Coal India Stops Production at Several Mines FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Debjoy Sengupta for the Economic Times of India:State-owned Coal India has been forced to temporarily stop production at several mines and suspend shifts in others, as there are no takers for their stock due to surplus position at all thermal power plants in the country. The coal stocks now stand at 84 million tonnes, with 48 million tonnes at various Coal India mines and another 36 million tonnes at power plants.“The power companies are not in a position to take any additional coal and we are being requested, both officially and unofficially, to cut supplies, which has prompted us to scale down production at several other mines apart from the ones where we have stopped production temporarily,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity.Coal India is being forced to cut or stop production because there’s a limit on the volume of coal that can be stocked at any single location.The stock is so huge at some mines dumpers that carry coal from pits to stockyards cannot move within the mine area. Large stocks of coal also run the risk of catching fire.Full article: CIL stops Work at several mines
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:The U.S. nuclear power industry could be out of business by the middle of the century.The entire existing fleet of reactors may disappear by 2055 when the last operating license expires, S&P Global Ratings said in a report. That’s assuming there will be no license extensions. Half of the country’s 99 nuclear units may be retired in 17 years, S&P said.The report comes on the heels of a decision by Scana Corp. to abandon plans to build two new reactors in South Carolina after costs soared to more than $20 billion and the contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. went bankrupt. Nuclear operators have been shutting plants as their profits have been eroded by generators burning cheap natural gas and by weak demand for electricity.Entire U.S. Nuclear Power Fleet Could Disappear in 38 Years: S&P S&P: Struggling U.S. Nuclear Fleet May Be Gone by 2055
Op-Ed: New York Town Finds Life After Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Buffalo News:When NRG Energy announced the retirement of the Huntley Power Generating Station on River Road, the Ken-Ton School District and the town and county municipalities were facing a total loss of $6 million in PILOT revenues.This loss would eliminate jobs at the plant as well as services and programs offered by the school district and local governments. In addition, this closure would leave idle more than 100 acres of prime waterfront property in Tonawanda. One lesson was learned – Huntley would not be Tonawanda’s Bethlehem Steel. Organized labor, the Clean Air Coalition and the Tonawanda town leadership team dropped traditional barriers and worked with each other to start solving a communitywide problem.The first step was to close the revenue gap. The Kenmore Teachers Association, Clean Air, the Western New York Area Labor Federation and Supervisor Joseph Emminger worked together with Assemblyman Robin Schimminger and then-State Sen. Marc Panepinto to secure the first round of relief for all communities devastated by the loss of revenue from the closure of coal-burning power plants. This new law was recently enhanced with the help of our new senator, Chris Jacobs.The next step required a comprehensive stakeholder study of our town’s economic future. Thanks to union, environmental and town leadership, we secured a federal grant that allowed the University at Buffalo Research Institute to conduct a detailed study of the town’s economic future. The study involved over 300 residents, 728 community survey responses and input from some 20 local organizations. Earlier this year, UB released its “Tonawanda Tomorrow” report that serves as a valuable guidepost for economic and community development.The final step is finding a community-friendly buyer to which NRG would be willing to sell its property on River Road. Last month, union leaders, the school district superintendent, town, county and state officials and the executive director of the Clean Air Coalition met at length to map out our strategy to facilitate this process. Our entire community has a huge stake in the outcome of this issue.The important lesson is that community groups broke down traditional barriers between management, labor, government and environmental interests to work toward the greater good. By sharing political resources like information, contacts, time and legislative and bureaucratic access we have achieved a greater good for our neighborhood. We are now colleagues, not competitors.More: Another Voice: Huntley coalition overcame silos of self-interest
