Feral Kids Wanted…


“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Halfway through the book I am reading for a project, I realize I need to do my part.

BPO’s new kid policy for foraging classes:

Kids under twelve are free with a parent or guardian

Kids aged 12 – 16 are half price ($25) with a parent or guardian

Learn more here: http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/poisonous–edible–medicinal—-useful-plants.html



Fall Foraging & Survival 101 Dates Announced…


Old Man Winter called me today and said it’s time to get the schedule out..

Survival 101:


Fall foraging class will be Saturday, September 24th:




Best candidates for 2016…



Call me crazy, but I have more faith in the couple above making positive changes in our country than the buffoonery of our political system…


Scott and Stephanie won’t serve you up a bunch of political nonsense, false promises, and lies, but they will make you, your family, and the community healthier and stronger. Tucked into the mountains of Western North Carolina, they run Stoney Hollow Farm just outside Robbinsville, NC – http://www.stoneyhollowfarm.org/



Along with their kids, they raise a variety of non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables for their farm store, u-pick, wholesale customers, and CSA program.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-supported_agriculture)



“I thought this post was about politics”

It is, read on to see how supporting local growers change the nature of our country..

  • Your food doesn’t have to travel across the country or from overseas, thereby reducing the amount of fuel, pollution, and packaging associated with transportation
  • Most local growers follow more sustainable farming practices than the large monocrop model, therefore reducing pesticide and fertilizer use. Obviously that reduces pollution from those products, but it also has a trickle down effect on the production, transportation, and economics of that industry.
  • Buying local has a positive effect on the community by keeping money in that area http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html
  • Buying local builds good bonds and friendships, thereby strengthening the community
  • Supporting non-GMO and organic growers sends a monetary message that we don’t want all that crap in our food. Consumer demand can make or break products.
  • Healthier eating habits leads to healthier people. Healthier people = healthier country

I got to chat with Scott and his family about the farm, it’s history, and their goals.

In 1998, Scott sold his floor cleaning business and bought 150 acres outside Robbinsnville, cleared 10 acres of it, and started a fruit and produce farm. The crazy part of that story is that Scott didn’t grow up farming, he learned most of his knowledge from books and the school of hard knocks. A bold, life changing move like that takes guts, so I asked Scott his advice about the fear that can hold us back from taking big chances..

“You just have to go for it. And you can always go back if you are careful not to burn bridges”

Simple enough, but sometimes the simple things in life are taken for granted. Daily swims and eating every meal together keeps this family strong under the immense workload of the busy season.

Stephanie came from a banking background, but her love of jam making brought her to Stoney Hollow. Her goal of providing healthy food for her family has now grown much larger to include the community. Not only is Stephanie still making jams, but breads, pies, cookies, and a whole bunch of great tasting, healthy treats. Her side of the operation has now expanded to include baking, canning, and nutrition classes, focusing on food as part of a healing program.


A lot of u-pick farms sport only one type of fruit, while others grow only a handful of different veggies. Listening to customer demand, one of the hallmarks of Stoney Hollow is the diversity of fruits and vegetables. To see the what’s in season, visit the website, but here is what they typically grow:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries – red & black
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Cherries – sweet & sour
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash – summer & winter
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccolli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Watermelons
  • Cantaloupe
  • Flowers

If you aren’t up for picking yourself, you can call, email, or Facebook message 24 hours in advance to pick up the next day. You can also stop in at the farm store for pre-picked produce, eggs, honey, and all the baked goods.


Being an outdoor educator, I have seen my fair share of kids that do not have strong ties to the land. A product of our times. the lack of skill transfer from generation to generation has been breeding a population that is dependent on others for basic human needs.

Scott and Stephanie’s children are definitely an exception to the current trend. Being home-schooled on the farm, they lead a healthy, active life that involves farm work and customer service. I see kids being kids, but also learning practical skills for life  and and forging a super strong work ethic.

Emily, a master at customer service, says that her favorite part of living and working on the farm is the “educational aspects when visitors come from far way.” Landon, a professional weeder by trade, can identify more plants at five years old than most adults. He can also show you where the best berries are and doubles as security when he turns into the “One-Boot Bandit”..

