I want to say thanks to Greg and John for welcoming me to the site.

I've been backpacking the Smokies for more than 30 years now,  and I'm not real happy with the way things are going on in the park.

I have come to this site as "other sites" are fully supportive of this egregious backpacker fee and our equally offensive Park Superintendant.

Of course I'm thoroughly disgusted with the new "backpacker fee" that will be upcoming.  It's not just the money--though that is important--It's the loss of the ability to take a spontaneus trip to spend a night or two out in the woods.  Many times I never know if I'll have the weekend off untill quitting time on Thurs or Fri.  I live reasonably close to the park,  so it's a natural destination for a trip-on-the -fly.

What disturbs me most is the disregard for public input shown by the NPS before implementing the new fee.  I wrote to Sen Alexander and Rep Duncan.  That I was ignored by Alexander didn't surprise me,  but when I got no response from Duncan,  I knew the fix was in.  Due to redistricting,  I am now in Rep Roe's district,  maybe I can get some response from him.

Finally,  if I want to backpack the Smokies right now,  do I pay a fee,  make a reservation or what?  I see on the GSMNP site that they have announced the fee upcoming,  but the only firm information they have is a reference to the $5000 fine and 6 mos in jail for violating park rules.  What a debacle,  they announce the fee,  state the punisment for not paying,  and then don't have the system set up to pay the fee so you don't violate the rules.  Incompetence followed by intimidation. 

 I am also concerned about the very long closure of Beard Cane Creek Trail and campsites #11 and #3.  What's up with that?  I hear rumors,  but nothing of substance.  Unfortunately,  time has been short lately,  and I haven't wanted to possibly waste a precious weekend to go exploring what is going on over there,  choosing instead to go to a a place I know I can legally backpack with no hassles,  like the South Fork,  South Cumberland or Mt Rogers.

I'm just coming up to speed on these subjects,  so I'm looking to find out what I can and to lend my weight to trying to resolve these issues.

I am looking forwards to meeting some of you folks and working together to make our park a better place for all Americans to enjoy.



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Comment by John Quillen on January 15, 2013 at 2:21pm


I can forward Melissa Cobern's email address later, she is the backcountry specialist with whom I communicate on related matters.  We have met with her and she is usually very responsive.  You can bet she has heard a great deal from us over the past year.  I don't know if you have had the opportunity to peruse our website, www.southernforestwatch.org    We have categorized news events chronologically there to include our meetings with congressional reps, Ditzmustashman and the erstwhile liar in residence, Fitzgerald now departed.   We also have a legal copy of the complaint we registered against blackberry farms and the ace gap trail issue so eloquently delivered by our attorney, Mr. Myers Morton.  We refer to that document as Fat Man, the recent letter to Ditz from Duncan is "Little Boy".   Once again, I can assure you that the Beard Cane debacle is unwarranted.  If it were a trail to Leconte you can bet your sweet rear end it would be open promptly.  Backpackers are discriminated against by Ditz and his cabal.  He doesn't want us back there, Period.  He told me one time that folks could be in there, "..smoking the pot."   Fitzgerald used to boast about catching people with bongs in the shelters.  I'm no drug user but their fixation on potsmokers is most peculiar.

Comment by Tim Fell on January 15, 2013 at 11:37am

Wow!  I'm really HOT about the Beard Cane Creek Trail thing,  I think that makes me more angry than the backcountry fee.  You're going to charge me money to access the backcountry,  but start taking trails and campsites off the map;  and one of the better/more popular trails and campsites.  I don't know how many weekends in the past year and a half,  I've wanted to go to CS#3.   In an exercise of frustration,  I check the Park's website at least once a week to see if they've opened Beard Cane.

At first,  the lengthy delay didn't seem unreasonable due to the extent of the storm damage.  I figured once they were in there,  that why not go ahead and rehabilitate the trail.  The trail had captured the stream,  and the trail had deteriorated over the past 10 or so years.

Then the wait became too lengthy,  and I began to hear rumors from Beard Cane from fellow commenters over on Knox Gun News and Opinion--formerly known as the Knoxville News Sentinel.  That was probably some of ya'll that I was hearing from.

So,  has anybody made any official querys to the Park Service about Beard Cane Trail,  and what has their response been?

Comment by Myers Morton on January 15, 2013 at 11:00am

right on, right on.

we can tell you about Beard Cane Creek Trail.....Ever heard of Blackberry Farms?

Comment by Joey Bridges on January 15, 2013 at 10:40am

well said.

Comment by John Quillen on January 15, 2013 at 8:47am


It is great to have you here.  Your voice is appreciated.  Regarding Beard Cane, it is in great shape.  There is no reason for that trail to be closed whatsoever.  They just happen to be a little close to the ex governor and houses in the area.  I will tell you that Blackberry Farms private trails are very clear and were done so with expert chainsawing.  Private trails that are on GSMNP land.  Check out my pics here.  Again, welcome aboard.  Feel free to join us over at the backcountry tax blog. A lot of folks just bookmark that page and don't look at other stuff.

Comment by frank w on January 15, 2013 at 12:23am
Tim, welcome aboard. As of now the fee hasn't started. Many have fought tirelessly over the past year and a half exposing park management deception. Welcome to the fight!

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