Location: Great Smoky Mountains NP
Date: September 17-20, 2021
This loop through the eastern part of the Smokies is haunted with ghosts of many different landscapes past. During the last ice age, the glaciers pushed many species of plants and animals south where they took refuge in what is now this part of the range. As the glaciers receded, the changing climate left islands of these spruce-fir forests and northern hardwood forests stranded up on the highest elevations of the park – forest types more commonly found in eastern Canada or New England. In slightly more recent memory, old growth forests saved from logging by their remoteness hint at what thousands of square miles across the east coast used to look like. Mixed into these areas are the “ghost forests”, stark grey stands of dead Fraser fir trees or hemlocks ravaged by non-native insects. We will also pass through the abandoned and restored structures of Little Cataloochee, the former site of a 19th century community that lasted until the creation of the national park. We will talk about the presence of the Cherokee people who hunted and grazed the coves before European settlers. What does it feel like to walk through the visible and invisible layers of a place in the present?
We will hike 5-10 miles a day to explore different elevation forests. At night, relaxing together over dinner and a fire, we’ll share our experiences of these multiple landscapes and our own ghost stories from the woods.
Sign up for Ghosts here. This trip requires a $25 fee per participant.