Ep. 59 – Listener Feedback and a Hiking Book Review

SHOW #59  April 12, 2015

Intro

This week on Episode 59 Smoky Mountains Radio, it is time to finally open the mailbag and respond to your questions and feedback!  Let’s go!

Post-Intro

It is Sunday, April 12, 2015 and this is Episode 59 of Smoky Mountains Radio.  Welcome back to the show.  As, always, I am your host Mike, and I am here to bring my nearly forty years of experience in and around the Smoky Mountains help you have the best possible time on your next trip to the Smokies.  Whatever you plan to do and wherever you plan to go around here, we’ve got you covered.

I invite you to check out our website SmokyMountainsRadio.com to get all the information you need about your trip to the Smokies. You can contact me directly by emailing me at mike@smokymountansradio.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/smokymountainsradio or on twitter @smokies_radio.  You can also call the listener line at 865-325 9784.  Finally, of course, every one of our shows can be found on the website for you to stream or download. Of course, you can make sure you get episodes the moment they are released by subscribing to the show via iTunes or stitcher.  Leave me a review while you are there.  Those links can also be found on .  If you have anything you would like me to cover on the show, please feel free to contact me at any time.  Again, all the ways to reach me are right on the website at SmokyMountainsRadio.com

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and you got the chance to see friends and family and maybe even get in a walk or a hike.  Yeah, no hike for me.  Like many of you i’m sure, we were traveling to see family, so no time for that i’m afraid.  Regardless, it’s good to be back with you after the week off.

And now, let’s get on with the show.

Listener Feedback

I’ve been letting questions and comments pile up over the last few weeks, so I will try to get those caught up here today.  Thanks to everyone that has written in.  I’ve gotten back with a few of you, but sorry about taking so long with the others.  Unfortunately, my day job often gets in the way of that.  If only I could do this full time, I could be at your beck and call 24-7.  But anyway, let’s get into it a bit more.

Our first question comes from Debbie in Springfield, Illinois.  She writes: “My son has asthma.  Does the elevation have any affect on asthmatics in the Smokies?”  Excellent question and thanks for writing in.  Well, the highest that the Smokies get is just over 6000 feet.  So you are a little over a mile high.  But for the most part, most of the trails have an elevation of between 2000 and 2500 feet on average.  Many of them are under 1500 feet.  But to get to the main part of the answer, generally, I would say no.  The height won’t mess with it much unless your son has really bad asthma or exercise induced asthma.  My wife and brother are both asthmatics and have had very little problems, even around Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in the Smokies.  We always carry inhalers on the trails and have had to use them a couple of times, but it has never induced an attack.  If you are really worried about it, do a couple trails in lower elevations and check it out.  But it’s not like the Rockies where anyone could suddenly have issues from the asthma.  It’s generally not a problem here.

Sara wrote in and is planning on honeymooning in the Gatlinburg area….congrats Sara!  Sara wanted to know about places that you can shoot a bow and arrow in the park.  Apparently her husband to be is quite the archer, with tournament wins and the whole thing.  The problem is that she can’t find anyplace close.  Now Sara did say she found a place north of the park.  I assume you mean in Knoxville.  I know there is a pretty big place there that would suit your needs, but it is pretty far away.  Now as far as in the national park goes, there is nowhere.  I don’t know much about this to be honest with you.  My archery skills ended with the plastic bow and arrows with the suction cups on the end when I was about eight.  I did call the park service and asked them about locations this week, and they said there were none in the park and they couldn’t provide me with a place to go that was close.  However, I distinctly remember a place in Townsend a few years back that offered this.  It was a private business, but very close to the national park….like within a few miles.  I can’t remember the name or exactly where it was.  Yes, I know I am very helpful.  However, I know that plenty of locals listen to the show.  So if you are listening now and can help me and Sara out with this, please write in and let me know, or comment on the show thread on the website or on Facebook.  Otherwise they will have to drive up to the one in Knoxville.  I will suggest one other thing.  Get in touch with the Smoky Mountain Archers Club in Knoxville.  They should have good info to help you out as well.  Thanks so much for writing in Sara, for the compliments about the show, and of course for listening.  Best of luck to you and your husband to be!

Friend of the show Curt wrote in lets see….about a month ago and had a really interesting question that we talked about back and forth quite a bit.  He wrote:  Do you know why Gatlinburg does not enforce bear proof trashcans within the city limits? Love the show!”  Well thanks for that Curt, and this is a question that I had years ago as well.  If you have stayed in Gatlinburg, Wears Valley, Pigeon Forge near the park, or even Townsend, you have probably either seen a bear in town, or seen what is left of the trash when the bears get into it.  Curt took an amazing picture of a bear in a trashcan right in Gatlinburg near Ober Gatlinburg.  It happens all the time.  If it’s not the bears, raccoons are always turning over cans and spilling trash all over, which of course brings the bears closer.  There is video on Youtube of bears running through the streets of Gatlinburg.  It’s crazy, but there aren’t dumb.  They go where the food is.  If you go IN the national park, all the cans are bear proof.  Duh, right?  But they are expensive, and that is the deal.  Businesses don’t want to pay the extra money.  The city won’t pay for it, so it is what it is.  But for safety’s sake, this should have been done years ago.  I’m completely with you Curt.  The wheels of progress move very slowly everywhere, and that includes the Smokies.  Thanks for writing in again my friend.

