This is the continuation of the “Hike the TEHCC A.T.” series. We made it to Hughes Gap last month. Now it’s time to hike the balds! If you’ve wanted to hike large sections of the A.T. but avoid the in-and-out, here’s your chance. We’ll need roughly half to help participate in shuttling. This leg will be from Hughes Gap to the Barn Shelter. We’ll take the Overmountain Victory Trail for trail access. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Past and future hikes are being detailed at Hike Plans:2016 TEHCC AT
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.
Tim Schaefer is interested in section hiking the TEHCC section of the AT this year (Spivey Gap to the Virginia border). He’s looking for car pooling and hike partner(s). This way he won’t have to do it twice going out and back. It also fits in well with the National Park Service’s program this year to hike 100 miles of trail and earn a pin or decal (see February newsletter). Since time, and more specifically hiking days are limited, he’s looking at possibly doing this in as few as seven outings. If this sounds too aggressive, contact him anyway as he may be encouraged to tone it down to be able to accomplish this. There are also others interested in achieving this same goal in not such an aggressive manner as well and we can get you in contact with them. If interested email Tim at email@example.com for some discussion, to do some planning, and start to get some events on the calendar.
Submitted by Vic Hasler
The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016. In celebration of its Centennial, several of the national parks are hosting 100-mile challenges. For the Appalachian Trail, everyone who hikes 100 miles or more — with at least one hike on the A.T. — during 2016 is eligible to receive a limited-edition Hike100 decal. Register by sending your name and email address to AT_Hike100@nps.gov to receive a simple official hiking log. Enter dates, where, and miles to reach the 100-mile goal, and then send it back when you’re done. Other national parks in the region announcing similar challenges include GSMNP and New River Gorge.
Vic Hasler and Carl Fritz reporting
ATC worked collaboratively with the APPA NPS office to develop a system for assessing the value of the A.T. and its associated facilities. The results are to help the APPA (Appalachain National Scenic Trail) better compete for funding relative to other National Parks in our region by accurately accounting for the true worth of the extensive work provided by the volunteer corps. The monies help support A.T. relocations, trail rehab, and facility improvements.
Contact: Kim Peters, firstname.lastname@example.org, 423-366-0128
Hiking with Tools! is an opportunity to enjoy a day hike on our beautiful section of the A.T. while helping out with some routine maintenance, such as breaking up fire rings, cleaning out waterbars and steps, lopping rhododendron, and painting blazes. All tools will be furnished and no prior experience required! Last year we typically had four to five people on each trip – with eight new volunteers making a contribution. Contact Kim for hike details, including meeting time and place.
Vic Hasler Reporting
The cold and rainy day prior turned into a beautiful autumn Sunday afternoon; however, I ended up hiking alone, although a dozen backpackers were seen proceeding north on the Trail and one south. The fall color was a few days before peak with some individual trees providing dazzling displays. The hike started as planned with the 0.8-mile crossing of the open farm pasture with views north up the valley. The cattle were ready to be let in from the middle field to be fed at the barn. The walk continued roughly another half hour into the woods, and then returned to the parking lot. I decided to check out the new trail relocation south of the Cross Mountain parking lot, so proceeded a mile south just past the bog bridges. The falling leaves allowed the tread to be less muddy. With the remaining afternoon, I visited two places at Shady Valley managed by The Nature Conservancy at Schoolyard Springs and Orchard Bog. The winding drive on US 421 was enjoyed in the fading daylight.
A bear was encountered at Double Springs Shelter. While it showed no signs of aggression, when hikers arrived it did not immediately leave the area. As always, use common sense when you encounter a bear. Most importantly, just because you think you’re a safe distance away, it doesn’t mean that the bear agrees.
We were blessed with a very comfortable Sunday afternoon for our 2.6 mile round-trip hike to Laurel Falls. This is a very family-friendly hike with the only somewhat challenging part being the actual walk down and back from the waterfall. This path is make of large stepping stones some of which are easier to navigate than others. But with reasonable care the route is well worth the reward.
There was a decent amount of flow over the falls, but the water level was lower than I had seen it before. Lydia and Paul enjoyed cooling their heels in the creek and several other hikers at the falls were swimming. Extreme care should be taken in the water below the falls since a father and son tragically lost their lives here in July, 2012. There is a small plaque in their memory attached to a rock at the bottom of the steps. Probably the most excitement today came from watching some swimmers (not part of our group) try to capture/kill(?) a small water snake of some kind. We weren’t close enough to tell what kind it was, but they were approaching it like it was a man-eating python. The snake eventually made its escape swimming on down the creek.
Our hiking group consisted of Chris Garrett, Patti Garrett, Lydia Garrett, Paul Garrett, Leticia Brock, Beverly Griggs and Barry Griggs