When The Weatherman Blows The Forecast (aka Our Epic Venture To Long Branch Shelter)

It is sunny when we leave Atlanta and the forecast is for temperatures in the 50's in nearby Franklin, N.C.  But as we drive the 2 1/2 hours north to the Appalachian Trail we spot a line of clouds and a cold front pushing in from the Northwest. Mobile checks at the Weather Channel has the forecast in constant flux - and deteriorating quickly. The light rain projected to hit in the late afternoon arrives as snow and a winter advisory is issued for North Georgia and Western N.C.  But we press on and take the Long Branch Trail two miles and 800 feet up to the ridgeline and the Appalachian Trail at Glassmine Gap. Fortunately we have heard rumors of a new shelter in this area but the two-story structure is not … [Read more...]

Newfound Gap Road Closed Due To Landslide

Fortunately, we had no delays during our annual winter hike in the Smokies last weekend, but Newfound Gap is now officially closed per the Hiking The Smokies blog: "A landslide along Newfound Gap Road near mile marker 22 has caused an extended  closure of the road. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed Newfound Gap  Road (U.S. 441) due to a landslide which undercut the road near mile marker 22  between Collins Creeks and Webb Overlook at 9:40 am. The slide is estimated to  be a 200 foot section of road extending 1000 foot down slope, but the full  extent of the damage is not yet known. The closure is expected to be in effect  for an extended period of time."  Normally it is snow that closes … [Read more...]

Video Of Steven Ainsworth’s Helicopter Rescue In The Smokies

In early November, I posted an article about an Appalachian Trail southbound thru-hiker that was rescued in the Smokies after riding out Hurricane Sandy.  Steven Ainsworth battled record snowfall and survived for three days before calling 911 for help.  Here's footage and some commentary from the HuffPost on the helicopter rescue:   Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Brad Lund and his crew of three had taken to the air after park rangers on foot failed to reach Ainsworth.   "We have had numerous rescues on the Appalachian Trail, but these weather conditions were the most extreme in my 13-year history," Lund told HuffPost.   Lund, formerly in the Navy, described how conditions worsened between their departure … [Read more...]