U.S. shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy likely to file for bankruptcy soon, sources say

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Chesapeake Energy Corp. is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week, said three people familiar with the matter, becoming the largest oil and gas producer to unravel after an energy market rout caused by the coronavirus outbreak.The Oklahoma City-based company, co-founded by the late wildcatter Aubrey McClendon, is in the final stages of negotiating a roughly $900 million debtor-in-possession loan to support its operations while under Chapter 11 bankruptcy-court protection, two of the sources said.The company is also in talks with creditors to “roll up” some of its existing debt and make it part of the bankruptcy loan, bringing the total debtor-in-possession financing closer to $2 billion, the sources added. The company is reeling under a mountain of debt totaling more than $9 billion. Chesapeake is also attempting to negotiate an equity infusion from creditors to help it emerge from bankruptcy proceedings, one of the sources said.Chesapeake plans to complete its negotiations with its creditors and file for bankruptcy as soon as Thursday, the three sources said. The timing could slip to next week depending on the progress the company makes in these discussions, the sources added.If the company manages to emerge from bankruptcy, creditors that include Franklin Resources Inc., will take over Chesapeake in exchange for eliminating more than $7 billion of its debt under the outlines of a plan being negotiated, one of the sources said. Franklin is among Chesapeake’s most significant creditors, holding large portions of its debt.Chesapeake helped pioneer the extraction of oil and gas reserves from shale rock formations, an environmentally controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.[David French and Mike Spector]More: Exclusive: Chesapeake Energy to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week – sources U.S. shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy likely to file for bankruptcy soon, sources saylast_img read more

World’s highest altitude solar-plus-storage project completed in Tibet

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Chinese PV manufacturer Jetion Solar has announced completion of what it called the world’s highest-altitude, large scale solar-plus-storage project.Built in Gangba county, in Xigaze, Tibet, the 40 MW/193 MWh facility sits more than 4,700m above sea level and receives more than 3,200 hours of sunlight per year, according to Jetion.The plant is owned by Chinese battery manufacturer Dynavolt Renewable Energy Technology, Jetion said, with Dynavolt supplying the lithium-ion phosphate battery for a project for which Jetion provided engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services as well as the solar panels.“Based on the characteristics of local electricity load and the particularity of the Tibet power grid, the project was designed as a full energy storage allocation project,” said Jetion. “The solar arrays will charge the storage during the day and the storage will fully power the grid during the night.”The energy storage system, Jettison added, provides power to communities in Xigaze and also functions as a demonstration project for the role solar-plus-storage can play in offering services such as peak shaving, frequency modulation and renewable energy dispatch to the Tibetan grid. No further technical or financial details of the project were disclosed in the statement issued by Jetion.[Emiliano Bellini]More: The world’s highest utility-scale solar plus storage project World’s highest altitude solar-plus-storage project completed in Tibetlast_img read more

Rock Art

first_imgNative American rock art is typically associated with the Western United States (picture images of buffalo painted high on a desert bluff), but the Southern Appalachians is home to hundreds of ancient rock art sites. Typically, the art consists of rudimentary rock etchings called petroglyphs that were created by the Native Americans living in the area 3,000 years ago, long before the Cherokee. But because of the South’s scarcity of public lands, most of the sites remain unknown or off-limits.“We’ve had a lot of development in the South, so it’s likely many of the rock art sites have been destroyed unknowingly,” says Lorie Hansen, project director for the North Carolina Rock Art Survey.  “But we have every reason to believe the Native Americans in the Southeast were every bit as prolific in their rock art as Native Americans in the West.”Probably the most famous petroglyph in the South is Judaculla Rock, a large, flat soapstone boulder in Jackson County, N.C., with hundreds of hand-carved figures and symbols, ranging from human handprints to geometric shapes. Exactly who carved the symbols remains a mystery.“We’re not certain about the who, why, or even the when of Judaculla,” says Hansen, who is working on a comprehensive restoration of the site, which is one of the few significant rock art sites located on public land in our region. The uncertainty extends to most rock art sites in the Southeast.“The majority of glyphs around the South were carved somewhere between 1000 B.C. and contact with the first Europeans,” Hansen says. “But we can’t carbon date rock the way you can organic material, so it’s difficult to know for sure.”The carvings on Judacalla may have been started by one tribe of Native Americans dating back to 1500 B.C., but it’s likely the carvings were added to by subsequent tribes, perhaps even the Cherokee. Track Rock, a series of petroglyphs on soapstone boulders in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, has evolved in the same manner. On the six table-sized boulders, more than one hundred different figures can be seen, the earliest of which date back 3,600 years.“The carvings were made by Native Americans during repeated visits over several hundred years,” says James Wettstaed, the archaeologist for the Chattahoochee National Forest.The progressive nature of the rock art also makes it difficult to interpret and give meaning to the carvings, both at Track Rock and Judaculla. Possible theories suggest that Judaculla was a treaty or a map. Another theory is that the carvings are imprints of the Cherokee legend himself. Judaculla was a Cherokee giant who jumped off a nearby mountain, and many still believe that his handprints made some of the markings. At the base of the stone, two massive footprints can be seen. 1 2last_img read more

