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.

Follow me, into the wild

out caitlinwoodcraftThe last time I went camping I was 10 or 11. I was in my grandparents’ backyard, snug in my sleeping bag between my older sister and cousin Jake. I laid awake nervous about a ravenous bear attacking the tent, or maybe a ghoul from one of the scary stories my dad had just finished telling.

Prepping for the AT 2,184 miles to be ‘in the moment’

out fr1During the next several weeks, thousands of people will leave from Springer Mountain in Georgia and begin the 2,184-mile trek to Maine along the Appalachian Trail.

SEE ALSO: Follow me, into the wild

For some, the trip is a lifelong dream. They have meticulously planned what to bring, where to stop, how many miles they want walk each day. They have queued up their own resupply boxes, packed with fresh headlamp batteries, deodorant and their favorite candy bars, ready and waiting to be shipped to “mail drops” along the trail.

 

Trail triage? Tough choices ahead as forest service weighs 1,600 miles in trail plan

out frFor the past year, the National Forest Service has been taking inventory, collecting public input and meeting with outdoor interest groups to wrangle its expansive web of nearly 1,600 miles of trail in the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests into a better, more sustainable network.

This month, the forest service will share its preliminary assessment from the “Trail Strategy Initiative” with mountain residents.

Carrying the torch through history

out frIt’s all started with a phone call.

A lifelong thirst for adventure led Ronald R. Cooper to a love of backpacking, where he soon began hiking around the Grand Canyon and beyond. But, he was in search of a new challenge, one that ultimately tied together his Native American ancestry with his own modern existence.

A clear path

out natcornLast Saturday, Sept. 15, was surely a gorgeous day to be ridge running high in the Plott Balsams — clear blue skies dotted with white puff-clouds; temperatures in the low to mid 60s; a great day for a hike. Not even the weight of chainsaws, brush cutters, loppers and/or swing blades could dampen the spirit or curb the enthusiasm of the dedicated crew of trail-keepers that set out from Waterrock Knob to Yellow Face and on to Blackrock.

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