Tony's Outdoor Guide
Traveling across the U.S, I get to visit a lot of our
National Parks, state parks, wildlife refuges, etc. National parks is
one of our greatest national treasures. Getting out and experiencing
the wonders of nature is a great way to relax and spend your free time.
Charlie and I love to walk the many hiking trails.
Here are some of the places we have visited and hiked:
We were fortunate to choose the Page Valley in Virginia for our first escapade experience after becoming Full-Time RV'ers. Our rig was parked between the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and the North West boundary of Shenandoah National Park. Most of the trees were still bare, so we had a clear view up the west slope of Dickey Ridge. We could watch auto traffic on Skyline Drive and people at Signal Knob and Gooney Run Overlooks. The higher elevations were mostly gray, but the green line of new vegetation crept up the slopes changing the vista daily.
We visited the Park often during April, May, and June of 1996. I especially liked the frequent pull-outs and parking lots. The traffic usually moved smoothly, except when animals were visible. The biggest traffic tie-up we experienced was caused by a black bear mother and cub. That delay was worth it when we finally saw them, more than thirty feet up in a large pine tree by the road side! On another long drive Faye went into a snack bar to get us drinks while I took Charlie for a walk. Charlie usually keeps his leash extended to the limit, so I was surprised by him running back and sitting on my feet as I was preparing a drink for him. I looked up to see a very young fawn walking slowly towards us with its head down and eyes on Charlie. The fawn stopped about ten feet away, then Charlie barked and the fawn ran into the brush.
A SIMPLE FOOTPATH
Conservationist Benton MacKaye proposed development of a "simple footpath" as an experiment in regional planning. The work began in 1922 and was not completed until 1937. Now this footpath goes through eight national forests and two national parks. The lowest elevation on the trail is near sea level in New York where it crosses the Hudson River. The highest point is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Clingmans Dome. The first complete trail hike (which takes from four to six months to complete) occurred in 1948 from Georgia to Maine. As you read this, there are probably hundreds of hikers on this simple footpath, which is known today as the APPALACHIAN TRAIL.Click here for more information on The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.
A RECYCLED LAND
Native Americans called it "The Land That Smokes", but the haze in the Great Smoky Mountains is just the breath of trees who moved south during the last ice age. I don't blame them for wanting to remain in the neighborhood. Some people say the mountains are about 200 million years old. Cherokee Indians reigned in the area until white settlers arrived in the early 1700's. Two hundred years later, after the farm land had been overworked and logging had stripped to much of the forest from the land, writer Horace Kephart helped lead the movement that created the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
We spent a week in Kodak, Tennessee in the fall of 1997 and visited the Great Smoky Mountains a few times. One day I hiked to the top of Mount Le Conte and back. One afternoon we learned about mountain living in the Cades Cove area. One weekday morning I started very early and drove into the park at Gatlinburg. I turned west at the Sugarlands visitor center and drove through the park to Townsend. From Townsend I drove through the Wear Valley area and Sevierville, then back to Kodak. The park was almost deserted, so I drove as slow as I wanted, stopping at most of the pull-outs and all of the trail heads. During these stops the only sound was the water running in the creeks, the wind in the trees, and bird calls. I am proud of the way our nation has recycled this part of our world.