Smoky Mountain Solar Eclipse Tips

Smoky Mountain Eclipse

This awesome retro style poster of the Smoky Mountain eclipse is available at the park visitor centers.

Smoky Mountain Solar eclipse tips. The HeySmokies team is excited about the upcoming solar eclipse viewing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Monday, August 21, 2017. This rare event is sure to create memories your entire family will be talking about for years!

Everyone is reminded to use only approved solar eclipse glasses when directly viewing the eclipse. Glasses can only be removed during the brief few seconds when in the area of totality. The duration of totality varies greatly across the park and region. A common cause of eye injury during a total eclipse is immediately following totality when viewers forget to put their glasses back on.

“A large number of people will be making Great Smoky Mountains National Park their destination for eclipse viewing on Monday,” said the park’s Chief Ranger, Steve Kloster. “We want to make sure everyone who comes here is as prepared as possible and understands that we expect traffic to be heavy and many park areas to be crowded. The better prepared our visitors are, the more enjoyable and safe the experience will be for everyone.”

Visitors should bring plenty of food and water and make sure their vehicle has a full tank of gas before entering the park. The high amount of traffic expected will cause difficulties for towing companies to reach vehicles in need. The traffic could also cause temporary road closures throughout the day as the park manages the influx of vehicles entering the park. Anyone planning to travel to or through the park should have an alternate route in mind in case the first path or viewing location is no longer available.

Visitors are asked to remember to respect the park and it’s wildlife by staying at least 50 yards from bears and elk and not feeding any park animals. Trash should be packed out or put in an appropriate trash receptacle to keep our overlooks and viewing areas clean. Backcountry hikers are reminded to follow Leave No Trace principles and to make sure they are prepared for the distance and mountainous terrain of their planned hike.

Visitors should also remember that Clingmans Dome Road will be closed to public access beginning

Clingmans Dome Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Remember to get an early start with a full tank of gas to beat the traffic. Don’t forget protective glasses and bring plenty of food and water.

at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 through the evening of Monday, August 21 following the eclipse event. No overnight parking will be allowed at Clingmans Dome Parking Area or pull-offs, parking areas, and trailheads along the road during this time period. The road will be closed to all motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The Clingmans Dome Trail will be open to the public, but the tower will be accessible to media only. The event at Clingmans Dome will be livestreamed at Smoky Mountain Eclipse.

Cades Cove Foot Race

Lace up your sneakers and head to Cades Cove for this foot pounding annual event!

Cades Cove Foot Race (AKA – the Cades Cove Loop Lope) hosted by Friends of the Smokies and the Knoxville Track Club is scheduled for Sunday November 5, 2017. This exciting race was originally billed as a one time event at it’s inauguration in 2010. Since then it has grown in popularity. Participation is limited to 500 total runners and all participants will be awarded a t-shirt and finishers medallion.

We are very excited to bring this race back to such a beautiful part of our national park,” says Jim Hart, Friends of the Smokies president. “This is a unique way to experience the splendor of the Cove and raise money to protect it for future generations at the same time.

heysmokies

HeySmokies owner meets Great Smoky Mountains National Park superintendent Cassius Cash.

Friends of the Smokies will provide more than $90,000 for historic preservation and wildlife  management programs in Cades Cove and a total of $1.4 million for other critical park projects.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash remarked the race marks an opportunity to connect with the next generation of public lands stewards who are active in our national parks.

We are pleased to work with the Friends to offer this opportunity that supports the park and encourages people to use the park for fitness,” said Superintendent Cash. “The park provides an incredible setting for people to improve mind, body, and spirit.”

Registration began August 1, 2017 at RunSignup.com. Participants can choose between the 3.1 mile (5K) or the 10-mile loop routes.

 

Welcome Home Veterans Parade, Pigeon Forge August 26, 2017

Show your appreciation to our men and women servicemen. Photo credit – Brad Knight

Welcome Home Veterans Parade, Pigeon Forge August 26, 2017. Who does not love a parade? And what better reason to have one than to honor our esteemed veterans of military service. Come join the fun for this annual Smoky Mountain event in the shadow of beautiful Mount LeConte.

