Safety First – Sandy’s a Blowin’ in

HURRICANE SANDY WARNING

Hurricane Sandy will have major impacts on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England states. If you had planned to hike this week, postpone your plans.  If you are hiking now, leave the Trail and seek shelter in a sound structure in town or at a hostel or (least preferred option) an A.T. shelter. Use extreme caution during and following the storm. Impacts from flooding and tree damage from high winds are likely to be extensive. Small stream crossings will become extremely hazardous with rainfall exceeding 12-inches in some locations. Emergency response may be delayed or nonexistent due to heavily taxed resources and access issues. Cell and electronic communications may not be available for an extended period. In some areas of the trail, users should be prepared for the potential of snow accumulation that could hinder foot travel and hasten the threat for hypothermia or frostbite. Hikers should always remember their obligations to potential rescuers, and stay safe and out of trouble. This is your responsibility!

Several areas that the Appalachian Trail passes through have been closed or have issued alerts. Pay attention to local agency closures and weather alerts for more information.  Known closures or alerts:

NH White Mountain National Forest http://www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain

VT Green Mountain National Forest http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/greenmountain/alerts-notices/?aid=15249

New Jersey State Parks http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/

New York State parks www.governor.ny.gov

NYDEC (state forests) http://nynjtc.org/content/catskill-trails-updates

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: www.nps.gov/hafe

Shenandoah National Park www.nps.gov/dewa 

Please monitor National Weather Service for up-to-date forecasts and local conditions as well as agency websites for closures and advisories. Be prepared with extra food, water, batteries, clothing and find adequate shelter during the storm.

Special Note to A.T. Maintainers: Please standby for more detailed instructions from ATC, and do not venture into the woods until any damage has time to settle. Your regional directors will be in touch with plans for our damage assessments, working with local agency closures and permissions before venturing out.

Kayah’s Family Hiking Day Adventure

 Hot Springs, NC A.T. Ambassador shares her story from Sept 29th, 2012

Despite the forecast for a lot of rain and possible lightning, ten brave hikers came out to hike on the Appalachian Trail for Family Hike Day.   There were three teenage boys, one 11 year old girl, and six adults.  The original route that was planned would lead the hike over Firescald Ridge, a very exposed ridgeline.  We all agreed that was not where we wanted to be during a lightning storm, and so we chose a new route.     The new plan was to hike from Brown Gap, 3.5 miles North to Max Patch for lunch, turn around, and hike back.

The hike began with a steep climb, and soon became a series of smaller ups and downs.  This section of trail leads through a mixed hardwood forest.  A lot of the trees are very old and big.  The fog was so dense that you could not see far from you, but the brightly colored Autumn leaves really seemed to shine through, creating a scenery like something you see more often in the movies.  The Southern Appalachian mountains are most beautiful to me, in the Autumn.    I think that most people prefer to hike on clear sunny days.  I am so glad that we did not stay inside this day!

As we climbed out of the forest to the top of Max Patch, we lost the protection from the wind that the trees had provided.  The wind picked up with such force.  Everyone began putting on whatever extra layers of warm clothes they had with them.   One hiker had said that he’d been to Max Patch several times, and never seen the view.   He certainly wasn’t going to see it this day either.  Although we were not able to enjoy the view of the mountains in their Autumn color from the top, it was still quite a sight to see the fog moving quickly in front of you.  The kids played around for a few minutes playing hide and seek in the fog, and then we headed back into the quite of the woods for lunch.

On the way back, we hiked into the rain.  It rained hard on us for about twenty minutes, which didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits!   It was a great hike, new friends were made, and a good time was had by all.    I was especially happy to see the kids enjoying themselves.   These days, kids spend so much more time inside their houses, and not connecting with nature, or even their families.   The forest in the fog, and Autumn color is really beautiful, but perhaps the best part of this hike was the families enjoying nature together.