HAPPY EASTER!

- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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Outdoors

While enjoying a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, backpackers like to keep a respectable distance from black bears. With help from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Friends of the Smokies, they can continue to do so in some of the most backpacker friendly hiking in the Southern Appalachians. The ATC has provided $800 from its specialty license plate funds to help reduce black bear access to backpacker food along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), a national park unit within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

Using the grant funds from the ATC, Park staff and volunteers have installed cables that backpackers and trail improvement crews use to store food out of the reach of black bears. Cabling systems were renovated at the Derrick Knob shelter along the A.T. and installed at the new base camp of the Rocky Top Trail crew.

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Morely the Golden Eagle passed away of natural causes sometime during the night on Jan. 1.

The oldest animal in the Grandfather Mountain Animal Habitats at around 35 years old, Morely came to the Mountain in 1984. He was a native of the western United States before being injured by a gunshot. The wound left him unable to fully extend one of his wings, rendering him incapable of hunting and surviving in the wild.

He was known for amusing trainers with his modesty. He loved taking baths and when Habitats staff walked by during one of his daily cleanings, he would freeze and glare as if he was caught naked. Baths were so important to Morely that he would climb into his water bowl when his pond was frozen in the winter months.

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The recent major renovation of the 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps-built Appalachian Trail (AT) Shelter 1.2 miles North of Burningtown Gap (east end of State Road 1310) required the shelter to be lifted off the ground so the bottom row of logs could be replaced. Nantahala Hiking Club (NHC) spent 513 man hours and $1,200 in materials to accomplish the renovation over three months.

The shelter was rotting into the ground before the NHC jacked up the shelter, replaced the bottom row of chestnut logs with locust, placed five concrete foundation piers, replaced the wooden floor, constructed board and batten walls, and constructed dry stack walls for aesthetic and protection purposes.

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Come join the Nantahala Hiking Club (NHC), the local Appalachian Trail maintaining club, on the NHC 60-Mile Challenge. The NHC plans to schedule hikes every two months, with the intent to walk the whole NHC’s AT maintained section in 2013. You do not need to be a member of the club to come on club sponsored hikes. All hikes are planned to be key swaps with two groups walking toward each other, eating lunch together and swapping keys.

Of the nine hikes, two are moderate and seven are strenuous. Moderate hikes are four to six miles long with up to 1,000 feet elevation gain. Strenuous hikes are six or more miles long with more than 1,000 feet in elevation gain. The intent is to do them in order of difficulty so hikers can build themselves up and do some individual hiking preparation for the longer, tougher hikes.

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published: 10/18/2013
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