TOUR DE france runner | laid-back lodges | spring beers MARCH 2014
GO OUTSIDE & PLAY
Let it Fly BEST BLUE RIDGE FLY FISHING STREAMS
Rescue Dogs’ Heroic Tales
Cool or Not Cool?
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features 13 TOUR DE FORCE
24 LET IT FLY
A Blue Ridge 26-year-old runs the legendary, 2,100-mile Tour de France.
Anglers are dusting off their gear, checking to see if their waders still fit, and asking themselves the same question: “Where shall I fish?” Visit these six less discovered streams this spring.
17 RESCUE DOG TALES Meet Sandy and Georgia—two heroic canines who saved the lives of lost hikers.
21 SPRING INTO BEER The flowers are blooming and trees are budding, but here’s what’s really important about spring: your local breweries are pumping out tasty seasonal brews.
23 WHISKEY NATION Five small-batch whiskeys are produced right here in the Blue Ridge.
42 IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GRIZ The Edward Abbey of the East stirs controversy hiking off-trail in the Smokies.
47 HIPPIE LODGES For all those who wear their hair long or travel with a dog, here’s a look at the region’s best laidback lodging.
departments The trouble with Sin
bike accident causes seven-week e-wreck-tion
41 THE GOODS
Off-trail hiking: cool or not cool?
Fly gear for spring fishing
9 THE DIRT
50 TRAIL MIX
Five year old completes A.T. / Baby born on a sled / Mountain
Former Cadillac sky frontman returns with a new band
6 EDITOR’S NOTE
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MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com 1/23/2014
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Who’s your outdoor hero?
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Anne Lundblad. Warren Doyle. Eustace Conway. David Horton. Can’t pick just one!
jaycurwen My great uncle first introduced me to the wonders of the woods. That’s the best legacy for an outdoor hero: fostering passion in the next generation.
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salruibal Adam and Eve. It’s been downhill ever since.
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johnbaker Edward Abbey. Witty writer, gritty environmentalist, and a man who loved time in the wild.
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stephenmcbride John Muir did so much for preserving wilderness. Glad he had the vision to see clearly into the woods.
aaronwest Adventurous German cyclist Jens Voigt, whose bestknown quote, “Shut up, legs!” has been a mantra of mine.
evansprater Jon Krakauer. He’s the perfect combination of outdoor badass and compositional talent.
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COVER PHOTO ©Derek DiLuzio / derekdiluzio.com A fly angler wades in Wilson Creek, N.C.
Jennifer Pharr Davis for inspiring girls everywhere to dream big.
selkbagusa.com MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
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FROM THE FIELD
The Trouble with Sin
By Will Harlan
Sin is not going to win any dog photo contests. She is a mangy, fleabag mutt with protruding ribs and an offset jaw. Her matted, mud-stained blackand-tan fur hangs loosely over her wiry frame. She eats garbage and drinks from fetid cesspools. I met her at the edge of Mexico’s Sinfarosa Canyon, the deepest canyon on the continent. My buddy Ryan and I were hiking across it to reach a remote Tarahumara village, and Ernesto, our driver, dropped us at the rim. Unlike the Grand Canyon, there were no signs, maps, or visitor centers—just a dusty, lonely trailhead and a few weather-beaten Tarahumara huts huddled nearby. As we plunged down the rock-strewn trail into the 6,000-foot abyss, a dog came bounding through the boulders behind us. We figured the dog lived with one of the Tarahumara families in the huts along the rim, but hours later, she was still shadowing us. Ryan threw rocks to chase her away. When we set up camp later that evening, she skulked in and snuggled against Ryan’s sleeping bag. By the end of our 30-mile hike across the canyon, she was still trotting merrily underfoot, even though she had not eaten in two days. We had vowed not to feed her, fearing that she wouldn’t return home. But against our better judgment, we decided to name the dog Sinfarosa—“Sin” for short—after the giant chasm she had just crossed. We couldn’t blame her for wanting a vacation. Dogs in rural Mexico are typically emaciated, neglected, kicked out of the way, and left to fend for themselves on trash heaps and rotted carcasses. We felt American guilt over the plight of this poor pup, but we couldn’t take her with us— we were catching a flight home in a few days. So we tried to keep our distance. When we arrived in the Tarahumara village, a ceremonial ball-kicking race was underway, and Sin joined the festivities. She ran beside Tarahumara runners for a 50-mile ultramarathon across creeks and rugged trails, and then collapsed beside us, wet and panting. The next day, Ryan and I piled into the back of
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Ernesto’s rusted pickup to return home. We said our goodbyes to Sin as freezing rain pelted down. We left her with a pile of leftover food from our hike, which we hoped would fill her belly and distract her while we made our getaway. Our truck groaned up the muddy road and away from the village. It spun its tires in the loose mud and splashed across rain-swollen creeks. Then, about an hour later, I noticed a black speck behind us. Sinfarosa was streaking up the muddy road toward the pickup, sprinting nonstop to keep up. On the uphills, the truck slowed, and Sin was right on our bumper. On the long descents, when she disappeared from view, I hoped that she would give up and turn back. But a few miles later, while the pickup labored uphill or sloshed through a flooded creek, I would spot her, legs flying, mud splattering, tongue flopping. Finally, after nearly 30 miles, I pounded the back window and yelled to Ernesto, “Stop!” He skidded to a halt in the mud, and I jumped out and held Sinfarosa for the first time. She shivered uncontrollably and smelled like death. Moments later, she puked chunks of our leftover food into my lap, then licked my face. The real hero of this story is Ernesto, who reluctantly agreed to keep her. Today, Sin lives in the comfortable suburbs of Chihuahua and is slightly overweight. When I am running here in Appalachia, I often think of the Tarahumara, the world’s greatest endurance athletes, routinely running for dozens of miles through steep, rugged canyons. But when I need an extra boost of inspiration, I also picture snaggletoothed Sin, running on empty, enduring famine and out Blue to check flood to chase to Be sure Dog Pho her dream. • utdoors’ . th n o Ridge O m ing this m o c t s Conte rs.com eoutdoo blueridg
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Hiking off-trail: cool or not cool? Compiled by Devan Boyle
Cool: Take the Road Not Taken
Andy Zimmerman is the 2013 President of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club.
NOT COOL: Off-Trail Is A Fail Why do people pursue off-trail hiking? Some want shortcuts to save time (have to be back home for Sunday Night football). Others are avoiding muddy sections of trail or challenging terrain (wouldn’t it be easier to go around the mountain, rather than up and over?) Still others are attempting to avoid the crowds (the lure of the trail less taken). Let’s use one of the most extensive trail
Off-trail hiking, or bushwhacking, is a great challenge for those hikers who want an alternative to well travelled trails. Picture it: no crowds, no wide, eroded pathways, no litter marring the landscape from overuse. Above all, there’s the palpable, peaceful sense of wonder that can spring up so easily on hikes that aren’t necessarily officially sanctioned. While some environmentalists frown on bushwhackers, most off-trail hikers show more respect for the environment than those on infrequent short walks in the woods. Some of the more popular hikes, especially in the Smokies, are visibly ‘used to death’, to where a narrow trail has been widened and eroded to the point where it becomes a rocky gulch. Not particularly pleasant, safe, or good for local habitats. Off-trail hikers, knowingly or not, tend to keep their routes hidden and show examples of “Leave No Trace” principles. One of my most vivid off-trail hikes was in the Smokies in the valley between Bote Mountain Trail and Defeat Ridge. We hiked up Bote Mountain, then found an old CCC-era trail which descended down into the West Prong of the Little River. When we reached the valley, I was amazed by the huge old growth trees that had escaped being harvested during the logging era. They were truly living skyscrapers. As we descended into the valley, the trees became smaller and we began to notice old metal remains from railroad and logging machinery. I would hate to think I could have missed out on that experience because of misplaced concerns about hiker impact or hand-wringing about safety. As in any other form of hiking, safety planning is crucial. Always leave your intended route with friends, family, and/or park officials. That way, if something happens, searchers will know where to start looking. Know your limits, and don’t push too close to danger areas. Whether you’re seeking the comfort of unspoiled nature, great exercise, or a way to increase your map, compass, and navigation skills, don’t let the worrywarts scare you away from taking the road less traveled.
