Bill and Sharon Van Horn go hiking most weekends in North Carolina’s Nantahala Forest surrounding their home in Macon County.

But, according to a report by the Citizen-Times, like so many outdoors enthusiasts, the wildfires burning and smoking across thousands of acres have kept the Van Horns from venturing too far into the forests.

“We try to go out hiking every weekend, and every Wednesday we go out to do trail maintenance,” said Bill Van Horn, who with his wife are members of the Franklin-based Nantahala Hiking Club.

The club leads guided hikes and also takes on the responsibility of maintaining, clearing and caring for 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and 30 miles of blue-blazed trails that connect into the Appalachian Trail, which runs by the town.

“We’re scratching our heads trying to figure out where to go,” Van Horn said. “We live two miles outside of Franklin, and the air is real bad when the smoke settles in the valley. We’re hoping for the rain that’s supposed to come.”

The couple lives closest to the Boteler Fire, which began Oct. 25 a few miles east of Hayesville in Clay County (and west of Macon). As of this morning it had grown to more than 9,000 acres and was 85% contained.

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