Friday, March 28, 2008

I- 40 East Bound reopend to traffic in all lanes.

Now that the overturned tractor trailer is cleared all lanes are now open on I-40 and traffic is starting to flow.

Music of the Mountains this Saturday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mountains and music come together this weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the forth annual "Music of the Mountains" festival on Saturday, March 29 from 10 am - 5 pm at the Park's Sugarlands Visitor Center next to the Gatlinburg Tennessee national park entrance.

Although there will be musical programs throughout the day at the Sugarlands Visitor center that to the park service, the City of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains Association, it is suggested that you get there early as seating is limited to the capacity of the indoor theater which is only 160 persons.

Music of the Mountains this Saturday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

7 Free concerts will be performed in the theater:

  • 10:00 am Tony Thomas: Introduction to old-time banjo and fiddle tunes
  • 11:00 am The Lost Mill String Band: Claw-hammer banjo and acoustic bass played by Joan and Jerry Paul
  • 12 Noon Matt Morelock and Brian Vollmer: Old-time songs using claw-hammer banjo and fiddle
  • 1:00 pm Matt Morelock and Brian Vollmer: Repeat performance
  • 2:00 pm Bobby Fulcher: Appalachian and Cumberland Mountains songs and tunes played with the claw-hammer banjo and guitar
  • 3:00 pm Boogertown Gap: Traditional tunes and songs played with claw -hammer banjo and guitar performed by Barber and Keith Watson
  • 4:00 pm Sparky and Rhonda Rucker perform Appalachia and the Civil War period Folk songs, ballads, and tunes

For performances held in the evening at the WL Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee featuring Jimbo Whaley and Friends you must purchase tickets which are $20.00 online or $25 at the door. Doors open at 6:00 pm and the performance begins at 7:00. Not only will you be in for a night of great music, all ticket holder will also receive a free CD of Jimbo Whaley's newest gospel recording, you will also have the chance to win the door prize and other giveaways during the concert.

According to said Kent Cave, North District Supervisory Park Ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains: "Music of the Mountains" is a celebration of musical traditions of the southern Appalachian Mountains, showcasing the evolution of mountain music over time. The festival is one of several special events the Park has developed to tell the story of the people who lived here prior to the Park's establishment in 1934. Musical expression was and still is often a part of daily life in the southern mountains, and mountain music is tied to Smokies history like no other part of our culture".

According to me: "You will never be let down with any of these performances in the park and that's to Sevierville local legend Ray Ball, I myself drive around with a Jimbo Whaley CD in may car and not only love the local flavor of his music but the outstanding musical talent as well."

Don't miss these performances of you are in town!

I 40 East blocked in Cocke County Tennessee

An overturned truck at mile marker 445 in Cocke County Tennessee has all lanes of I-40 blocked and will stay so for at least another hour according to officials at the scene near the NC border.

The driver of the ill fated truck was airlifted by Lifestar to a nearby hospital.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cave Rescue in Great Smoky Mountains National Park brings unneeded attention to environmentally sensitive area.

While I personally find the Whiteoak Sinks in the Great Smoky Mountains national park one of the most interesting areas of the park, I am dismayed by how many people now trample through this unique area with its unique geological and biological characteristics.

Not only are some of these unique plants and animals in the Whiteoak Sinks in danger with this unwelcome intrusion, people who explore this area by climbing on the rock faces or even taking the extremely steep and dangerous trail down by rainbow cave to the sinks floor are also putting themselves at great risk.

Last weeks rescue of 4 amateur spelunkers by the national park service in Rainbow Cave in Whiteoak Sinks brought major attention to an area of the park we at Your Smokies really mention in order to keep visitors to a minimum to lower the impact to the area.

One of the most common questions I am asked is: "What cave do the bears hibernate in during the winter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?"

Beside a small cave in Cades Cove off of the beaten path (Gregory Cave), the only other caves in the national park are located in the Whiteoak Sinks so no - the black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park do not hibernate in caves!

