This must be the place

art theplaceScrew it all.

There have been days, many days, where I’ve found myself sitting in traffic, standing in line, waiting on the phone, ordering something I really don’t want (or need), drinking and eating something that probably isn’t good for me, and think to myself, “Screw it all, I don’t want any part of this — no more.”

Working for play: Trail groups pass forest stewardship to the next generation

coverThe woods are quiet on a cool Saturday morning in late March. There’s no wind swaying the still-bare trees or the rhododendrons clustered along streambeds. In this, one of the most remote trails of the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest, the only sound comes from the occasional squirrel plowing through the bed of fallen leaves or bird sounding its call through the woods. 

But then a soft buzz begins to float through the air. It pauses briefly, replaced by the sound of voices. A group of three is clustered around a fallen log, probably 2 or 3 feet in diameter, that’s lying across the faint path of the East Fork Trail. They analyze its position on the mountainside, its angle of contact with another trunk below the trail and the severity of the slope. Finally, trail crew volunteers Scotty Bowen and Richard Evans start up again with the crosscut saw, and the buzzing resumes.

The AT experience won’t be left behind

out frIt’s been nearly eight years since Amy “Willow” Allen passed through Western North Carolina as a tired-and-hungry AT through-hiker. But her journey didn’t end at the summit of Mount Katahdin. 

“It isn’t something you leave behind,” she said. “Once you become part of that community, it is part of who you are.”

SEE ALSO: Celebrate the Appalachian Trail season

To the summit: Old age no match for record-setting Macon man

out frNot just anybody can keep up with Jim Pader. Last year alone, he hiked 534 miles and has logged 738.4 miles in Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 2001. Besides that, he works out for at least one hour per day and attends yoga class religiously. And just six months after completing a record-setting hike up Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States, he’s gearing up for a one-day out-and-back to the Grand Canyon. 

A winter rescue: Rangers trek into frigid, snowy darkness to save hikers

coverBy 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, the sky had long gone dark and rain was turning to snow. It was the perfect night to watch a football game. But Steve Kloster had barely gotten past the kickoff of the Sugar Bowl showdown between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Oklahoma Sooners before a phone call tore him away from cheering for the Southeastern Conference powerhouse. Chief Ranger Clayton Jordan was on the line, calling the Tennessee District Ranger for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park into an even higher-stakes contest. 

This must be the place

art theplaceI needed to make an escape.

Last Tuesday morning, my cell phone vibrated incessantly on the nightstand. It was 8 a.m., and the sender was my news editor. My eyes creaked open like a rusted cellar door. The message informed me that the government shutdown had taken effect. Thus, we needed to scrap our original cover story while going to press that day and do a whole new feature on the closures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Unlocking the mystery of Graveyard Fields: Why there are so few trees and so many people

coverWhile lines of cars zip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and hikers scurry along its zigzagging trails, Graveyard Fields moves at its own pace.

The high elevation meadows of Graveyard Fields are a crowned jewel of the Shining Rock Wilderness. No trees means great views — views without scrambling up a mountain peak or peering out from intermittent windows in the tree canopy. 

Appalachian Trail conference serves up full buffet of hiking fare

out frComing to Cullowhee soon: four days of total immersion in everything trail.

Camaraderie with fellow trail enthusiasts and taking in the region’s trails is the top draw that will land hundreds of hikers at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial conference held July 19-26 at Western Carolina University.

Getting away from it all

travel gettingawayDavid Lippy was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Orlando when it hit him.

“The city was so congested with vehicles,” he said “I had to go three miles to work from my house and it would take me a half hour one way.”

When it rains – the tough go hiking

out naturalistWe’ve had a good run in the watershed. The Town of Waynesville has sponsored spring and fall guided hikes in its 8,000-plus acre watershed since 2007. The hikes provide a great way for residents and other interested parties to see this wonderful resource that has been placed in a conservation easement to insure the town has an ample supply of high-quality drinking water for generations to come.

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