Ep. 69 – I’m Back!


This week on Episode 69 Smoky Mountains Radio, …………….that’s right, We are back here at SMR! It’s a welcome back episode. Tonight, I say hello after a long hiatus, give you a long drawn out explanation about my absence, and get to some of your listener feedback that has been piling up over the last two months. In between, I promise to talk about what we are here for….the Great Smoky Mountains! Let’s Go!


It is Sunday, October 11, 2015 and this is Episode 69 of Smoky Mountains Radio.  Hello friends! It is so good to be back with you here on Smoky Mountains Radio. It has been nearly three months since the last show and my hiatus, but I am back baby and so glad to be back with you. I have truly missed doing the show and interacting with all of you. Thanks to everyone that that has stuck with me during the time and written me either through email or Facebook while I was gone. Good hearing from Randy, Curt, Wes, Jill, Angela, and more of you than I can remember. I wasn’t able to get back with many of you, but I promise that I read everything you sent, and i’ve started catching up with you.

Yes, I needed a bit of a break. All kinds of things happening here at the ranch, but everything is all good. It’s not going to slow down anytime soon, but hey, I missed the show so I decided it was just time to come back. Jill had the best theory…that I am a CIA spy and I was sent to infiltrate a group overseas to secure nuclear material. What a cool life I lead! I had no idea. Good one Jill, but not even close. No, just lots of changes happening at the same time just like many of you out there. But all is well I assure you. Thanks to everybody for the good vibes sent my way. I am planning doing a regular show from here on out, but since life often gets in the way and I would rather not have a show than put out something subpar, my new plan is to do a show every two weeks. That way I can be sure to have shows out on a regular basis. Not sure at this point if I can do weekly or not, so I don’t want to do an on again off again thing. So it is on. The next show will be Sunday, the 25th. Today’s show is going out pretty late. Most of you won’t find it until Monday most likely. BUT, going forward,the show will be available Sunday mornings at the stroke of midnight.

I know there are many of you that are just catching the show for the first time, so you have no idea who I am or why you should even care that I have been gone for so long. To you I say, welcome! And of course, where have you been. I sat around for over two years waiting for you to come on board. Okay, i’m just messing with you. I am a little sarcastic….okay, a lot sarcastic. But to get back on track, To those of you who have just found our show, i’m Mike, and i’ll once again be your guide around the 800 plus square miles of the Smoky Mountains and the 150 square miles of towns that border the parks.  If need info about coming to the Smokies, you will find it here.  Put my 40 years of experience to work for you to have the best vacation possible.  Thanks for making Smoky Mountains Radio part of your week, and I hope you find something in the show that you can use on your next trip.

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.  So for those of you who have been refreshing the website in tears every five minutes for the last two months waiting for a new episode, you don’t have to do that. Just subscribe to the show!  Okay, maybe you haven’t been that beat up about it, but subscribing to the show makes you get everything as it happens.  And while you are in iTunes or Stitcher, leave me a review if you would.  Those links can also be found on the site .  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 if you have a question or comment are right on the website at SmokyMountainsRadio.com.  Finally, if you like the show, all that I ask is that you help spread the word.

Now, let’s get on with the show!

Listener Feedback

I’ve had a ton of feedback and questions while i’ve been gone, and i’m going to spend a little time on it this week. Our first question comes from Ralph in Centerville, TN. He writes, “Hey Mike, love the show. The hikes and reviews are the best! We are planning on coming to the mountains soon but wanted to wait until the leaves were at their peak. Is there a best time to make sure the colors are in full bloom? Thanks so much for everything you do.” Well thank you Ralph. And your question is both easy and hard at the same time. Generally speaking, the best time to see fall colors is Mid October through mid November. If you went today, you would see some great colors. But it is different every years. Depends entirely on the weather and when it starts turning colder for days and days at a time. Last year, we were well into November until the leaves were at their peak. By what it looks like now, i’m guessing that by the end of the month it will be at its peak and start to fade into November. October is the busiest and often the most expensive month of the year. For that reason, I like to wait until the first week of November to visit. But if it is an early bloom, you could miss out. It is impossible to time exactly, so my best advice is to go now.

Rick wrote in about something he saw in the news. “Hey Mike, I saw this today and thought I would share. Numbers from 2014 show that that year was the highest attendance year in the history of the Smoky Mountains. Looks like you need another show about beating traffic. Keep up the good work!” Thanks Rick, and you are right. It is now perpetually busy. Off peak times used to be dead, and I mean dead. If you went in February years ago, many shops and restaurants didn’t open at all, motels shut down, and huge construction projects were started because there were not a bunch of people to get caught in it. Trails often closed and reopened without notice because few people were hiking them. Yep, those days are over. I’m glad more people are finding the Smokies. It is great. But the Facebook messages and emails i’ve got from many of you really show your frustration with the added people. Here’s a few. “Hey Mike, i’m trying to go take a hike, but there are currently 1,100,251 cars between me and the trailhead.” “I’ve seen parked cars move faster that the traffic on the parkway.” “After two hours in Pigeon Forge traffic, i’ve gone so crazy that a t-shirt shop sounds like a lot of fun.” “I believe that before I make it to the motel, I will have seen sunrise and sunset from my car in Sevierville.” “I hear the mountains are beautiful. But all I see is the the bumper sticker reading Treehugger on the Suburban in front of me. I want to beat this treehugger getting one mile per gallon with a tree.” And finally, “Mike, the worst part about slow traffic in Gatlinburg is not seeing the t-shirt shops. It is seeing the kind of people that go into them.” Ouch! yep, all those extra people have made us grumpy….myself included. But maybe they will have an amazing experience that they take back that gets someone else involved in the outdoors, or maybe their kids. Either way, it’s good to me. Like i’ve said before, hikers are the most cool people i’ve met anywhere. People relax and behave better in the mountains. I don’t know what it is, but it happens. Maybe they take that back home. That’s good news for everybody.  So yeah, I like the numbers.

