titles alongside new adventures, a self-replenishing treasure trove of stories illuminated by kerosene-fueled light. Outside, darkness obscuring what dawn will reveal to be an ocean-like view of mountains upon mountains, frosted with snow and seeming to bow before the 6,594-foot peak of Mount LeConte, the third highest summit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It’s a romantic image, an idyll about which a society steeped in virtual reality is still wont to fanaticize. But for the past four winters, those cozy evenings and frostbitten mornings have been J.P. Krol’s life.

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