Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bug Out Regions: Appalachian Mountain Corridor

Much of my new bug out book deals with specific bug out locations, which is information that I found missing in other survival and prepardness books and is the reason I decided to write this one.  Since my plan was to cover the lower 48 states in as much detail as was reasonable in a 300-page book, I had to first divide the country into distinct regions based on climate, terrain and types of ecosystems found there.  This led to eight distinct regions, each of which has a chapter devoted to it in the book. 

Here on Bug Out Survival, I will be expanding on the details included in the book for specific bug out locations, and eventually will get around to posting photos and narratives from my many trips into some of my favorites.  For those who have not seen the book yet, I want to give some previews on what to expect in the descriptions of each of these regions.  Each regional chapter begins with an overview of the region to give you an idea of what to expect there.  Here's an example in the overview of The Appalachian Mountain Corridor:  

The Appalachian Mountains form the backbone of the eastern United States, dividing the drainages of the Atlantic Ocean to the east from those of the Mississippi River to the west and Hudson Bay to the north. This 1500-mile-long mountain range provides a corridor of rugged wilderness areas stretching from central Alabama and northern Georgia to Maine and the Canadian island of Newfoundland. The Appalachians as a whole are made up of many smaller mountain ranges linked together, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, Smokey Mountains, Allegheny Mountains, and many others. The mountain corridor averages 100 to 300 miles wide, with individual peaks averaging 3000 feet in elevation. The highest peak in the range and in all the eastern United States is 6684-foot Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. 

The Appalachian Mountains are within easy reach of many of the biggest population centers of the nation yet contain extensive tracts of protected wild lands in a variety of national forests and parks throughout their length, including some of the largest virgin forests remaining in the East. The Appalachians create their own weather and are much wetter than much of the surrounding low country around them (as well as the more arid western mountains). This rainfall allows for a lush and diverse ecosystem and the resultant dense forests make it easy to disappear in virtually any valley or on any ridge. A wide variety of edible plants flourish in these mountains, as do healthy populations of deer and other game animals.

Unlike the Gulf Coast Southeast and the Islands and Lowlands of the East Coast discussed in the previous two chapters, the Appalachian Mountain Corridor offers many areas of wild country that can be considered true wilderness and in many cases can only be accessed by rugged foot trails. Boats are of limited use here, except on a few of the rivers and larger man-made lakes. One of America’s longest hiking trails, the 2178-mile Appalachian Trail, runs almost the entire length of the corridor and makes it possible to walk from northern Georgia to Maine almost entirely in the wilderness or  semi-wilderness of the mountains.


In the Appalachian Mountain Corridor Bug-Out Essentials section, I've included a more detailed discussion of weather and climate, land and resources, edible plants, hunting and fishing, wildlife hazards, and recommended equipment. 

Here's the excerpt from the last category, recommended equipment:

The wildest parts of Appalachia can only be accessed on foot. You’ll need good boots and a bug-out backpack as described in Chapter Two, as well as warm, waterproof clothing and sleeping gear. Cold rain that lasts for days on end is common in these mountains, and in the winter, deep snow and even blizzards can catch the unprepared off-guard. It is essential here to have good shelter and a reliable way to make fire. Hunting equipment should include a .22 survival rifle for shooting elusive squirrels and small birds in thick cover, as well as a larger-caliber handgun or rifle that can take deer and double as bear protection. The .357 magnum is a good choice as a minimum caliber for eastern black bear. There are also other transportation alternatives besides hiking in this region, if you’d rather not walk or need to carry more supplies and equipment. Many parts of the various state and national forests in Appalachia can be accessed by four-wheel-drive vehicles, dualpurpose motorcycles, ATVs, mountain bikes, or on horseback.

If you live in the Appalachian Mountain Region, I would love to hear about your experiences in the wild areas there.  Living in Mississippi, this area has been a frequent destination of mine when I want to get away to the mountains for some rugged backpacking.  I can reach some of the best areas of North Carolina and Tennessee in a day's drive.  One of my favorite areas is the Citico Creek Wilderness Area, which I will  post about in more detail in the near future. 

9 comments:

  1. Eric Rudolph eluded authorities for years in the Nantahala National Forest near Murphy, NC

    US Army Ranger School Mountain Phase is conducted near Dahlonega, GA, in the Chatahoochee area.

    Suffice to say, there is some tough terrain in which someone can fade into the background, but also many unimproved roads, trails, creeks and other avenues of transportation one may take.

    I used to go 4-wheeling/rockcrawling in Tellico (near Murphy) as well as northern NC near Boone - the mountains can be unforgiving, but the weather pockets are amazing. They are also pretty lush with vegetation.

    On the western side of the range, near Deals Gap (near border of NC and TN), is the Cheoah Dam, famous from the Harrison Ford/Tommy Lee Jones remake of The Fugitive. Again, very thick vegetation, abundant wildlife and many, many national and state forests.

    Asheville, NC has The Biltmore Estate - part of the original estate was gifted away and became the Pisgah National Fortest - this area was stocked for hunting and fishing by George Vanderbilt, and the wildlife is currently a sportsman's dream.