systems in the world as an example. The paths of the Appalachian Mountains are visited by hundreds of thousands of hikers each year. The ramifications to the region’s natural habitat caused by off-trail hiking are considerable. Such excursions are easily justified: “I´m only one person. How much harm can it really do?” While it’s true that the impact of a single individual or a small group may be minimal, the damage caused by a multitude of hikers doing exactly the same thing is anything but. The repercussions of widespread off-trail hiking include large-scale erosion, damaged vegetation, disruption of wildlife, and altered hydrology, not to mention widening and increased muddiness of trails. The primary goal of a formal trail system is to enable people to enjoy a natural environment, while simultaneously minimizing the amount of human-induced impact to the area in question. When
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large numbers of hikers skirt bogs, cut switchbacks, and take short cuts, this objective is fundamentally compromised. Shoes can be cleaned. You can dry your feet at day’s end. Finishing your hike a few minutes later is no biggie. Damaged vegetation, altered wildlife patterns and erosion are not so easily remedied. The solution? Simple. If you are walking in a heavily trafficked area such as the Appalachians, remember that leave no trace principles apply equally to hiking as they do to camping. Stick to the path and help preserve trail systems for generations to come. Cam Honan is a world traveler and hiker sharing his experiences on TheHikingLife.com.
what do you think?
Join the off-trail debate at blueridgeoutdoors.com
MTB Wreck Causes Seven-Week Erection Dublin, Ireland
Man Goes to Grave in a Boat Mount Wolf, Pa.
Ronald Bloss Sr., who died in January at 78, loved being on rivers. When he passed away, his family decided to honor the avid outdoorsman by taking him to his final resting place in one of his boats. To be transported to a local cemetery, Bloss’s casket was placed in a small motorboat, which was then towed by a pick-up truck. An employee of Diehl Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Mount Wolf told the Associated Press it was the first time his business had used a boat instead of a hearse.
Baby Born on a Sled Philadelphia, Pa.
Contractions came on strong for Shirley Kim Bonanni—so strong that her husband put her on a sled to transport her from the house to the car for her ride to the hospital, because she felt unable to walk on the slippery winter ground. The couple never made it to the car, though, and instead welcomed their daughter, Bella Sophia Bonanni, to the world on the street while still on the sled. A neighbor on the phone with 911 helped talk the father through the birth, and both mother and daughter were later deemed fine at Temple University Hospital.
Deer Sterilization Plan Set to Move Forward Fairfax, Va.
In an update to a story BRO told you about last month, Fairfax has been given the green light by the Commonwealth of Virginia to proceed with a new surgical sterilization program of female deer. The effort to control
growing suburban deer populations, set to take place over a two-to-three-week period in February, includes tranquilizing and capturing all does within the city’s six-mile radius to perform a 90-minute sterilization procedure. Pleased by the initiative, the Humane Society also decided to help Fairfax by donating $3,000 toward the effort.
Thru-Hiker Send-Off Dahlonega, Ga.
In March, the 2014 class of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers will head north from Springer Mountain in search of 2,185-mile glory. To mark the occasion, the Spring on Springer A.T. Trail Fest will take place March 14 to 16 in Dahlonega (dahlonegatrailfest.org). The event, held in the designated Appalachian Trail community in the North Georgia mountains, features plenty of hiker hang time among outdoor gear booths, live bluegrass, and informational talks from old school A.T. legends.
Big Cans of Craft Beer Brevard, N.C.
For longtime fans of the Foster’s oil can who’ve wished that much volume could be filled with better beer—this one’s for you. Oskar Blues Brewery has introduced a new 32-ounce can of its popular Dale’s Pale Ale. The microbrewery, which has locations in Longmont, Colorado, and Brevard, N.C., recently unveiled the Crowler, a large aluminum can that gets filled at the brewery’s taprooms. Based on the popular glass growlers often filled at breweries, the Crowler is intended to offer fresher beer in oxygenfree aluminum that can’t be skunked by light exposure.
A mountain biking accident had stiff consequences for a 22-year-old Irish man. The unidentified man endured a seven-week erection after impact with his bike’s crossbar caused irregular blood flow to his penis. After letting his bruises heal and waiting five weeks, the man finally went to Dublin’s Tallaght Hospital, where he received an exam that “revealed no signs of injury, but penis was erect”. Intervention then included “manual compression,” which only resulted in shortterm deflation. Then a pressure dressing that was in place for two weeks also resulted in the return of the priapism. Relief finally came when doctors inserted gel foam and four tiny platinum coils between an artery and a vein in the man’s penis, which reduced blood flow and eventually lowered the flagpole. It was a rare medical case and the ultimate PSA for wearing a cup when riding singletrack.
BEYOND THE BLUE RIDGE
Bear on the Slopes
South Lake Tahoe, California Some skiers at Heavenly Mountain Resort encountered an unexpected obstacle in January when a black bear ran across the slopes. Despite the surprise, the bruin dashed across the hill and into the woods without incident. A Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman told the Associated Press that the Sierra’s mild winter caused some bears to skip hibernation. The story said the Tahoe Basin’s snowpack was at roughly 25 percent of normal at the time.
Nike Prototype Fetches $1,500 Eugene, Oregon
Despite its tattered condition from being buried in a backyard trash pile, the prototype of a Nike running shoe recently sold for $1,500. The shoe was found by a utility worker named Jeff Wasson, who was doing some work in the yard of Tom Bowerman, son of the late Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman. According to a story by ESPN, the elder Bowerman, a longtime coach for University of Oregon’s track team, built by hand the prototype that would become the Moon Shoe, an offering released by Nike under its previous company name, Blue Ribbon Sports. It’s also apparently one of the first shoes to feature the company’s iconic swoosh. Wasson, who was given the shoe by Tom Bowerman in 2010, sold it to Jordan Geller, a shoe collector who stores footwear from yesteryear in his California-based ShoeZeum. —Jedd Ferris MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
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Buddy and parents Dion and Andrea celebrate their nine-month journey in front of the ATC in Harpers Ferry.
A five-year-old becomes the youngest to complete the A.T. By Jess Daddio Can you remember what you were doing at five years old? Eating tubes of chapstick? Picking your nose? While you were busy writing on walls with markers, five-year-old Christian Thomas—a.k.a. Buddy Backpacker— was tackling a 2,180-mile hike. On January 20, 2014, Buddy, accompanied by his father Dion Pagonis, became the youngest person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. “We’ve always moved around a lot,” says Buddy’s mother Andrea Rego. “A normal life to Christian is traveling and not seeing the same people everyday. Dion and I are his home.” The couple ditched their Long Island, N.Y., ties two years ago to head west. Buddy’s father Dion had been an Eagle Scout growing up and had tried to thru-hike the A.T. in 2011 but had to stop when he broke his ankle near North Carolina. Andrea, on the other hand, had never had any outdoor experiences but learned quickly under Dion’s guide. Together, the two took Christian to the mountains of Colorado, bouncing from Boulder to Crested Butte, where they currently reside. “Christian is really open to new things and picks them up quickly,” Andrea says. “At the end of our last ski season, he was going down double black diamonds with no problem.” The ski season is ultimately what drew the adventurous family to the Crested Butte area, but when they learned that the town shut down from April until June, Andrea and Dion started scheming plans for an off-season adventure.
