June 2018 – The lake level has receded, thus the Appalachian Trail has returned to its normal path.
May 2018 – Due to recent heavy rains, TVA has temporarily raised the Watauga Lake level, so that a couple of bridges on the Appalachian Trail are now under water. The trail is temporarily rerouted on US 321 and Oliver Hollow Road. Signs are posted and route is blue blazed. 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 to the A.T.
This situation previously occurred in April 2017.
For future reference, Watauga Lake levels above the 1961 foot level trigger the need to put up the re-route signs.
Roan Mtn State Park, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, ATC, TEHCC, and other groups are partnering to work this day. Meet at 8:30 am in Colonial Heights to arrive at Roan Mtn State Park main entrance by 10 am for briefing and to receive heavy duty trash bags. We’ll pull until early afternoon, and then drop off the collected plants back at the park before heading home. Last year 634 pounds of garlic mustard was pulled. Rain date is Wednesday, May 2.
Contact Greg Kramer if interested.
Many plants imported to the US can outcompete native species and these plants are called invasive species. One invasive plant that is still being propagated in the US is the Autumn or Russian Olive. On April 28, TEHCC will be removing Autumn Olive as well as picking Garlic Mustard. Invasive species spread by a variety of methods. Garlic Mustard seeds attach themselves to clothes and animal fur, which are picked up in one place and dropped in another. Russian Olive was imported as a large shrub which can provide food and cover for birds. As birds travel the Atlantic flyway, they deposit seeds from Autumn Olive plants along the flyway corridor, which includes the Appalachian Trail.
We will be cutting Autumn Olive plants and painting their stems with herbicide to keep the plant from growing back from its roots. Last year, four folks removed 227 pounds of Garlic Mustard from Devils Creek Gap. If you are interested in this project, we’ll leave from the Colonial Heights gathering location at 8:30am to arrive at Devils Creek Gap by 9:30am. Current plans are to work until 1pm. In case of inclement weather, a back-up date of Friday, May 4th has been selected.
Across the southern AT clubs, there are only three Garlic Mustard Challenge days this year because two of the five sites have too little Garlic Mustard to pick. If you can come this year, maybe we won’t have to pick next year.
Leader: Terry Dougherty, 423-502-5177
The annual Bluestone River Trip (39th Anniversary) is scheduled for June,1-3 2018.
We will stay at the beautiful Pipestem State Park (Mountain Creek Lodge). We have reserved a block of rooms, please call 800-CALL-WVA (ask for Pipestem State Park / Mountain Creek Lodge) and reserve your room for Friday and Saturday. To secure one of the clubs block rooms, reservations must be made by May 14 . Rooms are $ 112/night + taxes. We plan to paddle the scenic Bluestone River both Sat. and Sun. This is a Class III trip the first day and Class I the second day. You can skip the second day, if you like. Other options include family camping at the state park campground and/or driving up on Saturday morning. This is a GREAT trip with a lot of family fun, scenic river and very nice lodging. In addition to the paddling, Ed Montgomery will once again be in charge of HAPPY HOUR and libation coordination on Saturday night and is going to make this one special. Please contact the trip leader (Terry Dougherty, 423-502-5177) if you are planning to attend.
Celebrate the National Trails System Act in 2018
2018 is the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System which officially kicks off many events to celebrate the access and protection of American trails. On February 13, leadership from the Departments of Interior and Agriculture met in Washington, DC during “Hike the Hill” for a conversation on National Trails, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and their lasting legacy as we reflect on and envision the future of these two important systems (this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act).
To help you see the scale and impact of our National Trails System, a Webmap was created by APPA GIS Specialist Matt Robinson with the link to the map below:
In Northeast Tennessee, many events will be occurring to commemorate the anniversary. Resources and promotional materials are available for networking with other groups at: https://www.trails50.org/.
Check the TEHCC newsletter often to see what events may be happening for you to join us as we get together and promote outdoor recreation, hike or do volunteer work in our community.
TEHCC received notice that Bob Peoples will be inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame on May 4, 2018. The museum’s website (link) cites his biography as…
After retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 1988, Bob Peoples decided to devote his life to hiking trails. He initially helped to maintain the Long Trail in Vermont, a portion of which is also the A.T. Then, in 1994, Bob and his late wife Pat purchased a cabin adjacent to the A.T. near Hampton, TN and founded the legendary Kincora Hostel. Thousands of A.T. section and thru-hikers have received Bob’s gracious hospitality there.
Each year, immediately after the Trail Days festival in Damascus, VA, Bob leads the Hard Core crew, comprised of the current year’s class of thru-hikers. For a couple of weeks, Bob and his crew take on the most difficult and challenging trail maintenance tasks on the A.T., before they resume their adventure on the trail. Bob is perhaps the A.T.’s greatest living ambassador, inspiring young people who have experienced the Trail to give back afterwards.
March 2018: The bear pole, picnic table, and the steps to the shelter platform have been removed from the shelter to discourage eating or staying at this site with it being under a bear closure.
October 2017: The A.T. section between US321 (NB Mile 427) and Wilbur Dam Road (NB Mile 431.4), including Watauga Lake Shelter, is still closed to camping due to bear activity. A temporary campsite (no water) has been set up at coordinates N36.29847, W82.12701 (NB Mile 426.5) just outside the Pond Mountain Wilderness. Also nearby is Boots Off Hostel along Bear Branch Road on the south side of the closed section. Vandeventer Shelter is open to the north of the restricted section.
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.
Bill started trail maintenance by being a member of a maintenance team for Deep Gap to Iron Mountain Gap in 1980 and became team leader in 1984. He diligently section hiked the entire A.T., summiting Katahdin in September 2016, which developed a personal perspective on the trail needs. Amongst the maintainers, he is known as “MacGyver” because of his resourcefulness and rigging capabilities whether it be a tree, rock, or bridge beam we desire to move. When a rope puller is not functioning sufficiently, he takes it home, rigs up a dynamometer, tests different rope designs, and donates the proper rope. Or Bill finds scrapped grating that he purchases to make our bridges slip resistant. Or he recommends a fiddle block (pulley) and rope system that we use regularly to move rocks and logs. TEHCC is proud that Bill is our 2017 Maintainer of the Year.
Note: Bill was not at the Spring Dinner to receive his plaque. He is also a passionate sailor. Bill and his wife, Adair, are currently on their eleventh consecutive five-month sail in the Bahamas.
Trevor has been rafting and kayaking for several years, but started to slowly drift away from the sport. In 2017 he made some new connections within the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts (APEs) club which rejuvenated his passion for the sport. Longing to increase his skills and enhance the strength of his paddling team, Trevor attended the following paddling clinics: Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), ACA Swift Water Rescue – basic and advanced courses. Early in 2017. Trevor began leveraging his skills and passion for whitewater to help provide instruction to up and coming paddlers. He was often found at the pool one or two times a week providing ROLL instruction in addition to frequently inviting and leading paddlers down beginner whitewater runs. Trevor also helps mentor his wife (Leshand) and daughter (Treasure). Recognizing that river cleanups play an important role in the preservation of our water streams, Trevor participated in and led multiple cleanups this year and is now serving as the APEs Conservation Officer.
TEHCC/APEs congratulate Trevor as our 2017 Paddler of the Year.