Month: December 2020

Month: December 2020

first_imgWood Mackenzie: Ohio set to lead Midwest solar development in next five years FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:As we’ve noted before, Ohio is not the first state that most people think of when they think solar. At the end of last year the state had only 202 MWdc installed, placing it in the bottom half of installed capacity nationally, and SEIA’s project database did not show any larger than 20 MW.Despite this humble start, Wood Mackenzie ranks Ohio as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next five years, and a look at the status of some of the leading projects explains why.Last Thursday the Ohio Power Siting Board approved Open Road Renewables’ 150 MWac Willowbrook Solar Farm, planned for 2,200 acres in Highland and Brown Counties. This follows on OPSB’s approval of Open Road’s 200 MWac Hillcrest Solar farm. When two more projects by Invenergy are included, OPSB has given its blessing to 625 MW of projects since the beginning of 2018.But these are not all that are underway. OPSB is currently considering Hecate Energy’s Highland Solar Farm, a monster 300MWac project planned for Highland County near the Kentucky border. Significantly, Highland Solar already holds a power purchase agreement (PPA). Additionally, Tradewind Energy has received an interconnection agreement from grid operator PJM Interconnection for three separate phases of its Pickaway County Solar project, which together total 150 MWac.Added altogether, these six projects total 1,075 MWac of solar, many times what is currently online in the state. However, it is not clear that any of these have begun construction at this time, and many have not secured all the necessary approvals.While all of these projects are planned to be connected to the grid by the end of 2021, it is not clear which ones will make it. But with this many big projects this close to being finalized, there are good odds that one or several large solar projects will break ground in coming months.More: Big solar is coming to Ohiolast_img read more


Month: December 2020

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:A Nordic hedge fund worth more than $90bn (£68.6bn) has dumped its stocks in some of the world’s biggest oil companies and miners responsible for lobbying against climate action.Storebrand, a Norwegian asset manager, divested from miner Rio Tinto as well as US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron as part of a new climate policy targeting companies that use their political clout to block green policies.The investor is one of many major financial institutions divesting from polluting industries, but is understood to be the first to dump shares in companies which use their influence to slow the pace of climate actionJan Erik Saugestad, the chief executive of Storebrand, said corporate lobbying activity designed to undermine solutions to “the greatest risks facing humanity” is “simply unacceptable”.Storebrand will also divest from German chemicals company BASF and US electricity supplier Southern Company for lobbying against climate regulation, and a string of companies that derive more than 5% of their revenues from coal or oil sands.“We need to accelerate away from oil and gas without deflecting attention on to carbon offsetting and carbon capture and storage. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are readily available alternatives,” he said. “The Exxons and Chevrons of the world are holding us back,” he added. “This initial move does not mean that BP, Shell, Equinor and other oil and gas majors can rest easy and continue with business as usual, even though they are performing relatively better than US oil majors.”Saugestad said he expects Storebrand’s investor peers will follow its lead in divesting from companies that support anti-climate lobbying “as part of a logical progression in global fossil fuel divestment”.[Jillian Ambrose]More: Major investment firm dumps Exxon, Chevron and Rio Tinto stock Norway’s Storebrand divests ExxonMobil, Chevron stock due to climate inactionlast_img read more