“Once we started thinking about it and doing some research, we decided to try it for a month without the intention of finishing,” Andrea says. To prepare for the hike, the family spent nearly the entire summer of 2012 in the Rockies. For one to two weeks at a time, Andrea and Dion would take Christian backpacking and expose him to the daily routine of a hiker. These forays into the backcountry were meant to test Christian’s ability to handle adversity and challenge, an experiment that confirmed to Christian’s parents that the decision to try the thru-hike was the right choice. “Christian loved that summer,” Andrea said. “He would cry whenever we had to return to our apartment, so we would set our tent up in the living room to make him happy.” When the family finally arrived on the East Coast to begin their adventure, day one proved to be one of the most challenging days of their nine-month journey. While driving to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the top on the family’s roof box flew open, littering the highway with all of their gear and supplies. It was pouring rain, and Andrea cringed as she watched car after car run over their things. In addition to starting off the hike with soggy, tread-marked gear, Andrea had also realized that she had left her wallet in Colorado, meaning the family would be hitting the trail without so much as a dime in their pockets. “We told ourselves we’d make it through the rest of the trip so long as Christian was still having a good time,” Andrea says. “The first couple of days were definitely the worst, and it really tested our patience and whether or not we were going to be able to pull it off.”
For the first couple of weeks, Dion and Andrea juggled hiking with Christian and driving the family jeep to the next road crossing. Eventually, Andrea volunteered to sacrifice her chance to thru-hike and act as a support vehicle for the boys. “This was never our hike,” Andrea says. “It was never my dream to do the whole thing but to help my family.” While Dion hiked with Christian during the day, Andrea would drive to the nearest trailhead or road crossing, pack up the family’s meals, and hike in sometimes as much as 15 miles to meet up at that night’s designated campsite or shelter. Despite the rocky start, the family successfully summited Mount Katahdin after four months on the trail. After a two-week stint visiting family in New York, the trio headed back south in early October to their starting point at the A.T.C. “We knew that even if we got to Georgia in December or January, the weather would be better than if we were in Virginia at the same time,” Andrea says, explaining their flip-flop hiking tactic. The family, however, was unable to hike the Shenandoahs due to an early snow, forced instead to jump down the trail and finish the southern section before returning to Virginia in the dead of winter to wrap up the remaining mileage. By the time they had reached the A.T.C. for the third and final time, they were excited but exhausted. “The one thing we want Christian to take away from this is knowing that no matter what it is, he can absolutely do it,” says Andrea. “It takes time and dedication and patience and more patience. This type of life is a lot harder than having a normal day job. Sure, hiking the trail was like a vacation for nine months, but trust me when I say it has not been a walk in the park.” Both Dion and Andrea ensured that Christian stayed up-to-speed with his schooling by giving him educational lessons to listen to while he hiked and a math workbook to use after dinnertime. They say the experiences he had on the trail taught him valuable life lessons like problem solving and perseverance, lessons he might not have been able to acquire in a traditional classroom setting. The family plans on returning to their home in Crested Butte for a while before returning to their adventure scheming.
BUDDY’S HIGHLIGHTS Favorite trail food: Snickers (unfrozen) Favorite part of hiking: Seeing wildlife and meeting other hikers Favorite memory from the thru-hike: Summiting Mount Katahdin Favorite animal: Dog
MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
A Blue Ridge runner sets a first in the history of the Tour de France.
Romano used the trail systems in the Shenandoah National Park and surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains to train for her record-setting run.
r u toZoe
he Tour de France is the world’s largest annual sporting event, attracting an international melting pot to the heart of France for three weeks every summer. Last year’s race focused on the celebration of the Tour’s 100th edition, but media outlets around the globe were also tuning into the progress of one individual who was attempting a first in the Tour’s long history. Zoë Romano, a 26-year-old Richmond, Va., transplant from Maine, became the first person to run the Tour de France. Her 10-week journey raised nearly $200,000 for the World Pediatrics Project, a nonprofit that provides medical care to children around the world. Although the thought of running over 2,100 miles seems unbearable to fathom, Romano is no stranger to these physically taxing endeavors. In 2010, the then-recent college graduate embarked on a similarly impressive feat, running 2,867 miles across the United States to raise over $17,000 for the Boys and Girls Club. “I’m a really goal-oriented person,” Romano says. “When you’re in college, you have a very clear understanding of what you’re working toward, but when you graduate, sometimes you get caught up in that group of people who just float. I was floating.” To cope with her floating, Romano started scheming. After learning about a man from Richmond, Va., who had just returned from running across the country, Romano became infatuated with the idea.
by JESS DADDIO “I thought if he could do it and survive, then I could too.” After months of tedious planning and rigorous training, Romano set off from Huntington Beach, Ca., heading east. Although a group of local runners, friends, and family were there to cheer her on and even run the first section with her, by mile 10, Romano was alone. “Knowing you’re going to be running alone for the next four months is pretty intimidating,” she says, “but it felt good and I was really happy that I was actually doing it.” With the use of sites like couchsurfing.org and warmshowers.org, Romano was able to find shelter nearly every night except for one. She says the incredible hospitality she experienced along the way was something she never expected to encounter. “I was very vulnerable and a lot of bad things could have happened,” she says. “But after staying in over 100 homes for four months and not having one negative experience, I think the American people are a lot kinder than we ever give ourselves credit for.” Although Romano was nearly caught in dozens of tornados and storms in the Midwestern states, she says the most challenging part of the run was not the actual running; it was admitting that the run would eventually have to end. “Around the halfway mark, the dynamic of the run changed because I knew that it was no longer a question of if I was going to finish, just a matter
of when,” she says. “I think it’s human nature to want to know what’s next, and that run really taught me what it’s like to live each day with a single-minded existence. Accepting that that was going to end was really hard.” When she successfully finished her crosscountry journey, Romano immediately began to feel restless and in need of another adventure. Her only criterion this time was that the adventure be harder. Her solution? Run the Tour de France. “Naturally I thought it would be similar to the U.S. run,” she says, “but it was definitely more athletically demanding. It’s the most incredible thing I have ever done, but also the hardest.” Romano set off for France in May of 2013 with her boyfriend, videographer, and one-man support team Alexander Kreher. From pouring rain to missing baggage, day one of Romano’s run was bleak at best. She quickly abandoned any residual romanticized notions of the experience to come, bought the cheapest rain gear she could find, and hit the pavement. For the next 10 weeks, Romano would run the equivalent of a marathon every day. “I was really nervous about the Pyrenees and the Alps,” Romano says, “but when I made it through the Pyrenees, I had a huge confidence boost.” As Romano descended toward the central valleys of France, she fully expected the flat farmland ahead to be easier than the thousands of feet she had just climbed in elevation. Her MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
I didn’t fully realize how important sweating through the middle stuff is to accomplish the big goal. her 2,100-mile run. Cyclists competing in Le Tour completed three stages there, the last of which was a 90-mile stretch that climbed over 2,000 feet in elevation during the first four miles alone and weaved along some of the island’s most dangerous back roads. Although Romano’s daily mileage was far from that of cyclists competing in the Tour, she wanted to take on this ultramarathon in under 24 hours to end her journey with a bang. “That 90-mile stage was the hardest and stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” she recalls. In those final 90 miles, she dodged palmsized spiders and endured palm-sized spiders, split knees, sun poisoning, wild boar encounters, misleading mileage, and brutal mountain passes. In the dark of night, just under 24 hours after she
Romano revisitS a 20-mile training loop in Shenandoah National Park by way of the Appalachian Trail.
had started, Romano climbed the final mountain pass to arrive in a sleeping Corsica village where her boyfriend Alex stood waiting. “There’s really no glory in that,” she says, “but I remember thinking, ‘I never have to run again if I don’t want to.’” Of course, Romano still continues to run. She is currently writing a book about her run across the United States and is looking forward to the day when the ants in her pants for another adventure return. •
3 mountains. 3 race options.
