Sunday, June 29, 2008

Native American Pow Wow July 4th - 6th in Cherokee North Carolina

The Native American Pow Wow in Cherokee North Carolina will entrain visitors with pounding drums, traditional Native American chants, Native American costumes and plenty of fancy footwork.

Cherokee Indian Smiling at the Native American pow wow

Visitors to the Cherokee Pow Wow this July 4th, 5th and 6th both young and old will have a great time watching the best native American Indian dancers from tribes near and far competing for cash prizes and bragging rights to be the best dancer or drummer in each category.

Visitors to the Cherokee Indian Pow Wow will also find native American Crafts and products and booths selling various food.

The Pow Wow will be held in the Cherokee fairgrounds and the gates open Friday July 4th at 5 pm, Saturday July 5th at 10 am and Sunday July 6th at 10 am.

Native American Costume

The dancers and drummers will make the grand entrances on Friday at 7 pm, Saturday at 1pm and 7 pm and Sunday the final grand entrance will be at 1 pm.

The following are the dancing and drumming categories and the corresponding prizes:

Women Indian Dancers ages 18-49
Northern Traditional
Southern Traditional
Jingle Fancy
1st Prize = $1,000, 2nd prize = $800, 3rd prize = $600

Teen Girls Indian Dancers ages 13-17
Traditional (Buckskin & Cloth)
1st Prize = $250, 2nd prize = $150, 3rd prize = $50

Junior Girls Indian Dancers ages 6-12
Traditional (Buckskin & Cloth)
Fancy 1st prize = $100, 2nd prize = $50, 3rd prize = $25

Men Indian Dancers ages 18-49
1st Prize = $1,000, 2nd prize = $800, 3rd prize = $600

Teen Boys Indian Dancers ages 13-17
1st Prize = $250, 2nd prize = $150, 3rd prize = $50

Junior Boys Indian Dancers ages 6-12
Fancy 1st prize = $100, 2nd prize = $50, 3rd prize = $25

Tiny Tots Indian Dancers ages 5 and under
Compete for Day Money

Golden Age Men and Women Indian Dancers ages 50+
1st prize = $800, 2nd prize = $600, 3rd prize = $400

Drum Contests:
Northern Style
Southern Style
1st prize = $2,000, 2nd prize = $1,500, 3rd prize = $1,000

Dance Specials for the Pow Wow:
Two Step, Chicken, Smoke (2), Daniel French Memorial, Fancy Shawl, Grass, and others!!!

For those who are going to participate in the Pow Wow as contestants for the dancers there is a $10 registration fee and for the drum contestants there is $50 Entry Fee and there must be 5 in group to enter contest.

At this time we would like to thank all of those competing in the Pow Wow as well as:

Pow Wow Arena Director: RG Harris, Apache, OK
Pow Wow MC: Rob Daugherty, Jay, OK
Head Dance Judge: Troy Saunsoci, Niobrara, NE
Head Drum Judge: Aaron Hogner, Cherokee, NC
Host Northern Drum: Black Lodge Singers, White Swan, WA
Host Southern Drum: Otter Trail, Ardmore, OK
Intermission Entertainment: Tommy Wildcat

Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains national park: wild, beautiful but dangerous.

Elk have been extinct in the Tennessee and North Carolina Smoky Mountains for more than 100 years, but thanks to private funding Elk have been reintroduced in the Great Smoky Mountain national park in 2001.

These majestic animals were reintroduced into the Cataloochee section of the Great Smoky Mountain national park in North Carolina near Maggie Valley, but since Elk don't understand park boundaries they have wandered out of the safety of Cataloochee's valleys and fields and have spread into other areas of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Elk can commonly be seen along the roadside near the construction area on Big Cove Road in Cherokee North Carolina and north of the Blue Ridge Parkway along the side of the road on 441 Newfound Gap Road by the Oconaluftee visitor center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I have been told that the elk have now been spotted as far away as the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains national park a short walking distance from the city limits of Gatlinburg Tennessee.