The City of Pigeon Forge has a long history of honoring our nations many brave veterans and that will continue on into the future,” says Butch Helton, Special Events Manager for the City of Pigeon Forge.

The salute and tribute to America’s military veterans begins at 9:00 a.m. at traffic light #8 on the Parkway and travels north ending at Jake Thomas Road (traffic light #5.) The parade features marching bands, historic and modern military vehicles, floats from area attractions, beauty queens and more! Mark your calendar and plan on paying your respect to our military at this annual event.

There is plenty of free parking, delicious food and lot’s of fun to be had on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge so plan on spending the whole day! If you have the time go ahead and make it a weekend get away. You will be glad you did.

                            The HeySmokies film crew captured the essence of last years parade in this fun video!

 

 

Six Great Synchronous Firefly Viewing Areas For 2018!

Discover the wonder of synchronous fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains. Photo credit – Romantic Asheville

Six Great Synchronous Firefly Viewing Areas For 2018! A spectacular display by the Synchronous Fireflies and the Blue Ghost Fireflies will light up the sky in the Great Smoky Mountains in late May and early June 2018. The annual event has become so popular that several venues are now available to the public where they can enjoy the amazing show as blinking beetles rise from the ground and surround them in waves of tiny twinkling lights.

The Synchronous Firefly (Photinus carolinus) and the Blue Ghost Firefly (Phausis reticulata) are two species found only in the Southern Appalachian Mountains which include the Great Smokies. And during the short mating season in late May and early June, both firefly species put on a mini firework display choreographed by Mother Nature.

Male Synchronous Fireflies flash little green-yellow bioluminescent lanterns in unison for about 6-8 blinks casting an eerie wave of light throughout the forest before going dark for a few seconds. The male Blue Ghost Fireflies do not blink to attract mates but instead feature blue-white lights that glow continuously just a few inches above the ground creating a surreal carpet of light that is certain to delight and amaze all ages. The National Park scientists use air and soil temperatures to predict the timing of each year’s mating season and the dates will be announced sometime in April 2018. Check with HeySmokies.Com for updates on this popular event.

Synchronous Fireflies with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

One of the best places to view the Synchronous Fireflies is in Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park— a location so popular that a free lottery system was instituted for the $1.50 parking passes during the eight-day shuttle period to Elkmont. Elkmont closes at dusk during this peak viewing period allowing only shuttle ticket holder and Elkmont campers in Elkmont Campground.
Dates for the 2018 Sychronous Firefly event will be announced in April. You may apply for a chance to win a pass April 28 through May 1 by going to www.recreation.gov and search for firefly event lottery. Winners will be notified on May 10.

Synchronous Fireflies with Discover Life in America in Gatlinburg, TN

For a few nights during peak firefly viewing time, Discover Life in America hosts a fundraising event featuring nightly presentations and field walks at the Norton

Don’t “blink” or you may miss it! Photo credit – Firefly Experience

Creek Sanctuary near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tickets for the event are $100 each and the event is geared toward persons ages 10 and older. For reservations for this exclusive event, call Discover Life in America at 865-430-4757 or email todd@dlia.org.

Synchronous Fireflies in Cataloochee with Cataloochee Valley Tours

Take a Synchronous Firefly Night Walk with Cataloochee Valley Tours out of Waynesville, NC. Small groups of guests are outfitted with safety vests and flashlights for a walk to the tour company’s secret viewing locations! Tour tickets are $60 per person. Tours are from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. weather permitting. For more information, visit Cataloochee Valley Tours.

Blue Ghost Fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest near Asheville, NC

DuPont State Forest is located in Cedar Mountain, NC about 30 miles outside of Asheville. Due to the popularity of this location in recent years, some of the trails in the High Falls parking area will be closed during peak viewing season. Visitors are urged to stay on designated trails because female Blue Ghosts stay on the ground and many have been killed by visitors wandering off trail. For more information, visit DuPont State Forest.

Transylvania County Blue Ghosts

The Pisgah Field School offers a firefly hike led by a trained naturalist under the cover of darkness along paved trails at the Cradle of Forestry. You never know what you will find on this hike so call 828-884-3342 to make a reservation or go to Pisgah Field School to learn more about this rain or shine, family friendly event!