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Vindicator:The day after becoming the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee in May 2016, Donald Trump made a promise at a campaign event in Charleston, W.Va. “We’re going to put the miners back to work,” he said, as thousands of coal miners got to their feet. “We are going to get those mines open.”Watching the speech on television, Bill Siderewicz was bewildered. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” said Siderewicz, president of Boston-based Clean Energy Future LLC, which operates numerous gas-fired, wholesale electricity generation plants in Ohio and is bringing a $900 million natural-gas power plant to the village [of Lordstown].Lordstown Energy Center, located on a site in the Lordstown Industrial Park, is slated to be up and running next month, and Clean Energy Future has plans to invest a similar amount into building a second plant nearby. An energy policy proposed by the Trump administration, however, could derail plans for the second Lordstown plant and send companies such as his running from Ohio, Siderewicz said.Although Siderewicz voted for Trump, he had hoped the president would stay away from the energy industry if elected. Siderewicz is now sounding the alarm on the potential negative impacts of the policy. He said a bailout of the coal industry would shatter Ohio’s competitive energy market, endanger investments in gas-fired plants and cost consumers and businesses billions in higher electricity rates.“Everyone [who] has an IQ of more than 25 is upset about this,” Siderewicz said. “This is so un-American.”In 2009, coal fueled 45 percent of the country’s electricity production, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. By 2017, that share had dropped to 30 percent. “In electricity generation – the key market for coal – the industry is increasingly uncompetitive and is losing market share,” wrote David Schlissel, IEEFA director of resource planning analysis and lead author on a report titled U.S. Coal: More Market Erosion Is on the Way. “Further declines in coal’s energy generation market share can be expected through 2018 and beyond,” he wrote.More: Trump’s energy proposal could derail plans in Lordstown Ohio gas developer and Trump supporter blasts coal bailout
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, in a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago.In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels has fallen by one-third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, said the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the “dash for gas” in the 1990s. Dr Iain Staffell, who undertook the research, said: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.”However, the amount of power from fossil fuels was still greater over the quarter, at about 40% of electricity generation compared with 28% for renewable sources. In total, 57% of electricity generation was low carbon over the period, produced either by renewables or nuclear power stations.In terms of installed capacity, wind is the biggest source of renewables at more than 20GW, followed by solar spread across nearly 1m rooftops and in fields. Biomass is third. In the past year, coal capacity has fallen by one-quarter, and there are only six coal-fired plants left in the UK.More: UK renewable energy capacity surpasses fossil fuels for first time Installed renewable capacity tops fossil fuels in U.K.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Norway’s Scatec Solar expects to sign several deals to supply corporate clients this year as the price of its solar power becomes more competitive, the chief executive said on Friday.Scatec Solar, which aims to operate 3.5 gigawatt (GW) of capacity around the world by the end of 2021, said it was in talks on several potential deals to supply between 50 megawatts (MW) and 200 MW, similar to the scale of contracts with utilities.“We expect 2019 to be a breakthrough for corporate power purchase agreements,” Chief Executive Raymond Carlsen told a news conference. Despite the size of the potential deals, corporate buyers would likely seek shorter terms than the 20 to 25-year contracts typically agreed with public utilities, he said.The company said costs of the unit over the lifetime of a generating asset, known as “levelised costs”, had fallen by 83 percent since 2010, making solar more competitive. “The costs of power produced from solar is at or below the level of energy from other types of sources. If you can offer the lowest prices, people are not going to overlook it, they will be interested,” Carlsen told Reuters.Scatec has 584 MW of installed capacity and 1.1 GW under construction, including a 400 MW solar plant in Egypt. It expects to reach 3.5 GW by 2021, while its total pipeline of new projects due to become operational by 2021 and beyond now stands at 4.5 GW. “We are in a very strong growth mode,” Carlsen said, adding that Scatec expected total proportionate power production to rise to 575-625 GWh in 2019 from 318 GWh in 2018.More: Scatec Solar expects more deals with corporate power buyers in 2019 Norway’s Scatec Solar expects strong growth in corporate renewable deals this year
Taming the Gorilla: The Flume is just one section of the Green River’s most famous RapidBEST WINTER HIKEA.T. THRU SMOKIESJust over 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail run across the Smoky Mountains in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the U.S. The trail follows a high ridge crest along the North Carolina/Tennessee border, rarely dropping below 5,000 feet of elevation during the meat of the stretch between Fontana Dam in the south and Davenport Gap to the north. The A.T. cuts through the heart of the park and serves as the backbone of its trail system. Numerous spur trails make accessing any part of the A.T. as easy as finding a trailhead within the park. The A.T. through the Smokies also links up some of the most visited places in the park, including the trail’s highest point at Clingmans Dome, Rocky Top, and the iconic Mount Cammerer fire tower. Whether you plan on hiking the length over a week, link