Seeking Wisdom from Grandfather

first_imgPhoto: Ashley WoodringAn exceptionally rugged mountain, Grandfather is home to some of the most biologically diverse wilderness in the Southeast. Its abundance of exposed crags, towering altitude, dense vegetation, and cool damp climate create a patchwork of distinct biospheres. Explorers named the mountain “Grandfather” after the old man’s face they saw in the cliffs.After inheriting the mountain from his grandfather in 1952, Hugh Morton built the Mile High Bridge, completed the first road, and opened the Grandfather Mountain Attraction, laying the foundation for what would ultimately help protect the rare and diverse plant and animal life that Grandfather Mountain supports and nurtures. When Morton died, his family created the Stewardship Foundation and sold the backcountry to the state. Today, you can access 2,700 acres of wilderness through the  newly formed state park, or drive to the peak and walk the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which is still privately owned.Here are three ways to fall in love with Grandfather Mountain:Walk the mile high swinging bridgeA National Scenic Area at Grandfather Mountain?Drive your car up Grandfather Mountain to walk the highest suspension footbridge in America.  The Mile High Bridge connects two rocky summits at a mile above sea level. Originally wooden, it was replaced with a steel bridge in 1999.“Crossing the bridge gives you that feeling of being on top of the world,” says Landis Wofford, director of communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Once you cross over to Linville Peak, you can look down, and on a clear day see the skyline of Charlotte, about 80 miles away as the crow flies.”Feel the rush of the strong winds that have permanently wind-dwarfed the spruce and fir trees at the summit.  The sonic anemometer on the bridge has recorded gusts as high as 114.7 mph, one of the highest speeds ever recorded in North Carolina. Bring your own food or order to go at Mildred’s Grill, and set up a picnic at any of the 100 picnic tables throughout the mountain. Meander down nature trails or navigate craggy terrain with the help of cables and ladders. Entrance to the foundation-owned part of the mountain, which includes the mile-high swinging bridge, costs $18 for adults, $8 for children. Entrance to the adjacent state park is free.Hike the profile trail and campPark your car at the Profile Trailhead, off of NC 105, where you’ll self-register from the permit box.  The Profile Trail is just under 3 miles, but the rare and diverse plant and animal life you’ll experience as you snake up the mountain will transport you to other worlds. You’ll cross the Watauga River, weave through rhododendron thickets and lush ferns, and under a dense hardwood canopy. As you wind up the Profile Trail, you’ll move through several of the Grandfather’s 16 distinct natural communities, glimpsing many of the park’s 72 known species of rare and endangered plants and animals.“In the springtime, the wildflowers are phenomenal,” says Sue McBean, Grandfather Mountain State Park Superintendent. “Early in the season, watch for several species of violets that bloom one after another.” As spring unfolds, look for the exquisite Pink Lady Slipper and Painted Trillium dotting the trail.  Set up camp at the site two miles up the Profile Trail, and settle into the peace that only the backcountry can offer.If you’re up for a strenuous climb, continue up the steep, rocky segment to the Grandfather Trail, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views as you walk along the ridge line. The park has a total of 13 campsites, all of which are first come, first serve.Road cycle the Linn Cove ViaductAt 4,100 feet above sea level, the Linn Cove Viaduct skirts the edges of Grandfather Mountain, offering bird’s-eye views of the Blue Ridge. In order to protect the delicate balance of the ecological communities of Grandfather Mountain, engineers worked with the National Park Service to design what has been called the most complicated concrete bridge ever built. This quarter mile, serpentine bridge was the last piece of the Parkway to be completed. Shaw Brown, one of the owners of Boone Bikes, recommends treating yourself to the magnificent views with your road bike.Start by parking at the Julian Price Memorial Park, a few miles north of the Viaduct. Head south on the Parkway to climb up Grandfather, roll over the viaduct, and a mile or two south of it, intersect with 221, where you’ll head north, backtracking toward Price Park. Continue on 221 until you intersect with Holloway Mountain Road. This will bring you back to the Parkway, where you’ll continue north to get back to Julian Price Park.“Considering the short length of the ride,” says Brown, “it’s one of the most scenic routes in the area. You’ve got these great long-range views from up there.” Brown recommends checking the weather and making sure you have the right gear before heading up, since it can be at least 10 degrees cooler at those elevations.last_img read more

Win this fantastic, all-inclusive Lexington, Virginia, Giveaway!

first_imgEnter to win here:This contest is closed! Check out the others here! STAYVIRGINIA’S NATURAL BRIDGE PARK AND HISTORIC HOTEL – Two Nights LodgingPLAYTWIN RIVER OUTFITTERS – River Paddle or Tubing Adventure for TwoSTONE BRIDGE EQUESTRIAN CENTER – Horseback Riding Experience for TwoNATURAL BRIDGE AND CAVERNS – Tickets for TwoWALKABOUT OUTFITTER – Two $25 Gift CertificatesEATCOLONIAL DINING ROOM – Breakfast for TwoHAYWOOD’S RESTAURANT AND PIANO BAR – Dinner for Two(dinner for 2 at Haywood’s does not include alcohol or gratuity)SWEET THINGS ICE CREAM – Dessert for Two Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within one (1) year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 noon EST on Aug. 18, 2014. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine and participating partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest/package/sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before Aug. 18, 6:00 PM EST 2014. Winners will be contacted by the information they provide in the contest sign-up field and have seven (7) days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received. Win this fantastic, all-inclusive Lexington, Virginia, giveaway! DESTINATION: LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA!last_img read more

