A new chapter for Max Patch: Forest Service issues two-year camping ban for iconic bald

Following an explosion of use at Max Patch, the U.S. Forest Service is prohibiting camping and fires on the iconic site, among other new restrictions now in effect for the next two years. 

A shared space, a shared responsibility

By Casey Quarterman • Guest Columnist | For six years I have been working as a Wilderness Ranger in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I devote my time, blood, sweat and energy into keeping wild places as wild and natural as possible. 

This must be the place: I awoke and faintly bouncing round the room, the echo of whomever spoke

The air was cool and the sleeping bag warm when I heard the early morning loon from across Buck Pond. 

Opening the back(country) door: Beginner backpacking trip highlights OMC’s new mission

The morning fog is barely lifting at 8 a.m. when a group of five women meet outside Kathy Odvody’s home in Waynesville. I add my fully loaded backpack to the pile accumulating in the rear of Outdoor Mission Community’s lumbering 15-passenger van, and after a brief exchange of names we buckle in for a 36-hour wilderness adventure. 

For at least a while, all the noise stopped

Short escapes from all of the noise coming from everywhere are so refreshing, so worthwhile. 

The holidays were a fantastic time at our home. Lori and I and our children and their partners had been spending time together since the pandemic started, had been tested, and so we felt safe getting together. My birthday is Dec. 18, a week before Christmas, so from then until New Year’s Day we had children visiting, excursions out and about, long dinners and a relatively busy holiday. Great times, especially in this year when so much was not normal.

Full house: Photo prompts concern about conditions at Max Patch

Mike Wurman visited Max Patch for the first time in May 2014, and the experience changed his life. 

Wurman, an artist, had only lived in Asheville for about two years at the time after moving from Texas. He wasn’t much of a hiker, but his brother-in-law suggested that he check out the iconic bald, located in Madison County just past the Haywood County line. At the time, Wurman was feeling lost and full of self-doubt about his art. But something changed when he knelt down to take a photo of the white-blazed post marking the Appalachian Trail’s path across the bald.

America, mile by mile: Cross-country trip reveals country’s beauty, diversity

Back when the trip was a new idea, I don’t think either of us took it seriously. Three weeks on the road, at a time when most American cars were sitting idle in the driveway? Thousands of miles of driving through sand and snow, mountain and desert, far from home? Surely this was just a pie-in-the-sky dream borne from the hunger pangs of quarantine, nothing more. 

Free camping available for Dorian evacuees

The U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at campgrounds across its southern region — which includes the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest — for people displaced by Hurricane Dorian.

We’ve got the nicest house in the campground

We are not a camping family. It’s probably my fault, if there is a need to assign blame. I joined the Boy Scouts when I was a kid mostly because some of my friends did. Also, I liked some of the Patrol names. For example, I was a member of the “Screaming Eagles,” which sounded fierce, intimidating and patriotic, all at the same time. But I hated the uniforms, which seemed goofy and slightly effeminate to me, with the scarves and the khaki shorts and all the bling for the more highly decorated scouts.

This must be the place: Never take those mountains for granted

Standing in the midst of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one can’t help but feel refreshed, a return to the core of your inner being amid the cosmos. And that sentiment is something felt in any of the innumerable national parks dotting our nation.

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