High Water at Watauga Lake and Laurel Fork Gorge – February 2020

March 13 Update:  Lake and river levels have returned to normal thus reroutes no longer required.  Signs have been taken down.

Two sections of the Appalachian Trail have been temporarily rerouted due to the recent heavy rains.

First, Watauga Lake (TVA level info) is 1965′ on 2/14 morning which is above 1961′ trigger for rerouting. Trail bridges are flooded so the trail will temporarily follow the blue blaze path along US 321 and Oliver Hollow Road. If heading trail north on Shook Branch Road, cross US 321 and walk left or west along US 321 for about a quarter mile and then go right along Oliver Hollow Rd. Follow the road for a third of a mile and take the short woods path to the right back to the A.T. If lake level continues to rise, some sections of the trail north of Oliver Hollow Road will also be under water.

Second is for Laurel Fork Gorge as the ledge along the stream is fully under water, so the A.T. will follow the High Water Trail. Signs have been posted.

North Carolina USFS Proposes Bear-Resistant Food Container Requirement for A.T.

In mid-August, the US Forest Service announced that is seeking input on a proposal to require bear-resistant food containers for all overnight campers on the Appalachian Trail located in the North Carolina National Forests. The obligation would also be applied to the Panthertown Valley near Cashiers, NC. The backpacking public is encouraged to submit written comments by September 19, 2018 to comments-southern-north-carolina-nantahala-nantahala@fs.fed.us email address. Please reference “Bear-Resistant Food Container Requirement” in your subject.

Context for the need is that visitors to the NC National Forests have experienced an increasing number of black bears encounters involving food over the past few years. Most are at places where the public repeatedly camps in the general forest, such as along the A.T., rather than at campgrounds that are equipped with bear-proof trash cans. The incidents include bears taking food and backpacks, damaging tents, and staying near inhabited campsites for hours. While the loss of food is inconvenient for humans, the potentially serious encounters with bears needs to be addressed by eliminating human behaviors which lead bears to see people as a source of food. Secure storage for food and scented items (toothpaste, deodorant, beverages, or snacks) which is then placed away from the immediate camping location can help discourage this conduct.

Georgia National Forests already require the use of bear-resistant food containers when overnighting in a designated A.T. section during the spring months with a $5,000 fine per individual and $10,000 per organization. The proposal by North Carolina Forests is continuation of that approach as overnight use of the Appalachian Trail is typically dispersed.

North Carolina has not yet established a list of approved storage systems (would be part of the next phase once a decision is made to proceed). Here is a list certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Pro or con… now is the time to provide specific comments to determine if and how this policy proposal proceeds.

 

Laurel Fork Shelter – Reopened for use

Carl Fritz is reporting that along with a small crew of maintainers they were able to clear the trees from the shelter. The shelter sustained some cosmetic damage but it remains functional. The back roof overhang sustained some damage but has not affected the functionality of the shelter. The trees were laying across the roof. They cut the tops off trees then were able to pull the 16 inch maple with a 20 foot stump on a root ball upright with a rope and come along. Then they felled the 20 foot stump with a crosscut saw. They were also able to clear blowdowns on the high water trail in the Laurel Fork Gorge as well.

2016 Membership Drive

2016 is here and for that means reminding everyone to renew membership to the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club. Most of everyone should fall into one of the three categories.

  • Eastman employees – Dues are automatically deducted from your first paycheck, no further action needed
  • Retirees – email me at tim@tehcc.org to confirm your contact information
  • Affiliates – Complete the form, include the required payment, and mail to the provided address

That’s it! Still debating? My easy response is that your membership fee is a cheap trail head fee. That’s 7.5¢/mi for the miles of trail our club maintains on the AT. I just ran the preliminary numbers for 2015 AT maintenance. People volunteered over 10,000 hours over 347 outings to maintain our 134 miles of trail. Large portions of our club revenue, well over half if not close to 80% goes to trail maintenance activities. This is mostly tools and materials needed to maintain one of the most popular sections of the AT. Your little bit of dues does help.

The bulk of the remainder of our dues revenue is for our web hosting. Our Trail Wiki continues to grow. 2015 has some renewed focus along with exploring new capabilities that have been added. Early next year I hope to have a customized searchable list so you can find the trails near you that match your desires.

Membership in 2016 is looking to be a good year. We have commitment to continued focus on our event calendar. I personally hope to lead at least one hike a month. With five to ten more people with that level of commitment, we would have a really full calendar. That would be 1% of our membership leading hikes, not that many. I also have some ideas of weekend camping and hiking trips that I may explore if there is enough interest.

So please renew today! Still not convinced, contact us at chair@tehcc.org or tim@tehcc.org and let us know what you think.

Laurel Fork Falls, from Dennis Cove

Sunday the 19th was a great lazy hike to Laurel Falls. There was a light sprinkling rain about mid-hike cooling us off. As it had rained recently, the falls were bursting with water. Along the trail we found a multitude of edible and inedible mushrooms, including a few chanterelles and some very large tawny milk caps.

Stan Murray Inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame

Stan Murray will be inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame on June 5, 2015.

Stan Murray photo

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.

Trip Report: South Holston Spillway – May 4th

Barry Griggs reporting
Our number was small due to a couple of last-minute cancellations, but the day was beautiful! We were blessed with a picture-perfect day for the very family-friendly trek to the South Holston Dam Spillway. The dogs seemed to be out to enjoy the day, also, as essentially every hiker we met was escorted by at least one dog, including us. This is an easy, relatively short hike which is very doable for beginners or anyone just interested in an enjoyable hike that won’t take all afternoon. The view of the lake and mountains at the end of our hike was very peaceful. A few wildflowers were even spotted along the way. Hikers were Sharon Burnette and Barry Griggs.

P.S. For those desiring a little more hiking in this area you can stop at the large parking/picnic area at Osceola Island on the road to the dam. This is a very nice area to trout fish and picnic. There is also 1.5 mi. trail around the perimeter of the island which can be accessed by crossing the footbridge. The trail is covered with fine gravel making for comfortable walking.