Choose your challenge. 3 mountains 2 mountains 1 mountain
7,430’ elevation change 3,790’ elevation change 1,800’ elevation change
Full Marathon Half Marathon Inaugural Star K (10K)
APRIL 26, 2014
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assumptions, however, were wrong. “There was nothing to look forward to,” she says. “I was losing my form, I was losing my pace, I was hurting myself, and all the while, it rained for four weeks straight.” It was during those damp and dreary weeks that Romano approached what every athlete refers to as “the wall.” While trying to stay on schedule, Romano was simultaneously nursing a calf injury and a debilitating foot rash. Her injuries had slowed her down to a walk, and with every soggy day that followed, thoughts of doubt and despair crept in. “When I think of the most challenging times of that run, I think of the middle section of France,” she says. “But those four weeks made me reevaluate what persistence and resilience really mean. It seemed like I should have known this as a runner, but I didn’t fully realize how important sweating through the middle stuff is to accomplish the big goal.” Eventually the weather subsided, Romano healed enough, and the flat farmland came to an end. By the time she reached the top of Mont Ventoux, one of the Tour’s longest and most iconic climbs, Romano’s passion had also been restored. “The sun came out and I looked ahead to the start of the Alps,” she says. “Although I had walked all the way to the top, that mountain was a reminder of why I was doing what I was doing and why it was worthwhile.” Because the exact route of Le Tour had not been released by the time Romano began her journey, she was forced to backtrack to the island of Corsica, where the official route began, to end
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LEFT: Teresa Cummings with the family hero and canine companion Sandy. RIGHT: Teresa MacPherson poses by a pile of rubble in Nevada with her SAR dog Banks.
A TAIL OF two
TWO OWNERS SHARE THEIR DOGS’ HEROIC RESCUES. by JESS DADDIO
et’s be honest. Dogs are more than just pets. They’re man’s best friend, trail partner, vacuum cleaner, and little spoon (or maybe big spoon) all wrapped up in one. In the world of search and rescue (SAR), though, our canine companions have proven themselves much more than that. They’re workers, the unsung heroes of emergency services, perusing the woods in the dead of night to search for our missing loved ones. It takes a special type of dog to ignore a fleeing deer or a pile of garbage and stay on task, but it also takes a special person to be that canine’s partner. SAR dog handlers are the folks behind the scenes who willingly volunteer hundreds of hours and invest thousands of dollars for the sake of communities in need. By their canine’s side day and night, these handlers
endure the elements and brave the hazards so we may have some ease of mind. Meet Teresa and Teresa, two handlers in the Blue Ridge who share more than just a name and a love of dogs.
A Walk in the Woods It was the summer of 2007. Teresa Cummings was busy wrapping up the evening chores on her property in Oxford, N.C., when she realized something was terribly wrong: her 23-monthold son Connor was missing. Cummings ran through the woods near her house, frantically searching for Connor to no avail. Soon, emergency personnel and nearby community members were gathered at the Cummings residence, determined to find the toddler. By now, Cummings had realized that something else was wrong: the family golden retriever Sandy
had also mysteriously disappeared. Hours went by and the evening had long turned dark on the search party. Still, neither Connor nor Sandy had been found. Cummings’ anxiety began to worsen with every passing minute, fearful of the worst. The next day, nearly 250 volunteers came together to again search the woods, on foot, by horseback, and even aboard all-terrain vehicles. All eyes were on Granville County as the community meticulously searched every square inch of forest. Finally, after more than 24 hours had passed since the boy’s initial disappearance, a member of the search party heard a bark. He found both Connor and Sandy only a mile from the Cummings’ home, happy and healthy. Connor was barefoot and had a few cuts and bruises, but aside from that he was virtually unscathed and entirely oblivious to the massive MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
TEACH YOUR POOCH/ PUP/DOG/ETC. Although becoming an officially operational SAR canine is a time-consuming and expensive investment, the foundation of all training comes down to obedience. Using the game of “hide and seek” in conjunction with a consistent rewards system, you can teach your dog the basics of SAR and strengthen the bond you share with your canine.
step 1: Choose SAR work can be stressful, so it’s important to choose the right breed for the job. If you’re simply in the market for a dog but want your new best friend to be energetic, hard working, loyal, and smart, check out the following breeds which are commonly used (although even a Chihuahua has been used for search and rescue needs). Bloodhound Coonhound
teresa cummings with her dog sandy, who rescued her lost four-year-old son .
toddlerhunt that had taken place. “God made angels,” Cummings says, “ours just happens to have four legs and wags a tail.” The pair had crossed countless creeks and major highways, managing to slide past the radar of the hundreds involved with the search and rescue efforts. According to Cummings, Sandy was never the type of dog to exhibit any particularly strong sense of loyalty to Connor—or anyone in the family for that matter. Mellow, quiet, and borderline lazy, Sandy was “an unlikely candidate at best” for acting so heroically, says Cummings. “The one time she needed to do something, she did it,” Cummings says. “She could have filet mignons every day for the rest of her life and I’d be okay with it.” Inspired by Sandy and the events that had unfolded, Cummings purchased a bloodhound just a couple months later and began training with the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASR). Having had a number of years’ experience training show dogs, Cummings was no stranger to the process. What did surprise her, though, was the vast array of skills she would need to acquire before becoming certified. From rigorous wilderness medical training to certifications in handling blood-borne pathogens, hazardous materials, and canine first aid, Cummings has devoted hundreds of hours (and personal dollars) into ensuring she can provide the best service to her community. “When Connor disappeared, we found that there were limited resources of who we could call to help,” Cummings recalls. “I remember walking out in those woods thinking, if I can keep one family from ever going through this, I’ll be content.” Cummings has since had a second child and trained a number of other SAR dogs, but she says that Sandy is still around and one of the
best dogs the family has ever had. “She’s a little fat now, but she’s totally the babysitter and is always somewhere she can keep an eye on things.”
Sandy Facts Age 10 Breed Golden Retriever Favorite treat Rawhides Best trait Tolerance Weakness Anything and everything that looks edible
A Family Reunited Teresa MacPherson has grown up around dogs her whole life, working specifically with SAR units since the late 1980s. As a team member of FEMA’s disaster dog program and a handler for the Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association, MacPherson has seen it all, including missing children, wandering Alzheimer’s patients, and bombing victims. “It’s a difficult line of work,” MacPherson says, “but I love it because it helps people.” MacPherson has been at the forefront of aid provided by SAR dogs, traveling across the world to help others in need. She and her K-9 partners have been on hand to help at some of the most devastating disasters to date, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina; the Haiti earthquake in 2008, and the 2011 tsunami in Japan. She’s seen lives ravaged, cities completely leveled, and communities torn apart, yet she takes solace in knowing that, little by little, she and her K-9s can help mend these broken areas. “Closure is such a terribly overused term,” MacPherson says, “but it’s still good to know you can provide some sense of that to these families.
