Hiker escapes cougar by hitting it with an axe A hiker in British Columbia who was stalked by a mountain lion escaped by hitting it with an axe, officials say. The man was hiking in a remote area that has little public access and was not on a hiking trail when the cougar began following him. The hiker reportedly jumped over a log to escape and that’s when the cougar came after him and the man hit it with a hatchet. The man left the scene quickly but when he looked back the cougar was still there, though it did not follow him down the mountain. Conservation officers with a dog team searched the area the following morning and did pick up on the cougar’s scent but could not locate the animal. Officials say that it is rare for cougars to approach people and the cougar may have just been curious. The hiker was not injured.Hiking trails at Congaree National Park should open again soonHiking trails in South Carolina’s Congaree National Park have been closed for two months due to flooding from the Congaree River but that should change shortly, park officials say. Water levels at the park are finally dropping and hiking trails will soon be accessible to the public again. The water damaged a part of the boardwalk and maintenance crews are assessing and working to repair the boardwalk, which will remain closed. In the meantime, hikers are encouraged to use the elevated boardwalk and the Sims trail to access the park’s other hiking trails. Panel to discuss Smokies 900-Miler Trail ChallengeGreat Smoky Mountains National Park has nearly 900 miles of hiking trails. Completing every single trail in the park is known as the ‘Smokies 900-Miler Challenge.’ On Tuesday, February 19 at 7pm, Friends of the Smokies and Nantahala Brewing’s Asheville Outpost will host a panel discussion featuring three hikers who have completed the 900-mile hiking challenge. Attendees will hear the stories of how each panelist succeeded at the challenge, and gain insight into how people of all walks of life and ability levels can tackle the trails of America’s most-visited national park. For the entire month of February, proceeds from Nantahala Brewing’s Dirty Girl Blonde will benefit Friends of the Smokies. Nantahala Brewing is located at 747 Haywood Road in Asheville.