Hannah Mountain   4/16/12

My favorite wildflower of all time is the crested dwarf iris.  It is sometimes an elusive flower but 2012 seems to be the year for them.  Field upon field of them can be found all over the Smokies now and I was in heaven.

Rocky Ledge is the big winner in last week's wildflower contest.  He is always our Highlander expert and will receive a sticker next time we are gathered.  You can't fool that guy, he knows his stuff.  Great job, as usual, Ledge.

This week, we drove in support of Hi Speed Alexander and Jerky Mike who picked up respective miles.  Dropping Mike off at Abram's Creek, he did over 8 miles to climb into cs 14.  Bill and I drove Parson's Branch and did the 4.5 out to camp which were new miles for him.  Many of the DV landers were at Citico and we wish them a good time.  Given the varying factors, e.g. quest for miles, great weather and potential for fee freedom ending soon, we had to opt for backpacking.

Next weekend we are holding a protest/demonstrational Rally at the Sugarlands over the Backcountry Fee.  We will have a table with literature, stickers and bluegrass music (don't worry, I'm not playing, it's Myers etc.).  If you can stop by, we would appreciate your support.  If not, send your friends.  It  coincides with a huge festival at the Sugarlands so there will be plenty to do.  It is from 10-4pm.  Help us educate the masses on the lies and disinformation perpetuated about this egregious backcountry fee.  If you haven't seen Ditmanson's latest fib, check out email documents we have received via our latest FOIA at www.southernforestwatch.org  


But let's get back to wildflowers.  I can't get enough of these dwarf iris.

Of course I still like freaky trees.

  But when we ran across these, I was stunned.  Talk about an early bloom!  Yes, it's flame azalea and they were abundant.  If you want to hit gregory's bald, better go early.  Everything is bustin out way sooner than usual.  I'd give Gregory's Bald another week and they will be done.  This was an incredible and delightful surprise.

Incidentally, Hannah mountain trail was made by the folks who owned Montvale Springs back in the middle 1800s.  Montvale Springs was  posh resort in those days.  They dug a trail from Maryville to Gregorys Bald for the specific purpose of viewing the flame azaleas.  Isn't that pretty neat?

The section from Parson's branch to cs 14 is just luxurious.  A carpet of pine needles softens your step while sweeping interior views gird your shoulder to the right.

When Jerky Mike arrived, he had trouble zipping on his britches.  I was glad to assist him zipping on his britches legs.  It's like a backcountry IQ test and Mike had a few miles under his belt so we helped him a little.  Just a little.

And who shows up but our good old friend, FEE Fighter Frank, the extraordinary proselytizing preacher of FEE Freedom.  Frank drives over from Nashville and gets in the Smokies more than most folks who live here.  He is passionate about these mountains and is a great representative.  He is seen here with a new friend of ours, Lora.  Lora was with several of her girl friends who were great company in campsite 14 with us sweaty dudes.

Frank gets the prize for the gimmick of the year, though.  Apparently, someone invented a portable device that blows up air mattresses.  I'm not kidding.  When you attach this battery operated, very small rubber opening to your air pad, it will be inflated within a few minutes.  It does not, as Frank discovered, have a reverse setting, though.    AWWWWRIGHT?

Squaw Root

High Speed is proud.  His miles are ticking off.  He is trying to get them all while they are free.

These dogwoods are fully bloomed as well.  Much more developed than the ones in town. 

Now, back to matters at hand.  We just discovered that the Great Smoky Mountains Association just donated 30 thousand dollars to fund two part time backcountry rangers.  Isn't that nice?  Isn't that the reason Ditmanson is proposing a backcountry fee?  Well, I guess now that the money has been donated, we can get rid of the fee, right?  Oh no, we will find another use for that money before we even start collecting it.  That is what this Smokies manager is doing.  If you read the following document, you will see how he has fibbed to his bosses about congressional support.  Did you send an email to Duncan, Corker or Alexander or any of the NC legislators about the fee?  Better read this email I published.  Ditz didn't want it to see the light of day.  Be sure to join us at the rally Saturday.  We will be hitting the backcountry afterwards.  Protest.html

Whether you agree with the fee or disagree, we can all agree that lying to justify it is wrong.  We have a list of Smokies Management Lies to shove this fee down the throats of those who can least afford it.  Would you rather have 20 something's roaming the woods in poor gear or driving the roads late at night?  Should single mothers, inner city youth and church groups be priced out of the backcountry.  How much would it cost to take a scout group into the backcountry?  Do the math.  4 bucks a head plus a ten dollar reservation fee and that is just the beginning.  Campsites will be booked months in advance.  Meanwhile, Ditmanson adds a quarter to half million to his 20 plus million dollar budget in addition to his 174,000 dollar salary to do what?  Fix horse trails?  Introduce elk?  Cut trees from overlooks so fat people don't have to leave their vehicles?