Elk are very large unpredictable wild animals that can easily seriously injure or kill someone without warning. Elk have no concept of park borders nor do they understand that foolish people walking up close to them with young children are offering no real threat to these wild animals, they just want to take a picture of them.

Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains national park: wild, beautiful but dangerous.

This picture above shows 2 adults walking within 50 feet of an elk lying down in the grass off Newfound Gap Road yesterday. This is the time of year when young elk calves have been just been born and are commonly hidden in grass away from predators. If there is an elk calf in the grass near this bull elk, anyone approaching the young calve could have been killed.

Since this Elk is a male and the calves are generally in the Cataloochee valleys and hills chances are there are no calves in the grass near Newfound Gap Road but these visitors had no idea of the elks habit.

elk warning sign in the national park

The wife of the man on the left was excusing her husbands illegal and extremely foolish behavior claiming there are no posted warnings. When she was advised by me of the danger her children and her husband are in and the fact that her husband can be fined, she never asked her husband or children to back away from the Elk. She also told me what he was doing was ok because the park rangers who just arrived did not tell her husband what he was doing was wrong.

There were in fact no park rangers there but a male and female park volunteer than just got off work at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. They just stood there at the roadside and watched as people walked down off the roadside and went into the field to approach the wild animal.

When showing this and other photographs which clearly showed how close these park visitors were to the Elk to the volunteer he seemed disinterested.

As the traffic situation for the elk jam was getting worse I asked the park volunteer to radio or call in order to get an enforcement officer to the scene to protect the park visitors from their foolish behavior and work on keeping traffic flowing. He begrudgingly complied.

The Great Smoky Mountains national park Elk population has more than doubled since their reintroduction and unless better management practice are put in place and people behave responsibly - people with get injured if not die as a result of a man versus elk encounter.

It is time that the public and the park service wake up. The elk do belong in the park - this was their territory, and we as guests of the national park must behave in a personally responsible manor to protect ourselves for our own and the elks safety.

As for Elk outside of the park, this will become a more serious issue as time goes on and there will be elk versus traffic and elk versus human encounters increase along with the elk population expansion.

The area that the elk were to be introduced in needed to be set up as to safely contain the elk via physical barriers and the lack of such barriers will bite the National Park Service in the butt when the wrongful death and wrongful injury lawsuits start to occur.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ticks in the Smoky Mountains can lead to Rocky Mountain Fever for Hikers and Campers.

I hike a lot in the Great Smoky Mountains national park - on average at least 10 -15 miles a day 7 days a week - year round so I am used to dealing with wildlife big and small. I have noticed that this year there seems to be more ticks in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains than I have ever had to deal with before.

Though I have not found one on myself in more than a week I have removed 9 ticks from my skin and clothing this year after hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. My previous record year was 6 where 3 of which were on the same pants leg in one day so obviously there is a higher concentration of ticks this year in the Smokies - or I must taste much better to them!

The ticks I picked up while hiking this year were from all over the place: Beard Cane Trail in Abrams Creek, Newton Bald Trail near Deep Creek, Grape ridge trail in Greenbrier, Hen Wallow Falls in Cosby, the field by Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove, Little Greenbrier Trail near Wears Valley, 20 mile loop trail in Twenty Mile, Hyatt Ridge in Straight Fork and one from my trunk where I keep my hiking shoes.

Smoky Mountain ticks

Every night when I get home I am sure to check myself for ticks, however all of the ticks I found on myself I found either in the field or in one case in my car while driving. While it is suggested to always wear long pants tucked into boots (some people even duct tape the pants legs), I usually wear light colored khaki shorts and long socks and look down at my legs often while hiking or check myself after going through high grass or brush.

Ticks - not black bears scare me. I moved from the northeast almost 20 years ago as Lyme's disease ran rampant up there. Lyme's disease which is spread by deer ticks kept me from camping and enjoying the great outdoors after watching fellow camper and hikers get deathly ill or disabled from the disease.

