I’m preparing for my first Wilderness Wildlife Week (WWW) in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to be held from May 18 to 22.
Yes, Pigeon Forge is the home of Dollywood but it’s still close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All the activities are based at the LeConte Center 2986 Teaster Lane in Pigeon Forge.
Though it’s the 26th year of WWW, it’s the first time they’ve held it in May. Before, it was always held in January, to attract people to East Tennessee in the winter, I assume. But I’m so glad they moved it to spring time. I’ll be giving a talk on Wednesday evening, May 18. and leading a hike and history walk in Elkmont the next day.
WWW is a series of talks, classes and hikes related to the outdoors and the Smokies. I am one of maybe ten speakers in Wednesday evening. Can I compete with a program on moonshine, Civil War surgery and a native American flute concert? And that’s before the Keynote speaker, a Franklin Delano Roosevelt repriser, i.e. someone playing FDR. The 32nd president dedicated Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940. It took him six years to find the park but he came to Newfound Gap and spoke to an overflowing audience.
It’s all free
Did that get your attention?
The whole WWW is free – the talks, hikes and everything else. Of course, you need to get your own lodging. So it brings a lot of people into the area.
How do you sign up for a hike? The procedure is like how you registered for your classes in college before the age of computers. You need to be in the right room on the evening before the hike.
So for the Thursday hikes, you need to be at Greenbrier Hall A at 6:30 pm and get a ticket. Once your ticket is randomly selected, you get to pick out a hike for the next day. There are lots of other provisos but that’s the gist. You can’t sign up for a hike beforehand. It saves the staff a lot of time.
WWW offers a mandatory shuttle to all hikes. Hikers can’t meet the group at the trailhead. That’s the best news a hike leader can get. No explaining to hikers where to meet. No trying to get folks into car pools. No worries about hikers leaving early. Thank you, WWW.
I can’t seem to find their detailed schedule. So just show up and I’m sure you’ll find some great hikes and talks.