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Do Knoxville: Take a hike, learn about Smokies careers, Field School classes and other outdoor activities

By The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services


Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites students, recent graduates, and their families to participate in a National Park Career Day from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10. Students will receive a behind-the-scenes look into National Park Service careers.

Park employees will lead hands-on activities that demonstrate their job duties, while also providing career planning advice. Students will experience careers such as wildlife management, vegetation management, law enforcement, fire management, education, archaeology, fisheries management, engineering, and facility management. Participants will also have a special opportunity to connect with Grand Canyon National Park via Skype to learn about careers in other National Parks.

High School and college students are invited to participate individually or with their families. Middle school students are invited to participate, but parent participation is required. All participants should meet on the front porch of Park Headquarters at 9:30 a.m. behind Sugarlands Visitor Center approximately 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on Newfound Gap Road. Be prepared to be outside with long pants, sturdy shoes, layered clothing, rain gear, lunch, and a notebook. The event will be held rain or shine.

If you are unable to attend this event, the Park offers monthly Student Volunteer Days geared towards giving students a chance to help the park by working on a real science or service project.

Info: Contact Park Ranger Emily Guss at 865-436-1713.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park is teaming up with the Balsam Mountain Trust to present a special program, Birds of Prey, at the Oconaluftee Multipurpose Room on Friday, May 9.

Michael Skinner, Executive Director of the Balsam Mountain Trust, will conduct an hour-long Birds of Prey program beginning at 1:00 p.m. This program will provide visitors with an up-close glimpse of some of the most recognized and revered birds such as the tiny eastern screech owl and northern bald eagle.

Balsam Mountain Trust is a local non-profit whose mission is the stewardship of the natural and cultural resources on Balsam Mountain Preserve and the Blue Ridge Mountain region.

The Oconaluftee Multipurpose Room is adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road, 2 miles north of Cherokee, N.C. Info: (828) 497-1904 or

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The Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club is sponsoring a presentation entitled "The Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment in the Arctic" by Dr. San Wullschleger, the Project Lead Scientist, from the ORNL Climate Change Science Institute. This free presentation will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday May 13, at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, 2931 Kingston Pike.

Wullschleger, recently returning from fieldwork in Alaska, will provide insight on the adventures of working on a large-scale experiment in the tundra and information on the results from NGEE Arctic research. The goal of NGEE Arctic is to reduce uncertainty in climate predictions through improved representation of critical tundra processes. Research on the North Slope of Alaska focuses on permafrost degradation in a warming Arctic and how the associated changes in landscape evolution, hydrology, soil biogeochemical processes, and plant community succession, will affect feedbacks to the climate system.

Info: Mac Post, Harvey Broome Group Program Chair, [email protected], 865-006-0980.


Smoky Mountain Field School will hold the following classes in April. To register go to or call 865-974-0150.

May 10:

Historical Tours with Heartland's Bill Landry -- The Calderwood, Chilhowee & The "Dragon": 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., $49. Bring a sack lunch a for a day of adventure and learning about our southern Appalachian heritage.

Introduction to Fly-casting & Fly-fishing: 1-4 p.m., $49. Gain a basic working knowledge of fly-fishing equipment, casting techniques, and fly identification.

May 17:

Early Settlers -- Their Heritage and Dialect, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $49. Join author and KNS columnist Sam Venable and his wife Mary Ann in a session which covers mountain ways, traditions and southern Appalachian dialect.

Backpacking with Confidence: 9 a.m.May 17-May 18, $98. Learn the basics of backpacking and know-how to care for yourself in the backcountry.

Introduction to Spin-Casting and Spin-Fishing: 1-4 p.m., $49. Gain a basic working knowledge of spin-fishing equipment, casting, and techniques. Learn how to choose, rig, and cast open-faced spin-fishing equipment.

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May 24:

Elkmont -- Transition and Change: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., $49. Join a retired Smokies ranger on an informative walking tour of one of the most fascinating areas of the Smokies, the Elkmont area.

May 29:

The Light Show in the Smokies, 7-11 p.m., $59. Visit the Elkmont area in the evening to learn the history of the area and the natural cycle of the synchronous fireflies.


The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is accepting submissions for its "Zoom in to the Appalachian Trail" photo contest, a nationwide search for the best photos featuring close-up shots of the details that make up the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).

The photo contest asks participants to recognize that the A.T. is not only a footpath, but is also home to a vast array of wildlife and vegetation, scenery, unique people and special Trail communities. Contestants will submit a photograph of a favorite feature along the Trail. Photos may include people, places, scenery or more.

The top three photographers will each win a one-year membership to the ATC and will be featured in A.T. Journeys, the official magazine of the ATC.

Photo submissions will be accepted through June 3 and can be uploaded via the ATC's Facebook page, The public will then vote for their favorite photos through July 13. Winners will be announced the week of July 14.

For a complete list of submission guidelines, rules and regulations, or to enter, visit


Saturday, May 10, 9:30 11 a.m.: Breakfast at Ijams. This week will feature a special Mother's Day menu, so bring your favorite mom and join us for breakfast. $5 per person. No pre-registration is required.

Saturday, May 10, 10 a.m., 2 and 3 p.m.: Ijams Creature Feature (all ages): Get nose-to-beak with some of our resident furred and feathered ambassadors. This program is free, but donations to support animal care are welcome. Pre-registration is not required.