up landmarks over two or three days, or just take a day hike from Newfound Gap, the options are virtually endless and there is something for everyone.This consistent altitude provides stunning views of the Smokies and Black Mountains, but can also trap snow of surprising depth. Even if there is no snow on the ground, having snowshoes on hand is highly recommended. There are also 12 backcountry A.T. shelters spaced fairly evenly along the route through the Smokies, providing cover if a storm does roll through or for camping (permit required).BEST OF THE RESTDolly Sods; HawksbillBEST SKI RUNCUPP RUNSnowshoe Mountain’s Western Territories are the cream of the crop for steep skiing in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Shay’s Revenge may have sections that are slightly steeper, but Cupp is usually open more often and flows better than its sister slope. Cupp Run features 1,500 feet of vertical, the most of any slope in the region, and the run itself is a mile and a half of downhill bliss. Throw in grades in the 50-percent range and this is the steepest, longest run you can find in the Blue Ridge, plus there is a bar at the bottom. Originally designed by French Olympian Jean-Claude Killy, Cupp is also home to the Cupp Run Challenge, a ski and snowboard Giant Slalom that annually draws the best racers in the South. The winners usually finish in less than two minutes. Are you up for the challenge?BEST OF THE RESTBoulderdash, Silver StreakBEST SINGLETRACKPLANTATION TRAILIn a region with the mountain biking reputation of Davis, W.Va., and the greater Canaan Valley, a trail must really stick out to be our editor’s pick. Well, the Plantation Trail does. This 8-mile “ribbon of pain” is one of the most technical trails in a state full of technical trails. Rock gardens that never end, bottomless bogs, and wheel swallowing roots await those who attempt Plantation. Be prepared to come out the other side with scraped up legs and arms of jelly. You better bring the full suspension and pack a patch kit. Don’t be too afraid, though: there are numerous options to bail out onto Canaan Loop Road via spur trails. But then you wouldn’t get to brag to your buddies back at the bar about riding this beast.BEST OF THE RESTKitsuma, DuPont, The GauntletBEST SUMMITBLACK BALSAM, NORTH CAROLINABlack Balsam Knob is one of the jewels of the Southern Appalachians. Rendered bald at the turn of the century, this peak is our editors’ pick due to the unobstructed views of the Balsam Range, Mount Pisgah, Shining Rock, and Looking Glass Rock, among others. If you time it right, you may even be able to spot Mount Mitchell 45 miles off in the distance. By taking the Art Loeb Trail across Sam Knob and Tennent Mountain, you are able to link up over three miles of trail above 6,000 feet, all treeless, making everything from a half-day jaunt to multi-day backpacking possible. Many use Black Balsam as a gateway to the Shining Rock Wilderness, but you don’t have to trek that far for great views and backcountry camping. Pitch a tent on top of one of the balds and you’ll be treated to an epic sunset and sunrise, plus all the stargazing you can handle in between.BEST OF THE RESTSeneca; Old RagBEST SPOT TO GET IT ONSHUCKSTACK FIRE TOWERConsider this Great Smoky Mountains fire tower if you are thinking about joining the (almost) mile-high club. Perched just north of Fontana Dam atop Shuckstack Mountain, this fire tower was built in 1934 but ceased being used as a fire tower in the 1960s. Since, it has fallen into disrepair and is in constant threat of being torn down by the Forest Service. Missing steps, rusty supports, and the threat of bears make getting to the top of the tower a test of courage. The shaky structure, combined with the strenuous 3.5-mile hike up from the dam, thins out the herd and provides some privacy, although this is a popular spur trail for northbound thru-hikers hungry for a view just as they enter the Smokies. You may want to keep your eyes peeled if visiting in the spring. The views from 80 feet up in the tower are spectacular, however, if you are not too distracted.BEST OF THE RESTMax Patch; any Blue Ridge Parkway OverlookRibbon of Pain: West Virginia’s Plantation Trail lives up to its reputation.BEST SOLITUDEJOYCE KILMER-SLICKROCK WILDERNESS, NORTH CAROLINAJoyce Kilmer may have never seen a poem as lovely as a tree, but we have never seen a wilderness area as rugged as the one named after him in Nantahala National Forest. With over 17,000 acres to explore, plus another 16,000 in Tennessee’s abutting Citico Creek Wilderness, our editors find it easy to leave the modern world behind in Slickrock. Rarely will you encounter another visitor here, even if staying on the primary 13-mile Slickrock Creek Trail. Elevation inside the wilderness ranges from 1,000 to over 4,000 feet, making the landscape as diverse as it is harsh. At the northern portion of the wilderness is the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, 3,800 acres of old growth forest spared from the logging boom that decimated Appalachian forests at the turn of the 20th century. Oak, pines, and sycamores stretch a hundred feet into the sky and bulge to 20 feet in diameter. Surely, Kilmer would have thought these trees lovely indeed.BEST OF THE RESTCohutta Wilderness; St. Marys WildernessFAVORITE PARKWAY OVERLOOKPEAKS OF OTTERThe Blue Ridge Parkway traces the spine of the Appalachians, giving motorists, hikers, and cyclists some of the