Unfortunately here in the Smokies we have a high instance of Rocky Mountain spotted fever which is spread by ticks. The key to reduce your risk is avoid areas that may contain ticks, use insect repellent, wear light colored clothing - long sleeves and long pants do help, and find and remove ticks as quickly as possible.

While there are old wives tales about tick removal, the only sure way is with the help of good tweezers. With the tweezers you can grab the head and remove the whole tick so the head does not break off and stay embedded in the skin.

You should wash the skin around the tick with an antiseptic and save the tick by placing it into a Zip loc bag and if possible freezing it with a date on the bag. If you get ill, bring the tick to the doctor or hospital so they can determine if the illness came from the tick by culturing the tick and what illness it was carrying.

The good news is that most people hiking or camping in the Great Smoky Mountains national park will never see a tick. Ticks are usually only very active in warmer weather.

Friday, June 13, 2008

2 more days left on Great Smoky Mountains national park Rainbow Trout fish out.

Today and tomorrow are the last 2 days you can catch and keep as many Rainbow Trout no matter the size in the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

In order for the national park service along with the help of funding by Friends of the Smokies to restore the native Brook Trout species back into the Tremont Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains national park, the Rainbow Trout must be removed. What Rainbow Trout that don't get removed will be poisoned in September.

The first day of the fish out anglers brought home more than 110 fish. As of last count mid afternoon yesterday, less than 460 fish in total have been caught during the whole fish out. This number could have been considerably higher if more fisherman showed up to take advantage of the fish out rather than fishing in other sections of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Here are the complete details for the Great Smoky Mountains national park Rainbow Trout removal in Tremont.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Spur connection Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge will have more intense construction delays for most of June.

Expect longer delays during weekdays on the Spur - the road connecting Gatlinburg with Pigeon Forge with a shortcut that takes you into the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Now that the construction has moved into the milling and paving phase so the road may be resurfaced during weekdays 1 lane will be closed in each direction which will cause some significant delays.

These next few weeks will be trying especially for those in a rush. Driving above the posted speed with the road surfaces being uneven is not only risking an accident with other car and construction workers, except some enhanced speed limit enforcement and hefty fines for speeders on the Spur.

Synchronized Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains national park in Elkmont - a huge disappointment.

Going to see the fireflies in the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains national park along with more than 1,050 other people waiting to watch the lighting bugs in the woods and fields all flash at the same time was a huge disappointment.

The shuttle service where you ride in a trolley for $1 round trip that picks you up in the Sugarlands visitor center parking lot starting at 6:00 pm and takes you right to the area in Elkmont where the firefly beetles perform nature's finest light show ran smoothly.

The area in Elkmont along the Little River in the GSMNP where the lightning bugs flash their lights to attract mates is one of the nicest areas of the park - large trees, heavy growth, huge moss covered boulders and a roaring river with many little waterfalls and pools as the river meanders along the hiking path.

The people who came to watch the fireflies - even the kids - were all courteous and well behaved and everyone seemed to be having a great time sitting in folding chairs, hiking on the trail, picnicking and playing with their kids.

When the firefly bugs really starting kicking in their light show at around 9:30 pm even people who saw it before were dazzled by the display of synchronized lights, random flashes and short periods of darkness.

Here is the huge disappointment: digital pictures and movies can not capture this awesome display! I tried everything and second time I came to see the fireflies I just tried to find the words to describe the beauty of the firefly show and it just can't be done! What a huge disappointment.

Besides this major disappointment I had to suffer, I had a great time both nights and will be sure to come out again this season to see the synchronized firefly beetles in Elkmont.

Related Smokies News Stories

Synchronized Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Great Smoky Mountains Fireflies a big hit drawing more than 900 visitors the first night alone!