Saturday, May 10, 10 a.m.: Explore the South Loop (recommended for adults): Join Ijams naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales for a hike along a portion of the 40-mile network of trails east of the Visitor Center. Hikes are low-key and are great for people who do not hike often. This monthly hike generally takes less than two hours with a long-range goal of completing all 40 miles. Free for Ijams members and $5 for non-members. Please call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.

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Wednesday, May 14, 10 a.m. -- 2 p.m. Garden Workday at Ijams (all ages): Start seedlings, tend the garden beds, and plant fruits and vegetables in our organic garden. Free, but pre-registration is required. Call (865) 577-4717, ext. 114 to register.

Wednesday, May 14, 1 p.m.: Explore the Urban Wilderness (all ages): This series of hikes will help you explore a variety of trails around the park while enjoying the beautiful spring weather and scenic views of Ijams Nature Center. Free, but pre-registration is required. Call (865) 577-4717, ext. 110 to register.


The Smoky Mountain Hiking Club will host the following outings in May. For more information, go to

Saturday, May 10: Kanati Fork -- Thomas Divide -- Newton Bald. Hike: 11.4 miles, rated moderately difficult. Depart from either Comcast, 5720 Asheville Hwy, or Alcoa Food City, 121 North Hall Road, at 7:30 a.m. Leaders: David Smith, [email protected], and Steven Miller, [email protected]

Wednesday, May 21: Anthony Creek, Bote Mt, Spence Field. Hike: 10.4 miles. Depart from Alcoa Food City, 121 North Hall Road, at 8 a.m. Leader: Malcom McInnis, [email protected]

Saturday, May 31: Blue Heron Loop and Railroad Display. Hike: 7 miles, rated moderate. Depart from Outback Restaurant,314 Merchants Drive, at 8 a.m. Leaders: Brad Reese, [email protected], and Tim Ryan, tim51@comcast. net


The local Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club will host these outings in May:

May 10-11 Backpack: Gilliland Creek, Great Smokies. Total hiking distance is 10.5 miles. Backcountry camp fee $4 per person; check with the leader about reservations status. Rated easy. Pre-register with Warren or Carol Devine, 483-7894 or [email protected].

May 17-18 Backpack: Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, NC. Hiking distance will be about 9.2 miles total with substantial elevation gain. Rated difficult. Preregister with Will Skelton: H 523-2272; Cell 72-7327; [email protected].

May 24 Take-a-Hike, Biodiversity Tour: Rabbit Creek Trail, Great Smokies. This 5.4 mile hike from Abrams Creek to Campsite 16 and back will feature understories of mountain laurel, blueberry, and huckleberry with an open canopy of pines and oaks. Rated easy. Preregister with Mac Post at 865-806-0980 or [email protected] (email preferred).

May 31 Wildlife Float: Rankin Wildlife Management Area, Douglas Lake. 3 to 5 miles of flatwater paddling. Arrange your own canoe rentals if you need a boat. Preregister with Ron Shrieves: phone 922-3518; [email protected] (email preferred).


Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a Cherokee touring exhibit, "Understanding our Past, Shaping our Future," through Tuesday, May 27, at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The exhibit focuses on Cherokee language and culture, using sound recordings as the basis for presenting a coherent story in words and text.

The content for the exhibit was developed, by design, with significant community input allowing a more personal Cherokee story to be told. Community teams held monthly discussions to develop exhibit themes and images. Rather than presenting a chronological history, teams developed a thematic approach to sharpen the Cherokee perspective focusing on Cherokee homeland, heritage sites, tourism, family, and community celebrations.

The touring exhibit is sponsored by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in partnership with Cherokee Central Schools, Southwestern Community College, and Western Carolina University.


The Knox County Parks & Recreation Department is implementing a new community-wide Trail Volunteer Program that will offer local trail and greenway users the opportunity to make the park system a friendlier, cleaner, more inviting place to bike, run and play.

The program is a partnership between Knox County, the City of Knoxville, the Town of Farragut, Ijams Nature Center and Outdoor Knoxville. Those interested in joining the program can apply online at

Any responsible adult, of any age and ability, is welcome to take part. Volunteers should be willing to commit a few hours each month to visit their specific trail or greenway. Even a small contribution of time will be helpful, and the experience will be rewarding and fun.

The basic responsibilities of a trail volunteer member are to:

GREET all trail users and act as goodwill ambassadors for our community.

INFORM users about the park and trail system, trail directions, etiquette and rules.

ASSIST users who are lost, need bike repair, first aid (when trained) and assist local governments or land managers concerning maintenance and illegal activity.

Knox County's Senior Director of Parks and Recreation Doug Bataille, along with other partners and sponsors of the program, will be available for media interviews on Thursday, April 10 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Mead's Quarry trail head, 2915 Island Home Ave.

For information visit


Join us for fitness, fun and friendship. If you are a woman 55+ or a man 60+ you are eligible to play in this special non-competitive softball league. Age rule exceptions are made for those who have a disability but can still play softball. We play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30-11:30 at Caswell Park on Winona beginning April 8 through October. Join us any time during the season. Everyone plays regardless of ability, we don't keep score and balls and strikes are not called. Five teams are currently active but they're still forming. $10 per season for accident insurance required by the City of Knoxville. For more information email [email protected].


The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club needs experienced backpackers to help maintain the Appalachian Trail in some relatively remote parts of Smoky Mountains National Park. If you would like to "adopt" a piece of the AT and can make three or four trips per year to the backcountry, call George Ritter at 865-483-9758 or email [email protected].. The work mainly consists of cleaning out water bars and cutting back vegetation.


(c)2014 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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