Joel & Kathy Zachry Share Knowledge of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Did you know that black bears don’t actually hibernate?  Did you know that even if you aren’t lucky enough to see a black bear, evidence of their presence can be seen on any hike if you know what to look for?  The Swag is blessed to have Joel & Kathy Zachry as Experts-in-Residence, where they lead beautiful hikes and shared their knowledge of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And Joel and Kathy know what they’re talking about!  Joel is a “retired” university biology professor who has served as a Smoky Mountain Field School instructor since 1980.  (The Smoky Mountain Field School is a cooperative effort between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the University of Tennessee that “offers unique opportunities to ‘Explore, Learn, and Enjoy’ in one of the nation’s premier national parks through indoor workshops and outdoor field adventures.”)

Joel has also served as president of the Appalachian Bear Rescue, authored Bear’s We’ve Met, and when not at The Swag, leads travel experiences through their adventure company, Great Outdoors! Adventure Travel.  Most importantly, Joel had the good sense to marry Kathy!

Kathy is a biomedical engineer who has served as a Smoky Mountain Field School instructor since 1983.  Along with Joel, Kathy has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and led hikes through Alaska, Colorado, and Wyoming. This is definitely not the typical “retirement”!

Waterfall Trail near The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Each morning, Joel and Kathy  lead interested guests on one of the many beautiful hikes in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park or on The Swag’s 250-acre property.  They led group hikes to the top of Hemphill Bald; to the Appalachian Highlands Science Center at Purchase Knob; to the Ferguson Cabin; and along the beautiful Waterfall Trail, pointing out interesting sights and telling wonderful stories.

Each evening before hors d’oevres, Joel and Kathy would share their expertise on hiking and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by leading discussions in The Swag House on various topics, such as “The Curious Black Bear,” “Culture, History, and Landscape of the Smokies,” “Logging in the Smokies,” and “Pack to Come Back: Things You Might Not Know.”

If you love hiking and/or learning about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you want to come spend time at The Swag with Kathy and Joel.  Book your room now!

-David Colquitt