Cane Creek and Updates

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Three clients canceled on me at 3.30 Friday afternoon so instead of going from my school job to the office, I veered left and ascended o’er Look Rock. My destination was Goldmine and Cane Creek.  The weather was looking bad for Saturday and as I pen these words on a blustery, 39 degree Sunday evening am relishing the decision.


It used to be that Hangover weekend was peak leaf time. That certainly has changed over the past decade. But of course, global warming is a hoax and those retreating glaciers are just illusions. It still looks as if next weekend will be the sweet spot.  I just needed some solo time down my adopted trails. I was in work clothing but found a pair of tennis shoes in the trunk. Campsite two was totally empty.  You know, the overcrowded backcountry of the Smokies.

And things were pretty much as I remembered. Image-967931526

It was a great diversion. I dropped two miles down and about 900 feet. When I returned and reached the Cooper road sign, something growled at me from behind a tree.  I stopped and tried to determine the direction from which this gutteral groaning emitted. Soon I heard another one and saw absolutely nothing. Usually in these instances, it has been a bear warning me of his presence. I found nothing and slowly moved ahead to hear nothing more. And that is my Halloween story of 2017.


As I close this weeks hikumentary, I will share updates from Southern Forest Watch and our efforts to keep the backcountry accessible to taxpayers.  I believe the letter below to backcountry specialist Christine Hoyer is self explanatory. This is on the heels of Ryan Zinke’s NPS attempting to raise entrance fees so dramatically that most usually pro park groups are opposing them.  Check out what he is trying to do here.

(Of course, Zinke who was accused of travel fraud while a Navy Seal and lately was indicted in the “private jet” scandal so rampant with Trump’s cabinet and just this week, has apparently steered a contract for Puerto Rico’s power grid to a company based in his hometown with no experience in any such matter.)

I hope this correspondence finds you well. I’m sure you are busy this time of year.  I am writing to inquire about the closures of a couple of backcountry campsites, primarily campsite 90 and campsite 17 on behalf of the Southern Forest Watch. We have been asked about these prolonged closures for bear and I thought I would just reach out to you and see if you could provide some guidance about how long we can expect them to remain that way. We are fielding questions about the policy and protocols for bear closed sites. It seems as if these two in particular have been closed for a while. Are there still bear issues being monitored there? When a site is closed, for instance, what is the typical closure time and how is the safety of the site assessed?
Having spent considerable time at both, I was particularly surprised about campsite #17.  I have never seen a bear there in all my years and I have put several hundred nights in there. We have also been contacted about the status of Parson’s branch road and of course, Scott Mountain remains a concern. It appears as if they may be permanently closed.
I appreciate any information you can provide.
Thanks so much
John Quillen
Board President 
Southern Forest Watch.