Category Archives: Uncategorized

HIking the Smokies 101

Friends of the Smokies will present Hiking the Smokies 101.

Where are all the different entrances into the Smokies?

What do you need to carry for a good day on the trail?

What hikes are Friends of the Smokies offering this year?

I’ll will share my experiences hiking in the Smokies and review reading a Smokies map, including information about entrances (in addition to Hwy 441) and facilities.

There will also be a day-hike equipment demonstration by Gracia Slater, who has hiked all the trails in the Smokies – without any camping!

We’ll share updates on the Smokies Trails Forever program

Two sessions are offered.

Tuesday February 19 at Blue Ridge Bookstore in Waynesville at 4 pm.

Thursday February 28 at REI in Asheville at 6:30 pm. For the REI program, you must preregister.

Please bring a map of the Smokies. A National Geographic map of the whole park is the most convenient.



President Obama’s Visit – Beauty as well as Bread


I listened to Pres. Obama carefully on Tuesday evening when
he gave his State of the Union address. It was a good message, a message of
hope and enthusiasm. We can’t just cut, cut, cut. We have to grow the economy
and give people opportunities. That’s the American way and I agree.  But he talked about jobs, jobs, job but not
one word on our public lands. It’s as if Americans just needed to work and eat,
work and eat.

John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength
to the body and soul.”

 However, the President just talked about bread or jobs. According
to National Parks Conservation Association, national parks generate over $31 billion
for the local economy. When Congress feels the need to shut down the
government, the first thing they shut down is National Parks. As if parks were the
only nonessential federal service.  

Poor and middle-class Americans may not have the money or opportunity
to recreate on private land. This is where public parks and forests come in. Compare
the entrance fee for Yosemite – $20 for a carload for seven days – with
Disneyworld where a one-day ticket is $89.

Many state parks are free and closer
to where people live. And of course, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is
free. The best bargain in America? An America the Beautiful Pass.

The next day Wednesday February 13, the President came to Asheville.
And for a few hours, the eyes of the world were on us. He toured the Linamar
plant, a Canadian auto parts manufacturer. We’re grateful that Linamar moved in
when Volvo left. They provide good jobs and make use of a large manufacturing
site. Then the President had a lunch of ribs and sides from 12 Bones.

But he had no time or thought about the natural surroundings
around him. The Blue Ridge Parkway was very close, Great Smoky Mountains
National Park not much further. Businesses move here partly because of the
beauty and accessibility of the outdoors.

The Asheville area has three National Parks (also Carl
Sandburg House
) less than an hour’s drive. All three need our love, attention,
and money. All the volunteers in the world (and I’m one of them) can’t replace
properly funding our public lands. Outdoor professionals need to have enough
money in their budge to manage our parks.

So, President Obama, the next time you want to give a
speech of hope and opportunity, think of our public lands. They’re distinctly
American as well.     

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina-Published


My book, The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina, has been published. The official publication date in February 12, 2013 though it will take a few days to find it in stores. I got my copies from the History Press late last week. Yippee!


When I asked Sharon McCarthy if she wanted to walk the Mountains-to-Sea Trail with me, I had no idea that it would take me on such a long and exciting journey. We started at Clingmans Dome in the Smokies in October 2009. We walked the trail in sections and I finished in May of 2011–Sharon finished a little later.

Then I started writing a book on my spectacular, quirky and historic walk. I walked all the new sections of trail that had been moved off the road since 2011. I wrote, researched, hiked and wrote some more. The History Press picked up the book and created a beautiful book, with color and black and white photographs.

See the great publicity they’re doing for the book.

Now my job is to go on the road. But if you order the bok through my Flash Sale in the next week or so, you’ll be helping Friends of the MST.

I’ll be doing talks and slide shows for bookstores, outdoor stores and outdoor groups. My book launch is at Diamond Brand Outdoors on March 5. I hope to see you there or at one of my many other book events.