Category Archives: Carolina Mountain Club

Hiking with CMC

Trying to understand proposed hunting regulations in NC

I think I understand national and state parks, national and state forests and even greenways. Every once in a while, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission makes news.

Every state has a Wildlife Commission, though the group may be called something else. The state group makes hunting, fishing and trapping regulations on all lands that can be hunted, including national and state forests and even private lands.

Carolina Mountain Club hikes in the Green River Gamelands  in Polk County, a few times a year, including our traditional New Years Day Hike. The last couple of years, we encountered hunters at the trail head on New Year’s Day, but they disappeared as soon as we got on the trail.

Now the Wildlife Commission is proposing changes to bear and deer hunting season. It’s not easy to understand. But I do understand one thing: the gun season will be lengthened. While some hunters are opposing some overlap between deer and bear season, I see that between black powder season and regular gun season, hunting season will be from October 1 to the first Sunday in January.

Wait… to clarify hunting on Sunday is only permitted on private land, obviously with the permission on the land owner. We, hikers, shouldn’t be on private land anyway.

And for more clarification, hunting is never allowed in national parks or North Carolina state parks. So for most Western North Carolina hikers, the area of concern is Pisgah National Forest, but that’s a big area.

Are you still with me? If you want to weight in on these potential changes, the Wildlife Commission will be holding public hearings on Tuesday January 16 at Haywood Community College in Clyde at 7 pm.

Or you can send in your thoughts at regulations@ncwildlife.org until February 1.

If anyone has comments about these new rules, I’d love to hear them.

CMC new hiking schedule

It’s a new year of hiking and discovery in the Southern Appalachian mountains.

Carolina Mountain Club just released its 2018 First Quarter hiking schedule.

The club celebrates the new year with a First Day hike in the Green River Game Lands.

For the first three months of 2018, the schedule offers nineteen all-day weekend hikes, thirteen Wednesday hikes and twelve half-day Sunday hikes. Volunteer leaders check out their hikes to understand current trail conditions just before leading the hike.

“CMC offers a variety of hikes, suitable for the season”, said Gregory Bechtel, the incoming chair of the hiking committee. “We hike Sundays, Wednesdays and most Saturdays year-round.”

From an easy seven-mile walk on Asheville Greenways to a challenging climb to Newton Bald in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the club has hikes for every level. In addition, two Youth Partner Challenge hikes introduce children to fun and educational experiences.

Prospective members are encouraged to start with a Sunday half-day hike. Go to the CMC website, look at the hiking offerings under Hiking and contact the leader.

PS Still several good hikes offered this year.

Happy Hiking Year!

Fall on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Chestnut tree

Are you ready for fall? It’s only the end of July but on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at 5,000 feet, you can see the signs of fall.

Yesterday, Marcia B. led an easy downhill hike from Grassy Ridge Mine Overlook (5,250 ft.) to Balsam Gap. We parked a couple of cars at the maintenance yard, drove to the overlook and started hiking.

Nine Carolina Mountain Club hikers walked in a line. The trail was damp and green, with trees, vines and flowers in abundance. The trick was to observe the trees (and flowers) for the forest.

Some hikers were new to the environment, some were (literally) professionals. So there was a lot of discussion of the land around us.

Were the small, scrawny trees we saw entangle with others, chestnut oaks or real chestnuts? I have it on good authority that we saw real chestnuts. Chestnut oaks have scalloped ends while chestnuts have pointy ends. See the first picture on the left.

Indian pipes

Marcia, our leader, was pretty sure that the Indian pipes doubled as periscope. Fairies and other underground creatures were watching hikers and trail maintainers as they passed through.

But who did they report to and what did they do with their information? Marcia had not fleshed out her story well enough to make it credible.

Mushroom, AKA f airy baths

Then we had the fungus, mushrooms that were used as fairy baths by the underground fairies.

They had everything they needed in the woods. Still they stay hidden, but must come out sometime for a bath. When nine hikers walk on a well-marked, downhill trail, the imagination can get going.

Trillium berries

Other signs of falls – doll’s eyes, the seed from the white baneberry. No one notices the baneberry flower in the spring because it has so much competition but doll’s eyes are different.

Red trillium berries – those three large leaves are unmistakable.

Plenty of white and red bee balm, without bees – thank goodness – but with butterflies drinking in their nectar.

Bridge on MST

Black cohosh – I couldn’t tell this tall, foamy, white flower from others but Linda B. could. One of the benefits of walking with a group.

Once we got to about 3,500 feet, the vegetation changed. No more flowers, just vines and trees. We crossed a wooden bridge, erected by the Carolina Mountain Club trail crew and reached Balsam Gap.

Thanks, Marcia, for leading this hike!