    One other aspect that requires mention is the number of caves in this part of the country - lots of caves, caverns, and other natural shelters/hides. The locals would obviously have a jump on the better ones (assuming tectonic activity doesn't disrupt them), but there are a lot of smaller outcroppings that may serve an individual or even family or new tribe well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_Mountains

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  2. Dustin,

    Thanks for all your additional insight on this fascinating region. As you say, there is some tough terrain, amazing variety of plant and animal life, and dense foliage to disappear into. In Chapter One of my book there is short write-up on Eric Rudolph's famous evasion in that area.

    Good point about all the caves too. I found some really inaccessible ones in north Georgia's Cohutta Wilderness. Most of the trails there were so little-used I had to cut through the rhododendron with a machete.

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  3. Yeah - that was weird, too - we would drive into the Tellico ORV area up long-abandoned logging trails and there would be absolute FORESTS of rhododendron (poisonous if consumed, BTW!!!).

    Rudolph was found raiding the dumpster behind the store where we used to get our sandwiches and chips for our 4x4 trips... across the street from that supermarket was the hotel we used to stay at all the time - who knows if he was scoping us out... admiring our 4x4 rigs and raiding our coolers/campers... dunno. Creepy.

    It's pretty easy to see what areas of the country offer the most fertile land to live off of /E&E to. Look at where the Native American tribes were the most densely populated and compare that with what areas have suffered urban sprawl. The areas with matching density in both eras are "stay away from" zones... the ones where there was great natural sustenance in Native times, but has not suffered choking sprawl/industrial ruin are prime candidates. For instance, the great plains may have had good population density in Native times, but has since been over-cultivated and had the great roaming herds decimated (imagine Ted Nugent's "Great White Buffalo" in the background). Michigan's Northern Peninsula and much of the Appalachian Corridor are still good candidates, as is what is left of the Pine Barrens in NJ, etc.

    We don't need to learn anything new - it's only been forgotten - we must re-learn.

    BTW - I look forward to getting the book - do you have a way to purchase a signed copy (I may have overlooked it if it's on your blog)?

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  4. Dustin,

    Send me an email regarding the signed copy. I will set up a PayPal button in the future to sell a few copies through the site, but as always, it's less expensive through Amazon and the other big online retailers because of the volume they do and the free shipping.

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  5. Hi Scott,

    I just read your book (Bug Out) and I found it to be well written, informative, and educational.

    What I liked about the book was it had a lot of information that would help a beginner and it made the more experienced think about their plans.

    Scott, I was more of a "hunker down" type person, but reading your book opened my eyes to the bug out option.

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  6. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad you found the book informative and eye-opening. It's always best to have more than one option, and more than one plan, as the only thing in this world that is certain is change.

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  7. Having lived my life in the Appalachian mtns of western NC I am very familiar with the Linville Gorge area, aka the grand canyon of the east. The weather and mountains are unforgiving by many peoples standards but you must understand the mountains have their own way of doing things to borrow a phrase from bear claw off the movie "Jeremiah Johnson." If you plan to use the Appalachians as a bug out area you would be well advised to visit here and at least camp for a weekend in a tent in a wilderness area. This would give you a taste of what to expect and how to better prepare for a long term endeavor.

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  8. Just some things to think about when considering Appalachia.....

    My family has lived for many generations in the hills of Tennessee. I have lived in the foothills of the Appalachians and the Highland Rim of Tennessee all my life. After spending as much time as possible camping in the mountains, I find that bear are not so much of a threat as are hogs and coyote.Hogs are smart, wary and a sow with pigs will attack faster than a sow bear with cubs. Hogs eat everything edible and will destroy any food crops one might have or have found. Trapping them is easier than shooting but takes patience. Coyotes will disrupt game trails and will run in packs attacking much larger animals including guardian dogs. Also they will cross breed with dogs at certain times of the year and these coy-dogs are exceptionally dangerous as they are not as fearful of humans. The Appalachians are not the same as when the Indians and Over Mountain folks lived there. There is less variety of game animals and a wider range of predators.

    Also consider that the region is made up of Karst limestone and most of the caves and underground water sources originate many miles (states)away. I am concerned about the possibility of nuclear, chemical and biological contamination of these aquifers.

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  9. I have lived in Dahlonega Ga for 24 years, I am not a Georgia Native but I think that the people here make it a great place to live. The oldest Mtn folks can be great and frustrating. I had to move west recently for work, in Wyoming. Some of the contries best water is here in the Chatahoochie watershed area. Go visit the Suches area just north on highway 60. I like that area because my soul feels at peace when I am there. I just dont feel comfortable here in Wyoming. I cant wait to return HOME. I miss the rain,mountains and trees. If things start to get bad in America I will do everything possible to get back to Dahlonega. I own a modest home with a cultivated edible landscape. Plus I have wild black berries and muscadine grapes in my area. I will defend in place, but if it gets bad I know the wilderness area well enough to stay safe. And if it does get bad because of the economy or socially I hope the GARBAGE stays in Atlanta.

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