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Basset Hound German Shepherd Labrador Retriever Border Collie Pound dogs are often taken in by SAR units and trained to be operational canines, especially if they have a mix of one of the above breeds or exhibit a high play intensity. Puppies generally will learn in a shorter amount of time than older dogs, but each is equally capable of SAR training on any level.
step 2: Socialize One of the most important things you can teach a dog is how to be friendly and well socialized. Take your dog on walks around the park or to events, pet stores, and houses of family and friends. Always reward a positive experience with a treat.
step 3: Hide Begin by hiding somewhere in your house or outside and calling to your dog. If he finds you, reward him with a treat or a clicker, which some people use to reinforce the reward. Repeat the hiding tactic until your dog is finding you consistently.
step 4: Seek While someone else holds your dog on a leash, show him his favorite toy and walk away, dropping it on the ground either in sight or, for more of a challenge, behind a tree. Say “find it,” or your preferred command, and have your friend let go of the leash. When your dog finds the toy, reward him thoroughly. Your dog’s willingness to “find it” will only increase the more fun you have with him. As your dog improves, increase the challenge by changing the terrain, the time of day, and the hiding spot.
The hardest part is obviously when the outcome isn’t positive.” Despite having worked in a variety of challenging and dismal circumstances for over 20 years, MacPherson recalls one instance in her hometown of Bristow, Va., where she truly grasped just how important her dogs and her line of work were to the community at large. It was an unbearably hot evening in late August of 2002. MacPherson had received a phone call from the local law enforcement notifying her of a family who was worried about their 85-year-old grandmother. The grandmother, who was battling Alzheimer’s, had disappeared earlier that day. MacPherson readied her SAR dog, Georgia, and headed to the nearby Prince William Forest Park. It was already past 9 o’clock at night, and MacPherson knew the law enforcement officers had already been searching for the grandmother all day with no success. She followed Georgia’s lead, though, and within 20 minutes, she heard a bark from deep within the woods. “I came upon the grandmother who had tripped over a log and was lying, half naked and dehydrated, on the ground,” MacPherson says. Despite having collapsed from heat exhaustion and dehydration, the grandmother was alive. Had Georgia not found the woman, the family’s grandmother would not have made it through the night. “When I saw the relief in the family’s eyes as we returned from the woods, I knew that they were probably expecting the worse,” MacPherson says. “When we can help save a
teresa macpherson and georgia rescued a lost 85-year-old woman in virginia.
life, it’s very rewarding. That’s absolutely why it’s my passion.” Georgia was MacPherson’s right-hand dog for a number of years, but passed away recently. MacPherson is now on her sixth operational SAR dog, but she says it’s hard to move on after the loss of such a close partner. “Dogs’ eyes are full of love and trust,” she says. “It’s hard when you lose a dog, because you know it’s inevitable. It’s the nature of this line of work. When you form such an amazing bond
with these dogs, seeing them go is like losing family.”
Georgia Facts Breed Labrador Age 13 Favorite toy Tennis ball Best trait Born to search Weakness Surfing, a favorite pastime that involved leaping from the banks of a river to land gracefully on a floating raft and riding out the wake.
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MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
WEEKEND in beautiful Nelson County, Virginia
2 Unique Brewery Experiences from the Blue Mountain Brewery Family.
Blue Mountain Brewery & Restaurant 9519 Critzer Shop Rd Afton, VA 22920 (540) 456-8020
Crooked Road Festival March 19-23, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 8 PM Wayne Henderson & the Virginia Luthiers and special guests Mac and Jenny Traynham and Mountain Fling Friday, March 21, 8 PM The Seldom Scene and special guest No Strings Attached Saturday, March 22, 8 PM The Rickie Simpkins Quartet and special guests Hoorah Cloggers, Jen Barton, and Indian Run Stringband Visit artscenter.vt.edu for tickets and information on many free events around the New River Valley. Packages: The Oaks Victorian Inn and Clay Corner Inn Co-presented by:
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Spring into Beer Your guide to pairing local seasonal beers with local seasonal food. by GRAHAM AVERILL
es, the flowers are blooming and trees are budding, but here’s what’s really important about spring: your local breweries are pumping out tasty seasonal brews. We’ve sorted through the field of spring beers and found eight exciting seasonal releases and suggested a local food that pairs well with each beer. Eat, drink, and get dirty.
Nooner IPA Sierra Nevada • Mills River, N.C. This March, Sierra Nevada is releasing a variety pack with four different IPA’s in a variety 12 pack. You’ll probably recognize the Torpedo, Sierra Nevada’s popular IPA, but you’ll find three new beers in the pack, the Snow Wit White IPA, Blindfold Black IPA, and the Nooner Session IPA, which has a lighter body and lower alcohol by volume than your typical IPA, but is still loaded with citrus and grapefruit flavor from the wholecone American hops. Lighter IPA’s go great with grilled asparagus and mushrooms from local farmers.
deep, golden beer that has been classified as “dangerous,” because it’s incredibly easy to drink, but has a wicked ABV of 8.5 percent. Can’t wait for May? Foothills has introduced an IPA of the month club, promising a different fresh, experimental IPA every month. Find the March IPA at the brewpub or in big bomber bottles. Maibocks work well with seafood. May we suggest a big bowl of shrimp and grits?
Double IPA Hi-Wire Brewing • Asheville, N.C. Everyone loves an IPA in the spring, and brewers are typically happy to accommodate. Hi-Wire, one of Asheville’s newest breweries, is falling all over themselves to deliver that fresh hop goodness in their new, seasonal Double IPA. You can expect soaring IBU’s and an ABV that nears the 10 percent mark. This is a serious beer for serious hop-heads. Bitter, citrusy Double IPAs pair well with smoked beef and sharp cheeses.
El Hefe Speaks!
DC Brau • Washington, D.C. El Hefe is a traditional German-style hefeweizen that’s become one of D.C.’s most welcome seasonal’s, thanks to DC Brau’s flawless execution of the beloved hefe style. It’s a hazy beer, with light notes of banana and a crisp, carbonated finish that screams for warm weather and a sunny patio. It’s easy on the hops and relatively sessionable at 5.3 percent, so it goes down easy on a warm day after a long run or ride. Look for it this spring in cans and 22-ounce bombers. Hefeweizens go hand in hand with light food (salads, chicken, seafood) and soft, rich cheeses.
Foothills Brewing • Winston-Salem, N.C. The maibock is a traditional German spring beer, known for its malty-sweet character and (typically) high alcohol content. Gruffmeister doesn’t disappoint with big hits of malt in this
Blue Mountain Brewery • Afton, Va. Take your standard pilsner (light, crisp, easy drinking) and crank it up to 11, and you get
Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale Terrapin Beer Company • Athens, Ga. Terrapin’s spring seasonal hits the shelves in April, and Terrapin, which is known for its funloving experimentation, pays homage to its home state by dropping 10 pounds of peaches per barrel into this wheat beer. It’s an easydrinking, slightly sweet, slightly tart beer that explodes with peach notes. Douse a salad of fresh greens with a vinegar based dressing to cut through the sweetness of the Peach Farmhouse.
