United States Forest Service personnel have been working night and day to keep the public informed about the status of forest fires threatening the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Virginia, along with volunteers, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the folks at Shenandoah National Park.
Oh, happy day! I finally have my copy of the 2016 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion. This reference book is compiled annually by the great folks at Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) and Sly Slyvestor. They work with the great folks at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), which publishes this tremendously helpful resource.
In my travels writing about the Appalachian Trail — from North Georgia to Monson, Rangeley and Millinocket, Maine, and all points in between — the Companion is my primary guide to trail heads, hostels, restaurants, outfitters and more.
So, you finally hit the Trail and you’re heading north from Georgia’s Springer Mountain. It’s a beautiful Saturday and there’s no doubt that you’ll easily make it to Gooch Gap … when all of a sudden giant military aircraft swoop overhead about an inch above the treetops. You hear automatic gunfire and a bomb or two … right before a bunch of Rangers in helicopters blast past.
No, they’re not filming the movie Rambo 42. That’s what you can expect on Saturday, April 23, 2016 when the 5th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Frank D. Merrill have their almost-annual Ranger Open House.
Dry weather, winds, abundant fuel and fast burning leaves are hampering efforts to put out forest fires on or near portions of the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.
The Buck Knob Fire near Franklin, NC, closed a portion of the Appalachian Trail from Wallace Gap to Winding Stair Gap on April 20. Old NC 64 is closed from Wallace Gap to Poplar Cove Road.
The US Forest Service’s Cherokee National Forest released this statement on April 19, 2016:
Due to a wild fire a portion of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) has been temporarily rerouted for 7.2 miles along Forest Road 293 at Bitter End, off Buck Mountain Road north to the first field.
Fires burned hundreds of acres of land near Roan Mountain. Thankfully we have not heard of any reports of injuries.