Author: Lisa Duff

  1. GSMA set to release its fourth album of traditional American music

    Big Bend Killing

    Big Bend Killing: The Appalachian Ballad Tradition celebrates Appalachia’s rich legacy of songs that tell stories, a tradition traceable to the British Isles. Big Bend Killing features 32 new recordings of traditional ballads by leading UK- and American-roots music luminaries, including Rosanne Cash, Doyle Lawson, Archie Fisher, Alice Gerrard, Sheila Kay Adams, Martin Simpson, Jody Stecher, Kate Brislin, David Holt, John Lilly, Elizabeth LaPrelle, Amythyst Kiah, and Laura Boosinger with the Kruger Brothers.

    “This album offers 32 remarkable ballad performances, 31 of which have never been released,” said Ted Olson, professor of Appalachian Studies and Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University and the album’s producer. “Our goal with this album is to encourage people – young and old – to recognize the enduring beauty of these often overlooked narrative songs, and our hope is that more people will sing these and other ballads so that the tradition won’t fade away."

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  2. Little Sluice of Heaven: A tiny sliver of the A.T.

    Rhodo Tunnel Chestnut Branch

    By Lisa Duff

    Memorial Day Monday found me with a mild case of cabin fever, which was a bit strange since CF is typically a wintertime ailment. What happened was this: I’d successfully managed to add a few at-home days to the end of my vacation to allow for ease of real-world re-entry, and Monday, as it turned out, was one day too many.

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  3. Little Sluice of Heaven: Creek Crossings and Crippling Critters

    Little Sluice of Heaven: Creek Crossings and Crippling Critters

    By Lisa Duff

    When Great Smoky Mountains Association volunteer hike guide Lloyd Shiver suggested we knock out two trails with significant creek crossings this summer, I thought, “Can’t ask for a better time to cool off in the Smokies than late June and July.” Add to that the fact boat rides would be required to cross Fontana Lake at the conclusion of each, I jumped at the chance to join in.

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  4. Goshen Prong on Mother's Day

    Mother's Day camping

    By Lisa Duff

    Three years ago, as Mother’s Day was approaching, I decided it was high time my daughter and I started a new tradition in recognition of the day dedicated to mothers everywhere. No more would she need to worry herself about what tangible item or simple gesture might make an appropriate gift, I informed her. No shiny trinket, small kitchen appliance or fancy meal out would be necessary for me to feel appreciated.

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  5. Park Announces Spring Opening Schedule

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials finalized the 2019 spring opening schedule for park facilities. Most campgrounds, picnic areas, and roads will open this Friday, April 19, in time for Easter weekend. The remainder of the facilities will open between now and Memorial Day weekend in preparation for the busy summer season.  

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  6. Finding solitude, wildflowers on park's Quiet Walkways

    There's nothing better than waking up in the morning and driving to work inside a national park. Even in July and October, when the park's seams feel as they might burst with visitors, working on behalf of the Smokies is the best job I've ever had.

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  7. Haunting Views

    “Nah, there’s nothing to be scared of in there,” she told them. Her crooked, bone-thin finger pointed toward Daisy Town, the group’s ultimate destination.

    It was easy to see that her reflection in glass had once undoubtedly inspired poets. Flowing in grey waves down her ever-so-slightly twisted back, her hair evoked memories of raven’s wings. Her cheekbones stood as high as the Alps atop two identically sunken valleys cascading toward her strong jawline. The years had left marks; unflinchingly, she displayed them all.

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  8. Friends of the Smokies to expand its Kodak footprint

    Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Great Smoky Mountains Association, two of the national park’s oldest and most productive partners, have shared space at the Sevierville Visitor Center on Winfield Dunn Parkway near Interstate 40 for more than a decade. GSMA has operated a retail space on the ground level, where it offers visitors educational items designed to enrich their Smoky Mountain experience, while FOTS staff occupied office space directly above.

    However, the organizations’ roles have transformed over time. One has outgrown its share of the space, while the other has felt the need to scale back, making the next move obvious. GSMA plans to close its retail store by Nov. 1 and Friends of the Smokies will convert the first floor into much-needed additional office space.

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  9. Smokies Life Fall 2018: Stories of History, Culture and Survival

    Smokies Life Fall 2018 Edition

    GATLINBURG, Tenn. — Great Smoky Mountains Association’s most recent issue of its award-winning Smokies Life magazine features an in-depth look at new groundbreaking bear research unique to Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the first four chapters of Willa of the Wood, a new best-selling fiction set in the Smokies; 10 compelling archival treasures stored at the Collections Preservation Center; and a comprehensive list of essential preparation techniques for staying safe while exploring the backcountry. 

    “Having lived in both Western North Carolina and East Tennessee, I enjoy sharing stories about the natural and cultural history of the Smokies with our readers,” said Frances Figart, interpretive products and services director and the editor of Smokies Life. “One of my favourite pieces in this issue is David Brill’s first-hand account of a recent trail mishap and rescue as it highlights the importance of being prepared while simultaneously expecting the unexpected in the Smokies.” 







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  10. Winter hiking tips

    Hiking in Winter at Appalachian Trail

    A Little Sluice of Heaven originated when Dana Murphy and I – on separate days, as it turns out – did the same hike only in different directions right around New Year’s Eve. She prefers uphill climbs, so she started at Kephart Prong just off U.S. 441 and climbed to the shelter. From there she took Grassy Branch to Dry Sluice, and that’s where things started to get icy. From the Dry Sluice intersection, it’s a rather gruelling 1.3-mile climb to the Appalachian Trail, which she followed past Charlies Bunion, ending up at Newfound Gap. The next day, I did the same, only in the opposite direction.

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