Cycling Newfound Gap Road

first_img“This isn’t a race,” I say as we pedal slowly out of the Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center, swerving onto the blacktop of Newfound Gap Road. Then I pedal a little faster, pulling ahead of the group. “I mean I’m winning, but it’s not a race.”Newfound Gap Road (aka US 441) runs for 33 miles across Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee, N.C., and Gatlinburg, Tenn., bookend the road. In between, the road climbs steadily to Newfound Gap, forming a beautiful crossroads with the Appalachian Trail, roughly a mile above sea level. It’s one of the most scenic stretches of asphalt in the South, the only paved route through the middle of the park’s 500,000-acre wilderness. Drive it, and you’ll cruise by elk herds in the Oconaluftee Valley, old growth forests near the Sugarlands Valley, and remote peaks and dramatic overlooks in between. It’s one of those roads everyone with a driver’s license feels obligated to cruise, which is exactly why you don’t hear much chatter about bicyclists bothering with it. Newfound Gap Road is crazy busy with traffic.“It’s a phenomenal ride,” says David Worth, a road cyclist at the NOC’s Gatlinburg store. “Newfound Gap offers the longest uphill you’ll find around here, and a downhill that’s an absolute blast. But the road is full of drivers with divided attention. We’re talking about a high volume of cars.”Worth says most local riders eschew cycling Newfound Gap road for lower-traffic options outside of the park. It’s a safe, responsible choice. But if Newfound Gap Road is such a phenomenal ride, why should motorists have all the fun? I convinced two roadie friends, Jeremiah LeRoy and Tim Grotenhaus, to put their lives on the line with me on an exploratory journey to see if riding Newfound Gap Road is worth fighting throngs of minivans and RVs.We get a late morning start, so the elk, which have been known to gather in the meadow next to the Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center in the early morning, are long gone as we pedal west. The road cruises gently along the Oconaluftee River for the first few miles, rising only slightly as we move deeper into the park. It gives us a chance to loosen up and discuss the plan. We’re going to ride the entire Newfound Gap Road to Gatlinburg and back. Sixty five miles, a minimum of 6,000 feet of climbing. It’ll probably rain, because the park is essentially a rain forest, and there’s a good chance we’ll get hit by a car.It’s a relentless 10-mile climb to the gap. We settle into a manageable pace and each get sucked into the mental grind that takes over when you’re on a long climb. Tim sings Miley Cyrus songs to himself. Jeremiah thinks about what his spirit animal might be. The ferns and moss that line the forest floor around the road are slick from a recent rain, and small seasonal creeks crash through small gullies in the ridges that rise from the road.We decide the safest approach is to ride as a single-file, close-knit unit. We’re like a snake moving slowly, carefully up the edge of the road. I think about the local cyclists wisely making the choice to eschew the traffic of Newfound Gap Road after a Lexus passes, giving me roughly four inches of space between my handlebars and his side mirror.It takes two hours to pedal from the visitor’s center to the crest. We top out at lunch time and Newfound Gap is a zoo. Throngs of Japanese tourists and families from Georgia in overstuffed minivans jockey for the best spaces in the oversized parking lot—the spots closest to the Appalachian Trail trailhead. We pedal our bikes to the farthest end of the parking lot and eat energy bars and psych ourselves up for the next stretch, a bomber descent from the gap to Sugarlands Valley. It’s a 13-mile downhill that I figure will take us 20 minutes. And it doesn’t disappoint. The word epic is thrown around a lot in the biking world, but this descent honestly deserves the title. The road curves constantly, passes through a few short tunnels, and even forms a full 360-degree corkscrew at one point on its drop from the gap. We hit 40 miles per hour, only occasionally tapping the brakes, easily keeping up with traffic. The reprieve from getting passed by cars is a relief, and somehow, the balls-to-the-wall descent feels safer than the climb.Soon we’re pedaling into downtown Gatlinburg, which feels like a cartoon compared to the forest we just rode through. The town is full of Dippin’ Dots and video game parlors. Super Fun Zone! Ripleys! Moonshine! Everything in town has an exclamation point beside it. I’m not ashamed to say I love it.We drink ice-cold Pacificos on the porch of a Mexican restaurant that overlooks the river, and discuss how incredible a legitimate race up and down Newfound Gap Road would be. The sun is shining, we’re fresh off two beers, and feeling good as we pedal back out of town and into the park. Then the climbing starts again, steeper on this side of the mountain, or maybe we’re just fatigued from already having ridden 30 miles.My legs feel heavy as we begin the 13-mile slog back up to Newfound Gap, but my main concern is the traffic. It’s a non-stop litany of jeeps and RV’s from Florida, all playing a game to see how close they can get to us without knocking us over.The good news about the climb from Gatlinburg to the state line is that you have the time to enjoy the scenery. In the Sugarlands Valley, you ride between towering, massive old-growth trees that line the sides of the road. Rain starts and stops and we spend most of our time riding through a thick fog. Occasionally, the fog thins, giving us big views from roadside overlooks, revealing dank, dark green peaks, practically shining from the constant precipitation.We speed through Newfound Gap as we top out for the second time, in a hurry for the next downhill through the park’s thick forest that leads back to our car. I dream about warm, dry clothes as we drop fast off the mountain. Mostly, though, I dream about a car-free day inside the park. One day out of the year when Newfound Gap Road becomes a haven for cyclists to enjoy, an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the park on two wheels without fighting the barrage of cars.IF YOU GOTraffic on Newfound Gap Road is no joke. It’s a beautiful ride, but you’re definitely subject to the whims of passing cars on a massive scale. Like everything in life, this ride is about timing.“If you hit it at the right time, it can be a lot of fun,” says David Worth. “Early morning or in the evening are lower traffic. And weekdays after school starts are good.”Your best bet for a low-traffic Newfound Gap Road experience is to aim for a brief window in November. Show up to ride after the leaf peepers are gone but before the snow falls lead to road closures in the dead of winter, and you’ll find the road is more biker friendly.Logistics: You can park a car at either Sugarlands Valley Visitor’s Center or Oconoluftee Visitor’s Center. Expect 60+ miles (depending on how much you cruise around Gatlinburg) and 7,100 feet of elevation gain with gradients that hit 12 percent.Plan BOther bike options in Great Smoky Mountains National Park include:Cades Cove Loop: This 11-mile paved road through popular Cades Cove on the Tennessee side of the park is closed to cars on Wednesday and Saturday mornings (from May through September). But you’ve got to get there early. Cars are allowed back on the road at 10am.Foothills Parkway West: The Foothills Parkway climbs and traverses the ridge of Chilhowee Mountain for 18 miles, offering decent climbs and more than decent views (and far less traffic than Newfound Gap).Balsam Mountain Road: If you have a mountain bike or cross bike, Balsam Mountain Road is your best bet. The gravel road starts where the Blue Ridge Parkway ends, then travels one way through a quiet corner of the park for 28 miles.last_img read more

