SMM 3 – News From Around the Mountain and Listener Feedback

Smoky Mountains Minute #3:

Hello everyone!  Welcome to Edition 3 of the Smoky Mountains Minute.  This is your home for News From Around the Mountain, listener feedback, tips, and anything else that I couldn’t fit into our weekly regular show.  Be sure to check out for all your Smoky Mountains needs.  Let’s get right into it.

  1. Wow!  The snow storms did some damage last week.  Bunches of people without power, and there are even a couple of roads that are still being cleaned up.  The snow was so heavy that even the Laurel Falls trail was not spared.  When you think high elevation hiking, you don’t tend to think Laurel Falls.  But, with just about 7 inches of snow there, the trail got hit hard.  There was small damage around the trail, but the biggest problem was a narrow section of trail that essentially experienced a landslide right off the mountain.  Now this one is nowhere near the damage like the road near newfound gap the last couple of years.  But, a big retaining wall must be built to make it stable.  The good news is it should be complete this week.
  2. There has been a debate for years about outlawing firewood inside the national park.  The problem is that outside wood sometimes bring in insects that kill trees and plants and seriously disturb the ecosystem.  The park service is expected to have rules in place one way or another before the new year.
  3. Yes, the battle in court over backcountry fees continues.  Still no word on how that one is going to turn out.  The battle is over the $4 per person/per night fee to stay in a campsite or 10 bucks a night to stay in a shelter.  Again, I love free stuff, but there is no admission to the national park.  If the money is spent to further the guest experience and make improvements, I don’t see a problem with it.  As far as i’m concerned, it is a small investment in the future.
  4. Winterfest is under way around the Smokies.  That means the holiday lights are up and you can expect some great events, most of them free, from the  towns all around the mountains.  Check out the event schedule for the town you go to for the best information.
  5. It may be hard to believe, but the chimney tops trail is almost ready to officially open.  It has been closed for a massive refurb for about three years, and only open sporadically to guests on weekends this whole time.  I’ve been reporting on it since this show first aired, but it looks like in mid December, it will finally be open for business all the time.  Its one of the best hikes in the park.  I’m looking forward to the completion.
  6. I found a lost email from Mark that had gone wayward.  I really appreciate you and your wife listening to the show.  Thanks a lot man.  Much thanks.
  7. I really thought that when I started the show that my biggest listening base would be around the Smokies.  It is so cool to have listeners from just about everywhere.  We’ve got folks not only from TN and NC, but also from Lousiana, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, Illonois, Oregon, California, and much more.  All total people are listening in 42 states and 11 countries including England, Scotland, Spain, and even India.  That is just very cool guys.  hope you are digging the show and keep listening.
  8. Evan wrote in this week to ask about backpacks.  Specifically, he wants to know how big of a pack to carry.  So, this is a personal choice, but most backpacks are measured in liters.  A good daypack should be about 20 liters.  If I am overnighting or hiking in winter, I like at least a 30 liter pack.  If i’m hiking more than just a couple days, you should probably go anywhere between 40-60 liters.  More than that is overkill.  You will usually find a way to completely fill whatever size pack you carry.  Stick to any decent brand and you will be good.  Gregory, Kelty,  or REI to name a few.
  9. Jeff wrote in and wants some multi day hikes on the show.  Jeff, i looked back at the archive, and you are right, we are in need of more of those.  I’ve only really done two in 44 episodes.  I’ll get you a new one in the next couple of weeks.  Thanks for listening Jeff.
  10. Celina wrote in and asked what drew me to hiking.  that is really a good question.  It started because my dad was a hiker, so i wanted to be like dad.   then it was just a great way to spend time with him and my brother….mom and sister are not hikers.  but over the years I just feel most at home and at peace there.  I cant explain it better than that.  Over the years my obsession has grown mountaineering with hopes to do Rainier and Denali in the near future.  But I just love the mountains.  The air is better, the people are better, the scenery is better…..everything is just better when you are there.  I saw a Facebook post recently that said something to the effect…”try to be mad when you are in the mountains.  Bet you can’t do it.”  And I agree with this.  Even in times when my knees give out and i’m hurting from head to toe, there is still no place id rather be.  Thanks for that question Celina.
  11. My wife and I will be trying a new cabin company next month, so i’ll give you a full review on that when we get back.  That will hopefully be good info for you guys.  I get questions on choosing a cabin all the time.  Hopefully I will have one I can recommend using….or staying away from…..after this trip.
  1. TIP OF THE WEEK:  Our tip of the week comes from Braxton from Branson, Missouri.  Braxton writes with a simple but really important tip.  If you are in Gatlinburg and there is already snow accumulation, going up into the mountains is not smart.  I agree completely.  This is a great tip for this time of year.  I have been in not only Gatlinburg, but in all those mountain towns and seen a couple of inches on the ground and more coming in, and yet, people head up in elevation.  This is not wise.  As we saw a week or so ago, there was about 2-4 inches in surrounding towns and up to 20 inches at higher elevations.  Don’t chance it.  4-wheel drive will only help you so much.  Be smart and safe.  Thanks for that Braxton.  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’ll be back with you again on Sunday for our full show.  Have a good rest of the week everyone and thanks for listening.  See ya.

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