We love our dogs, and they love us. Should you hike together? If so, what common sense rules and actual regulations need to be kept in mind?
Should you hike with your dog? “Maybe” is the only accurate answer. We love many people who, for a wide variety of reasons, would not be good hiking companions. Same with dogs. The trail is physically challenging for both dogs and people. Hot weather, cold weather, and other factors can increase the challenge. Some dogs who are perfectly well-behaved at home are very territorial around other dogs and strange people. And then there are all the wonderful strange new sights and smells on the trail. I have seen a leashed dog slip the leash to chase a deer on the trail to McAfee Knob. A hiker was recently injured in Southwest Virginia when her dog decided to chase a bear and she intervened when the bear stood its ground.(Unleashed dogs are more likely to aggravate bears than leashed dogs.)
As with friends and family, just because you love to hike does not mean your dog will enjoy it. So start with shorter walks and work your way up, just as you would do with a person.
The A.T. is marked with white vertical paint blazes, two-inch by six-inch. It is a foot trail – travel by horse, bicycle, or motorized vehicles is not allowed.
And according to a more specific order for this national forest, “Vehicles, horses, pack animals’ and bicycles” are prohibited on the A.T. unless there is “a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.” We have seen no such permit, nor does any closure order we have seen state that Forest Service personnel are authorized to use motorized vehicles on the A.T.
“Violations of these prohibitions are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both. (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C 3559 and 3571).”
The Bent Mountain community in Roanoke County, concerned about its land and water, is teaming up with Parkway Brewery on April 18, 2018 at 5:30 to enjoy a special brew, with all sales proceeds going to benefit the community in its struggle against Mountain Valley Pipeline. So RATC is moving Hiker Happy Hour outdoors and joining in. This will also be Trivia night at Parkway, so feel free to team up and play.
Parkway’s General Manager has expressed concerns about the impact of the pipeline on the brewery’s water, which is drawn directly out of the Roanoke River by the City of Salem downstream from over 100 crossings of the the river’s tributaries on steep slopes where all the trees are being removed. This will unleash sediment that has been buried for many years.
There are many moving parts to this story. Here is what we can tell about the current status:
No trees have been cut to date in Virginia, though cutting has started in West Virginia. MVP would need to cease cutting by March 31 due to the presence of endangered bats in trees along the routes, and they will be unable to resume until October.
MVP still needs permits from the US Forest Service, historic preservation office in in Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Numerous court cases are pending, including one brought by landowners that is being in heard in Roanoke. EQT, the Pittsburgh fracking company that is the primary owner, operator and customer of the pipeline, is splitting into two companies at the behest of hedge fund managers who are keeping the company afloat; fracking loses money, while owning a federally-subsidized pipeline makes money.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is giving authority to go ahead for much of the route, and timber cutting has occurred in West Virginia but not Virginia. Even with FERC approvals, all conditions have not been met. FOR EXAMPLE:
MVP needs a timber permit from the US Forest Service for the 3.5 miles in Jefferson National Forest and a notice to proceed in the National Forest from FERC. We believe this will happen soon. The National Forest may be the first place in Virginia where trees are cut – very disappointing, since many counted on the FS to help protect the Appalachian Trail and water quality to downstream communities. Erosion and sedimentation from streams originating in these uplands will affect areas as far away as Smith Mountain Lake, according to a study completed for the Forest Service by MVP’s own consulting firm. Read more »
It’s time for the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s Annual Meeting and Pot Luck Dinner!
This year’s speakers will be Derrick and Bekah Quirin, who completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2017 along with their baby, who celebrated her first birthday on the Trail. They are ready to answer your questions!
WHEN: Saturday, March 3, 6 PM ~ PLEASE BRING A DISH TO SHARE
Every year the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Conservancy has 3 casual social events – an outdoor Corn Boil in the summer, a Holiday Pot Luck in December, and the Annual Meeting/Pot Luck in March. This year’s Holiday Pot Luck will be
Food is an obsession for hikers. But what about the chore of buying and packing food for a weekend or week-long adventure? Blair Garland, an RATC member who lives in the Roanoke Valley, has launched a company called Trailfoody, a monthly subscription service for people who love to go on outdoor adventures but lack the time or inclination for serious meal planning. You can see a third party reviewer’s opinion here. As noted in Blair’s guest blog below, RATC members who would like to try out Trailfoody get 60% off for the first month by using the code RATC at checkout.
This is What Led to the Idea Behind Roanoke-Based Trailfoody
By Blair Garland, Trailfoody Founder
I fell in love with mountains the weekend before starting the seventh grade. Borrowing an old, rickety frame backpack from my brother, I went on my first backpacking trip to McAfee Knob with a couple of friends. I was hooked. Fast forward years later, and I was still at it. While backpacking was my favorite, I found that I spent more of my time on weekend adventures. Hiking on Saturday; fly fishing on Sunday. Next weekend: do it again.
Where the Idea Came From.Many adventures took a bit of a drive to reach. So, to make it easier to get out the door, I set up a gear closet. Each piece of gear had its own place, and I could very quickly grab what I needed for the adventure at hand. No more futzing around looking for that water filter or first aid kit. I always needed food for these weekend adventures–not the dehydrated kind you take overnight, but food to fuel your hike throughout the day. Then, I realized how convenient it would be if I could extend my gear closet idea to include food. The idea for a monthly grab-and-go stuff sack full of Trailfoody was born!