Making Waves: Surfski Racing Hits the Southeast

first_imgChattaJack31October 24, 2015Tennessee River Gorge, Chattanooga, Tenn.chattajack.com NOC Paddle GrappleFontana Lake, Bryson City, N.C.September 6, 2015noc.com/events/paddle-grapple Imagine speeding down head high swells two miles from the nearest shoreline in a boat that’s over 20 feet long, no wider than your hips, and a mere 20 pounds in weight. Waves crash from every direction, threatening to tip you out of an already unstable boat. Your shoulders burn from exertion, the palms of your hands crack and blister from the friction. With every stroke you take, you can’t help but wonder if paddling through cement might be easier. But never mind that—when you’re in the middle of a surfski race, your only job is to suck it up, and paddle on.Originally conceived by a group of friends off the eastern shores of Australia, surfski crafts in the early 20th century were wide and wooden, propelled by hand blades and, later, paddles not unlike those used by today’s stand-up paddleboarders. There was no cockpit in which to sit. By the early 1930s, the surfski began taking on characteristics of a canoe, with the addition of rocker and gunwales, while still maintaining a surfboard’s speed and maneuverability. Paddlers could even stand up on early surfskis and ride them as if surfing a traditional board. The vessel became popular as a lifesaving craft on beaches, which, in turn, eventually lent itself to “surf lifesaving” evolving as a popular competitive event.Original surfskis were only eight feet long, yet as competitive surf lifesaving grew in popularity, so too did the length of the boats. Paddlers realized that longer and narrower meant faster. Surfskis more than doubled in length while their width was practically cut in half. By the mid-‘80s, waveski surfing was the hottest form of competitive ocean paddling. As high-density foam, and later materials like epoxy and carbon fiber, replaced the heavy cedar planking of early surfski prototypes, the sport took off globally, but only recently has it gained traction in the States.A handful of Southeast paddlers have started to recognize the versatility of the surfski. Meet three surfski racers who got their first exposure to surfskis, ironically, not at any coastal surf hub but right here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.David “DJ” JacobsonWhen he was 18 years old, David Jacobson, or DJ as he is mostly known, didn’t have aspirations of going to college, earning a degree, and getting a bigwig corporate job with a cubicle office. No, DJ wanted a work environment that afforded a good view and required a dress code of board shorts and Chacos. Fortunately for DJ, the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) offered just that.“It was possible then to work for the NOC and live pretty cheap and train two sessions a day,” DJ says, which, for an 18-year-old kid with a whitewater addiction, could there honestly be anything better?DJ then spent the better part of the next decade training as part of the core group of slalom paddlers at the NOC’s Nantahala Racing Club (NRC). He spent summers in Europe, winters in Costa Rica, and even made it to the 1996 Olympics on the United States slalom team. DJ was not your average kayaking bum—by 25 years old, DJ had “retired,” graduated college, and experienced far more international travel than most 20-something-year-olds. Still, paddling was his everything. Without the rigors of competitive slalom training to distract him, DJ was in need of a new challenge.“Paddling boats has been a key part of my life for as long as I can remember,” DJ says. “I grew up canoeing on lakes, paddling whitewater, racing slalom, and now surfski paddling has allowed me to keep firing it up into my 30s.”DJ made the dive into surfskiing when he left the mountains of western North Carolina for the Pacific Northwest. He bought his first surfski from legendary paddler Chris Hipgrave and lugged it, along with some 15 other boats, across the country to his new home in Bellingham, Wash. And though the area touted some classic whitewater runs, DJ folded in with the surfski community instead.“There’s lots of crossover between surfski and whitewater,” DJ says. “I have a lot of whitewater buddies making the transition because, let’s face it—you’re not in your 20s anymore. Younger kids are going bigger, and you guys don’t feel back pain or injuries like we do.”DJ might not be hucking waterfalls or running class Vs these days, but that doesn’t mean he’s not finding challenge out there in his 17-inch wide ski—20-foot waves, 15-mile “downwinders,” surfing speeds surpassing 10 miles per hour, boiling eddy lines, whales breaching, sharks stalking…Between Bellingham Bay, the nearby Columbia River, and the swells off Kauai, DJ says surfskiing has given him plenty of those oh-we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore moments.And at 36 years old, that’s about all DJ needs. He’s assumed some later-in-life changes, like fathering a now-two-year-old son, and says that even dawn patrol paddles on the neighborhood lake give him just as much joy as ripping downwinders in competition.