Visitors came in droves to the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park shuttle to Elkmont to observe the synchronized fireflies.
More than 900 people showed up the first night of the 2 week lightning bug show and even more are expected to show up next weekend when the mating season for the firefly beetles is in full swing.
Even though the weather will be shaky for the remainder of the week we suggest that you come during a weeknight if possible to avoid the crowds who come to watch the synchronized fireflies that perform the best in the Elkmont section of the GSMNP.
Shuttles start leaving to Elkmont from the Sugarlands visitor center at 6:00 pm. The Elkmont section of the park closes to all traffic other than shuttles at 5:00 pm. You can read more about the synchronized fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A side note: even though the park service has advised us to ask visitors to bring red cellophane to cover flashlights, red cellophane was provided for those who did not have their own.
By using red cellophane on flashlights people who are around you can maintain better night vision and the lights that are red are less disturbing to the lightning bugs as white lights which can keep the fireflies from flashing to their prospective mates.

Related Smokies Fireflies News Stories

Synchronized Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains

Monday, June 09, 2008

Missing hiking trail sign in Deep Creek NC Section of the GSMNP could spell disaster.

I hike on average 10 - 15 miles a day in the Great Smoky Mountains national park so I am pretty well equipped for anything when I go out into the woods. Luckily with plenty of daylight, a watch and a map I was to change my hiking plans and not get lost even though an important trail sign was missing in the Deep Creek Section of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Hiking as much as I do, I know depending on how rugged the terrain is and how many pictures I am taking I know that I average from 1.2 miles to 3.1 miles and hour uphill and 1.8 miles to 3.9 miles and hour downhill. My watch and an accurate map in the Great Smoky Mountains are my most valuable navigation aids. I also always have a compass packed just in case.

Because of the potential for heavy cloud or tree cover you can not count on being able to get getting a reading from your GPS. This can go on for minutes, hours or sometimes days. Batteries can die unexpectedly and we all know that even new electronic equipment can fail without warning or fall and break or even get lost so never hike in the Great Smoky Mountains only counting on a GPS to lead the way!

I planned on hiking Kephart Prong yesterday and go along the ridgeline and end up at the campgrounds on the cabin flats trail. Weather predictions called for a probability of rain and thunderstorms and there was limited visibility due to haze so I changed my plans while on the road to a lower elevation hike in Deep Creek.

The heat index was already at 98 degrees when I arrived at the Deep Creek Trailhead so I loaded up with 3 liters of water for myself and set out on my hike with my day pack and cameras.

There were a lot of families with kids riding tubes and splashing around in the water having a grand old time. This was a great place to bring the kids to cool off during this record breaking heat wave and the price was right: only $3 a day for a tub rental!

Missing hiking trail sign in Deep Creek NC Section of the GSMNP could spell disaster.

Working my way uphill in the heat, the trails were virtually deserted and I found myself consuming water at a rapid rate. Knowing this stretch of my trip was only 2.1 miles to the next trailhead I knew that it should take me from 40 minutes to about an hour to get there.

Since it was very hot and I was consuming water rather quickly I tried to keep my place slower than normal in oder to keep cool.

Along my hike I noticed and unmarked trail about 35 minutes along the Thomas Ridge Trail and since it was not marked I decided to take a short detour and check it out. A trail that is not marked can be a bypass which would bring me back onto the trial I was hiking.

The trail seemed more worn than most manways in the Great Smoky Mountains national park and I could see old signs of maintenance - cut logs along the side of the trial that appeared to have been cut at least 5 years ago or longer. The trail gained in elevation and veered further and further away from the trail I was on so after a half hour of hiking on this unknown trail I turned around to get back on the original trail I was on.

location of missing hiking trail sign in the Deep Creek section of the Great Smoky Mountains national park

Back on the original trail I was hiking on, I went for another 25 minutes mostly downhill now I realized that I must have passed the junction. Trying to check my position on the new 2008 Hiking Trail Map I purchased from the national park service, I could not find myself on the trial given that the new maps have removed all topographical references as well as not showing accurately details such as individual switchbacks.

With water running low (less than a liter now) I realized that I must work on finding my way out of the park and back to my car. My choice would be walk back the way I came or work on find a trail back on a more efficient loop. Without topographical information on my map I had no idea if this shortcut back would be uphill downhill or a combination of both.

