Tag Archives: Hiking

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.

Wilderness First Aid course – Rule of 3

WFA 2017

Every few years, I decide that I should renew my Wilderness First Aid certification and CPR training. So this past weekend, I went down to Nantahala Wilderness Center and spent two days learning and practicing what I should do if a terrible thing happened on a  hiking trip.

SOLO was the pioneer of wilderness first aid – which is easily defined as “what do you do if you can’t call 911?”

When I first took the course, it was twenty hours of instructions and we started our intensive weekend on Friday evening. Now it’s 16 hours of lecture, discussions and scenarios. We learned what to do if we come upon a hurt hiker on the trail, sprains and fractures, wounds, hypothermia and possible allergic reactions.

Randy M., the instructor, kept it lively and moving. He emphasized several important points – it’s not first about the patient. You need to assess the scene:

  • Is it safe for you, the first responder?
  • Is it safe for the rest of the group?
  • Then, can I help the injured person?

One of many fascinating thing I learned was the rule of three (3). You can live

  1.  3 seconds to make a decision and not panic
  2. 3 minutes without air
  3. 3 hours without shelter in a harsh environment (not icy water)
  4. 3 days without water. Ouch!! That would be tough for me
  5. 3 weeks without food – if you have water and shelter
  6. 3 months without companionship. Our instructor referred to “Wilson” but I don’t think most got the reference from Castaway.
Shelby in CPR

On Saturday, I found out that I could also take the two-hour CPR course that evening. Shelby, the instructor, had a tough job.

All the students were fried from eight hours in various WFA courses. But she made it fun and memorable and I now feel better prepared than I’ve been after other CPR courses.

I stayed at the NOC base camp, several small cabins around a base kitchen and bathroom building. On Sunday morning, we discovered that the water wasn’t running. Not a great thing to find out before eight more hours of class, but somehow we all managed.

There are other ways to get your WFA certification, but SOLO to me is the gold standard. If you’re in the woods a lot, take a weekend to take this course – and hope you never have to use it.

The Weekend of Small Hikes

Collier Cove Nature Preserve

Sometimes it’s good to see what’s in your own backyard. While going all around the world is exciting, I know that I’m missing a lot of opportunities right here around Asheville.

This past Saturday, I was introduced to two small areas around Asheville.

I was invited to  talk about the Southern national parks and my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. Am I still marketing this book?” You may ask. No, but if a group asks me, I go.

Bev McD. of Carolina Mountain Club asked me to speak to her group, RossCraggen Woods – a private club with a few acres in Arden. But before my talk, Bev took me to see a view of Lake Julian, a Buncombe County Park and power plant. See the picture above.

Bev also showed me Collier Cove Nature Preserve, another county park. It only has 2.5 miles of trail, or so, with some elevation but it’s meant to be a full-day hike. I never would have seen this without Bev’s help. I always like to learn how the public acquired the land.

Buncombe County bought the 29 acres from the Collier Family  in 2012. They had already built  the trails on the property. Twenty-nine acres isn’t much but the land is steep, adding to the interest.

From Lunch Roks

Every bit of land here was owned by someone.

Sometimes the owners actually give the land to the public. Most of the times, the descendants sell the land, but not at market (read “development”) prices.

Sunday I met a small group from the Raleigh Camino group. They had come for a weekend of friendship, food and hiking with the Asheville Camino group.

Most had done the long Asheville Camino hike on Saturday, so they scheduled a five-mile hike to Lunch Rocks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Raleigh Camino group

Only four hikers showed up because the rest were still recuperating from the 16-mile hike. But that was OK. The hike to Lunch Rocks, MST east of the Folk Art Center, was just the right length before the Raleigh group started out on their long drive.

I need to have a repertoire of short hikes, close to Asheville because they come in handy.