“For me, it’s continued the passion of wanting to paddle,” he adds, a passion that he hopes will inspire a new wave of surfski paddlers to enter the scene.Austin KiefferAustin Kieffer is the future of surfskiing. At 25 years old, Kieffer is currently the number one surfski racer in the country and if he’s not number one on the podium, he’s usually among the top 10 paddlers at any given race. He’s won classics like the Chattanooga River Rocks Race and the East Coast Surfski Championships, and often frequents surfski meccas like Cape Town, South Africa, and Perth, Australia. He’s befriended and trained with some of the sport’s most elite athletes. Yet perhaps the most impressive part of all of this is that Kieffer’s first time in a surfski was just three years ago.“I was in love with surfski paddling on my first paddle,” says Kieffer, who, as fate would have it, trained slalom with the NRC under the guidance of DJ. “The endurance challenge of keeping up with DJ through rough seas was intoxicating. I knew immediately—I was hooked.”Kieffer competed in the slalom Olympic Team Trials in both 2008 and 2012. When he decided to stop racing slalom in 2012, DJ put him in a surfski and Kieffer never looked back.“I started training for surfski to stay in shape and have some fun. Over the next two and a half years, my interest in surfski went from hobby to obsession,” Kieffer says. That obsession seems to be paying off.Race day adrenaline aside, there’s nothing that quite compares to surfing a wave and riding it across the horizon.“It is exhilarating, physically challenging, technical, and frustratingly difficult to do well,” Kieffer says. “It requires your focus constantly and a lapse in attention can cost you way more than any mistake in the flatwater.”Though Kieffer takes competition and training seriously, it’s not the fame and glory he’s after.“The most important thing for my training, and for my enjoyment, is to chase the wind and waves whenever possible.”Kata DismukesKata Dismukes, who grew up paddling K1 in Hungary, is no stranger to competition. When she showed up at her first race in the States on the Mississippi River with her K1 boat in tow, however, she felt much like a fish out of water. Surprised to see more surfskis than K1s, Dismukes decided in 2013 to borrow a surfski and try it out for herself. She paddled surfski on local lakes and stretches of calm water, surprised to find that this boat performed exceedingly better for longer distances than her K1.“Two months later I purchased [a surfski] and I’ve been unseparated from my boat ever since,” Dismukes says. “When you catch those waves and you get the adrenaline pumping…it’s almost like somebody turned the engine on your boat.”As a mother of two, Dismukes struggles to balance the demands of her family life with her love of paddling, since, she adds, “I have to make sure they don’t get kicked out of school for supporting my dream.” But for Dismukes, surfski racing is more than just a competitive outlet. “Surfski changed my life because it brought back the joy of paddling,” a joy, she says, she hadn’t felt since childhood.Ask the MasterWant to try a surfski? If you’re anywhere in the southern Appalachians, Chris Hipgrave is your man. Wildwater boats, slalom, creek, play, surfski — if has a stern and bow, this guy’s probably paddled it (and mastered it, too). Hipgrave’s at the core of the up-and-coming surfski movement in the Southeast and helps organize a number of races near his hometown of Bryson City. See what he has to say on the burgeoning sport and how you can get involved today!What is surfski racing comparable to?CH: If wildwater is like downhill mountain biking, where you go as fast as you can, surfski is like road racing on a bike. You can work with your friends to drop people, you can have a chat while you’re out there. It’s a completely different style of racing.Why surfski? CH: I love paddlesports because you never fully master them. I started paddling when I was six. To hit the reset button and realize that it didn’t matter how much whitewater experience I had, that I was a newbie at this sport, it’s incredibly motivating.Was it difficult to learn coming from a predominantly whitewater background?CH: I’ve paddled whitewater my whole life, but in the ocean, I’m such a newbie. I think the ocean moves in three-dimensional ways that are really unique and are completely different from whitewater. Paddling a surfski is like racing a log. There was no one I could turn to in the Southeast to learn, so I learned through a lot of YouTube videos, a lot of reading, a lot of bruises and blood, and just getting out there and doing it.Why aren’t there more young people in the sport? CH: I would say it’s a transitional sport. People tend to gravitate toward it once they’re “done” with something and the majority are 25 years old and up. I think a lot of that has to do with the cost of the surfski — it’s close to three grand for a good ski, and that’s a lot of money for an 18-year-old kid out of college whereas a whitewater boat is a thousand bucks. Some companies are recognizing this and coming out with plastic skis that are 1/3 of the cost.What if I’m not near the ocean? CH: Surfskis are really great vessels for training, and the paddling sport industry is recognizing it as an incredibly versatile vessel for flatwater lake paddling and open water surf alike.Where can I get more information?surfskiracing.orgsurfski.infoussurfski.com Tybee Island Sea Kayak RaceTybee Island, Ga.September 12, 2015tybeekayakrace.blogspot.com North Shore Cup RaceLake Marion, Summerton, S.C.October 17, 2015surfskiracing.orgcenter_img Get your surfski on at these regional events! Cape 2 CapeCape Charles to Virginia Beach, Va.June 20, 2015cape2capecrossing.com Port Royal Paddle BattleSands Beach, Port Royal, S.C.September 26, 2015prpaddlebattle.comlast_img read more