UberPils, an imperial pilsner with 7.5 percent ABV and an unexpected, but welcome, 40 IBU’s. You’ll find plenty of malt backbone followed by a bit of fruity citrus from the hops. This is the pilsner for people who think pilsners are for pansies. Look for it on draft and in big, 750ml bottles in March and April. It’s hard to find a food that doesn’t pair well with a pilsner, but bratwurst is the classic coupling. You’re in luck, Blue Mountain has a restaurant with a killer local bratwurst that’s boiled in its own lager, sandwiched in a locally-baked bun and topped with kraut and ale mustard.
Chin Music Center of the Universe Brewing • Ashland, Va. This Vienna-style amber lager pays homage to the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a double-A minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. It’s a session beer, malty but crisp, with a low ABV (4.5 percent), made for warm weather and long days. Center of the Universe (COTU) is a young, but growing brewery—the Richmond Squirrels served their Ray Ray’s Pale Ale last season. The beer launches March 1 on draft and in cans. Ambers pair well with salty snacks and grilled meat. In other words, most of the food you’ll find at a baseball game.
Little Red RooStarr Starr Hill • Crozet, Va. Most breweries lean toward IPA’s and hefe’s when the weather turns warm, but Starr Hill is going the other direction by bringing us their dense and delicious Little Red RooStarr coffee cream stout beginning March 1. You’ll get everything you want from a milk stout—notes of chocolate, caramel, and a strong malty backbone that’s balanced by locally roasted coffee. Find it in 22-ounce bombers. Coffee stouts are great with dessert, particularly chocolate. •
MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
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The Local Hiker
What’s in the Bottle? What’s the difference between whiskey, bourbon, rye, and scotch? A lot, and not that much. First, they’re all whiskey. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Ditto rye and scotch. According to the U.S. federal government, in order to be classified as bourbon, the whiskey has to be produced in the U.S., using at least 51 percent corn, and aged for two years in new charred oak barrels. For the whiskey to be classified a rye, it has to have a mash bill of at least 51 percent rye, as opposed to the corn majority of bourbon. Scotch, on the other hand, can only be produced in Scotland, and must be made from malted barley and aged for at least three years.
Whiskey Nation Five small batch whiskeys produced right here in the Blue Ridge. by GRAHAM AVERILL
hink Kentucky and Tennessee have a monopoly on making whiskey? Think again. In the last few years, several craft distillers in Virginia and North Carolina have begun producing small batches of whiskey, bourbon, and rye that have been winning awards and winning over the palates of whiskey aficionados. Here are five we’re drinking right now.
Bowman Brothers A. Smith Bowman Distillery • Fredericksburg, Va. A. Smith Bowman is best known for producing the inexpensive and wildly popular Virginia Gentleman, but in recent years the distillery has developed a line of small batch and single barrel bourbon. For the Bowman Brothers Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the corn, rye, and malted barley are brought in from a sister distillery in Kentucky, but then the whiskey is made by hand in house, using a unique copper still, and aged in charred oak barrels for seven years. (90 proof; $30; asmithbowman.com)
Carolina Whiskey Top of the Hill Distillery • Chapel Hill, N.C. Top of the Hill is one of only a handful of distilleries in the country making whiskey with wheat, which is more expensive than corn. TOPO’s Carolina Whiskey is 100 percent organic wheat, allowing the distillery to source the materials locally and provide for a young product
that tastes smooth beyond its years. Age this wheat whiskey, and you’ll get the same caramel and oak flavors as bourbon in a fraction of the time. Look for an aged version to hit the market next year. (84 proof; $22; topodistillery.com)
Defiant Whiskey Blue Ridge Distillery • Golden Hill, N.C. Blue Ridge Distillery only makes one product-a single-malt whiskey made from well-water and malted barley that’s ground on the owner’s family farm south of Asheville. Most of us are familiar with single-malt scotch, but Defiant’s version is closer to an Irish whiskey, thanks to the two-row pale ale brewers malt that produces no smoke or peat. The result is a mild whiskey that’s not too oaky. (82 proof; $55; blueridgedistilling.com)
Roundstone Rye Catoctin Creek Distilling • Purcellville, Va. Rye is hot right now in the whiskey world, and Roundstone has made waves, winning the Good Food Awards Gold Seal in 2013. Catoctin Creek uses 100 percent locally sourced, certified organic rye (as opposed to blending it with corn) that’s aged for two years in white oak casks. Rye is similar to wheat, in that it ages quicker and produces the caramel tones we all love from bourbon, but this rye isn’t as sweet as others on the market that also use corn in the mash bill. Instead, with Roundstone you get a sharp,
dry flavor profile, similar to the ryes produced before prohibition, when cheaper ingredients began making their way into ryes. (80 proof; $39; catoctincreekdistilling.com)
Wasmund’s Single Malt Whiskey Copper Fox Distillery • Sperryville, Va. Rick Wasmund hand-malts the barley grown specifically for his distillery, then uses applewood and cherry wood to smoke and dry the barley (instead of incorporating the traditional peat found in Scotch). Wasmund distinguishes the whiskey further by using wood chips inside charred barrels to age the single malt in a matter of months. The result is a distinctive single malt whiskey with notes of fruit and smoke unlike most other whiskeys on the market. (96 proof; $38; copperfox.biz) •
Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail You can’t talk whiskey without paying homage to Kentucky, which is ground zero for the brown liquor, especially bourbon. I think Buffalo Trace flows straight from the water taps at some of Kentucky’s finer hotels. At least, it should. Navigating Kentucky’s bourbon landscape can be a bit intimidating; there are more whiskey labels produced in the state than I can count, and more than two dozen distilleries are open to visitors for tours and samples. Your best bet is to follow the Bourbon Trail, which links together eight of the biggest brands in bourbon, from Jim Beam to Four Roses, via 80 miles of scenic roads between Lexington and Louisville. The distance you travel is short, but most people take three days to explore the trail. This is bourbon after all. There’s no reason to rush. kybourbontrail.com
MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
A River Runs Through It Visit these less discovered streams to begin your fly fishing season.
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by BEAU BEASLEY
he trees have shaken off their snowy mantles. The early spring flowers have begun to poke their heads up through the hard ground. The robin puts in an appearance after his long absence. And fly anglers up and down the East Coast dust off their gear and check to ensure that their waders still fit. Yes, it’s that blessed time of year again—that time when every fly angler asks himself the same question: Where shall I fish? South Holston River, Tenn. The South Holston River is one of the best fisheries on the entire East Coast. Bold words, you say? Yes, they are—and they’re words I’ll stand by. I have fished the SoHo a number of times myself and was here just last year with Jon Hooper, general manager of the famed South Holston River Lodge, and author Tom Gilmore, who was doing research for an upcoming book on tailwater fisheries (rivers below dams). I tagged along to take supporting photos. “Believe it or not, there are still lots of folks who don’t know about this river,” Hooper told us. “The thing is that once folks come here, they generally come back because the fishing is so darn good.” The water released from the Holston Dam is clean and cold and supports roughly 4,000 trout per mile. The trout here are primarily rainbows and browns; on a good day SoHo anglers can land several fish over 14 inches, though that certainly won’t be everyone’s experience. But one thing is certain: The SoHo’s trout are very strong and fight like crazy—especially the browns. The generation schedule on the SoHo changes often, which means the fish change their feeding locations and habits accordingly. Anglers should consider casting streamer patterns when power is being generated, or when fishing after a rainstorm when the water is murky. Wading anglers can access the river below the dam at several locations. Alternatively, consider tackling the SoHo by drift boat with a guide. Check in with local experts before you embark; they know the ins and outs of every bend of the river. South Holston River Fly Shop (southholstonriverflyshop.com) in
A FLY ANGLER EXPLORES WILSON CREEK IN NORTH CAROLINA’S HIGH COUNTRY.