best views of the mountains you can find in the South. At mile post 86 is our favorite, the Peaks of Otter. The Peaks of Otter are made up of three mountaintops just north of Bedford, Va.: Flat Top Mountain, Sharp Top Mountain, and Harkening Hill. The three peaks tower above and surround Abbott Lake, providing a scenic contrast of water and mountains. From the overlook, there are numerous hiking options to get to the peaks, plus there is a lodge and visitor center, a great place to stretch your legs and picnic.BEST OF THE RESTGraveyard Fields; Craggy GardensFAVORITE SECTION OF THE A.T.ROAN MOUNTAIN, TENNESSEEThe section of the Appalachian Trail that traverses the Roan Highlands is our favorite for two reasons: scenery and access. As the A.T. crisscrosses the North Carolina/Tennessee border, it shoots across the 20-mile massif and its bald peaks. It also crosses Carvers Gap, easily the best access to the trail in the area. From the parking lot off Route 261, you can take the A.T. north or south to equally impressive views. South takes you to Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff, while heading north takes you across Round Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald, all providing vistas of the surrounding highlands. The abundant spur trails off the A.T. can have you hiking for hours or days.BEST OF THE RESTMount Rogers; Great SmokiesBEST WATERFALLWHITEWATER FALLS, NORTH CAROLINAAs it flows through North Carolina’s Jocassee Gorge, the Whitewater River drops 1,500 feet over 3.5 miles. A big chunk of that elevation loss comes at Upper Whitewater Falls, arguably the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi at 411 feet. There is some dispute over this claim, but the falls remains a gorgeous site whether they deserve the title or not. The falls are a very popular spot due to their close proximity to Route 281 and short .2-mile, paved path to the first observation platform. Not so popular, however, is hiking to the river via a 150-step staircase, then dropping down a steep trail into the forest. No views from down here, but the Foothills Trail will take you east to Lower Whitewater Falls across the South Carolina state line—another 400 footer—or you can bushwack west toward the actual base of the upper falls. The swimming holes and flat rocks on the valley floor make this difficult trek worth it. Just don’t forget your towel.BEST OF THE RESTLinville Falls; Great FallsTOUGHEST RACEBARKLEY 100 MILE MARATHONYou know it’s bad when the “Fun Run” is 60 miles. Held annually at Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park, the Barkley 100 Mile Marathon is considered the toughest footrace in the U.S., if not the world. Runners must compose an essay touting their merits—and possible insanity—to compete on a poorly marked, briar-infested, no-aid-allowed course that features over 55,000 feet of vertical climbing. As the race has evolved, it has grown into an almost mythical beast in the minds of ultrarunners. Throw in quirks like a random start time, one first-time racer singled out as the “human sacrifice,” an entry fee consisting of a license plate, and that racers have to tear pages from a series of books along the route to prove they completed the course, and you have all the makings of a Homerian epic. Oh yeah, the race was also inspired by James Earl Ray’s escape, and subsequent failure to make it out of the forest, from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in 1977. Since the race began in 1986, only 12 of around 800 have finished under the 60-hour cutoff. This is truly “the race that eats its young.”BEST OF THE RESTHellgate 100; Massanutten 100 Mile Trail RunBEST BOULDERINGGRANDMOTHER MOUNTAIN, NORTH CAROLINAWestern North Carolina has more than its fair share of amazing climbing and bouldering spots. Our editors chose Grandmother Mountain because of the diversity. You can find anything for anyone at Grandmother, from V2 Car Door up to V8 Hot Rod. This is a very popular spot for climbers because it’s right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and close to Boone, but the area is large with over 100 problems, so there is enough space to spread out. The boulders are also in thick forest surrounded by rhododendron, keeping things relatively cool during the peak of summer.BEST OF THE RESTHawksnest; MoormansOUTDOOR PERSONALITYSASHA DIGIULIANThere are plenty of outdoor personalities in the Blue Ridge, but no one has put their stamp on a sport as convincingly in 2012 as rock climber Sasha DiGiulian. The 19-year-old Alexandria, Va. native burst into the national spotlight by not only dominating her sport, but also doing it with style. DiGiulian has won the past three Sport Climbing U.S. National Championships and the 2011 World Championship, but her greatest climbing accomplishments may have come outside the competition circuit. Among her female first ascents in the past year, including Southern Smoke and Lucifer in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, DiGiulian became the first female to climb any route rated 9a (5.14d). In fact, she did it twice: once on Red River’s Pure Imagination and again in Spain on Era Vella. The sky is the limit for this Blue Ridge teen, who is poised to dominate her field for years to come.BEST OF THE RESTLarry Gibson (activist); Andrew Skurka (backpacker)FAVORITE RAPIDGORILLA, GREEN RIVERGorilla is the most famous rapid on the most famous steep-creek boating locale in the Southeast: the Green