48 Hours in Jackson County, North Carolina

first_imgNestled in the far western reaches of North Carolina where the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge converge, is a scenic county that draws visitors from all over the nation. Jackson County, North Carolina is renowned for its rugged mountain beauty and teeming with opportunity for outdoor adventure. Activities like world-class whitewater rafting and canoeing are common place and the fly fishing is some of the East Coast’s very best. The mountain biking trails are heralded by many, and the hiking is some of the best you’ll find anywhere east of the Mississippi River.To top it off, this remote county is home to several quaint mountain communities—towns like Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva—that host everything from laid back local breweries, making the kind of stellar craft beer that Western North Carolina is known for, to top notch resorts where five star amenities are par for the course.It’s also the home county of Western Carolina University, which has handily won our Top Adventure College Contest for three years running. Read on to find out what it is that makes Jackson County so great and to learn how to make the best of 48 hours in one of North Carolina’s best mountain destinations.Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 3.39.58 PMPlay: Hike or Climb Whiteside MountainArguably one of the most picturesque mountains in the entire Appalachian range, Whiteside is situated near the boundary that divides Jackson and Macon Counties but is wholly contained within Jackson County proper. The mountain itself is a breath-taking site to behold—with 700-foot cliffs that soar above the valley floor below—but a hike to its summit provides sweeping views that stretch far beyond the foothills into the expansive piedmont.For day hikers, the summit of Whiteside is accessed via a moderate 2.5 mile loop which starts at the Whiteside Mountain Recreation area. To learn more about accessing the trail head for this hike click here.The sheer 700-foot cliffs that make Whiteside so imposing have also made it a highly sought after destination for climbers from all over the country. More info on climbing Whiteside here.whiteside2Visit the Chattooga River HeadwatersFamous as the setting for the classic film Deliverance, the Chattooga River is one of the most iconic waterways in the south. Some of its more famous whitewater flows along the border of Georgia and South Carolina, but the river originates in North Carolina near the remote Ellicott Rock Wilderness. If you want to experience the Chattooga in its earliest, more tranquil stages go for a drive down the scenic Whiteside Cove Road (1107), accessed from Cashiers via Highway 107. Along the way you’ll take in some great views of nearby Whiteside Mountain before eventually arriving at a little white church with a plaque commemorating some of the cove’s earliest settlers.Park on the side of the road near the church and head through a rhododendron tunnel just off to the right of the church’s front stoop. This trail will eventually connect with the Chattooga River Trail which has an official trailhead a little farther back down Whiteside Cove Road before you reach the church. Follow the trail through a remote gorge all the way down to banks of the Chattooga River and prepare to be amazed.Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 12.47.09 PMHit the WNC Fly Fishing TrailSituated in the heart of Jackson County, the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail showcases some of the state’s best trout waters. This trail includes 15 separate fisheries and offers anglers an opportunity to catch everything from trophy browns and rainbows on big rivers to willy native brookies on tiny mountain streams. Fisheries featured on the WNC fly fishing trail include Scott Fork, Caney Creek, the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee River, the Whitewater River, Raven Fork, and many more. Click here for more info on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail.Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 4.13.10 PMVisit Panthertown ValleyNot far from the town of Cashiers, Panthertown Valley is one of the most prized natural areas in the Southeast. Here you’ll find everything from cascading waterfalls and imposing granite cliffs to lively trout streams that include the headwaters of the Tuckaseegee and the East Fork of the Little Tennessee River. Panthertown is comprised of some 10,000 acres of Nantahala National Forest land and is home to 30-plus miles of trails, all maintained and well marked by the Friends of Panthertown. 21 miles of the 30 miles in Panthertown Valley even accommodate mountain bikers. To learn more about this area, often referred to as the “Yosemite of the East”, visit www.panthertown.org.Mountain Bike the Wayehutta Trail SystemThe Wayehutta Trail System was designed for ATV’s and other off road vehicles, but if you’re up to the challenge it makes a great Jackson County mountain biking destination as well. But be warned, this trail involves strenuous climbing for the the first 5 miles. Those willing to push through however will be rewarded with a fast 5-mile decent that includes banked turns, long rock gardens, and rock drops. Always be mindful of other trail users on this one.Visit High Falls at Lake GlenvilleThroughout most of the year, High Falls, located below the dam that forms Lake Glenville on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee River, is little more than a trickling stream flowing over an impressive rock face in the Tuckasegee Gorge. But for a few days each year, when Duke Energy opens the flood gates at the nearby dam to preform annual water releases benefitting whitewater kayakers, the 150-foot waterfall transforms into a raging torrent that rivals some of the most powerful waterfalls in the state.high fallsIn previous years High Falls (also known as Cullowhee Falls) was more difficult to access, but thanks to a recently constructed trail, hikers and kayakers can now find themselves at the base of these falls with relative ease. Check out this video shot by Romantic Asheville for a glimpse of what High Falls turns into during these annual release days, and click here for detailed directions to the Lake Glenville trailhead.Stay:The Dillsboro InnWith seven riverfront suites all located within walking distance of the Tuckasegee River, the Dillsboro Inn is the perfect Jackson County adventure base camp. Conveniently located near historic downtown Dillsboro, the Dillsboro Inn affords visitors quick and easy access to some of Jackson County’s best attractions and outdoor pursuits.The High Hampton Inn—CashiersWhen the High Hampton Inn was originally built it served as an exclusive mountain retreat for a retired South Carolina civil war general. Today it’s still fairly exclusive, but it also serves as one of the mountain south’s oldest and most exquisitely preserved cultural relics. Whether it be fly-fishing or day hiking, rock wall climbing or paddling, activities at the High Hampton Inn are centred around the out-of-doors, and its proximity to the Nanatahala National Forest, the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, the Chattooga River, and Panthertown Valley make it an outstanding starting point from which to explore all that Jackson County has to offer.Moonshine Creek CampgroundIf 5-star mountain resorts don’t fit your budget or your adventure plans, check out the Moonshine Creek Campground just up the road from the mountain town of Sylva. This secluded, back-to-nature style campground features 91 campsites, some of which boast electrical hookups and creekside decks, and offers quick and easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The campground also offer rustic cabin rentals. Learn more here.Dining:City Lights Cafe—SylvaFor a quick bite, a good cup of coffee, or a local beverage from one of the many near-by craft breweries, head to City Lights Cafe in downtown Sylva. The menu at this electric pit stop includes dairy-free and vegetarian as well as hormone-free and organic local options. Learn more here.Bucks Coffee Cafe—CashiersYou won’t find a better cup of coffee in Cashiers than at Bucks Coffee Cafe. Actually, you may not find another cup of coffee anywhere in the tiny mountain town Cashiers, but that doesn’t detract from Buck’s quaint charm, the top-notch quality of their brew, or the quick, easy, and delicious breakfast and lunch options that make this little coffeehouse a bonafide local favorite. Don’t skip out on Buck’s if you’re exploring the bountiful public lands that surround the mountain hamlet of Cashiers, North Carolina.Innovation Brewing—SylvaThe good folks over at Innovation Brewing in downtown Sylva are fond of saying that they’re committed to “changing the way you think about beer”—hence the name. Experimentation is the name of the game at this tiny Western North Carolina brewery—which produces about 500 barrels of beer a year to wide regional acclaim—but they still cling to the old tried and true styles that no brewery should be without. If you find yourself in Sylva, don’t miss out on Innovation!Don’t miss out on these other great Jackson County dining options:Soul Infusion— A teahouse and bistro featuring live music in SylvaLuLus on Main— The recipient of the Best of WNC award in 2014, LuLus on Main is Sylva’s home for fresh cut steak and North Carolina seafoodSlabtown Pizza— Delicious hand-made pizza in Cashiers with lots of local craft beer to choose from.Evolution Wine Kitchen—Sylva’s favorite wine bar and wine shop.Chile Loco— Authentic Mexican food in Cashiers.The Orchard—Gourmet table fare in a semi-casual setting. Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley— Farm to table cuisine that reflects the history and culture of the Western North Carolina mountains .And don’t forget to check out some of our favorite gear and guide options in Jackson County!Landmark Learning—The leading resource in education and training for the outdoor community of Western North Carolina and the world. Closely affiliated with WMI of NOLS, this is the go-to center for trainings and certifications spanning wilderness medicine, swiftwater rescue and much more.Brookings Anglers —These guys are experts in their craft. They’re particularly knowledgable about their Chattooga River backyard but proficient in all of Jackson County’s great trout waters and beyond!Blackrock Outdoor Company—Whether you’re looking to re-up on quality backpacking gear, hook up with a knowledgable guide, or stock up on the latest Orvis products, Blackrock Outdoor Company is your Sylva go-to.Motion Makers Bikes— If you’re mountain biking in Jackson County and in need of parts, a tune-up, or just a friendly knowledgable local with the skinny on area trails, head to Motion Makers in Sylva.Dillsboro River Company— Your go-to for whitewater rafting on the Tuckasegee River!More from the 48 Hours Blog:last_img read more