Month: December 2020

first_img“The Epic Ride designation is the golden seal of approval in mountain biking.It’s like the Oscar for Best Picture.”My legs are on fire, my lungs are holding a coup, and my bike feels like it's made of granite and square wheels. I'm in mountain biking hell, which is strange because I’m riding one of the best trails in the Southeast. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. The “best,” “sweetest,” “gnarliest”: There’s so much buzz around some of these trail systems, it’s hard to figure out what’s reality and what’s hype. Sometimes, you have to weed through a barrage of superlatives to get to the heart of a trail. They can't all be the sweetest, right?But the trail I’m riding really is one of the best around. Honestly. Because the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) says so. This is Tanasi, in eastern Tennessee, and it’s one of the IMBA “Epic Rides,” a distinction given to a select few trail systems across the globe. The “Epic Ride” is the golden seal of approval from the unofficial ruling body of all things fat tire. It is the Oscar for Best Picture. It is the Grammy for Best Album. A few new Epics are designated each year, but so far there are only 32 in the United States, and only six in the Southeast.While you may hear hyperbole about other trails around the country, the Epic designation gives Tanasi a certain level of cache`. But that doesn’t mean I’m having a good time. At least not at first. There’s just so much climbing involved.The elevation gain doesn’t seem to bother Doug Coulter or his other riding buddies -a couple of firemen named Jerry and Dave, and Mike Alcorn, a forest service trail engineer. Tanasi is their home track, their backyard. They’re used to paying these sort of dues. And they know what’s on the other end of this climb. If Tanasi is famous for one thing (other than the climbing), it’s the roaring downhills that await bikers who are able to make it past the initial elevation gain.I use the word “famous” loosely. Outside of a rabidly supportive group of local riders, Tanasi is relatively unused.“On a summer weekend, when the weather is perfect, you may have 50 riders spread out over these trails,” Coulter says. “It just doesn’t draw the crowds that Tsali draws.”Coulter, who owns a bike shop in nearby Cleveland, Tenn., is quick to compare Tanasi with Tsali, a revered western North Carolina trail system about an hour away from Tanasi that receives the lion’s share of the region’s mountain biker activity. Tsali and Tanasi are like rival high schools on opposite ends of a small town, and Tsali is winning the popularity contest. Head to Tsali’s parking lot on any given weekend and you’ll find a sea of cars. Riders mingle on the asphalt. A vendor sells T-shirts and power gels. It’s the sort of scene you usually reserved for race weekends. The system is so popular, the Forest Service has to control traffic by enforcing an alternating trail schedule. Certain trails are open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and others are open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and weekends.Tanasi has no such problem. As we reach the top of our first big climb, our group stops for a water break. We haven’t seen any other riders and we won’t for the rest of the day. Nobody is sure of the exact elevation we’ve gained, but we know we’ve all been in granny gear since leaving the car. We know we’ve had to pick lines through slick roots. We know we’re happy to take a water break.Coulter blames the climb we just finished for Tanasi’s lack of popularity. “There’s no way to access any of the trails without climbing at the beginning,” he says. “Right out of the parking lot, you’ve got to work your butt off. There’s no warm up. That climb keeps people away. It weeds people out.”Of course he’s right. While many bikers enjoy the grind of a climb, the majority are looking for the downhills without the uphills-which helps explain Tsali’s popularity. Tsali doesn’t have any significant climbs, and it’s downhills are less technical and demanding than surrounding trail systems like Tanasi. But, as jaded as it may sound, there’s more to a trail system’s popularity than just the quality of its trails, just as there’s more to making a hit record than talented musicians. There’s public relations. There’s hype.And if there’s any mountain bike trail system that deserves a little hype, it’s Tanasi. The 30 miles of trails start at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, and unlike most National Forest trails, these paths were built specifically for mountain biking. The elevation changes are quick and frequent, the berms are perfectly placed, and the downhills are fast, technical, and accentuated with jumps. Then there’s the location. Tanasi is two hours from Atlanta, an hour-and-a-half from Knoxville, an hour from Chattanooga, and two-and-a-half hours from Asheville. It’s in the heart of mountain bike country, sandwiched between the largest population zones in the South. And yet, Tanasi doesn’t receive the bike traffic it deserves.This is a problem with many Epic Rides designated by IMBA. “The Epics program has waned in recent years,” says Mark Eller, manager of IMBA. IMBA still designates a few trails every year, but their involvement with the trail systems doesn’t go much further than a designation party. As a result, many of these trails, which are considered the best in the country, are completely forgotten by the biking community after the buzz from the party wears off. IMBA is hoping to change this with a little bit of hype.