What to do when you meet a bear

In his younger, more naïve hiking days, Joel Zachary found himself watching in slow motion as a bear charged toward him.

Hike to Pinnacle Peak

There are two ways to hike to Pinnacle Peak, renowned for its 360-degree views from the Plott Balsams.

Option one: This route climbs steeply up the face of the mountain. Head north out of town on the Old Asheville Highway (the road that parallels Scotts Creek). Make a left on Fisher Creek Road a short distance out of town. The road gets rough and steep, but keep going until it dead-ends at the trail head.

Take a Hike: New hiking book offers tips, maps and history on local mountain trails

Danny Bernstein still remembers her first tough hike — a three-day journey in 1969 up Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York.

Hiking to build a better world

By Michael Beadle

Jon Brown and Scott Cochran want to help a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina rebuild after a bitter ethnic war, but to get there, they’ll need to raise about $30,000.

A Walk In The Wild: Encounters of the wildlife kind

By Ed Kelley

If you spend much time in the outdoors, you will eventually have an encounter with wildlife. I am always on the lookout for signs of animal activity. Tracks, scat, scrapings, digging, paths through the leaves or grass, clipped-off leaves or twigs are indicators that some animal has been through the area. Some folks are afraid of going into the woods because of the possibility of meeting a wild animal. These fears are usually unfounded, as most denizens of the forest are fearful of humans.

History and wildflowers

By Ed Kelley

The burning sensation on the back of my heels made me wish I had packed some moleskin. Blisters are adversary number one for the hiker. Luckily, I haven’t had them in years, but friction, moisture, heat, and four miles of constant uphill hiking on the Newton Bald Trail conspired to separate epidermis from dermis. Blisters are preventable and I was irritated (pun intended) that in planning for this hike, I hadn’t given them a second thought. Now pain was forcing them into my consciousness.

Mount Sterling — a hikers’ crossroads

Climbing the 80 rickety feet of metal and wood got my adrenaline flowing a bit.

Once up there, I found it to be a precarious perch, especially since the plywood floor was rotten and some of it missing. I was in the old fire tower atop Mt. Sterling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From my vantage inside the tower, I had a great view of most of the northern section of the main crest of the Smokies, which is also the North Carolina/Tennessee state line and the route of the Appalachian Trail.

Deep into Gorges State Park

By Ed Kelley

Tiptoeing quickly across the Toxaway River, my ankle gaiters did the job and kept the cold water out of my boots. With higher water, fording the river could be dicey. I had chosen the Auger Hole trail in Gorges State Park because I thought it would give me a nice overview of the park and get me deep into the gorges. The trail is a well-maintained road that is driven regularly by Park Rangers.

A pickle of a Prong

I felt like I should have had crampons on my boots, like the spikes mountain climbers use on ice. The steep trail was so slick I would take two steps forward, then slide back a step.

Time spent outdoors always validates itself

By Ed Kelley

When I think of the mountains of Western North Carolina, I like to believe I know a lot about them. I was raised in Haywood County and have lived here over half a century. I think of myself as “young,” but I look at old pictures and see how the face of these mountains has changed since I was a kid, not only from a physical standpoint with all the development that is going on, but from a cultural angle as well. I may not have the depth of knowledge of more scientific folks, and I may not be as objective as a good reporter should be, but I think I have something to say.

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