River Narrows outside Asheville. The Green is tight, technical, and unforgiving; all of these traits are manifested in Gorilla, the river’s signature rapid and the middle child in the Green’s “Big Three” – Go Left or Die, Gorilla, and Sunshine. The rapid itself consists of three main components. First is the Notch, where the river narrows into a four-foot-wide gap; next comes an 18-foot drop known as The Flume; and finally, Scream Machine, another 10-foot drop. The sequence is also the most visually appealing rapid and during the annual Green River Race, Gorilla can be overrun with spectators cheering on boaters and cringing with those who do poorly – which is frequent. The Green is a rite of passage for any creek boater, and Gorilla is a major factor.BEST OF THE RESTSweets Rapid, Gauley River; Five Falls, Chattooga RiverBEST SKINNY DIPPINGSKINNY DIP FALLS, NORTH CAROLINAThey call it Skinny Dip Falls for a reason, right? This swimming hole off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Looking Glass Overlook is a popular spot, so skinny-dipping may only be an option early or late in the day. Don’t go too late though, because this water is frigid, coming right off of Black Balsam. A short jaunt from the overlook on the Mountains to Sea Trail, the main hole has a rock to jump off and several shallower spots to lounge. Venture downstream or up for more secluded places where you may be able to doff your duds.BEST OF THE RESTWhite Oak Canyon; Jacks River FallsBEST STARGAZINGSPRUCE KNOB, WEST VIRGINIAWest Virginia’s highest peak stands at “only” 4,863 feet, but that is more than enough for stargazers up and down the East Coast. Amateur astronomers flock to Spruce Knob during a new moon for the best view of the heavens this side of the Mississippi. The eastern part of West Virginia has the least light pollution in the East and the stars burst from the sky with unsurpassed clarity. The observation deck rises 20 feet above the summit for unobstructed views, although it can be a bit windy. Bring a blanket and picnic, find an open spot beyond the tower and you’ll have the whole sky to yourself. Just don’t forget the wine opener!BEST OF THE RESTMax Patch, N.C., Whitetop Mountain, Va.ROWDIEST OUTDOOR EVENTGAULEYFESTHeld annually on the banks of the Gauley River in Summersville, W.Va., during the third weekend in September, GauleyFest claims to be the world’s largest whitewater festival. The festival caps off the summer paddling season and coincides with dam releases on one of the gnarliest whitewater rivers on the East Coast—a perfect storm that draws hardcore whitewater enthusiasts from across the U.S. and the world. Get this many paddlers together, spike their stoke with epic days on world class Gauley whitewater, and you get a rolling party rowdier than any other in the Blue Ridge. The festival is not all fun and games however; it is also American Whitewater’s largest fundraiser and a showcase for new products and ideas from the paddling industry. Once the sun goes down, however, is when GauleyFest really comes to life.BEST OF THE RESTNew River Rendezvous; BonnarooBEST PLACE TO SPOT A WILD BEARSMOKIES SHELTERThere are an estimated 1,500 bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nearly two per square mile. The American black bears are symbols of the park and are amazing, fascinating creatures when observed safely from a distance. Campsites and shelters are routinely closed due to bear activity, and warnings adorn many other trails inside the park. Although actual attacks are rare, bear encounters are becoming more common as more people visit the park during the spring, summer, and fall. Bears who become used to humans become nuisance bears and are then targeted by the Park Service. Remember, a fed bear is a dead bear so protect your food and yourself.BEST OF THE RESTShenandoah National Park; backyard bird feederBEST CANOE TRIPCHATTOOGA RIVERThe Chattooga River flows 50 miles from its North Carolina headwaters, tracing the border between Georgia and South Carolina It was designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1974 and is one of the last remaining undammed stretches of river in the Southeast. What we love about the Chattooga is its wild feel. The river flows through remote regions rich in dense forest and shores devoid of any signs of humans aside from the occasional hiking trail or primitive campsite. From the headwaters, the river is divided into four distinct sections. The upper two sections are relatively calm, great for tubing, fishing, and a gentle canoe ride with only the occasional rapid. Things heat up in the lower two sections, however, with Class II-IV+ rapids before the river spills into Tugaloo Lake, requiring expert canoeing experience.BEST OF THE RESTShenandoah River; French Broad RiverBEST TRAILHEAD SCENECHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER-COCHRAN SHOALS RECREATION AREA, ATLANTA, GEORGIAThere are many trailheads in the Blue Ridge that could be at the top of this list. The region is rife with full parking lots where gearheads talk shop, adrenaline junkies talk tough, and singles talk about what they are doing later. What the Chattahoochee River-Cochran Shoals Recreation Area has that the rest don’t – besides the longest name on this list – is the fact that it is right smack in the middle of the largest metropolitan area in the South. As one of the most popular spots on the Chattahoochee River to run, bike, or paddle and with Atlanta to