“We’re hoping to get special trail markers for each Epic trail system we’ve designated, and hopefully, we’ll find regional sponsors for our clubs to provide funds for maintenance,” continues Eller.Increasing the popularity of forgotten trail systems may seem like a minor issue, but convincing a portion of the nation’s 51 million mountain bikers to explore these under-used trail systems could be a necessity for mountain biking’s survival.Take Bent Creek Experimental Forest, outside of Asheville, N.C. This popular fat tire destination is reaching the breaking point for mountain bike activity. The Blue Ridge Bicycle Club estimates Bent Creek sees 1,500 recreational users a week, most of which are bikers. The parking lots are consistently full, the trails are in disrepair, and the management is getting antsy. The small tract of forest land was originally designated for timber research, and David Loftis, project manager for the experimental forest, isn’t sure Bent Creek can handle the recreational activity it’s receiving. “Bent Creek is just 6,000 acres out of 150,000 acres in the Pisgah Ranger District,” he notes. “We’ve reached the upper saturation level of recreation use on the land. There is a limit to what we can do here. There’s a lot of other forest service land.”Such as Mills River Recreation Area, a hotbed of mountain bike trails ten miles south of Bent Creek. While Mills River has trails that easily rival Bent Creek and while it is a popular fat tire destination among bikers in the know, it receives only a fraction of the regular traffic that Bent Creek receives. And don’t forget DuPont Forest, an Epic Ride only 45 minutes from Asheville that could easily accommodate more traffic.And Bent Creek is just one tract of forest land that’s oversaturated with mountain bike activity. Tsali, while it manages existing crowds, will eventually reach a tipping point. The trails at the Chattahoochee Recreation Area in Atlanta could certainly use some relief from constant traffic. The same can be said with Cane Creek near Charlotte, or Belle Island in Richmond.And the problem is poised to get worse. While mountain biking’s popularity waned at the turn of the century, the advent of 24-hour races and the creation of the freestyle niche have increased participation in recent years. And the popularity of mountain biking among teenagers is through the roof according to the Outdoor Industry Association. A whopping 63 percent of all mountain bikers are between the ages of 16 and 24.Dr. Ken Cordell is a Research Project Leader for the Outdoor Recreation and Wilderness Assessment team within the National Forest system. Cordell, who was a key player in turning Tsali into the successful recreation area that we have today, isn’t sure what to do about the increase of mountain bikers on public land. “It’s amazing how much use there is, but it’s also a real management challenge. Honestly, I don’t know how we’re going to handle the increase in use overall.”At Tanasi, the higher you climb, the better the trails get. Coulter leads our group down Thunder Rock Express. This is the headliner at Tanasi, the signature trail that some compare to heroin. It’s just as addictive. It’s fast, it’s bermy, it’s technical, it’s smooth, it’s rolling, it’s everything a mountain bike trail should be, and Coulter and a small group of riders have it all to themselves-a fact that they’d like to change.It's not that these bikers don't appreciate the dream scenario of a “private” trail system. They're just able to see the big picture.“The more attention these trails receive, the better they’ll be maintained,” says Mike Alcorn, the forest service trail engineer along for the ride. He’s responsible for creating new trails near the river and is also working on relieving the congestion problem at Bent Creek. “We’ll also be able to justify creating more mountain bike trails and ultimately, it will help diffuse the traffic problems we’re seeing elsewhere.”The EpicsTanasiOcoee, Tenn. 30 miles of extremely fast singletrack and doubletrack accentuated by some tough climbs, all of which rise above the Ocoee River and the Olympic Whitewater Center.More Info: www.chattbike.com.What to expect: A tough climb out of the gate but once you reach the top you’ll be treated with some of the best downhills in the South. Rolling and bermy: a great