Bristol, Tennessee, and Mountain Sports Ltd (mountainsportsltd.com) in Bristol, Virginia, are two hotspots. They carry countless local patterns like Kraft’s Kreelex, a great baitfish imitation that works wonders on trout. Should you wish to stay in the area to fish the Holston for several days, check into the South Holston River Lodge, which provides excellent accommodations and superb guides. For more information, contact Jon Hooper at South Holston River Lodge (southholstonriverlodge. com). To check the river’s generation schedule, go to www.tva.gov/sites/sholston.htm.
Davidson River, N.C. Looking for quiet pools, rock walls, and rhododendron-covered banks? Look no further than North Carolina’s Davidson River, which is about as close to trout heaven as you can get. The Big D draws thousands of visitors each year but is mercifully protected from overdevelopment by the surrounding Pisgah National Forest. The lower reaches of the Davidson from the French Broad to Avery Creek are quite deep and hold most of the river’s water—and that’s good news: The state stocks heavily here, and general tackle rules apply. The bad news is that occasionally you’ll have to contend with tubers and spin anglers. In this area, anglers might want to try throwing big streamers early in the morning, especially if the water is off-color or high from recent rains. Most fly anglers fish the catch-and-release section from Avery Creek upstream to the headwaters of the river. The fish hatchery that operates on the Davidson has abundant parking, but don’t go looking for solitude. The browns that call this section of the river home look like miniature submarines and prefer to lie along the banks, occasionally surfacing to take in a midge. The upper reaches of the Davidson are quite small; anglers can actually hike up to the point at which the river is nearly small enough to jump across, though they’ll have to do some bushwhacking. You’ll find tight cover up here; prepare to roll cast. The good news is that this part of the river sees much less pressure. If quarters are too tight, then move back downstream. The river will widen as it picks up more water, and the canopy cover will begin to abate. Numerous access points exist along Route 475 for those whose eyes are peeled. And don’t be afraid to check out Looking Glass and Avery Creeks. The Davidson in Pisgah National Forest is open to the public. For a few bucks, however, excellent private access is available through Kevin Howell, owner of Davidson River Outfitters. “You need to make your first cast count on the Davidson, because these are not forgiving fish,” says Howell. “I also recommend that you pay strict attention to your wading. Poor wading on the Davidson has saved more trout than catch-and-release ever has,” he jokes. Davidson River Outfitters carries all the flies you’ll need to fish here—but one of my all-time favorites remains Howell’s Big Nasty, an exceptional crayfish pattern Kevin Howell developed for North Carolina’s finicky trout.
(Pssst: I’ve often used it for smallmouth bass.) For more information, stop by Davidson River Outfitters (davidsonflyfishing.com).
Duke’s Creek, Ga. The Peach State acquired Smithgall Woods State Park in 1994 from Charles Smithgall, a local businessman and conservationist. Smithgall agreed to sell his family’s private retreat—over 5,500 acres of pristine wooded landscape—to Georgia with the understanding that the state would preserve the area. State officials wisely agreed and today, in addition to the great fishing, visitors will find plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, and spots to camp. Duke’s Creek delivers what you might expect from a mountain trout stream, complete with moderate canopy cover and spooky trout. This fishery is only four miles long and in most places less than 20 feet wide, but don’t let its small size fool you into thinking that this is an easy fishery. Overhanging branches make casting a challenge. You’ll have to navigate large boulders while you wade (though you can use them as cover). Wary trout use the logs embedded in the creek’s banks (to improve shore stability) as cover—and to break you off once they’re hooked. Yes, that was a 20-inch fish that just surfaced and smugly refused your fly—but no, it was a rainbow and not a steelhead. Broad shoulder browns also call this fishery home, and they delight in breaking you off not long after you set the hook. Jake Darling works as a guide for Unicoi Outfitters (unicoioutfitters.com) in Helen and offers some advice for rookies: “You have to fish deep here because these fish are large and aren’t likely to come up easily for a dry fly in the early spring.” Good patterns for Duke’s Creek include stone flies in various colors with a WD40 or black zebra midge as a trailer. Nestled in northeastern Georgia, Duke’s Creek is easily accessed by anglers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Fishing here is catch-and-release only and is restricted to Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday unless you have reservations to stay on site at one of the six lovely cottages that are open to the public at reasonable rates. A $5 parking pass is required. You’ll need to make reservations to fish. For more information on Duke’s Creek and Smithgall Woods State Park, go to http://gastateparks.org/ SmithgallWoods.
Gunpowder Falls River, Md. If you’re at the Gunpowder looking for falls, prepare for disappointment. The river has no falls at all and most likely got its name from a nearby foundry that produced guns during the Revolutionary War. The river was also the site of a copper foundry; in fact, the copper used on the Capitol dome after the War of 1812 was extracted from here. Though no one is extracting copper now, anglers do come from miles around to try their hand at extracting the local trout. The Gunpowder boasts an unbelievable population of wild trout ranging from 3,5005,000 trout per mile, rivaling even the best Western rivers for fish per foot. Although the MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
typical trout here is 9 to 10 inches, 18-inchers are not unheard of. Though you may catch rainbows and brookies, the overwhelming majority (about 95 percent) of the Gunpowder’s fish are browns. This river is filled with wild fish that don’t suffer rookie anglers lightly. Consider hiring a local guide to show you the ropes. The Gunpowder is nearly 53 miles long, but most fly anglers concentrate on three sections covering about 17 miles. The first section, stretching from Prettyboy Dam to Falls Road, is entirely catch-and-release and may be fished by traditional anglers as well as fly rodders. Blowdowns are plentiful here, and pocket water is abundant. Anglers need to pay strict attention to their patterns, as strikes will not only come fast, but the trout seem to know that running below the limbs of submerged trees provides a sure release from careless anglers. The second section of the river runs from Falls Road to York Road. This is classic trout water with runs, riffles, and the occasional long pool. The third frequently fished section of the river is deeper and much slower than the other two. This area stretches from York Road to Bluemont Road and is well worth your time. A word of warning: The fern cover is so thick along this river that in some places you can’t see your own wading shoes while standing on the bank. Proceed with caution. Gelsoe’s Little Black Stone Fly is a superior local pattern; you’ll find it and anything else you’ll need at Backwater Angler (backwaterangler.com) or at Great Feathers (greatfeathers.com), both full-service fly shops very close to the Gunpowder.
