Laurel Fork Shelter is temporarily closed because of the July 8th high wind storm. While the good news is that there is very limited damage to the shelter, there are two oak trees and a large locust tree laying on roof. The major concern is a hazard tree in front of the shelter, which will require an expert sawyer from USFS to remove.
Closure signs have been posted at the shelter trail junctions. Please do not plan to visit or even stay in its vicinity until the storm damage has been safely cleared.
Report from Eric Rayfield (Roan Ridgerunner) is…
Flame azaleas might be ready in about a week.
Couple of weeks away for the rhododendrons.
There’s lots of good looking buds!
Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival is Saturday-Sunday June 18-19, 2016.
Update – June 20th. Peak did occur during last weekend’s festival, but probably good to enjoy until the next major storm knocks off the blooms.
AT – Indian Grave Gap to Beauty Spot
Leader: Mike Watts, 423-963-1593
Rating: Moderate per TEHCC, Moderate-to-strenuous per ATC for 4.6 m round trip, 1000’ elevation gain
This Saturday event is planned to participate in the ATC’s Family Hiking Day. Beauty Spot is a natural grassy bald (4,437’) with excellent views of the Roan and Black Mountains. The overlook was recently improved by the Cherokee National Forest Hotshots (June newsletter) who removed some of the trees which had grown up over the years. Let’s leave Colonial Heights, TN at 9am to meet at Indian Grave Gap around 10am. Bring plenty of water, comfortable footwear, appropriate clothing/sun protection, and lunch. The hike itself will take roughly three and half hours depending on how much lunch/sightseeing time is desired on the bald. For further information, check the trail wiki or call the hike leader.
For Second Class rank, a Boy Scout is to use a map and compass to take a five mile hike. Bays Mtn Park offers a good location as the topo map can also be oriented with the lake and surrounding ridges. The needed distance is readily covered by following Lake Road with a side diversion on the Chinquapin Trail. This hike is good for those who want to learn how to use a directional compass and interpret topological maps – and is open to club members or scouts from any troop. Departure time from Colonial Heights is 1:30PM from a different location of the Presbyterian Church or just meet at the park dam by 2PM. Entrance fee for Bays Mtn Park is $4 per car, although the Scout Expo coupon is still good until the end of August. Bring plenty of water, comfortable footwear, appropriate clothing/sun protection, and your own compass, if desired. The hike will take around three hours depending on how much instruction time along the way. We’ll also be on the lookout for signs of different animals and observing native plants, which are other rank requirements. For further information, please call/e-mail the hike leader.
Contact: Vic Hasler (423-239-0388)
Three reports have been recently received of bear activity along the TEHCC section. On June 13th, hikers were disturbed by a bear at Low Gap on Unaka Mountain who would not leave their campsite. Next day (June 14th), a juvenile bear was encountered around Cherry Gap Shelter, who again did not want to leave. The leader used bear spray in an attempt to negatively reinforce the bear, which returned that evening to take a pack. The pack did not contain food, which was properly hung. On June 15th, a third report was made for three miles south of the Mountaineer Falls Shelter. Along the trail it was apparent there was a lot of bear activity. Necessary precautions to limit risk of encountering a bear were taken including hanging bear bags 50 feet or more from the campsite.
ATC and USFS have been notified or provided information on all of these incidents. Warning signs were posted on Monday at trailheads and in the shelter at Cherry Gap. Camping at Low Gap or Cherry Gap Shelter is presently not recommended.
Hiking Through History
July 17 – 24, 2015
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Biennial Conference is being co-hosted by Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and Mountain Club of Maryland (MCM). Sited at Shenandoah University located in Winchester, Virginia, which is near hundreds of miles of outstanding hiking trails, including a short 18 minute drive to the Appalachian Trail at its closest point. The University is also close to important civil war battlefields such as Manassas, Gettysburg and Antietam, and 90 minutes from Washington D.C.
Workshops will be held during the day on Saturday, July 18th through Monday, July 20th. Coordinated hikes will be offered between Saturday, July 18th through Thursday, July 23rd. In addition to amazing scenic areas, there will be nature, history, and photography theme hikes, plus sunset outings. Many of the hikes include a swim, and/or a stop at an ice cream shop, restaurant, winery, or brewery. Family hiking specialists have designed hikes suitable for most families that are five miles or less plus hikes suitable for most children eight years and older that are nine miles or less.
Joe DeLoach reporting
For this year’s installment of our annual spring wildflower hike, we chose the Appalachian Trail from Highway 19E to Doll Flats. Our record of 40 species was found years ago between 19E and the edge of Hump Mountain, and we might have matched that if we’d gone further this year, finding 31 varieties without going beyond Doll Flats. Showy orchis and fringed phacelia highlighted the lower elevations, moving into erect trilliums and wood anemones in the middle, with early spring trout lilies hanging on at Doll Flats. The flower of the day was jack in the pulpit; we saw some great specimens and a lot of them in the upper half of the hike. We also saw evidence of much hard work by dedicated TEHCC volunteers who had cut and peeled locust logs, some quite large, and stakes for Trail rehabilitation with HardCore the following weekend. Doll Flats makes a great place for a siesta on a warm sunny day. Joe lost his bet with Kim that we would find more species of flowers than we would see Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, and it wasn’t close. Next year we’ll shoot for earlier in the spring and the different varieties it brings. Hikers for this outing were Serita Blankenbecler, Phyllis Cairnes, Denise Hardin, Kim Peters, and Joe DeLoach.
Stan Murray will be inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame on June 5, 2015.
The application cites the following three accomplishments and more…
While serving as Board Chairman of the ATC for 14 years, Murray played a major role in getting the National Trails System Act passed in 1968 to establish the Appalachian and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails and authorize a national system of trails to provide additional outdoor recreation opportunities and to promote the preservation of access to the outdoor areas and historic resources of the nation.
He was president of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for 11 years, and was later named its first executive director. The SAHC acquired thousands of acres of the majestic mountains along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee through which the A.T. passes. He also led the Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club’s 74-mile relocation of the A.T. from its original route on roads and valleys to the present spectacular route through the Highlands of Roan.
Murray was one of the first advocates of the greenway concept, which led to the present trail corridor through which the A.T. passes. He led ATC’s move to a permanent headquarters facility in Harpers Ferry and hiring a full-time executive director and other important staff positions. He passed away in 1990 at age 67.
Judy Murray will be attending the June 5th Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame banquet in Boiling Springs, PA to accept the award on behalf of her late husband. TEHCC is proud to claim the leadership of honoree Stan Murray among its history.
Leader: Vic Hasler (423-238-0388)
Rating: ~8 mile round trip hike with 1600 ft elevation climb and return
The Overmountain Men marched in 1780 to join the Revolutionary War at the Battle of King’s Mountain. This portion of the route in the Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area was improved during 2007 to provide a better trail. We’ll start with open meadows (closing any gates used since livestock is grazed in the area) and then along the Left Prong of Hampton Creek. Spring wildflowers are expected. Forest is entered and the hike continues up Yellow Mountain to reach the Appalachian Trail. We’ll head another 0.2 miles to Overmountain shelter for lunch. Return by mostly same route except jumping over onto Birchfield trail on the other side of the creek. Let’s meet in Colonial Heights at 8AM. The 1.5 drive route can be arranged to pick up folks in Johnson City. Bring plenty of water and lunch. No dogs on this hike since a nature preserve. Return to Kingsport between 5-6PM.