What’s Trailfoody?In a nutshell, it’s a service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, but geared toward outdoorspeople who adventure often. Each month, we send trailfood to your doorstep that you keep in a stuff sack, ready to go. Each kit includes the “day food” to fuel your adventure, such as premium energy bars, jerky, artisan trail mix, dried fruit, and more. You choose your level based on how often you venture outdoors, and then further customize your kit with gluten-free, vegetarian, or regular options.Read more »
Those who have been following the Mountain Valley Pipeline story know that Duncan Adams has provided extraordinary coverage for over 3 years in the Roanoke Times. He has asked hard questions, shining light on a story that many outlets ignored or glossed over. Recently, Duncan accepted a long-sought offer to edit a newspaper in Butte, Montana, and his last day at the Roanoke Times was November 11, 2107 (two experienced reporters – Laurence Hammock and Jeff Sturgeon – will now cover the story).
Like me, Duncan has the West in his bones, and the call is strong. We wish him all the best and hope Montanans know what a great gift they are receiving.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club honored Duncan for his in-depth reporting at the ATC office in Roanoke on November 13. He responded by reading the hand-written note below, which he has allowed us to share:
The rain started after my brother dropped me at the Dragon’s Tooth trailhead. On that April morning in 1978, I was 23 years old and a backpacking novice.
I walked into the woods woefully unprepared. I had not been a Boy Scout. My parents weren’t campers. I had stuffed the flimsy, exterior frame backpack, bought on the cheap from a discount retailer, with way too much stuff, including – incredibly – an array of books.
I toted a thin sleeping bag and a tube tent, a plastic shelter open on both ends.
As it turned out, my trail maps were outdated. That first night, as the rain intensified, I searched in vain for the shelter in which I’d planned to sleep. The rain gleefully sluiced in through both ends of the tube tent.
It was a long night. The next day it snowed. A few days later, I hitchhiked into Blacksburg, where I bought a decent jacket and mailed home the books.
By the time I reached Damascus I felt like a seasoned outdoorsman. I felt stronger, leaner, less fearful.
Like many people who hit the trail, I sought healing and solace on that first outing. I found just enough of both to initiate a love of hiking.
I am grateful to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for your stewardship of this remarkable resource. And I am also grateful, and deeply honored, by this award. Thank you.
On September 13, 2017, Monroe County, West Virginia experienced the largest earthquake in decades, with the epicenter 1.5 mile from the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline route.
The Roanoke Times reported that more than 200 calls came into the Giles County Sheriff’s Office dispatch in the half hour after the quake. Within a day, over 500 citizens notified the USGS that they had felt the earthquake.
Wednesday’s earthquake is the second one that was felt within 4 months in the GCSZ, with another on May 12, 2017 near Narrows, Virginia (magnitude 2.8).
WHY PIPELINES AND EARTHQUAKES DON’T MIX
Well, these weren’t huge earthquakes, so what’s the problem? Very simply, Mountain Valley Pipeline has chosen to place a very large (42”), explosive pipeline under enormous pressure (1,440 pounds of pressure per square inch) on a very dangerous route. Threats to communities near and downstream from the pipeline include:
Increased leakage of hazardous materials such as methane, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and radon from the pipeline into drinking water wells and public water supplies.
Increased risk of pipeline failure, producing catastrophic damage within as much as 7,700 feet on each side of the pipeline. WANT TO SEE WHAT A MUCH SMALLER 20″ PIPELINE LOOKED LIKE WHEN IT EXPLODED AND MELTED PART OF INTERSTATE 77? THIS IS THE SISSONVILLE, WV PIPELINE IN DECEMBER 2012.
Increased risk of major wildfires due to potential explosions on a route that is very heavily forested.
WORST POSSIBLE LOCATION: PROPOSED CROSSING OF APPALACHIAN TRAIL
If you were going to combine all possible risk factors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline in one location, the proposed crossing of the Appalachian Trail could be that spot. The September 13, 2017 earthquake was only 5-6 miles from the proposed crossing of the AT on top of Peters Mountain, immediately next to the Peters Mountain Wilderness on the Virginia/West Virginia border.
Location in the middle of the very active Giles County Seismic Zone.
Location between what the US Forest Service has identified as two High Hazard zones that combine very steep slopes, with landslide prone soils, and high exposure to seismic action.
All of the dangers are increased if the soil is wet.
The bottom of the slope on the West Virginia side is full of karst, as noted by Dr. Kastning, so that a failure would impact a wide area.
At a live meeting in Salem, Virginia on June 15, 2017, I asked an MVP construction supervisor to cite one example of a pipeline this size that was successfully constructed in an environment of steep slopes, landslide prone soils, karst and an active earthquake zone. His answer was: “FLORIDA.” Obviously, Florida has karst. But none of the other hazards are present.
Mountain Valley Pipeline seems largely unaware of or unconcerned about the risks. They seem to believe that stating there is no problem in fact means there is no problem. Since the company itself is not being required to post any bond nor pay the cost of any damage that is done to the surrounding area, it is not surprising. All of the costs would be borne by those who are most directly impacted and who have the least resources to spare.
State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) and Delegate Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg) will speak, showing the bipartisan opposition that Mountain Valley has earned due to its disregard for landowners and the environment. Edwards and Yost simultaneously introduced legislation in the 2016 session of the General Assembly to rescind the state’s current survey law.
Diana Christopulos, President of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, will recall why we love the Trail and Trail towns like Pearisburg
Songwriter Leslie Brooks will provide entertainment, including her new anti-pipeline ballad.
Strange Coffee will offer coffee and donuts, with all proceeds donated to the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club!
See you there! WANT TO DO MORE? SEND A COMMENT TO THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY AUGUST 22. A SAMPLE LETTER AND ALL THE OTHER INFORMATION YOU NEED ARE HERE.