This week Curt posted on the page that there is a new DVD out at the visitors centers called “Mount LeConte Sacred Mountain of the Smokies.” I have not seen all of it just yet, but I am curious what you thought about it. So let me know how you like it. Some of their videos have been great while others put you to sleep. The narration in this one is a bit boring but it is diverse enough that there is something that everybody should give it a look. I will say this, the visuals in this are gorgeous, so I suggest getting it in blu-ray. This is one you will want in high def. Thanks Curt.

Ricardo, I realized that I only saw your Facebook post this morning from way back in August. I hope you had a had a great trip to the Smokies and had a safe trip back to Wisconsin…..And Ricardo, Go Bears! Down with the cheese heads! Sorry, i’m a Chicago native…had to be done!

Abande (hope i’m pronouncing that right), wrote in to ask about trail closures for bear activity. Bear activities have been crazy high this year. The park service has been awesome about getting the word out but it is still worrisome I know. Abande wrote, “I prefer not to be lunch for Smoky the Bear. Where should I avoid on my next trip?” The good news is, the bear sighting are getting far less frequent. It is nearly time for them to go away for the winter and they are getting more and more scarce. They are still being seen most heavily on the trails around LeConte and the Cades Cove area, but nothing like we saw over the summer. The only concern is that they are getting ready for hibernation and fattening up. This and the time just after they wake up tend to be their most aggressive time. That being said, don’t worry about it. Your chances of seeing a bear on a major trail this time of year is pretty slim. If you are really worried about it, stay on the really busy trails like Laurel Falls, Abrams Falls, or one’s like that. You won’t see anything i’d say.

Ivan wrote in from New Hampshire and wants to know if the Smokies are difficult. Anybody else want to take this one? Anyway, Ivan writes, “We live within driving distance to the Appalachian Trail and our favorite hiking is to take a trip over the presidential range on the AT. We are planning to coming to hike the Smokies south this summer to meet a friend of ours hiking the AT during that time. I’ve heard the Smokies are rocky and high, but are they any more difficult than the hiking back home? Thanks for the help, and I love the show.” Thanks Ivan, and the easy answer is that if you can handle the mountains up there, you are going to have no problem down here. There are tons of ups and downs, lots of ridge line walking, but if you can handle the White Mountains, the Smokies are doable no problem. It is probably the toughest hiking South of the Whites in the Appalachian chain, but if you are doing the presidential range, you can handle any mountain in the Smokies, no problem.

Denise wrote in with what will be one of our show topics for next time….moving to the Smokies. She write, “I have listened to the show from day one and we love it. Please come back!” Well okay, here I am. Anyway. “We have been visiting the Smokies for the last decade and we are sick of making the drive from Atlanta all the time and just want to move to the area. Can you give us some ideas of what to look for or what to expect?” Well Denise, as I said I am going to do a long segment on this next time, so I will give you a ton of detail next show, but in the meantime I will say it is a great move, and it is a pretty complicated market. There is a lot to consider. And I have gotten this question several times over the previous years, so we will devote plenty of time to it, so please stay tuned and thanks for the question.

Our friend and former AT hiker Jack wrote in last month with words of encouragement. “Hey Mike, get off your butt and do a show. I know you are just sitting around all day in your underwear eating ice cream. Walk to the computer and do a show already. My morning commute is even worse since your hiatus. Get on it man. I’m dying here. I’m not on the AT anymore, i’m stuck in a cubicle. I went from a 50-100 mile view to a 6×6 cubicle with a picture of the mountains tacked to the wall. Oh yeah, and I hope you are doing well.” Well thanks Jack, right to the point as always. I would expect nothing less.

And finally for this week is listener Candace. She wrote, “Mike, my week is not complete without having somebody telling me to go take a hike.” Time for you to come back. Well Candace, i’m back, and i’m happy to help!

There is plenty more, but i’ll save it for next time. That will do it for your listener feedback!


I’m hoping to have a real estate friend of mine on the show next week to discuss moving to the Smokies and I am in the process of lining up one of my favorite authors about hiking on the show. There is lots to come, so I hope everyone will stay tuned!

Thanks for listening this week. Whether you are new to the show or been with me for the whole run, I thank you for taking the time out of your busy week to listen.   Glad to back with you all once again. Help me out and let your friends know that we are back. I know several of you guys have already done that, so thanks a bunch. I appreciate you guys so much, and I want to get several of you involved in the show in the weeks and months to come.  Be sure to contact me with any questions or comments you have or if you just want to chat about the Great Smoky Mountains.  I really enjoy my conversations with you all.  That is about it for this edition of Smoky Mountains Radio.  But until next time, it’s starting to get chilly. Temps in the Smokies are getting down into the forties and even upper thirties at night with highs in the 60’s and 70’s during the day. It won’t be long until we see the snow falling on the upper peaks. So dress in layers, grab a warm jacket and Go Take a Hike!




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“KM-19” theme music provided by The Breakmen.  Find them at www.thebreakmen.com

Posted in Podcast
2 comments on “Ep. 69 – I’m Back!
  1. John says:

    Mike, it’s great to hear you’re back! Please continue your informative and fun show. Keep up the good work. BTW, I just happened to recently meet two AT thru-hikers that live near my house. Man, one of these days….

    John Feeney
    Portage, IN

  2. Teresa Wright says:

    Let’s go Talk a Hike!! I am a bad knew person but determined age: 57

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