If I weren’t gridding, I don’t know how often I’d be up in the Roans. The ease of access, gentle climbs, and spectacular rhododendron displays attract large numbers of hikers in the spring and summer months. @foxtrot.at
and I decided to begin on the most popular trail to Roan High Bluff and Grassy Ridge Bald while it was still early before retracing our steps to Carver’s Gap and eventually the wooded summit of Roan High Knob.
We heard the buzzing sound before we saw it. The National Park Service restriction 36CFR 1.5(a) (1) prohibits the, “launching, landing or operating of unmanned aircrafts from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail”. Foxtrot and I looked at each other and sighed. I decided to take one for the team and try to talk to the person flying the drone. I’ve had many of these conversations in the half decade I’ve been a wilderness guide and this was by far the most pleasant.
Most of these conversations are far more unpleasant. I’ve been both ignored and called a host of unflattering names on Max Patch, at Shelters, and on Chimney Tops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the impartiality and efficacy of Leave No Trace regulations. Whether or not Leave No Trace applies, please adhere to common sense in the wilderness.
Please do not have open fires on Max Patch. Please don’t leave food out at shelters. Please do not go beyond the gates at Chimney Tops, risking your own and first responder’s lives. Please think of the wilderness experience of others when and where you choose to fly a drone.
In addition to National Parks and National Scenic Trails, drone use is also illegal above the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wilderness Areas (including Linville Gorge Wilderness and Shining Rock Wilderness), and North Carolina State Parks, although there is a Special Activity Permit application for State Parks.
What have your experiences with drone use in the wilderness been? Do you love getting those aerial shots or do you hate that telltale buzzing? What are your thoughts on drone use in the outdoors?