Sunday, September 23, 2012
If you are in need of gear soon, stop in Blue Ridge Mountain Sports on Kingston Pike and let them know you appreciate their support of getting youngsters into the great outdoors. I know I will!
We are still in need of water bottles, Gatorade or Powerade, and monetary donations to purchase the kids an "I Hiked It" shirt at the top. If you have any ideas, feel free to share them with me.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I am so proud of these students. I asked them to do some research on current events in the field of microbiology and several of them began discussing the emergence of the hantavirus out of Yosemite National Park and what a scary scenario that is. Hantavirus is carried by rats and mice; humans are exposed to the virus by breathing in dried feces or urine particles that are in the air in rodent-infested shelters and cabins in Yosemite. According to what I have read recently, this disease is lethal approximately 40% of the time, and survivors may suffer debilitating symptoms long after they have "recovered." My students began making the connection between the rat/mouse infestations in Yosemite Park shelters and cabins with conditions in the part of the Smokies with which some of them are familiar. They wondered if a rodent control program is in place in the LeConte cabins as well as in the shelters along the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee.
My students quickly decided that, as a part of our course work in Microbiology, they wanted to think like epidemiologists and investigate the conditions in Yosemite which have allowed the hantavirus to become such a problem and look at ways to prevent similar conditions from developing right in our own park. From that arose the idea that we would actually visit Mt. LeConte to gather information for their project. While we are up there, I hope to be able to get LeConte Lodge employees to meet with my students and provide some insight to whatever programs are in place relevant to rodent control or explain to my students the impediments that prevent such programs. I truly hope that park or lodge employees will appreciate the real-world relevance that such a project provides for these students and will honor my request.
I will be looking for some corporate sponsors to help us purchase things like Clif Bars, bananas, and water bottles. I'll also be looking for a company to provide breakfast biscuits and juice or milk for us to eat on the bus ride up to the trail head. In addition, I would LOVE for someone to donate enough money to purchase each student one of the "I Hiked It" shirts available at the LeConte Lodge store! I'll let you know who steps up and helps us out with this. The transportation and other expenses are more expensive than I thought they would be when I first considered the idea. If you have any ideas, please feel free to share them with me as I try to arrange a trip these kids can afford and will enjoy. Also, if you don't mind, pray or hope for great weather for us! :)
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Well, we finally did it! I don't know if anyone has noticed, but since my disastrous day on the AT in July, there haven't been anymore hiking posts. There has been one hike since then, but not until last week. It was a nice hike, but really just a warm up for yesterday's scheduled "redo" of the previously attempted hike from Clingman's Dome to Newfound Gap.
I swear I think I had a little touch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the ordeal on the AT in July. If you haven't read about that hike, you might want to go back to those two posts in July about that trek. It was a mess. I was a mess! I simply couldn't bring myself to don my backpack and head up into the mountains again after such a debacle--for almost six weeks!
Last Saturday, even though there was a good chance of rain, we headed out for a short adventure doing the Old Sugarlands Trail and Twin Creeks Trail, finishing up with the Gatinburg Trail for a total of about 8 miles in low altitude conditions just in case storms moved in. The weather was muggy, but the hikes were pretty and proved to be a good re-entry into the world of hiking for me. It was great to be with my hiking buddies and out in the wilderness again.
|Rather tenuous footing on the AT|
|One of the varieties of Gentian that blooms up here|
|The wall at Newfound Gap skirted with|
I ended this hike victorious--victorious over the part of me that was crushed on that fateful day in July which had prevented me from coming back to my mountains. Victorious over the section of the AT that had intimidated me for 6 weeks. I was also victorious over my inexperience, having
learned valuable lessons and survived
virtually unscathed. Here's to perseverance! Here's to great friends and hiking buddies! Here's to victory!