Adventure Race Raises Money for Military Families

first_imgProviding adventure for racers while raising money for a worthy cause, the Special Operations Adventure Race (SOAR) was hosted in Highlands, NC for its 16th year on Saturday, June 10.“The teamwork we witness is always phenomenal, as well as the sportsmanship. There is incredible camaraderie in the sport between teams,” said two time race director, Nate Kreuter, who put roughly 200 hours into the planning and preparations for Saturday’s race.Race participants and board members came together for a group photo.One of the most astounding attributes of the race’s tradition is the driving force behind it. In the last 16 years, SOAR of Western North Carolina has raised and donated 100% of its proceeds, which is now over $550,000, to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The foundation is a charity that provides college scholarships for the children of Special Operations military personnel who are killed in the line of duty. By partaking in the race, the athletes contribute a great to giving back to the families of our nation’s toughest warriors. Founded by Air Force Colonel, Buck Trott who has since passed away, the race lives on as his legacy and continues to enrich the lives of many military families.Hinton and Virtue look to their maps during the mountain biking section of their journey. Photo by Jay HintonThis year’s edition of SOAR was redesigned to make strategy a key component of the racing experience. Adding the unique challenge of orienteering to the mix, racers depended on a map to navigate their way from checkpoint to checkpoint in the unfamiliar terrain as they raced against the clock. With options of the 6 hour sprint race or the 12 hour elite race, the racers were put through the disciplines of mountain biking, running, paddling, and a 80-90 foot rappel.Racers were able to compete as soloists or teams of 2, 3, or 4 in male, female, and co-ed divisions. With a neat twist, the race included an optional two checkpoint “litter bonus” where teams who collected and brought back 10 pieces of litter would gain points for taking care of the environment around them.The terrain was split into three sections in which racers could choose to attack in any order, but with one catch. Once they returned to the transition area (where different types of gear could be kept) after leaving a section, the racers could not return to the same section to attempt to reach more checkpoints to add to their passport that is kept with them as a tally.The checkpoints throughout the race were found in unique forms throughout the race that the individuals or teams would have to show evidence of when they returned to the transition area. The checkpoints ranged from writing something on the back of a stop sign to finding a particular grave and finding the birthdate from the headstone down. The passports showed which checkpoints the racers had reached and was used to tally up a point system that created the rankings of the teams… that is if they made it in time without being disqualified.Even the fastest runner out there was at risk of being disqualified as the race did not only require speed, but more so a combination of skills and decision making.“You can win the race without being the best athlete. It is all about a balance of time management, strategy and knowing the landscape,” said Drew Virtue, top finisher in the men’s team division for his second year with race partner, Jay Hinton.A waterfall along the course served as a checkpoint area. Photo by Jay HintonLooking back on the race, Virtue explained the journey of the adventure race for their team of two.The night before the race, there was a mandatory meeting that counted as a checkpoint where maps were given out to the racers. Virtue and Hinton, once returning an hour back to their hometown of Cullowhee, NC stayed up for an hour and a half developing a strategy for the morning’s adventure. Going into the race with a year’s experience under their belts, the two of them had a strategy in mind that they thought would work yet again.“We had to revamp everything,” said Virtue.The first section tackled by the men involved running and paddling, two strong suits for them. Returning to the transition area, they stocked up on biking and rappelling gear and once again hit the trail. After a steep decline on the bikes, it was time for the rappel. Taking their time, Virtue and Hinton made it to the bottom where they paused in awe of the team behind them who were military personnel. The two took on the rappell without fear and remarkably fast.The “Pain for Pints” team of Jay Hinton and Drew Virtue who finished first in the men’s team division for a second year in a row.As the day went on, their troubles grew as they faced the trials of the southern section where they managed to briefly loose track of their passport and get a bit lost. Being able to stay in good spirits and work together got the two back on track though, and just in time. Winning first place by a margin of just three points, Hinton and Virtue, better known by their team name, “Pain for Pints” made it to the finish line where they celebrated with beer and food. The two beer buds first thought about doing an adventure race like SOAR while each drinking a pint together and just so, the team name was born.Showing true camaraderie and teamwork paid off for them after a full day of pushing their bodies to the limit. When asked if they plan to return the answer was simple- oh yeah!Not only do the guys plan to return, but they plan to take the step up to the elite 12 hour race this time next year. Their training motivation is simply “108”. It is the number of points both the male and co-ed winning teams reached at the end of the elite race.“The winning teams ended up doing about 70 miles of mountain biking, running, and canoeing, with about 6 thousand feet of elevation gain,” said Kreuter, who will be race director again next year.By the end of the day, luckily no incidents occurred. Safety is a top priority for the board members and race director as things like dehydration and getting lost can become dangerous factors. With incredible volunteered service and resources from the Highland Police Department and Macon County EMS, Kreuter explained his sincerest gratitude for their support. Cooler weather, smart racers, and water reserves placed throughout the course helped to prevent many possible issues throughout the morning and afternoon.With no official decisions made yet in the planning process for next year’s race, Kreuter did allude to a potential change of location.Drew Virtue makes his rappell down the rock face, a crucial step in completing the race.Photo by Jay Hinton“The board is considering the possibility of moving the race somewhere nearby so that we can show the racers new terrain and show some of the other wonderful communities in the area.”For those who may want to race in SOAR next year, the race is a wonderful opportunity for novices as the board behind the race takes pride in creating a racing atmosphere that is approachable for new teams but also challenging for experienced teams.Putting these words into motion, out of the two top finishing teams in the elite 12 hour race- one team was ranked #2 in the country while the other team had never completed a race together before. Amongst the race’s accalades, its 12 hour race served as a regional qualifier for the USARA National Championships for the first time in its 16 years.Showcasing an appreciation for our military, emphasis on teamwork, and the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, the Special Operations Adventure Race will definitely return in 2018 and is sure to be better than ever. For the full results of each of the race’s divisions, you can go to the SOAR website.last_img read more

