Opening the Blue Ridge Parkway

The winter weather has finally relented here and we had a beautiful spring day.  That, of course, meant that we were out hiking.  Since many of the roads to the higher elevation trails are still not open, we decided to go walking on the still closed Blue Ridge Parkway.

There was a great article on opening the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Asheville Citizen-Times.  The park service always has to work hard to open the road for the start of the summer tourism season, but after this rough winter season, their challenges are very strong.  As we walked, we did find some evidence of the challenges.

A fallen tree being cut up.

Rusty inspects the tree up close.

Still plenty of snow on parts of the road.

This sign is in a currently closed part of the Parkway, but will be open within the next month. Does tell you how remote some parts of the Parkway can be if they warn you 42 miles in advance of a closure.

All of the obstacles do not bother The Herd on its hike.

We had views to enjoy.


Congratulations to Celeste Davis, of Deer Lodge Montana, for winning the Red Lantern in the Iditarod as the 55th and final team across the finish line.  She completed the race in 13 Days 5 Hours 6 Minutes 40 Seconds, which is the fastest Red Lantern run in the history of the race.

The last racer across the finish line also extinguishes the Widow’s Lamp (not to be confused with the Red Lantern – they are different).  The history is that a village would hang out a kerosene lantern when a dog sled freight team was expected.  That would serve both as a beacon to the team as well as a signal that a dog team was out on the trail.  The widow’s lamp is lit in Nome on the first Sunday of the race and is only extinguished when the last racer crosses the finish line.

A special salute to Wattie McDonald of Stonehaven, Scotland, who completed the race with all 16 of his starting dogs in harness.  This is a very rare event since most mushers drop dogs (who are flown out of the race and cared for until the musher completes the race).

We also salute the 16 teams who started, but did not complete the race.

And, very importantly, hats off to the 40 volunteer veterinarians who monitored the 1136 dogs who ran in the race to ensure that all of the dogs are safe and returning home.  If you want a fascinating read on the metabolism of sled dogs, we recommend this article from the New York Times.

Tonight is the annual musher’s banquet.  We congratulate everyone on a safe, exciting race this year.


  1. MAXDOG on March 22, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Contratulations again to all the participants and helpers in the Iditarod!
    We think you are all quite amazing!

  2. Steve and Kat on March 21, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    If everyone drove a Jeep like the Herd, those obstacles on the road wouldn’t be a problem.


  3. Twinkietinydog on March 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Your Blue Ridge sounds a bit like our Angeles Crest. It’s rumored it won’t open up again till August, but I don’t believe that. I think it’s true about the national forest trail only.
    I had missed the fact that the vets were volunteers. Cool

  4. Togo the Dog on March 21, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    The weather’s gone bonkers. We’re getting heavy rains again after a hot hot dry spell – both out of usual season. Maybe it’ll snow here one day.

    Togo, Tagar & Gamby

  5. Life With Dogs on March 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Do you get seriously bummed when the race winds down? I’m still missing the Olympics.

  6. Clive on March 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    The Iditarod sounds amazing! An incredible feat to participate in and finish.

    You all look like you also had a great hike!

    take care
    Clive and the NSLM

  7. Huffle Mawson on March 21, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    It must be an amazing feeling to cross the finish line, no matter what position you finish in. Maybe you can have your own mini Iditarod on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

  8. The OP Pack on March 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    And here we thought you were going to hike the full 42 miles so we could see the closed road 🙂 Just kidding.

    Woos – Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  9. Khyra & Khousin Merdie on March 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm


    I’ve just returned from my walk – it is 73 degrees right now!

    It was a furry khool Iditarod year – save fur ME not being there!

    Khyra & Khousin Merdie
    PeeEssWoo: Mom says her passengers were pawesome representatives of your state AND region! She kind of fell fur the Donner guy – I bet The TH Girrrrrls will too!

  10. Dennis the Vizsla on March 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    We were on the BRP a long time ago — beautiful drive. And one where you definitely need a warning that far in advance if it’s closed somewhere up ahead …

  11. Wild Dingo on March 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I’d bet Frankie would appreciate a warning of 87 miles.

    if its so remote, we think you should be hiking off leash! “OFF. LEASH. OFF. LEASH. OFF. LEASH!” (The chant from the left coast… )

  12. Mogley G. Retriever on March 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    We sent our Friday snow storm on East so you guys could enjoy it. It should be arriving there any time now. We have another one coming into Colorado on Wednesday, as soon as we have enjoyed our share of the white stuff we will send it East for you to enjoy.

    Mogley G. Retriever

  13. Kari on March 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    looks like a perfect day for a hike to me!!!

  14. Stella on March 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Looks like the redheads were enjoying hiking the Parkway. They might like to have a 40 some mile roadway to hike now and then.


  15. Kit on March 21, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Our friend Hank DeBruin and his team of Sibs, from Ontario, didn’t complete the race, but his dogs are all safe, healthy and happy, which is the most important thing!
    And our buddy Newton Marshall, rookie from Jamaica, did reach Nome!
    Mush Mon!

  16. KB on March 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

    It must be nice to have the parkway as your very own hiking trail…

    I’m heading off to read the article about sled dog metabolism. Back when I was an active scientist, I knew some of the folks working on that project.

    Thanks for the Iditarod updates!

  17. Sagira on March 21, 2010 at 10:17 am

    It looks so beautiful there

  18. Houndstooth on March 21, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I hope Spring stays this time for you! That looks like a pretty massive effort to reopen the road.

    I love all the historical facts you’ve thrown in about the Iditarod. I’ve enjoyed hearing about the highlights before on the news, but you’ve made it a lot more colorful and entertaining! Will The Herd be celebrating with their own banquet tonight?

    We love Rusty’s curly tail!

  19. norwood on March 21, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Hi TTH
    Yep it was a harsh winter. we have roads closed too-still flooded out from last weekends rains. It’s a good thing the herd can master any terrain.. nothing can stop a hike.

    ps tell miss queen natasha… i’m still waiting at the kissing bridge!???

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