Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on November 1, 2022
Late autumn is a great time to visit Smoky Mountain Ziplines. And if you're trying to come up with even more fun things to do, Gatlinburg is the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In our previous blog post, we introduced you to the topic of trail safety when hiking in the national park. With more than 800 miles of trails to explore, the park is known for its wide range of hikes, from wildflower trails to soaring mountain peaks. Considering some of the rugged terrain involved as well as ever-changing climate conditions and the varying levels of hiking experience among the millions who visit the park every year, safety should be a priority when embarking on an outdoor trek.
Last week, we discussed factors like physical limitations, topography, weather conditions, planning your hike, hiking solo vs. with a group, and ways to stay in communication with the outside world while you're enjoying your journey. In this installment, we offer even more things to consider before lacing up those hiking boots and hitting the trail.
Before you set out on your hike, think about coming up with a plan in case you or someone in your group becomes lost or injured. This is particularly important if you're doing a backcountry hike where you may not be easily found along a popular trail. In instances like these, at least one person knowing CPR or basic wilderness first aid skills can be an advantage.
Similarly, know the weather conditions for the day(s) you plan to hike. If severe weather sets in, you might want to seriously think about postponing or canceling your outing. Lightning and flash flooding can be significant risks in the mountains. Or come up with a Plan B for such occurrences. There are lots of other ways to experience Great Smoky Mountains National Park besides hiking. Consider staying in your vehicle and taking a drive through the mountains instead.
In addition to staying on top of the latest weather forecasts, you might also want to consult the park website, www.nps.gov/grsm, for the latest alerts about road and trail closures, wildfire risks and other hazards. It would be a shame to make a lot of plans and show up for your big trek, only to find out that your intended trail is closed due to some sort of flooding or downed trees.
Now, let's talk gear. The National Park Service has identified a number of essential items to pack when hiking in the mountains. For shorter hikes in more developed areas of the park, it may not be necessary to include all of these. But the longer and more remote the journey and the higher you plan to go in altitude, the more you'll want to consider all the items on the list. This is especially crucial for overnight and backcountry hikes.
• Food and water – Hydration is a must, especially on hot summer days, but even in fall and winter. Carry plenty of water to last you throughout your hike, or at least find out if any reliable water sources are located nearby. As for food, this is essential for hikes lasting a half-day or more. Protein and granola bars, bananas, nuts and other portable consumables are easy to carry and should provide plenty of nutrition to see you through. Make sure you don't leave any garbage on the ground when you're finished eating packaged goods.
• Footwear – This is a biggie. A good pair of hiking boots, with good arch support, is important for both your footing and the health of your feet. You'll want footwear with sturdy, rubber soles and ankle support for gravel trails. If you're on a paved trail, good sneakers will do. Stay away from shoes with elevated heels, open-toed shoes and sandals/flip-flops. Similarly, you'll want thick wool (or synthetic-wool) socks that wick moisture away from your feet. Consider taking an extra pair for longer journeys. If you're prone to blisters, pack some moleskin inserts to protect those hot spots on your feet.
• For overnight hikes – Some of the essentials include a backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad, camp stove with fuel, extra food in a safe storage container, and a first-aid kit.
We'll wrap up this series next week with part three.