Blowhole cave in Whiteoak Sinks

Blowhole cave located in Whiteoak Sinks plays host to the endangered Indiana Bats and is blocked by iron bars so no one could enter the cave to disturb the hibernating bats.

Rainbow cave is by far the most impressive cave from the outside and is at the far south end of the Sinks where a small waterfall unusually flows year round into the mouth of the cave. The flowing water into the limestone base is part of the geophysical action as to what has formed the cave.

Cave exploration can be dangerous and difficult and to enter rainbow cave you have to enter the main section via small holes at the base of the waterfall which always wet and very cold.

Further into this cave there is plenty of running water which keeps the temperature quite cold year round and spelunkers can easily succumb to exhaustion and hypothermia.

The four individuals who were rescued from the cave were young and fairly inexperienced in cave exploration and were poorly equipped. Wisely they advised someone of where they were going, but foolishly the lacked proper equipment as well the proper clothing for such an environment.

Once these amateurs realized that they were to cold and tired to climb back up the last 50 foot decent, they were smart enough to go deeper into a warmer area of the cave where they huddled together for warmth.

Fortunately the park service was called in time in order to be able to extract them from the cave prior them suffering any serious injury or hypothermia.

The park service does have rangers that have some caving experience and the Knox County Rescue Squads experienced Cave Rescue Team is also able to assist when a cave rescue is required in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Another cave in the Whiteoak Sinks requires a permit form the national park service.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

2 Wears Valley cabins destroyed and 2 damaged by a brush fire

Despite firefighters best efforts a fast moving brush fire in the Mountain Preserve community of Wears Valley near Pigeon Forge Tennessee end up destroying 2 log cabins yesterday as wall as damaging 2 more neighboring cabins.

Both high winds and a lack of running water hampered the firefighters in their fight against the blaze.

As with many communities in the mountains because of poor planning there were no fire hydrants in the area and although firefighters had to struggle getting the blaze under control by tapping pools and storage tanks, luckily no one was injured.

As a resident of a mountain community in the Smoky Mountains myself, I am deeply bothered that my community does not have fire hydrants. Since I am halfway up the mountains and more than 1 mile from the closest source of city water, the prospect of a brush fire causes great concern with my neighbors and me.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Weather related road closures in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

The national park service still has roads closed in the Great Smoky Mountains national park due to winter conditions some of which will take days to reopen.

While most roads in the Smoky Mountains are open in North Carolina, Newfound Gap Road (US 441) which connects Cherokee NC to Gatlinburg TN is now closed to all traffic.

The following roads are also closed in the national park: The Roaring Fork Nature trail in Gatlinburg, and in the Cades Cove area the following unimproved roads are closed Parsons Branch Road, Forge Creek Road and Sparks Lane.

Cold weather is predicted to continue throughout the day in the Smoky Mountains - it's snowing now in areas in Bryson City North Carolina, it may take until tomorrow warming weather for some roads to be opened back up. For roads such as Forge Creek which is closed due to muddy conditions it may take a few days until all roads will be reopened.

The national park service is advising drivers that the Spur connecting Pigeon Forge with Gatlinburg Tennessee still has active ongoing construction and that drivers must obey posted speed limits as there have been numerous accidents in the construction zones.

Parsons Branch Road reopening in Cades Cove Delayed

Parsons Branch Road located off of Forge Creek Road in the far western section of the Cades Cove 11 mile loop road will not be opening for the season on time due to washouts and fallen trees from this past week's stormy weather.

This recently renovated unimproved roads reopening last year was highly anticipated as it was closed for years after a storm created massive damage due to flooding requiring extensive repairs which included better drainage and vegetation cutbacks.

Parsons Branch is an 8 mile one way gravel road which takes you along stream beds, and woods and hollows with a few large growth trees visible from the road. This road passes by one the trailheads leading to Gregory Bald and eventually takes you to 129 where you can go to Fontana North Carolina or Maryville Tennessee.

Parsons branch road is now slated by the national park service to reopen on Tuesday March 11th and in my opinion is one of the best unimproved roads to drive on and experience the Smokies.