April 2016: Two nights of bear encounters have been recently reported at the Watauga Lake Shelter. The bears were seeking food, thus destroyed a pair of tents, able to shake a bag off the bear pole, and climbed trees for hanged bags.
The US Forest Service has reinstated a Closure Order similar to the previous one which now covers Oliver Hollow Rd./Hwy 321 to Wilbur Dam Rd. – approximately four miles of the Appalachian Trail along the west side of Watauga Lake. No picnicking, lingering, or overnight camping. Hiking, only, allowed on the named four mile Appalachian Trail section. BEARS ACTIVE IN THIS AREA. Help us protect you and the bears. Please hike through the area without stopping. Closure Order: April 15, 2016- Until Further notice.
For TEHCC members, the best recommendation is to avoid this “Oliver Hollow” area and enjoy another section of the Appalachian Trail. For thru-hikers, the word is being gotten out so that they can properly plan their distances. The temporary campsite located south of Hwy 321 above Shook Branch is available for use.
By William Werner
For fair-weather hikers like me, April marks the beginning of hiking season. I’m excited to get back out on the trails, and we have a great lineup of hikes this month. I’d also like to bring to your attention two important non-hiking events in April. The first is our annual rental equipment inspection on April 20th. The club maintains a broad selection of hiking and camping equipment for rent, and each year we need volunteers to examine the items to evaluate their condition. Helping out with this process is a great way to get to know what equipment is available, and it’s just plain fun to set up tents in the middle of the B-310 lobby. Volunteers are rewarded with a light lunch of pizza and snacks, so I highly recommend you come out. The inspection is from 11:00 to 1:00 in Room 221 of the Eastman Employee Center (B-310). Contact our Rental Equipment Coordinator, Terry Dougherty, at 502-5177 and let him know if you can make it. The second event is our Spring Dinner Meeting, scheduled for the night of Friday, April 22. We have an excellent speaker this year in Danny Bernstein, an Asheville author who will present stories and photos from her visits to each of the National Parks in the Southeast. We also have some copies of her book to give out as door prizes; so be sure to attend!