combination.Must Ride: Thunder Rock Express: 1.5 miles of fast, rolling downhill. Jumps, berms, bridges, Nirvana.Know it Alls: Scott's Bicycle Centre in Cleveland, Tenn. 423-472-9881. www.scottsbikes.com.Detour: Shake Shack, Cleveland, Tenn. 423-476-4770. A thirty minute drive into Cleveland and you’ll be sucking down what many say is the best milk shake in the Volunteer State.Bull MountainDahlonega, Ga. More than 50 miles of trails wind up and around Bull Mountain in North Georgia. If you’re willing to do some forest road riding, you can connect to a couple of other trail heads nearby.More info: www.sorba.org.What to expect: The climbs aren’t terribly steep but they’re technical as hell and littered with roots and rocks. Some of the trails feel more like dried up creek beds. Bull Mountain is why God invented the full suspension bike.Must Ride: Bull Mountain Loop: 11 miles. Easily the most popular trail in the system. It starts with a tough, technical climb and then turns into a fast, twisting downhill (read: endo-centric).Know it Alls: Cartecay River Bicycle Shop in Ellijay, Ga. 706-635-2453.Detour: Mack Aaron’s Apple House, Ellijay, Ga. 706-273-3180. They’ve got 11 different kinds of fried pies, which is exactly what the doctor orders after riding Bull Mountain.TsaliBryson City, N.C. Forty miles of trails are split into four different loops. All consist of fast, rolling singletrack that cruises by Fontana Lake. The trails follow the contour of the mountainside as opposed to the fall line, which accounts for the roller coaster affect.More Info: www.mtbikewnc.comWhat to expect: Butter smooth trails that roll endlessly. There’s nothing too technical at Tsali, just unadulterated fat tire fun. Don’t expect to have the trails to yourself…ever.Must Ride: Left Loop: At 12 miles, it’s the longest loop at Tsali and it offers the most lake-side riding. Lots of rolling with fast turns and a couple of good climbs followed by steep downhills. Combine it with the Right Loop for the full Epic affect.Know it Alls: Nantahala Outdoor Center in Wesser, N.C. www.noc.com.Detour: Aunt B’s Donut Shop in Bryson City. 828-488-0881. Fresh donuts made right in front of your eyes? What more could a biker want?DuPont ForestBrevard, N.C. Almost 100 miles of singletrack, doubletrack, and forest roads cruise through the 10,400 acre forest which was featured prominently in the film “Last of the Mohicans.” www.dupontforest.com.What to expect: Dupont is famous for its eastern slickrock; big granite slabs in the middle of the trails much like Moab but without all the sand and deadly temperatures. Some of the best scenery you can imagine along a mountain bike trail: several trails take you to the base of impressive waterfalls. You’ll have to use fire roads to connect some of the singletrack but it’s worth it.Must Ride: Cedar Rock: 1.5 miles of the eastern slickrock that everyone loves. It’s rocky, technical, and you can combine it with a handful of other similar trails for a day-long adventure.Know it Alls: Backcountry Outdoors in Brevard, N.C. 828-884-4262Detour: Hawg Wild Barbecue, Pisgah, N.C. 828-877-4404. Do you really need a reason to check this place out or is the name enticing enough?The Southern Traverse:Harrisonburg, Va. 32 miles of beastly singletrack through a historic Civil War battle field. And 3,000 feet of elevation gain in the George Washington National Forest.More Info: www.mtntouring.com.What to expect: Lots of ridge riding on this tight, winding singletrack littered with fast downhills and technical rock gardens.Must ride: Shenandoah Mountain Trail: This 17-mile trail is the backbone of the Southern Traverse. Most people ride it from North to South in order to climb the forest roads and descend the singletrack. A shuttle is almost mandatory. Know it Alls: The Shenandoah Bicycle Company in Harrisonburg, Va. 540-437-9000.Detour: Dave’s Downtown Taverna, Harrisonburg, Va. 540-564-1487. $2 Natural Light pitchers. You can’t beat that.Gauley Headwaters:Slatyfork, W.Va. Rocks, hills, rocks, hills, and rocky hills dominate the 37-miles of trails within the Cranberry Wilderness. This is classic gnarly West Virginia singletrack and possibly the toughest in the east.More Info: www.wvmba.com.What to expect: From expansive meadows to deep hardwood forests, the scenery is breathtaking, but so are the trails. Finish ten miles of the Gauley Headwaters and you’ll feel like you actually accomplished something with your life-a rare feeling for a day of mountain biking.Must ride: Tea Creek Mountain Trail: 4.5 miles of rocks and roots. The climb at the beginning is a beast (there’s no shame in walking) but you’re rewarded with a three mile downhill that’s tight, narrow, and fast.Know it Alls: Elk River Touring Center in Slatyfork, W.Va. www.ertc.com.Detour: Forget the restaurants. Pack a lunch and head to Snowshoe for some lift-served downhill riding and mountain bike park fun. You’ve earned it. www.ride.snowshoemtn.com.last_img