I stopped, made an evaluation of where I was, listened and heard way in the distance the sound of rushing water. It can be hard to tell the difference unless very experienced between the sound of water or wind blowing through leaves. Consulting the map which does show large water features I determined I was already on the shortcut I needed to take to get back to the car.

20 minutes later I was at a marked trailhead confirming I was exactly where I needed to be. A few yards away I ran into 2 other hikers who confirmed to me when they were hiking the day before the sign was in fact missing and they also were lost as a result of the missing sign.

As soon as I returned to my car I went to the campground check in and checked the message board - no notes about the missing sign. I then went to the ranger's station and reported the missing sign.

In the winter with limited daylight and using just the new map and a compass I would have been in for a real problem as I could never have taken a chance for a shortcut - I would have had to return the way I came - a far longer trip but the only sure way I know I could have returned.

The new Great Smoky Mountains national park hiking map is terrible and I would suggest only using the National Geographic Topo map of the area. In the winter or when taking a very long hike I always depend on this map and this reaffirms this is the only map I will use out here in the backcountry when hiking in a less familiar area.

Would a GPS have worked yesterday? Maybe. There was a very heavy canopy and I may not have had the ability to get a fix. If it was winter when solo hiking is more dangerous I would have had one with me. In the winter, late fall and early spring the lack of leaves may have helped me get a fix as long as there was not heavy cloud cover and I had a clear shot of the sky.

I don't expect that this sign will be replaced with a day but I do hope that they will put a not on the bulletin board and should put notes at the trail heads around the missing sign that the sign is in fact missing.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Great Hike today on the Cades Cove 11 mile loop in the GSMNP

Arriving early at the Cades Cove 11 mile loop today we were able to avoid all traffic for the first 3 hours as we walked along the valley floor surrounded by wildlife, flowers and the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.

We all got to see Black Bear, Wild turkey, deer, Canadian geese and plenty of small wildflowers in the fields and woods in Cades Cove. The Black bear below was photographed this morning near the primitive Baptist Church.

Great Hike today on the Cades Cove 11 mile loop in the GSMNP

I was so glad to meet the people today who started the hike and those I have met along the way. As great as the wildlife and scenery in the Great Smoky Mountains national park is, it truly attracts very special people as well.

Next time I plan on doing another walk as a group I will give everyone more notice.

Great Smoky Mountains National park hosts synchronous firefly show for the next 2 weeks.

Starting tonight visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains national park are in for a special treat while the synchronous firefly beetles found in the Elkmont section of the park will flash their lights all in unison.
Fireflies also commonly known as lightning bugs can be found elsewhere and the Great Smoky Mountains national park has 14 species that have been identified within the park but only the species called Photinus Carolinus attract their mates with flashing lights within their bodies in a synchronous pattern.
The light given off buy the fireflies is actually a chemical reaction between chemicals within the fireflies, oxygen and an enzyme produced by the beetle. This light also known as bioluminescence is light green for most fireflies and one is bluish.
The exact timing of when it is best to observe the synchronous firefly beetles depends on weather and other condition and although the lightning bugs can take up to 2 years to mature, the light show taking place in their mating season only last around 21 days. The best guess is that this year next week will be the best week to observe the phenomena.
When watching the light show you will notice that to fireflies don't always flash in unison. You may observe different light patterns that they will make such as all the lightning bugs flashing randomly, then in waves across the hillside and then they will all flash together and all stop leaving some momentary periods of darkness.
Visitors to the fireflies should have bug spray and if you are bringing a flashlight it should have a red setting or you bring along red or blue cellophane to cover the light so as not to interfere with the fireflies and other observers night vision. Lights should be pointed to the ground and turned out in the observation areas.
Since this has become an extremely popular attraction with visitors to the park and Elkmont has limited parking, a shuttle service is in place from June 7th to the June 14th at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg. Riders who take the shuttle to Elkmont pay only $1 for a round trip ticket.
Due to crowding in Elkmont and the potential for pedestrians being hit while walking back to their cars in the dark along Little River Road, no parking is allowed in Elkmont or along the road sides so if you wish to see the fireflies, you must take the shuttle from The Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Related Smokies Fireflies News Stories

Synchronized Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains

Friday, June 06, 2008

Join me for a Hike through Cades Cove without any traffic tomorrow morning.

