As many may know by now, there are an alarming amount of forest fires burning in North Georgia, North Carolina and East Tennessee. Over the last few weeks, hundreds of fires have broken out throughout the area. The dry summer and lack of usual rain in Autumn has turned our woods into a tinder box. The Chattahoochee National Forest, which envelopes the entire AT in Georgia, has had a camp fire ban placed on it until mid January of 2017. It is now illegal to build or maintain a fire due to the extremely likely possibility that it can get out of control. Camp stoves are excluded from these restrictions but it is still massively important that these guidelines are followed for the safety of recreational area users and our forests.
High winds have been aggravating the fires as of late, causing them to grow in size and send their smoke as far and wide as Atlanta. Some fires were started by lightening, some were started by the wind picking up embers and spreading an existing fire. Sadly, many are started unintentional by careless humans. Please, please, be mindful of the rules put in place. Respect that while they may damper your personal plans, they are for the betterment of all users.
If you come across trail closures in a section of trail you intended to hike, please, for your own safety, do not try to hike through that portion of trail. Even if fires are not an immediate threat, smoke inhalation is damaging and hiking in thick smoke can lead to disorientation and getting lost. For info on AT closures, check out the ATC’s site.
Union County, where Mountain Crossings is located, and 24 other counties across the states mentioned above are currently under a complete fire ban. This ban includes the use of charcoal grills, as well as open fires, and is punishable by large fines.
For a sobering view of just how dire the situation is, look into this interactive map for current fires burning in our area.