I’m home in North Carolina after a grand hiking trip on Le Chemin de St. Jacques. Though I knew that the national parks were closed while I was traveling in France, it’s hitting me more now. The parks are so closed that I can’t even link to the NPS site. The park websites are shut down as well.
I was supposed to lead a hike for Friends of the Smokies on Tuesday October 15 and that’s very unlikely now. I hope we’ll lead that hike real soon. October is such a beautiful month.
I’m also reading local stories about criminal vandals tearing up the park. What kind of protest is that? Yes, we’re all upset. We should be telling our Congressional representatives to fund the government, not go into the parks and destroy trails and signs. I felt that if I just came back to the States, I could find the key and open up the Smokies. Our rangers could back to work and I could go back to hiking.
It seems that some national parks in Utah are opening up, legally, because they’re going to be funded by the state of Utah. What are the chances of that happening in North Carolina? Hah!
So what can we do now, while we wait?
I assume that we’ve all written, emailed or called our Representatives and Senators and told them to work on a budget, a real budget, which will allow the National Parks to reopen.
We can join the Friends groups and cooperating associations and help them financially. Great Smoky Mountains Association is hurting. Since the Smokies is closed, visitors are not buying at the stores in the park. But you can buy from GSMA stores outside the park and online. See the website for all details.
Think Christmas and buy your gifts now. Everyone can use a calendar. Buy some jam and honey to make life a little sweeter. And every purchase helps the park.
Join Friends of the Smokies. They don’t have anything to sell, just the park. Sign up to go on a hike!
What! You don’t live close to the Smokies? Every area has a national park, monument, battlefield… They all have Friends groups. Right now, our parks could use some friends.
And finally, maybe the most important, when your park finally opens, get there as soon as you can. Hike the trails, walk that battlefield, study that monument. Thank a ranger and buy something in the stores.
I hope to see you on the trails real soon.