Cades Cove is my favorite part of the Great Smoky Mountains national park when it is quiet and not crowded so tomorrow morning I will be hiking the 11 mile loop starting at 7:15 on Saturday June 7th. Since cars are banned from the road until 10:00 am I should be at least past the Cades Cove visitors center in the back end of the loop before the first car passes by.

I have often been asked by hikers and people who follow our news and articles if I would lead a walk as I am very familiar with the area and know most of the haunts of the black bear, deer and wild turkey which am sure we will see tomorrow morning - here is your chance to join me.

Join me for a Hike through Cades Cove without any traffic tomorrow morning.

Since it is getting warmer by the day, before too long I will not want to hike the loop in daylight as the back end of the Cades Cove Loop has no tree cover and tends to get very hot and sometimes buggy.

If you wish to walk, wear good comfortable shoes - sneakers should be OK as I am not planning on bushwhacking and the road is dry since we have not had much rain. Bring a bottle of water which you can refill at the visitor centers water fountain and by all means bring a camera.

Since I have not made any real prior announcement and this is not an official tour, it's just me letting you tag alone on one of my daily hikes in the National Park, there may be few if anyone joining me.

How will you find me? There is a parking area by the entrance of Cades Cove and I assure you, you can't miss me.

If you are interested in coming please comment back to this thread and tell me how many of you plan to come along.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Water problems at some Backcountry Campsites in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Seem like the water problems are starting again in the Great Smoky Mountains national park for backcountry campers. Last years drought in the Smoky Mountains caused serious problems for campers as there was stretch of more than 20 miles that ran dry.

So far the backcountry sites that have water problems are in the Cades Cove Tennessee area backcountry site #7 (Ace Gap) and backcountry site #4 (Kelly Gap) and in the Elkmont Tennessee area backcountry site #19 (Upper Henderson).

All three backcountry sites with water issues in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are from 1,600 to 2,900 feet in elevation and horses are allowed.

Last years water problems in the national park were more prevalent in the North Carolina side as opposed to these which are all in Tennessee.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

No limits on Rainbow Trout in Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Even though Rainbow Trout size and quantity limits are lifted on an 8 mile section of the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountains national park, less than 10 anglers are taking advantage of this special opportunity to help the national park and fish in one of the most beautiful areas to fish in Tennessee.

Yesterday the park recorded that 115 Rainbow Trout were caught as well as one legal sized Brook Trout in the special fishing zone that was set up where the native Brook Trout restoration will take place this September.

No limits on Rainbow Trout in Tremont section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Park service employees are expecting a much larger crowd this weekend so the best time to come out and enjoy the peace and quiet as well as bring home a good dinner will be during the week. There should be plenty of fish to catch as well as space for fisherman this weekend as well.

In order to take advantage of this limit free Rainbow Trout harvest to help with the Brook Trout restoration program you must register on the temporary fishing registration tent a few hundred feet from the Middle Prong Trailhead in Tremont.

Great Smoky Mountains national park fish check in

Only the Rainbow Trout in the designated area have size and quantity limits lifted. Brook Trout must be of legal size to be kept and only artificial lures with a single hook are allowed to be used to catch any fish in the GSMNP.

The reason why size and catch limits still apply to Brook Trout in the area is that prior to the national park service biologist to administer the poison to the water which will kill the remaining Rainbow Trout in September, biologists will use electro-fishing to stun and then remove any Brook Trout that they can so that these native fish can be safely held until the water is ready for their reintroduction. This is also the reason why single hooks only can be used when fishing in the area to reduce hooking mortality to the Brook Trout.

To fish anywhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you must have a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license if you are are 13 years old or older. You can read about this and other national park fishing regulations on Your Smokies.