The people behind the trails in the Smokies

After yesterday’s long hike on the Old Settlers Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I stayed in Gatlinburg and met Brent from Friends of the Smokies.

On Monday, we scouted Albright Grove, one of the three hikes that will be offered on the Greenbrier overnight in July.

Lenny and I had scouted this hike in January. We discovered lots of blowdowns that obstructed the trail. We shimmed over and under large trees. We were able to negotiate the blowdowns because it was just the two of us. But a group would take all day to pass through Albright Loop. I emailed the higher-ups in the park that schedule trail maintenance work.

When we got up to Albright Loop, lo and behold, all the blowdowns had been dealt with. Look at the photo above of Brent with one of the many cut trees. We both thanked the Park Service.

On Albright Loop, we also found a pouch at the bottom of a standing tree. It turned out to contain a tiny notebook with stamps on each page, probably from geocaching. The park doesn’t allow geocaching; they feel that it’s just like leaving trash. Too bad that the person lost his or her notebook, full of accomplishments.

We headed down the trail. At the intersection with Gabes Mountain Trail, two trail maintenance workers were in a Park Service truck. I told them how happy I was that the blowdowns had been cut. One of the guys smiled.

“Were you the guys who worked on that?” I asked.

Yes, they were. Brent and I thanked them personally. I took a picture of G. Mathis. It’s one thing to acknowledge the “Park Service” for great trail maintenance; it’s another to thank the individuals who actually cut the trees.

Great job. Thanks, guys.


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