Month: December 2020

first_imgEditor’s Note: Blue Ridge Outdoors contributor Chris Gallaway was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and contributing a blog to BRO when tragedy struck his family. This is his final dispatch. Read his other dispatches from the trail: A Cold Start, Trail Magic, Difficult Winter, Monuments, Spring!, Family, and Virginia is for Limpers.The news from my hike is rather difficult. On my third day into Maine my parents called to tell me that my little brother Zach had died in a motorcycle accident. I traveled home from Rangeley, Maine and have been with my family since the 4th. We are stretched between grief, the unreality of this situation, and the simple business of all that must be done in this time. We are holding a memorial service for Zach this Saturday in Birmingham, and at the moment we’re trying to plan and prepare for that.I do plan to resume and finish my hike. It will be challenging to figure out how this life change fits with the journey I was on, but I hope that the trail will provide time and space for me to process this grief and to remember Zach. I’ll be flying back to Maine next Monday with about 200 miles left on the trail. My fiance, Sunshine, will join me in the town of Caratunk and we will finish the final week of walking together.last_img read more


Month: December 2020

first_imgRemember those last days of summer vacation when you were a kid? When you felt the urgency and tried to cram as much fun into the last week or two before you had to trudge back to the confines of the classroom and listen to old Mrs. Hardigan talk about fractions and Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally? Yeah, me too. I also remember spending those last days of vacation on a bike riding around with my friends. I wouldn’t call this aimless riding because there was a point to it. The point was to get outside and taste that last bit of freedom, feel it blow through our hair, shout it at the top of lungs, and possibly get a icee-pop from the corner store. Yes, those were the days and it can be hard to recapture that type of wild abandon in adulthood; unless, of course, you participate in the Blue Ridge Breakaway this Saturday.In it’s fourth year, the Blue Ridge Breakaway offers four road rides of varying distances that all begin and end at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Each ride has it’s own merits: there is a century (The Hawk – 105 miles with 32 miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway), a metric century (The Trout – 62.1 miles with over 5,800 feet of climbing and a downhill finish), a 40-mile ride (The Panther – 40 miles – duh – with 2,600 feet of elevation gain), and the Rabbit, a family friendly 24-mile ride with a moderate 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Each ride features views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pisgah National Forest, and are fully supported with rest stops and SAG vehicles.And that’s not all! Leading the rides will be pro cyclist and Olympic silver medalist Lauren Tamayo. Tamayo won silver in track cycling at the 2012 London Games, lives in Asheville, and will be on hand before and after the race to chat cycling with the estimated 550-600 riders expected to participate.You can register on Friday evening or on race day. If you are not interested in riding, this will still be a fun event, especially with an Olympian in the mix. So, as Freddie Mercury used to say, “Get on your bikes and ride!”View Larger Maplast_img read more



Month: December 2020

first_imgLike what I’m wearing? Check out the jacket, long-sleeve, and short sleeve pieces on Eddie Bauer’s site. ### Sometimes, I think we get caught up in what the word “adventure” really means.Thanks to the ski porns and huck fest edits of today, our concept of adventure is a little skewed, usually including (but not limited to) epic landscapes, gorgeous-fit athletes, death-defying stunts, and all-in-all, an inspirational yet unattainable experience.Those videos have their place in our lives. There’s no question about that. If we didn’t have episodes of Demshitz or weekly releases of some sick Sweetgrass Productions flick, where would we be amid an insanely boring, post-adventure-weekend Monday at the office?But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if those cinematic works of wonder really help to inspire the weekend warrior to go outside and play. I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, some people may see Ingrid Backstrom soaring downhill in some remote Alaskan mountain range and become frustrated that they are either a) not as badass as Ingrid Backstrom or b) not in Alaska… or, if you’re like me, c) both.This inaugural year of the Live Outside and Play project has seen tremendous success, and it’s largely due to the support of our sponsors. When Eddie Bauer came on board, I was excited to work with a brand that catered not only to the core adventure athlete but also to the stay-at-home-moms-and-dads and the weekend warrior who holds a 9 to 5 and still crushes class V creeks on Saturdays. Their threads are functional and fashionable, looking equally at place on the trail as they do at the coffee shop. While Eddie Bauer certainly offers those core athletes a technical line of clothing, in all, the brand offers a little something for everyone and promotes, through its tagline “live your adventure,” a commitment to exploration, no matter the level.So live your adventure.Don’t compare yourself with the Ingrid Backstroms or the Eric Jacksons or the Alex Honnolds. Their life is our play. You may have jobs, kids, parents, school, goals, dreams, that don’t involve skiing every day. Or maybe they do. The point is, don’t get caught up in where you aren’t. Embrace where you are right now. If freesoloing El Cap is on that list of goals and dreams, take proactive steps toward attaining that, but don’t feel frustrated when you’re not looking up at its base a year from now.This is easily one of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis, but it’s an important reminder for us all. Your adventure might not entail a monthlong trek into the Andes. It may be as simple as a morning jog in the woods outside your house, or a little 10-minute yoga session before you head into the office. Whatever it is that you can fit into your life, do it. Live your adventure and no one else’s.last_img read more


