Appalachian Trail beckons to backpackers, hikers

Mt Katahdin from Jo Mary Lake beach.
Mt Katahdin from Jo Mary Lake beach.

Apr. 05, 2014 @ 11:52 PM

ARTHUR “BUTCH” MCDADE
Upland Chronicles

“Every April, hundreds of energetic hikers head north from a mountain in North Georgia called Springer to start an annual migration along a ribbon of trail marked by a distinctive white tree blaze. This trail covers some 2,180 miles as it passes through 14 states, including Tennessee, on its way to a rocky peak in Maine called Mt. Katahdin. It is a famous trail among backpackers and hikers. To hike this trail can be an “adventure of a lifetime,” as one writer called it. The trail is called the Appalachian Trail, and part of it passes along the border of Sevier County.

Many of the hikers heading north from Georgia have a big goal of getting all the way to Maine by fall, while others plan on completing the trail over multiple years by hiking sections at a time (it takes about six months of steady hiking to complete the trail in one year). But all who hike the whole trail ultimately find themselves in part of Sevier County inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Appalachian Trail runs 71 miles through the Smokies, and for approximately half that distance it shares space with Sevier County, from roughly one mile west of Derrick Knob shelter to one-half mile east of Mt. Guyot at Old Black, approximately. Along this section, which adjoins the North Carolina border, hikers and backpackers can access and experience many of the highest and most spectacular peaks and mountains in all of the Smokies. These include Mt. Buckley, Clingmans Dome (the highest peak in the Smokies at 6,643 feet above sea level), Mt. Love, Mt. Collins, Newfound Gap, Mt. Kephart, Charlies Bunion, Masa Knob, “The Sawteeth,” Mt. Sequoyah, Mt. Chapman, and Mt. Guyot (the second highest peak in the Smokies at 6,621 feet above sea level).”

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Mount Katahdin Spider Report published by Maine Forest Service

cross spider (maine) - Araneus diadematus
Cross Spider (Katahdin, Maine) – Araneus diadematus

A new report from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reveals that there are 145 different species of spiders on and around Mount Katahdin, including five that have been previously unidentified.

The Maine Forest Service report is based on the scientific collection and identification work done by scientists Daniel T. Jennings, Charles D. Dondale and James H. Redner from Maine and Canada and provides scientific knowledge that could provide baseline information on habitat and recreational-use effects in the park, according to Charlene Donahue, MFS forest entomologist.

None of the 145 different species of spiders found were poisonous, as Maine has no native poisonous spiders, the MFS forest entomologist said. The five previous unidentified species are unique to the North American alpine environment found on Katahdin and some of them have also been found on Mt. Washington and in Quebec.

Some Katahdin specimens are available in the MFS insect collection, while others are being kept at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, Mass.

As part of its mission, the state’s Forest Service frequently publishes technical reports on a variety of scientific subjects, from invasive insects to silviculture, as a way to support Maine landowners, forest managers and businesspeople.

A checklist of documented spiders is available at www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/idmhome.htm. For more information about the Maine Forest Service, go to www.maineforestservice.gov.

Baxter State Park | North Maine Woods

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