Daily Dirt: MST, GSMNP, and Bike to School Records
Your daily outdoor news bulletin for July 1, the day the first Sony Walkman went on sale in 1979 and changed the way we rip the little magnetic strips out of cassette tapes forever:
Blind Man Hikes Mountains-to-Sea Trail
As if hiking North Carolina’s 950-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail wasn’t hard enough. Blind hiker and Charlotte, N.C. native Trevor Thomas completed the thru-hike last week under sunny skies and with the help of his loyal guide dog Tennille. A crowd of 30-40 people lined the dunes at the trail’s eastern terminus in Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks as Thomas became the first blind hiker to complete the trek. Thomas took 78 days to complete the journey that began in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in two feet of snow in April. Thomas said the most challenging part of the hike was staying on the right path due to the nature of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail which is made up of a patchwork of 500 miles of footpaths and 400 miles of rural highway. Since losing his sight in 2005, Thomas has thru-hiked the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail and the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Thomas is only the eighth person to thru-hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Best. May. Ever.
The National Park Service has announced that Great Smoky Mountains National Park had its best May ever in terms of visits. Nearly 886,000 visitors went to the park during May, 2013, up over 10 percent from May, 2012. That is good news for the nation’s most popular park, given that visitation is down on average through the first five months of they year. From January through May of 2013, the park saw 2, 506,000 visitors, down almost 275,000 during the same time last year. Although numbers are down so far, the increase in May visits could bode well for the summer park season in North Carolina and Tennessee.
National Bike to School Day Success
In national news, the Second Annual National Bike to School Day was, by all accounts, a ripping success. Tens of thousands of kids rode their bikes to school during National Bike Month (May) and 1,705 schools across the country registered for Bike to School Day events. That number is up 80 percent from last year.
More information on the program and its sponsors can be found here.
Also in the national bike news category is the news that AAA will be covering bikes
in certain portions of the country. If you live in Washington State or Minneapolis, Minn. you can get a ‘tow’ the next time you get a flat on your commute.