Month: December 2020

first_imgIt’s funny to think how quickly a year passes by.At the onset, 365 days seems like an eternity. In the thick of cabin fever, summer feels like it’ll never come. When it finally does, we’re already longing for cooler, humidity-free autumn days, wood stoves, and apple cider.But pump the brakes. Slow down and look back. A lot went down in 2014, from environmental disasters to record-breaking feats of athleticism. In honor of the year past and the year-to-come, here are 10 highlights from 2014 and 10 of our own predictions for the new year.Remember when…1. … over 300,000 West Virginia residents were left without clean water thanks to a Freedom Industries tank that leaked coal-processing chemicals into the Elk River in January?2. … in February, another chemical spill, this time a coal ash spill into North Carolina’s Dan River, became the nation’s third-largest coal ash spill ever? There was enough toxic sludge released into the water to fill 73 Olympic-sized swimming pools.3. … five-year-old Christian Thomas, aka Buddy Backpacker, became the youngest little guy to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail?4. … two rivers in the Carolinas, South Carolina’s South Fork of the Edisto and North Carolina’s Haw River, made it onto American Rivers’ annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers?5. … two regional whitewater kayaking superstars, Dane Jackson (Tenn.) and Adrienne Levknecht (S.C.), took podiums at the world renown Whitewater Grand Prix in Canada? Dane became a 3x Whitewater Grand Prix Champion and Adrienne finished third in the women’s category.6. … BRO editor-in-chief Will Harlan published his highly acclaimed biography on Cumberland Island’s Carol Ruckdeschel? The book, titled Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island, would go on to make Barnes and Noble’s 18 Discover Great New Writers list.7. … Vibram USA agreed to pay a total of $3.75 million to consumers who bought its FiveFingers shoes to settle a lawsuit made in 2012?8. … Oskar Blues Brewery REEB Ranch opened The Bike Farm outside of Brevard, N.C., and hosted the 2014 Red Bull Dreamline.9. … a fire broke out in the New River Gorge and burned over 130 acres near the popular climbing area Endless Wall?10. … Canaan Valley, W.Va., resident John Logar won the prestigious Iditarod Trail Invitational by foot?A look ahead…We polled our staff to see what their predictions were for the 2015 year. Here are 10 things we anticipate the new year will bring.1. The death of The Beard.“With the coining of the term lumber-sexual I think we can all agree that this latest trend in the urban-male’s fragile sense of masculinity has jumped the shark. Next year? Back to perms and a single diamond stud earring. Or maybe a lighting bolt. I’m getting a lighting bolt.” – Craig Snodgrass, BRO web director2. SUP will make a play to become an Olympic sport.If trampolining and race walking can, why not stand-up paddle boarding?3. GoPro releases yet another version of the Hero.“Duh.” – Jess Daddio, BRO travel editor4. Natural fitness will explode.McDougall’s new book, Natural Born Heroes, is coming out.5. Hunting will become more attractive to urbanites and merge with the farm to table movement.6. The craft beer bubble pops.“We used up all the damn hops. Too many brewers and not enough hop farmers causes the price of craft brews to skyrocket. Big-Booze sweeps in and buys up remaining hop farms, with a resource shortage small time crafters are choked out. Budweiser releases its first IPA.” – Craig Snodgrass, BRO web director7. Aged rums will become “the new bourbon.”8. Axe throwing will become even more of a thing.9. Cellphones will get even larger.And maybe even the word “cellphone” will become obsolete. After all, they’re more computer than phone.10. Thru-hiking sees record numbers.“If you’re wanting to tackle the A.T. or the P.C.T., maybe give it another year. Thanks to the releases of Wild and A Walk in The Woods, expect hordes of wannabe Cheryl Strayeds and Bill Brysons to hit the trail this season…” – Jess Daddio, BRO travel editor###What do you think? Any regional highlights we missed? Any predictions you agree or don’t agree with (or want to add to the pot)? We’d love to hear from you!last_img read more


