SMM 2 – Tips, Feedback, and News From Around the Mountains

Smoky Mountains Minute #2:

Hello everyone!  Welcome to our second edition of Smoky Mountains Minute.  This is the place where I will be giving you news from around the mountain, listener feedback, and anything else that I couldn’t fit into our weekly regular show.  It is good to be back with you this week after my long hiatus as I have battled several little health issues.  So thanks for sticking around and welcome back to the show!  Let’s get right to it.

  1. Wow!  Winter is here!  We talked about it a little bit on Sunday, but this was one heck of a storm.  Up to 16 inches of snow fell in the Smokies, and it caused major problems.  Trees and power lines went down all over the place blocking roads and causing a ton of power outages.  People in campsites had to be evacuated.  People in cabins were stuck in their homes.  There was even a rescue on trail in the Cosby area due to falling trees.  Basically every road in the park was shut down.  There were accidents and people scrambling to get off the mountains.  When it hit, it hit hard.  It is so weird to think that the temps had been up in the 50s and even 70’s just a few days before.  Now it is a winter wonderland.  Cleanup is still going on though most roads are now open.  It’s just another reminder to use caution out there.  From now through May, the weather is going to be quite unpredictible.
  2. Nashville was named the top tourist destination in the state of Tennessee last week with just over 12 million visiting Music City.  I have to admit that at first I was a little surprised by this when you consider that nearly 10 million a year visit the Smokies, but those folks are spread between Tennessee and North Carolina, so I guess it shouldn’t be that much of a shock.  Still, I have never really seen Nashville as a tourist destination.  Sure, they have the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and various major and minor league sports teams, but I wouldn’t have really ever called it a destination.  I do wonder if that number counts the large number of people that come here on business.
  3. This news is a couple weeks old, but the park service had to evacuate several campers at the Elkmont Campground due to rising waters.  It rained a lot, and the low lying areas can flood really quickly.  Everybody was fine, which is great news.  It is something to keep in mind if you camp at lower elevations.  On the plus side, the waterfalls, cascades, and streams have been beautiful.  The water is really rushing about now.  That’s likely about as good as it’s going to get until Spring next year.  That is really something when you consider they just had to evacuate campers this week due to snow.
  4. A family of 6 managed to get themselves lost on the way to Mount LeConte this week.  Apparently the parents and 4 children headed to Mount LeConte via the Bullhead Trail at about in the afternoon hours and called 911 from close to the summit at 2:30 in the morning.  They were eventually found five hours later and taken to LeConte Lodge to get food and warmth.  They were quite lucky to be in the location they were.  No word on why they started such a long and difficult day hike with 4 kids so late in the day or why they weren’t better prepared.  They were all okay though, which is obviously goods.  Kudos again to the park rangers for their quick response.
  5. If you are listening to this the day it is released, you will have two days left to get on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail before it closes for the entire winter.  Get out there today.
  6. The colors have peaked in the Smokies this fall season, and a little earlier than I was expecting. The winter storm is no doubt going to change everything pretty quickly.  It is gorgeous at the moment as you can see all the fall colors against the backdrop of the heavy snow.  It’s something you don’t see to often.
  7. I’ve seen several tweets from the Smokies twitter page that give you an update on when sunset will take place.  This is good information for photographers that want the best pictures as well as an added measure of safety.  Don’t hike a trail you are not familiar with at night.  It is easier to get lost and have problems…especially if the trail has a bunch of junctions, water crossings, or is difficult to follow even in the daylight.
  8. WVLT out of Knoxville is reporting that a big chunk of land where Arrowcraft is on the Parkway in Gatlinburg is looking to be redeveloped.  If you aren’t familiar with this area, it is on the left side of the road coming in from pigeon forge and has a little craft and arts area.  They have a lot of land that goes up into the mountain.  I was really hoping that given the vibe of the place, they might revitalize the area with arts and crafts that have almost disappeared from town.  You have to go out to the Arts N Crafts Community near Gatlinburg-Pittman High School or into Wears Valley to get much of that these days.  But, it looks like they are doing parking areas, some retail, and tree houses that you can stay overnight it.  While that sounds a little cool, I would really like to see local painters and artisans there.  Oh well, i’ll try to keep an open mind until it is done.
  9. Nicole wrote in this week with a question.  “When can I expect the bears to be away, since you said they are out and hungry right now?”  Thanks for the question and for writing in Nicole.  Obviously there is not a set date.  It would be awesome if the bears used a calendar and said on November 24 we shall hibernate.  But it varies due to many factors each year.  You can expect though that will likely hibernate around the last week week of November through the first two weeks of December.  Past this and closer to Christmas, I have rarely seen a bear out and about.  They are still active now, and there are bear cautions all over, so do be aware of that, but it won’t be long now.
  10. Mitch wrote in this week to give us an update on Cades Cove during this busy time.  He wrote, I was at Cades Cove this past Sunday.  Traffic was backed up over a mile just to get into the loop and after we got in, it took us three hours to get through it.  It is packed with people.  Thanks for the update Mitch.  This is pretty typical this time of year.  If you can do the Smokies during the week during the autumn season, you will leave with a lot more sanity.  I do my best to stay away during those times, OR I think they are the perfect time to get into the parts of the park that are not bombarded with people.  We’ve talked about some of those places in previous episodes, so check our back catalog if that interests you.  Thanks for writing in Mitch.
  1. TIP OF THE WEEK:  Our tip of the week comes from James.  James writes, if you want to enjoy Cades Cove without the crowds, go on Wednesdays and Thursdays when the road is closed to everyone but walkers and bikers.  Great tip James!  I love being in Cades Cove when the cars are not aloud on the road.  If you haven’t done it, give it a try.  You can rent bicycles right at Cades Cove Campground.  I promise you will have a whole new appreciation for this entire area.  If you have a tip you’d like to share, send it in to me at
  1. Thanks to everyone that has liked the show and followed us Facebook and Twitter.  As a reminder, be sure to subscribe to the show in I-tunes and Stitcher.  Reviews are a helpful way to get the word out about the show and website, so please take a minute to leave us a review.  Spread the word about the show with your friends, so let them know about it.  And as always, I love hearing from all of you, so send me a message or call the listener line.  All that information can be found right on our website at Smoky Mountains  I do invite you to check out the terrific band that you hear every week on the show.  The Breakmen provide our intro and outro music each week.  Our tune is KM19, but they have all kinds of stuff you can listen to right on their website,, so I do invite you to check that out.

I’ll be back with you again on Sunday for our full show.  Happy hump day, and have a good rest of the week everybody.  See ya.

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