The Road Team Experiences Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail 3 Ways

first_imgWith eighty events completed and another season of travel under their belts, it was high time for the Live Outside and Play Road Team to relax. What better way than the Cheers Trail in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, a collection of 30 breweries, wineries and craft spirit producers based in and around Roanoke, Virginia. We only just learned about the Cheers Trail and wanted to experience everything it had to offer. The Cheers Trail has a mobile passport associated with the physical locations, so we picked a few of our favorites from each category of alcohol (craft brewery, craft spirit, winery) and set off. Find below some highlights, do’s and dont’s, and a mini-peek into everything the Cheers Trail has to offer!Craft BreweryStarr Hill BreweryWe started in the heart of Roanoke. One of the great things about Roanoke is the bike and walking accessibility. We ditched the van and headed out on foot from Roanoke Go Fest, where we had been working the past few days. A few minutes later and we were at the first of our Cheer Trail locations.DO: Check the schedule and beer available to plan the perfect evening. Starr Hill has everything from movie nights to Beer and Candy pairings.DON’T: Forget to plan dinner. There is usually a food truck parked behind the patio, and Mexican right next door. But keep in mind there is no food served at Starr Hill itself.Pro tip: If you’re super interested in the craft beer scene. Check out Virginia’s Blue Ridge Hop On Hop Off Brewery Tour for a chance to experience three breweries in one evening, no driving involved. Craft SpiritThe Hive: Black Snake MeaderyWelcome to Southwest Virginia’s only meadery! Mead is diluted honey that’s been fermented and then turned into a delicious drink. Think of the beverage that was passed around the long tables during Medieval celebrations. Or at least, that’s what we think of. These days, mead is an awesome way to get some variety while imbibing. Black Snake approaches things a little differently, offering mead, cider, and wine by the glass or bottle.DO: Check those events again! They have a different feel than Starr Hill Brewery, focusing on knitting nights and lifestyle talks. Learn a new skill while you sip your mead.DON’T: Forget to check the hours before you plan a visit. Black Snake is an afternoon/weekend kind of establishment. They are closed Monday through Wednesday and don’t open until the afternoon on the weekends.Pro tip: Plan to stick around the area for a bit once you arrive. There’s plenty of places to eat, a beautiful park by the river, and some real character in this part of Roanoke.WineryPeaks of Otter WineryThis winery is not to be missed. The self-proclaimed “Baskin Robbins” of wineries specializes in wines made with anything but grapes. While we were making our leisurely trip visiting stops along the Cheer Trail, we learned (with a little chagrin) that many wineries close their tasting rooms on weekdays in the fall. But not Peaks of Otter! We were accompanied by plenty of others during our tasting.DO: Make sure to give yourself plenty of time at this winery. They have an orchard on premises as well, complete with animals to say hello to (hello peacock). It’s just far enough off the beaten path to instantly relax you, as well as having great views.DON’T: Plan this as a romantic getaway. Peaks of Otter is very kid friendly! There are plenty of wineries in the area that may be better for a secluded date.Pro Tip: We highly recommend doing the full tasting, getting tiny sips of 20+ wines, culminating in a wine made with only peppers. Spicy and delicious! We walked away with a bottle to enjoy later. You get a sticker after you successfully sip! Why Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail?Before visiting Roanoke and exploring the locations on the Cheers Trail, we had no idea there were so many breweries, wineries, and craft spirit producers in such close vicinity to the city. It gave us an opportunity to go outside our comfort zone and take the back roads we wouldn’t normally. We do a LOT of hiking in the area, and knowing there is a winery close by to finish off the afternoon makes the experience that much better. Take a look at all the options on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail and try something new!Thank you to Virginia’s Blue Ridge for hosting us while in Roanoke, Virginia. last_img read more