Month: December 2020

first_imgThink small.I think that may be the trick to this ultrarunning thing.Control what you can control. Ignore the rest of it.No need to count the miles left. Or hours left. Or distance to the next aid station. Not helpful.Think small. Look inward and find the rhythm the same way you do when you start out on a normal morning run. Or when you begin to crank it up on a particular fast track interval. Find your breath. Relax your shoulders. Relax your face. Find the line through the rocky trail maze.Think small. No value in “Holy cow, I can’t do this for (fill in the blank with time or distance).” No point in “There’s no way I can last another XX hours in this heat.” And zero hope in “I cannot climb that climb one more time. No way.” Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Yes, you can.Screen shot 2015-09-10 at 1.38.05 PMThink small. Find whatever scale you are comfy with and set about wrapping your head around that scale. For me at Hinson Lake 24-Hour several weeks ago, it was each of two or three run segments on the 1.52-mile loop. Not covering the entire loop in a set amount of time.And it was also making sure that I drank some chocolate milk every hour. And that I plopped in my chair every two hours for a quick 2- to 3-minute break, making sure I propped my feet up on my cooler to take a bit of pressure off them.Think small. Once it got dark at HL, I shifted focus to the promise to begin running again at the first wooden bridge after the left turn off the dam. Find the bridge. Start running. Find second gear. Keep running until crossing the 300-foot-long bridge, then walk the entirety of the kitty-litter-like footing and small hill comically dubbed Mount Hinson. (Thanks for that bit of magic, Charles West!!!)Screen shot 2015-09-10 at 1.37.51 PMThink small. Be mindful of whatever the task immediately at hand, be it finishing that Zip-Lock baggie of Frito’s Corn Chips, polishing off the last of the green tea-Red Bull combo mix, finding just the right groove in the trail over there on the Hinson Front Nine’s longish straightaway.Think small. Know when to say “No” — such as “The pizza is fresh. Who wants some pizza?! — and then push your mind onward to the next order of business. Same goes, most of the time, for getting caught up in visiting with somebody out there on the course, especially if that somebody is going at a different speed than your speed.Think small. No need to get greedy and change what’s working just because the idea of, say, running for the next hour or even running the whole next climb happens to flash across your mind. Be patient. Remember your training. Trust your plan.And if things happen to start to go a little sideways, then I know a really great strategy to bring things back to even … think. small.Think small. When negativity starts its inevitable ultrarun creep, intake some calories and beat the neg back with the happiest thought you can muster.Screen shot 2015-09-10 at 1.38.19 PMFresh off a 5-mile PR for 24 hours and a 10-mile course best in my sixth try at that same place, I’m thinking I may have bumbled across the answer I’ve been chasing all of these 20-something ultrarunning years.Think. small.Our BRO Athlete series is powered by Great Outdoor Provision Co., The Hub, Crozet Running, Brown Jeep, Proformance, and the Blue Ridge Cyclery.last_img read more