I could keep raving on, but for the sake of brevity, I am going to summarize some other points:

  • Scott is incorporates a plethora of sustainable practices including crop rotation, composting, green manures, cover crops, plastic mulch, seed saving, and organic pest control. Got a growing question during your visit, just ask.
  • Integrated planting has helped with pest control, but birds, bears, and other critters get their share.
  • 2017 CSA will open up for orders in December or January
  • Wholesale orders are available. Tapoco and Snowbird Lodge are two of the local fine dining restaurants that take advantage of that program.
  • Stoney Hollow had it’s first intern this year. More to follow.
  • Hold your grocer accountable.” If they advertise local produce, make sure they offer a good selection
  • If you want to make Stoney Hollow a family getaway, there are several campsites nearby – Santeelah, Cheoah, Rattler Ford, etc. There is also whitewater rafting nearby, several lakes, and tons of hiking trails
  • Future plans include more internships, kitchen workshops, grower’s workshops, expanding the orchard, and more forest farm products
  • Scott is available as a consultant and is especially passionate about getting operations like his started in areas with higher population densities

When I asked Scott for a parting message, it wasn’t “come visit us” or “buy our produce”.

Instead, his unselfish message revolved around the food security issues our country faces as we lose diversity in our crops, import more food, and continue to lose skills of self-reliance. With almost two decades of professional farming experience, this humble grower wishes that everyone would grow a garden.

I can’t help but think that emphasizing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle centered around an independent food source while supporting the local community and transferring that knowledge to the next generation will make America greater than anything coming from the puppet show in D.C…


Vote with your money and find local growers in your area:  http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states


one boot



Oh Snap!..BUSAR June Update


Team Workouts

It’s heating up, the sweat is pouring

Ski’s working hard, Doc finds it boring

As tough as  iron, as strong as steel

He shrugs off pain, that others may feel

At seventy four, the Legend rolls on

An inspiration to all, when your motivation is gone

It may be hot, it may be cold

But Doc Miller shows Cobras, that you are never too old!!




June was a busy month. We started out with an in-house technical day at the beginning of the month at Lookrock, focusing on anchor systems, rappelling, and ascending.


Mid-June was a training weekend with Black Diamond team out of Virginia. Doc Cobra sent an awesome write up of attending their vertical rescue training with four other team members, so I will just post that in it’s entirety..

AAR Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training Week 1
BUSAR was well represented at Vertical Rescue Training Week 1, the first of four monthly 16 hour sessions based on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Wilderness Rescue Technician (WRT) Standard. The training site is Backbone Rock in Shady Valley, TN, just south of Damascus, VA. The Lead Instructors were Billy Chrimes (VDEM Training Specialist and Deputy SAR Coordinator), Bryan Saunders(VP Virginia SAR Council and original BD SAR Coordinator) Mike Maggard (Black Diamond SAR Coordinator and past Training Officer), Rob Blevins (BD Training Officer), Bob Barlow (Black Diamond Life Member, Encyclopedia and Guardian of the Culture) and Victoria Airey from the Baltimore area who brings an equal wealth of knowledge and experience in cliff/cave Vertical Rescue Techniques as well as Certification and extensive training in Professional Rope Access (SPRAT, industrial high angle rescue) . They were assisted by a host of other superb Black Diamond veterans. Five Cobras attended: Geist, Sharbel, Jutkofsky, Lewis and Miller. Three worked on Advanced Rope Techniques (ART) skills and two worked on Basic Rope Techniques (BRT) skills.
Subject matter included knots and their proper utilization, tied redundant harness, rope calls, semi-tech rope movement on “scree” slope, ascending, descending, rigging, anchors, hauling and lowering systems. The Instructors are extremely accessible and eager to share (and learn) new information at all times  After hours were spent sport climbing on The Rock and socializing around the campfire where additional learning continued, embellished by tall tales of harrowing true-life (and death) experiences. Black Diamond walks the walk (Rocks the Rock), not just talks the talk!  The weather was great and we completed a full and busy 16 hours of training.
Students climbed and rappelled in a variety of harnesses (tied, climbing, caving, rescue) on a variety of systems (Frog, Knots, free / Munter, Rescue 8, Brake bar rack) from both high rigged points and low ones (sharp edges) over a variety of edges (against the vertical wall [crossing Velcro inline rope guards] and away from the undercut face).
Everyone gained new knowledge, experience and friends, at no cost (other than transportation), from highly professional and competent instructors with years of real-world cliff and cave rescue experience who gave freely, generously and selflessly of their time and talent, “that others (especially rescuers) may live”.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity if you can help it!  We owe a great debt of gratitude to Black Diamond and VDEM.
I have reserved camping in Site 7, July 8-9 and Site 5, August 19-20. The Black Diamond Annual Cookout will be after training Saturday August 20. Their final formal vertical training of the year will be September 10-11.
That others may live!
TARS Swifwater I class – Ocoee, TN
Seven of us got to attend Swiftwater I class on the Ocoee this month. It has been almost 20 years since I started guided down there in college and after the class on Sunday, we ran a trip for fun and old times sake. Great class with lots of time in the water and very little down time.
Day 1 was a half day of classroom lecture
Day 2 was self-rescue techniques, eddy swims, rescue wading, and throw bag rescues
Day 3 finished out the course with strainer bar, tension diagonals, rope launching techniques, and foot entrapments
Responses – 
            Laurel Falls – Herrington 2:1 low angle haul and carryout for the broken ankle pictured above. Ankle picture courtesy of Tammy “Tough As Nails” Siler. Her sister is tough too!
  • Jake Bezahler – wilderness therapy guide out of Waynesville
  • Received another donation for gear. Finishing out helmet purchases and some gear for training