draw from, the scene can be downright dirty – in a good way.BEST OF THE RESTGreat Falls Park, D.C., Bent Creek, N.C.BEST URBAN TRAILBUTTERMILK TRAIL, RICHMOND VIRGINIAPart of Richmond, Va.’s award-winning urban James River Park system, Buttermilk is revered by the city’s outdoor sect. Everyone from dog walkers to advance mountain bikers use the trail, so it can be slightly crowded, but you won’t find a better trail in the middle of a major city. This singletrack trail is well maintained and has everything one could ask for: steep climbs, roots/rocks, and consequence. Steep drop-offs line the riverside part of this trail, so beginners on bikes are urged to use extreme caution. Trail runners love the short climbs and riverside scenery; mountain bikers love the speed, tight turns, and technical sections. Linking up Buttermilk with the North Bank Trail and the Belle Island system will give you a 12-mile ride through the inner forest of the inner city.BEST OF THE RESTRivanna Trail; Knoxville Urban Wilderness TrailBEST TRAIL RUNART LOEB TRAILMany consider the Art Loeb Trail the second best trail in the Blue Ridge behind the Appalachian Trail. For runners, the Art Loeb may be even better than the legendary A.T. Winding 31 miles through the Pisgah National Forest, including the rough Joyce Kilmer-Shining Rock Wilderness, the Art Loeb rises and falls a total of 17,000 feet over its length. From the valley floor to the 6,000-foot bald peak of Black Balsam Knob, this is one roller coaster of a trail. Most (sane) people turn the trail into a two-day backpacking trip, but a few brave souls take it from end to end on the jog. If this is your plan, make sure you pack plenty of fluids as water sources are scarce. The trail also has four distinct sections split up by trailheads and parking lots, so taking it one section at a time is also an option. Any way you tackle it, this is one brutal, gorgeous run.BEST OF THE RESTShut-In Ridge Trail; Pine Mountain Trail; Foothills TrailBEST BIKING COMMUNITYHARRISONBURG, VIRGINIAIn another category with a long list of possible winners, Harrisonburg, Va. came out on top. Harrisonburg is the biking capital of the bike-happy Shenandoah Valley, a mecca for any two-wheeler. Whether you prefer to shred singletrack, assault asphalt, or just commute to the daily grind, Harrisonburg has it all. The city was named a bronze-level ride center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and recognized as a top bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. That’s a lot of bronze, but when you visit Harrisonburg, you see why: everyone is on a bike. Epic trails in George Washington National Forest, Massanutten out the back door, endless miles of country roads to explore, and a city full of sharrows make this a bike community everyone can love.BEST OF THE RESTDavis, W.Va.; Brevard, N.C.Bike Bridge: The Virginia Creeper’s 47 trestles add to the experience of our favorite rail trail.BEST OUTDOOR COFFEE SHOPDIRTBEAN, MARLINGTON, WEST VIRGINIAWith all the debate over outdoor gear, technique, risk, method, etc., sometimes it seems like the only things we can all agree on is that coffee, trails, and ice cream are all good things. Thankfully, the Dirtbean in Marlington, West Virginia has combined them all into one sweet shop. At the Dirtbean, you can sip a cappuccino while your bike gets tuned, then grab a sandwich to go for a trailside picnic. Swing back through after the ride and treat yourself to locally made Homestead Creamery ice cream. Whether you are looking for a chain lube and chia latte or a brake bleed and breakfast bagel, the Dirtbean is your one-stop shop.BEST OF THE RESTCathedral Café, Fayetteville, W.Va.; Espresso News, Boone, N.C.BEST SUP SPOTSHERANDO LAKE, VIRGINIAIt is hard to pinpoint the reason for stand up paddleboarding’s sudden sky rocketing popularity. What Hawaiians have been doing for centuries is just catching fire on the mainland and spreading faster than chiggers in August. SUP packs a lot of punch into one activity: water, adventure, bathing suits, full body workout, getting a tan, etc. It can be as strenuous or as relaxing as you want, and people will still respect you. Our editors chose Sherando Lake in Washington & Jefferson National Forest as their favorite spot for either floating fun or power paddling. This 24-acre lake is closed to motorboats so you won’t have to worry about getting buzzed or negotiating wake. There are also a full range of facilities and camping, so be sure to grab a picnic to go with your paddleboard.BEST OF THE RESTFontana Lake, N.C.; Summersville Lake, W.Va.BEST RAIL TRAILVIRGINIA CREEPER TRAIL, VIRGINIAThe Virginia Creeper Trail in the Southwest part of the state may be the most scenic in the Southeast. Running 34 miles from Abingdon through Damascus to the Virginia/North Carolina border at Whitetop Mountain, the trail takes you along and over rivers, meadows, and forests. The Virginia Creeper Trail features 47 former railroad bridges and trestles beautifully refurbished by volunteers. Over 100,000 people visit the trail every year, making this one of the most popular attractions for Damascus, aka “Trail Town, USA.” It is so popular that now you can grab a shuttle to Whitetop and just ride the downhill portion, a long gentle coast of 17 miles that drops 2,000 feet.BEST OF THE RESTC&O Trail; Silver Comet Trail •With all this adventure you will need good underwear, so enter for your chance to win a pair of Exofficio underwear!