Month: December 2020

first_imgThe Appalachian Trail is becoming a wildly popular piece of national scenery. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which tracks trail use through voluntary self­registration, the amount of people attempting a thru­hike has doubled each decade since 1970. In the 70s, the total amount of thru­hikers hovered around 700. In the 2000s, that number increased to just shy of 6,000 total thru­hikers.Recent movie adaptations of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods leave the ATC bracing for an even further increase in hiker population. This higher population inevitably increases impact and it is taking its toll on the trail, especially at the northern and southern termini where hiker population is least spread out.Lenny Bernstein, president of the Carolina Mountain Club discussed the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s strategies meant to alleviate the harm of increased population, “The ATC has been involved for over a year now in anticipation of the increase in activity.[They’re] coming up with plans to first of all try to spread out the hikers…get them to consider not just the standard Springer Mountain, [GA] to Katahdin, [ME] hike, maybe starting in the middle and flip flopping.”6127630202_0cf633c8ec_zA page on the ATC’s website details flip flopping and its variations. Flip flopping is when a person forgoes starting at the north or south end to hike the trail in one continuous stretch and instead chooses an alternate point. For example, a hiker may choose to start in Harper’s Ferry, the closest town to the halfway point, and hike north. Once they reach Katahdin, they shuttle back down to Harper’s Ferry and finish the second leg at Springer Mountain.There are many variations in flip flopping such as starting point and starting date that allows more flexibility compared to a north or southbound start which have relatively fixed start dates for hikers. The ATC, and by extension Bernstein and the CMC, encourage hikers to flip flop because the multiple alternatives would naturally spread hikers out.18266689692_0ef3042e1f_zBernstein also stressed the importance of educating hikers on proper Leave No Trace principles. If hikers do not engage in proper practices, whether out of ignorance or otherwise, the trail and the environment will suffer more greatly for it. It is easy for individual hikers to ignore or disregard their own impact, but when actions compound due to increased hiker population it can have long term consequences for the ecology of the trail, and even the route it follows.Recently, ultrarunner Scott Jurek set the record for the fastest assisted thru­hike of the Appalachian Trail. Many consider his feat a great accomplishment of human endurance, but his finish at Katahdin and subsequent celebration exemplified a trend that officials at Baxter State Park find troubling.LOU_0103A_FIX-759x500According to a Facebook post made by park director Jensen Bissell, Jurek was met at the peak of Katahdin by a group larger than twelve people (the maximum allowed at Baxter Park) and celebrated his accomplishment by opening champagne. After the celebration, Jurek was cited for the oversized group, drinking alcohol in park boundaries, and littering.Jurek’s case may seem unrelated to regular thru­hikers, but the event gave Baxter State Park officials an outlet to address issues they’ve seen negatively affecting the park. Bissell decried Jurek’s high profile finish and the “corporate sponsors” that supported him in his run.13967239351_1e4f49dd57_zFurther in the post, Bissell addressed the potential harm of the ever­ increasing publicity of the AT to Baxter Park, “The Appalachian Trail provided the challenge and backdrop for this event and consequently, provided the conduit for this event to land in Baxter Park. The profile of the AT is large enough to attract the corporate sponsorship necessary to support and carry such an event… The formal federal designation and authority of the Appalachian Trial does not extend into Baxter State Park.”According to Bissell, Katahdin is on loan to the ATC and Baxter officials are considering “the increasing pressures, impacts and conflicts that the Appalachian Trail brings to the Park.” Baxter officials are intent on maintaining the wilderness that original land donor Percival P. Baxter envisioned and the traffic the AT brings may be harming that wilderness.Bissell warned that Katahdin as the northern terminus could change, and that officials were reviewing whether, “ a continued relationship [between Baxter and the ATC] is in the best interests of Baxter State Park.” Currently, the foundation upon which the park was built is incongruous with its use and impact due in part to the thru­hiker community. Until tensions are settled, changing the northern terminus is a potential outcome to the Baxter Authority.The commercial success of A Walk in the Woods and Wild, as well as the publicity of Scott Jurek’s run, do speak towards a general desire among the population to experience the outdoors.According to data collected from IMDb, the movie adaptions of A Walk in the Woods and Wild earned $29 million and $37 million in the box office respectively. An article on the ATC’s website states that the book release of A Walk in the Woods caused a 60% increase in thru­hiker traffic. Due to its ability to reach wider audiences, the movie adaption is expected to cause similar results.4102268640_8d0994851e_zThe shift towards commercial and mainstream appeal of long distance trails indicate that the growing population of hikers will likely not stall anytime soon. The ATC’s response to educate people while still encouraging them to hike is admirable, but as numbers continue to grow, more dramatic steps may be necessary. As the ATC attempts to redefine what it means to thru­hike, it many also need to redefine the route on which people attempt their hike.The Benton Mackaye Trail is a nearly 300 mile footpath stretching from Springer Mountain to Big Creek Campground on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Named after the man who envisioned the AT, the BMT is managed by the Benton Mackaye Trail Association, founded in 1980.The entire footpath is complete, but due to organization’s small size, sections of the trail suffer from overgrowth and poor signage.Ernie Engman, author of the Benton Mackaye Trail Thru Hiker’s Guide and a member of the BMTA, had this to say via email regarding a particular section, one they jokingly call ‘The Heart of Darkness’, “ It is a remote section of trail that is hard to get access to even by road to the ends…It doesn’t have any regular trail maintainers that live in the area that can get to it…and unless we can get someone local recruited to do regular maintenance, it will continue to be a problem for us.”_MG_4343With the AT’s popularity issue and the BMT’s lack of consistent maintenance, collaboration between the ATC and BMTA could be beneficial. As Matthew Kirk, the former holder of the unsupported speed hike of the AT and current holder of the unsupported speed hike for the BMT, stated via email, “There are prospective hikers who would embrace the idea of getting off the beaten path and exploring a more adventurous wilderness setting along the BMT.”The debate about removing Katahdin as the northern terminus shows how readily the route may change. A preemptive move such as this could help relieve overpopulation and prevent future situations like the one in Baxter Park.Kirk continued, “The BMT is still wild, the shallow narrow tread not yet rutted out from millions of visitors. It feels like a blast from the past… For those who want to explore the more remote peaks and valleys of the southern Appalachians, there’s really no better trail than the BMT.”Unlike other long trails such as the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trail, the AT is a defined, continuous route that remains largely unchanged from year to year. To designate an alternate as long as the BMT would require a change in philosophy of what constitutes a thru­hike on the AT.“There are those who would want to follow the white blaze no matter how crowded­ the social aspect on the trail being important to them” stated Kirk. “Some hikers will resist the recommendation to stray from the AT no matter what.”“We should definitely explore options for mitigating our recreational impact on our natural resources.” said Kirk. “But generally speaking: the more people getting outside and falling in love with the mountains and trails, the better.”[divider]More from BlueRidgeoutdoors.com[/divider]last_img read more