Randy wrote in….yes famous Randy, to let us know a great tip about the AT in Georgia.  We’ve got a lot of listeners that are into all things Appalachian Trail, and Randy down there in Georgia has been shuttling hikers to the start for quite some time now.  How friggin’ cool is that???  But he did say that he wanted to let everyone know that the Len Foote Hike Inn connects right to the AT and is just about a mile away.  It is much easier than the approach trail from Amicalola Falls and shorter as well.  To top it off, you get decent lodging and a good meal before you start.  Since that approach trail doesn’t even count towards your AT mileage, i’m all about making it easier to get started.  Good stuff as always Randy.  And if you are getting started on the AT in Georgia or simply going to hike part of it down there and you have questions, be sure to send them in and i’ll send them Randy’s way.  He knows his stuff about the AT down there and can help you make sure you get started right.  Thanks again for writing in my friend.

Jake from Severville wrote in with a short but sweet message.  “Love the show, great content.  The snakes are out.  Watch your step!”  Yes, it is that time of year again when the snakes get back out.  Just watch where you walk.  There are a few snakes hole here, there and everywhere around the trails.  Just watch for their telltale holes, and watch around roots and under rocks.  They like it there.  Again, i’ve never had a problem with a snake on trail and most people won’t either.  Just be aware of your surroundings and like bears, give them there space.  Good tip, Jake.  Thanks for writing in.

Betsy from New York, New York wrote in and said, “I loved the Landon sement!  When will he be back on?”  Thanks Betsy.  I’ve gotten some great feedback about having my little nephew on our last show.  If you missed that, it is episode 58 about the Smokies from a kid’s perspective.  What I think I will do going forward is if you have a question that you would like Landon to answer, send it in and after we have a few piled up, i’ll get him back on for a segment.  And he is itching to get back on, so I think we can work that out.  Thanks for writing in Betsy.

Manuel wrote in to comment on Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee.  He said, “why is this casino so popular and expensive?  Nobody wins and you have to pay for drinks?”  Haha, thanks for writing in Manuel and for listening.  I’ve had that same thought a few times, and my wife has it all the time.  It’s expensive because it is the only option within over a hundred miles in any direction.  Nobody wins because they make those machines as tight as they want to and people still play.  And no free drinks because I believe those are the rules the tribe has made.  I don’t think it is state law, but I could be wrong about that.  Some states do not allow free drinks when gambling.  I’m honestly not sure if NC is one of those or not.  I agree that it stinks though.  It is pricey to boot.  I’ve had fun there, but it’s not on my must do list with every trip.  I’ll tell you what I tell myself after every trip I have to casino…..better luck next time!

Finally for today, Jill wrote in to ask about an upcoming trip to Dollywood in…let’s see….oh, three weeks.  I better get this answered.  “On our next trip we will be going to Dollywood with our two children, 13 and 11.  Should we set aside the whole day or just part of it?  Well, good question.  Dollywood is open again for the season and with it comes that question alot.  Personally, I think that you will be able to see everything that you want to see in less than a day.  However, that being said, go early.  Be there at least 30 minutes before the park opens.  Lines get long very quickly for many attractions.  You will get a ton done early.  Then you can either leave and come back or just leave when you are done.  If you try to start that park halfway through the day, you won’t get to ride much and the experience will not be positive.  There is enough there to see and do to keep you busy for several hours and if you take your time you can stay busy all day.  It is a fun park.  But get there early to see the most with the least amount of crowds and craziness.  Thanks for writing in Jill and for listening.

And with that, I am closing the mailbag for this week.

BOOK REVIEW

I have lost the email about this, but a listener wrote in to ask me if I had read a book about hiking the AT called “Hiking Through” by Paul Stutzman.  He had picked it up I believe in an airport and had started reading it.  I had read it several years ago but couldn’t remember all the details, so I decide to reread it.  Here is a review of that book.  Like many books, it is a hiking memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Like so many books on hiking, this guy decides to hike after a life changing event.  In this case, his wife sadly dies from cancer.  Don’t think i’m giving away much there.  He reveals that in the first few pages.  Anyway, he quits his job and heads for the trail.  He recounts experiences with good details and has a storytelling style that keeps you engaged.  Like many folks, he has religious elements in the story.  There’s nothing wrong with that, certainly.  And in the beginning, it is simply another part of the journey.  Unfortunately, as time goes on and he gets further along the trail, this seems to become the entire focus.  By the last couple of chapters, it is very preachy and the trail becomes a secondary journey.  If you are looking for a spiritual book, this will be right up your alley.  But I want a book about hiking and the trail, so for me it became more of an annoyance.  I found myself skipping pages as I got closer to the end just to find things that were actually about the trail.  It is a good story of loss, life, triumph, and faith.  But again, when I read a book about the trail, I want the focus to be on the trail, the hardships, the experiences, and the characters along the way.  This one deviated too much for me to really keep me engaged the whole way.  Other books incorporate other things like faith, relationships, injuries, and loved ones along the way without losing the focus of the book.  Ones that come to mind are A Walk for Sunshine and Love at First Hike.  These weave these outside elements into the story without taking away from it.  For me, I say this is about a three-star book.  The first half is excellent.  The second part is not nearly as good.  I read the first hundred pages in about two hours.  The last half of the book took me another two days to get through.  Not a bad book, but certainly not on my list of must reads for hiking.  Thanks for the idea listener, and I am so sorry I lost the email.  I’ve got a better system in place to make sure all my feedback gets printed out and kept.  Live and learn, right?  When I started the show I didn’t think anyone would ever write in so I didn’t set up a system to deal with it.  Oops.  Anyway.

I’ll put more information about this book in the show notes and on smokymountainsradio.com

POST:

We are getting close to the end of our show, but before we go I do invite you to check out our website at SmokyMountainsRadio.com for all your Smokies needs. Coming up, I’ve got brand new show topics, new Spotlight Hikes, and much more, so I hope you will stay with us in the coming weeks and months.  That is going to do it for this one.  It is Spring time in the Smokies.  That means warm days, cold nights, and a chance for rain basically every single day.  So get out the gear, prepare for the worst, have the best time, and….GO TAKE A HIKE!

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