Your guide to the N.C. High Country Road Trip:BRING: Mountain bike, bouldering pad, sense of adventureHIGHLIGHT: Staring into the Grand Canyon of the SouthSOUVENIR: Tales of seeing the mysterious Brown Mountain LightsDay OneLube the chain and head to the new Rocky Knob Bike Park, just east of Boone off US 421. Local bikers spent $2 million and countless hours of sweat equity to build this eight-mile, 185-acre mountain biking nirvana that’s packed with wooden bridges and optional boulder drops. You need to ride the whole park (maybe ride it twice), but keep an eye out for PBJ, almost two miles of downhill bliss. Rocky Knob also has three separate skills parks. Skinny Skills is the perfect place to sharpen your bike handling skills.For dinner, stop in at The Gamekeeper, a Southern restaurant that focuses on seasonal ingredients and a variety of wild game like rabbit and pheasant, along with farm-raised bison and ostrich. Camp at Honey Bear Campground, off the Parkway at milepost 294, for a ridiculous array of amenities like wifi at your campsite and free corn hole ($20 a night)Day TwoHead south on the Blue Ridge Parkway for some pebble wrestling at Grandmother Mountain Boulders, one of the finest bouldering fields in the Southeast. Hundreds of high quality granite boulders with problems ranging from V1 to V11 make this a popular spot, particularly during the summer when the High Country’s higher elevations and cooler temps offer breezy climbing conditions compared to the rest of North Carolina. You won’t have the rocks to yourself, but there’s plenty of room to spread out. If you’re new to the sport, head to the Long Wall, which has several routes for beginners. Corner Crack is a V1 with big holds and an easy top out. If you fancy yourself a hero, check out Full Throttle on the Engine Block boulder, a V11 that has only been sent by a few climbers, one of whom is Chris Sharma. Park in the Grandmother Parking Area off the Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 307.4.Pitch a tent at Linville Falls Campground (milepost 316; $16 per night). Once the sun sets, head over to the Lost Cove Cliffs Overlook at milepost 310 and try to spot the Brown Mountain Lights, a mysterious series of glowing orbs that rise from Brown Mountain in the distance.Day ThreeWake before sunrise and head farther south on NC 181 to Linville Gorge, a nearly 2,000-foot-deep, 12-mile canyon that offers some of North Carolina’s best hiking, whitewater paddling, and rock climbing. Start at the Table Rock Parking Lot, off Ginger Cake Road on the eastern rim of the gorge. If you’re looking for a quick, but steep hike with killer views, hike 1.2 miles to the summit of Table Rock for a view that stretches deep into the belly of the canyon. If you want something more epic, go rim to rim on the Mountains to Sea Trail, an 11-mile one-way expedition that starts at Table Rock and follows the eastern rim with excellent views of the gorge before dropping down to a bridgeless river crossing and climbing up the western side and Kistler Highway. Even if you only follow the MST along the eastern rim of the gorge, you’ll be treated to a bevy of views and rock outcroppings to scramble. (Editor’s Note: Carry a map and arrange for a shuttle if you’re doing the full rim to rim).Want more adventure? Check out our full list of road trip guides!
