Clingmans Dome, Fires, Cherokee Settlements and New Species of Salamanders

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Senior Member
We hiked Clingmans Dome on Wednesday and at the 2.5m peak while taking a break, I overheard a hiking guide speaking with a family about the fires. He was pointing out the Chimney's and explaining the thought process behind the attack on the fires. He said, ...rain was expected so the firefighters pulled out thinking the rain would help but instead, the rain moved out and the winds ended up gusting to 95MPH at those altitudes.

The unexpected anomaly found after the fact was the amount of decomposition and decay that fueled the fires later estimated to be almost two feet deep (WOW!). With that, there were two feet of kindling along with the winds to fuel those fires.

If there is a positive and I absolutely hate those fires and what they did, it was that two previously unknown Cherokee settlements and at least one new specie of Salamander was found because of the burned away decay.

We always enjoy hiking and exploring on our own but this got our wheels turning about maybe hiring a guide on a trip in the fall. I was completely zoned in on what all he had to say.

We finished our week at Cades Cove after hiking for three days in the mountains.

Love those Smokies!
I think the policy concerning fires is to let nature take it's course. They do this down in the Okefenokee Swamp as well. Sometimes nature doesn't always work in the fire fighter's favor and the fire spreads to private lands and public landmarks.
Concerning guides, I'm sure you'd learn more than going by yourself. I've been on some city tours and cave trips with guides. They just know so much more than you.


Senior Member
Those fires made a really good case study of the ineptitude that exists in the Federal system and nobody was held accountable for it.

"In the end, events of the succeeding five days demonstrated the plan devised by [Fire Management Officer Greg] Salansky was a debacle of historic proportions, made worse by innumerable and repeated failures by Salansky and Park officials to adhere to settled fire-management policies,"

That fire and the deaths it caused were a direct result of STUPIDITY by NPS employees. If you never read the real facts of the fire and the week leading up to it here's some of it.

Report: Late notice, lack of vision cost Gatlinburg time, lives in wildfire

How the Historic Gatlinburg Fires Happened; a Humble Start