Fireflies on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway are a great place to view starry nights as well as the fireflies in June and the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville usually offers a family-friendly firefly viewing event. For more information, visit Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center.

Both firefly species are common in other areas of Southern Appalachia and perhaps may make an appearance in your backyard during the month of June. Beginning around 10 p.m. turn off the lights, grab a comfy chair or spread a blanket on the ground, sit back and relax and wait for your own private firefly show to begin.

HeySmokies left the crowds at Elkmont Campground and backpacked a bit further up Little River Trail to enjoy the show! Remember a permit is required for an overnight stay at a backcountry site. Happy Trails!

 

 


Enjoy this great recap of a Great Smoky Mountains Synchronous Firefly night out!

Tick Safety Tips!

Stay safe in the outdoors with these easy tick tips! Photo credit NYC.gov.

Tick Safety Tips! Ticks and what you need to know to stay safe! It is that time of year in the Smoky Mountains. Summertime and outdoor activities brings the risk of exposure to ticks for you and your pets. Some basic guidelines for reducing your chances of encountering ticks include avoiding wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and abundant leaf litter. Another great tip is always walk in the middle of trails while hiking. For those bushwhackers out there keep reading to learn how to protect yourself with these facts provided by the CDC.

To repel ticks on skin and clothing always use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours and be sure to follow the instructions included on the product. Parents should be cautious when applying these products to children being careful to avoid the eyes, mouth and nose! Products that contain permethrin are best used on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is sometimes available and may provide extended protection. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a great guide to selection a repellent.

How to find and remove ticks from your body!

  • Showering within two hours of being outdoors can aid in washing off ticks that have not begun feeding on you.

  • Have a loved one, or someone you are not too modest around, to

    Have a friend give you a post hike tick check. Photo credit: Vermont Dept. of Health.

    conduct a full body search. Pay close attention to areas that remain moist like armpits, belly buttons, hair and the crotch area.

  • Check all gear carefully and take a close look at your pets. Those furry friends can’t tell you when they have a tick on them.

  • Wash dirty clothes in hot, soapy water for at least 60 minutes and dry on a high temperature. If clothes are clean dry on a high temp for at least ten minutes.

 The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

  • Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

  • Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

  • Rash: Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes:

    • In Lyme disease, the rash appears within 3-30 days, usually before the onset of fever. Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite. It may be warm, but is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM lesions in other areas of the body several days later.

    • The (STARI) rash is nearly identical to that of Lyme disease, with a red, expanding “bulls eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. STARI has not been linked to any arthritic or neurologic symptoms.

    • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) varies greatly from person to person in appearance, location, and time of onset of symptoms. About 10% of people with RMSF never get a rash. If they do, the rash begins 2-5 days after the onset of fever as small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots (macules) on the wrists, forearms, and ankles and spreads to the trunk. It also occasionally occurs on  the palms and soles. The red to purple, spotted (petechial) rash of RMSF is usually not seen until six days or more after onset of symptoms. It occurs in 35-60% of patients with the infection.

    • The most common form of tularemia results in a skin ulcer at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer includes swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

    • In about 30% of patients (and nearly 60% of children), ehrlichiosis  causes a rash. The rash ranges from macular to maculopapular to petechial, and may appear after fever occures.

Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

Tick paralysis is a rare disease thought to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva. The symptoms include acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis that is often confused with other neurologic disorders or diseases (e.g., Guillain-Barré syndrome or botulism). Within 24 hours of removing the tick, the paralysis typically subsides.

Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors. They also can sense body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. Ticks choose a site by identifying well-used paths; they rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs and wait to ambush a host. Ticks can’t fly or jump but wait for a chance to latch on in a position known as “questing”.

Ticks come in a variety of sizes. Photo credit: Washington State Dept. of Health.

While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, or other areas where the skin is thinner.

How ticks spread disease

Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding in the following ways.

1. Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.

2. The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.

3. Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can’t feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.

4. A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a bloodborne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.

5. Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.

6. After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.

Ticks are a cause for true concern when enjoying the outdoors so take the necessary precautions and stay safe while you are in the wild!



Check out this fast and easy way to remove ticks!