May BUSAR Update..

Killing two birds with one stone, I am going to copy my updates to the park SAR coordinator on here instead of separate write ups…
Workouts – Going strong. We had a fitness trainer from Alabama come join us one night. He trains people for Spartan races and loved the workout.

Training – 
Nine of us attended the SAREX at BLRI this month. I thought they did a great job on the simulation and the flyer is attached. It would be great to host something like that in the Smokies, as I think it was the best way for some of the team to get a feel for big searches, i.e. briefing, task assignments, debriefing, etc. Our team made the find, but we just got lucky on the assigned area.
Jernigan and Ransom both lead 4 man teams that included one National Guard member, giving them good opportunities for field leadership. Spieden had tracking assignments, Doc Campbell got slated as safety officer, and Lewis was in management.
We have decided to make it our annual May training event as the experience of a large scale operation was invaluable to everyone.
On Sunday, we had JJ, an investigator for NCIS, teach a class on crime scene considerations per SRT2 Task Book.

Responses –
  • Morgan – Rainbow Falls
Other – 
  • We bought a domain name and should have a website up for our year anniversary in August
  • We are planning on pursuing 501(c)3 status and had a fundraising think tank session
  • We got our first sponsor through my blog. He bought us a couple helmets and radio pouches
  • June training will be high angle at Look Rock with the team, then high angle with Black Diamond team and then swiftwater training down at the Ocoee through TARS, via BCRS

NPR Interview…


While driving home from college in 1998, I heard an interview on NPR with Rambo Ricky Varner talking about hunting wild boar in the mountains.  I listened intently and several years later quit my job as a trapper to volunteer on the Smokies hog control program.

I recently took Nathan Rott from NPR out with me for the day. Here is his story:


Featured Image -- 10062

A detailed account of the bear attack at Spence Field

peachpeak on the AT

On April 30, 2016, I started a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I hiked from Amicalola State Park to Fontana Dam shelter in 10 days, covering 15 to 20 miles per day.

On May 10, I hiked from the Fontana Dam shelter to the Spence Field shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a distance of about 17.3 miles. On the way, I passed seven or eight hikers who planned on staying at the same shelter as I was. Just before reaching the shelter, I met three AT trail maintainers, who said that the shelter was overcrowded, and I should pitch my tent if I had one. They suggested the field above the shelter (about 200 feet away) as a spot with flat spaces and a good breeze.

The field mentioned by the trail maintainers was a truly beautiful camping spot, and I decided to set up my tent…

View original post 1,099 more words