In recent years, I have become a big, big fan of Southern writers. And not writers of song; this blog has long evidenced my love for Southern songcraft. Instead, I mean Southern novelists. In my mind, there is a distinctly Southern voice, a mindset and jargon that only someone from south of the Mason-Dixon Line can throw a harness ‘round and turn into prose.In particular, I have developed a particular fondness for writers from Appalachia. Tennessee’s William Gay, author of Twilight and The Long Home, and Lee Maynard, author of Crum and a native of West Virginia, jumped to the top of my list of favorite writers once I discovered their work. Having spent the last 23 years of my life here in Virginia, their words resonate with me.Jim Mize, if only he were a writer of books and not a writer of songs, would certainly fit on that list, too.Instead, he has recently jumped on to my list of favored Southern songwriters.Hailing from Arkansas, Mize’s recent release Dragon Lounge is a mish mash of tunes that are distinctly Southern. Like Gay and Maynard, he has captured that Southern essence, from the wide plains of Mississippi to the Louisiana Delta to the rolling Ozark Mountains of Mize’s native state.Mize has lived the life that crafts a fine wordsmith. He joined the Army while just a teen, faking his identification papers so he could join up before his 18th birthday, and he has spent much of the last three decades absorbing the sounds and stories of life’s trials and tribulations while traveling the highways as an insurance adjuster.Those experiences manifest themselves in Mize’s music. Having dabbled with guitar since he was a pre-teen, Mize is looking forward to the day when his insurance adjuster days are over and he can hit the road full time. Take a listen to “Rabbit Hole,” on this month’s Trail Mix, and you will be looking forward to that day, too.For more information on Jim Mize or to get your own copy of Dragon Lounge, surf over to fatpossum.com/artists/jim-mize.
My favorite element is water.Why, you might ask?The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu sums up my feelings better and more concisely than I ever could.“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”It’s because of this, because of water’s ability to carve out mountainsides and gorges, to at times appear a quiet, idling stream and at others, a raging beast, that draws me to this most essential of elements.As a paddler, surfer, a watersports(wo)man of any sort, you learn to respect nature in ways that are incomparable. The power of the river, the ocean, it’s humbling. The currents that push and pull and drag beneath the surface are in control, not the plastic craft in which you lazily float along.It’s a common misconception though, to think that one is “in control” out on the water. A paddler will never experience the same alpine lake, the same class III run, the same 40-foot waterfall, more than once. Water is always changing, fluctuating, an endless dance of ebb and flow.When I was first learning to kayak, that unpredictability was what scared me most. Over time though, that fear has turned into the thing I yearn for almost daily, that feeling of being slightly in control (in as much as you can at least take strokes when you tell your body to) but mostly along for the ride, in the moment, and working with (not against) the elements.That feeling has been called a lot of things, but I tend to gravitate towards defining it per Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow, “the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake.” In his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi relates how activities like rock climbing, in affect, have no “purpose” by any traditional sense of the word. Sure, there may be the peak to summit, the unclimbed route to send, but ultimately, most climbers climb for the sake of…climbing. The act of climbing is just a continuation of a greater act, the act of flowing, of continuing to follow that which engages and frees the mind. Csikszentmihalyi says “…success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue…as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.”For me, the river is the course greater than me, but for others it may be the ocean, the rock, the mountain, the forest. The river has been an important part of my existence, from the time I was a child on the banks of the Shenandoah to my late teens and early twenties (ha) guiding rafts in the New River Gorge. Water has taught me how to stay calm amid adversity, to adapt when things don’t go according to plan, and to respect everything, all lessons that can be directly translated into everyday life.If you’ve never kayaked before, you might be wondering how water alone has taught me that. I apologize for the blunt delivery, but the short of it is, I assume, that the river has quite literally handed my ass to me, but in a way that’s constructive, not destructive and which, for some reason semi-unbeknownst to me, keeps me coming back for more. It’s a very complicated feeling, I know.This past weekend I got out on the river for the first time in a couple months to take my Dagger Mamba on its maiden voyage down the Upper Yough. It was just my second time paddling the river here (for a recap of my PFD, click here), so I was still a little uneasy on Friday’s run. But a few rapids into the Miracle Mile, my stiffness faded. I felt in-tune with the boat, the water, and the relationship between the three of us. On Saturday, I paddled the Upper again, this time helping my friend take a first-timer (the ever-entertaining Dr. Mitchell) down. While I very much sympathized with the Doc’s pale, nerve-stricken self (see below, note Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum – the comic relief for the day – in the shredder), I felt none of the anxiety I had experienced the day before, feeling, instead, very much at one with the rapids.We need those places, those natural playing fields that allow us brief glimpses of being both scared shitless and on top of the world. The river is one of the few places where I can receive instant feedback, where I can truly gauge if how I’m feeling reflects how I’m paddling. When I’m kayaking, I’m deep in flow. I’m not thinking about the email I forgot to respond to, the looming dreadlines, the negative feedback I received from a reader. I’m not really even thinking about paddling quite honestly. My brain is, actually, pretty quiet. I’m reacting, one stroke at a time, reading the water and adjusting my line to every hole, every rock, every strainer in my way.The challenge for me now is learning how to transition that quiet fortitude into the obstacles of everyday life, like waking up and realizing I don’t have any more coffee. It seems silly, but that totally puts a damper on the day where scraping my head on the riverbed for the millionth time at Powerful Popper doesn’t even phase me…Let’s hear from you!What makes you flow? Where is your place of peace?