Rappahannock River, Va. Virginia’s Rapp has a long and colorful history. The Algonquian Indians named the river Rappahannock, which means “rapidly rising and falling waters,” no doubt referring to its daily tidal fluctuations as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. George Washington grew up along the banks of the Rappahannock River on his sister’s plantation, Ferry Farm, where he undoubtedly spent many youthful days fishing. The Rapp begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains and tumbles past the famed Rapidan River to its final destination. Because the Rappahannock empties into the bay, it hosts hundreds of thousands of migrating shad each spring. From the last week in March through the first week in May, anglers flock to the Rapp in search of these hard-fighting fish. Striped bass also migrate here, pushing the shad toward their own spawning grounds. They feed heavily on the shad as they migrate upstream, and they have been known to slam the fly of inattentive shad anglers. Spin fishermen favor the Rapp, particularly during shad season; fly anglers should also expect to share water with all varieties of paddlers. Most of the time, though, there is plenty of water for everyone; anglers should keep their eyes open for small watercraft and expect to be flexible in their positioning. If you see a kayak, simply hold your cast. Unlike skittish trout, shad appear oblivious to kayaks and other watercraft. Shad tend to stay deep in the water column and generally don’t rise to flies, but
they do aggressively strike at bright subsurface patterns. One of the prime locations anglers visit when fishing the Rapp is just below and above the Route 3 bridge in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In the spring it’s not uncommon to look from the bridge and see schools of shad so thick that they black out the bottom of the river. You can park your vehicle along River Road or in Old Mill Park and then wade up or downstream. A word of caution: Wade safely. The Rappahannock is dangerous, fast-moving water. Remember, too, that more than one angler has walked out onto rocks to reach a prime spot in the river only to find those same rocks submerged by tidal flows when he tried to exit the river. Anglers who are interested in the Rapp but are a bit intimidated by its size and power might prefer to hedge their bets and take a beginner trip with the Falmouth Flats Fly Fishers (ffflyfishers.org). These guys and gals are truly the experts of this river and are eager to help anyone who wants to learn. You have your pick of flies suitable for spring shad fishing, but for many years my go-to pattern has been Tommy’s Torpedo, created by fishing guide Tommy Mattioli. Tommy created several shad patterns, available at all Orvis locations throughout Virginia and at Green Top Sporting Goods (greentophuntfish.com) near Richmond.
New River, W.Va. / Va. In his book Follow the River, James Alexander Thom relates the incredible true story of Mary Draper Ingels who, in the summer of 1775 at the age of 23 and already eight months pregnant, was kidnapped by a Shawnee raiding party. Draper later fled from her captors and traveled for 43 days, covering nearly 1,000 miles in rough country with nothing but the clothes on her back. She survived on berries and roots she dug from the ground by hand. When asked how she had managed to find her way home, she said simply, “I followed the river”—Virginia’s New River, that is. If there’s one river in Virginia that is underutilized by anglers, it’s the New River. Beginning in North Carolina, the New River meanders back and forth across much of Virginia. The river consistently flows northwest and eventually meets the Gauley River to form the Kanawha in West Virginia. Ironically named, the New River is actually quite old. Some have speculated that the only the Euphrates in Egypt is older than the New. For many folks the New River is a place for rafting, kayaking, and swimming before a shoreline lunch. It’s also a must-fish location for smallies, blue gills, stripers, and of course musky. There are several good guides who call this river their home waters, including Britt Stoudenmire, owner of New River Outdoors Company, in Pembroke, Virginia. Stoudenmire fishes the river hundreds of days a year and knows the section that flows through southwest Virginia like the back of his hand. “This river is awesome, and landing 50-75 smallmouth bass in a single day is very doable in the later part of the summer,” Stoudenmire says.
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Early season fishing for beefy smallies in late March is also doable, but that style of fishing is generally done in deep water with conventional fishing gear. Stoudenmire should know, as his clients come from all over the country and stay for multiple days at a time in family-friendly cabins which he rents out to visiting anglers. Fly anglers who take on the New River can score big-time with a variety of patterns and differing methods of fly fishing. Musky anglers will need to cast big streamers with hooks as large as 6/0, and nearly as large as a small squirrel. Musky easily reach 15 pounds here and really aren’t considered big fish until well past the 30 inch mark. Be prepared, however, to do a lot of casting and not necessarily a lot of catching. Smallie anglers can score big time as well with top water patterns like Walt’s Poppers in sizes #6 to 1/0. These poppers aren’t easy to find but if you do, try Walt’s Carolina Blue Popper and his Tan-Bellied Frog in #6 and up. Streamers work very well on the New River, and no one knows that better than guide Mike Smith, owner of New River Fly Fishing (newriverflyfish.com) and co-owner of Flymen Fish Company. Smith has helped develop an entire line of flies tailored for the New River. These patterns also work well in other rivers, and even have applications in saltwater as well. To get a closer look at the patterns Smith helped create, go to flymenfishcompany.org. For more information on lodging options and fishing the New River for multiple species of fish, contact Britt Stoudenmire at New River Outdoor Company (newriveroutdoorcompany.com). • Beau Beasley (beaubeasley.com) is an awardwinning conservation writer and the author of Fly Fishing Virginia, and Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic. He writes for Blue Ridge Outdoors when he isn’t chasing fish with a fly rod.
Learn to Fly Fish
The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival (vaflyfishingfestival.org) is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the Mid-Atlantic and is held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, Va. each April. This fly fishing extravaganza places a heavy emphasis on instruction and hires some of the best fly fishing instructors in the country like Lefty Kreh, the father of modern fly fishing. While veteran fly anglers flock to this event, newbies are welcomed with multiple classes designed expressly for beginners. Classes geared for female anglers are also available. If the fly fishing instruction isn’t enough to reel in your favorite partner, he or she might enjoy tagging along for the free wine tasting, which is part of the festival.
tight lines • Spring Fly Fishing Guide •
Your guide to the best outfitters and fishing destinations in the Blue Ridge.
• Lewis County - Mountain Lakes CVB • Tenkara USA - Mossy Creek Fly Fishing • Waynesboro One Fly • City of Waynesboro • Bath County • Albemarle Angler • Alleghany Highlands • Nelson County • Lexington • Botetourt • Tangent Outfitters - Pembroke • Giles County • Bedford • Tangent Outfitters - Radford • Montgomery • Smith Mountain Lake • Clinch River • Blue Ridge Highlands - Wytheville • Blue Ridge Highlands - Smyth • Abingdon • Martinsville • Mecklenburg
With the sun rising earlier each day, and frost becoming dew, spring is most definitely on its way. While it may still be a little early for paddling trips and whitewater, there’s one water sport that’s ripe for the taking - Fly • Tenkara USA - River’s Edge Outfitters Fishing in the Blue Ridge. Whether you’re • Curtis Wright Outfitters - Weaverville • Curtis Wright Outfitters - Asheville bushwhacking to a secret spot, or hooking • Hunter Banks - Asheville • Cherokee • Tenkara USA - Davidson River Outfitters up with a guide service on an unfamiliar • Jackson Co • Hunter Banks - Waynesville • Tenkara USA - Headwaters Outfitters • Brookings Outfitters stream, our semi- annual Fly Fishing Guide showcases the best companies, outfitters • Tenkara USA - Butternut Creek Outfitters and destinations for a memorable fishing experience this spring and summer.
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lexington, va With over 58,000 acres of National Forest and over 20,000 acres of statemanaged land, Lexington, Buena Vista and the Rockbridge County area offers numerous outdoor recreational activities. The mighty James and Maury Rivers provide a wide variety of opportunities including tubing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and fishing. Both offer public access points for canoes and boats, and the chance to catch citation smallmouth. Cold-water rainbow and brook trout are also abundant for anglers in area waters. Buffalo Creek is a trophy trout stream within 10 minutes of Lexington. Boulder strewn and fast flowing, the Maury River and Mill Creek are put-n-take streams stocked eight times yearly by the
John Roberts Fly Fishing
PICTURE YOURSELF landing the catch. Fishing adventures in Lexington are as big as “the one that got away.” Cast into the silence of a still lake, hike to a pristine mountain stream surrounded by wild rhododendron or launch on the mighty Maury River. Cold and warm water species abound for novice and seasoned angles alike. Take your weekend to new depths in Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County – a Fish Virginia First premier destination.
For your free travel guide call toll-free, 877-453-9822 or visit lexingtonvirginia.com/fishing.
state of Virginia; Irish Creek and the South River are stocked five times. Warmwater species such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, catfish, sunfish and other panfish may be found in the Maury and James Rivers as well as Lake Robertson, a 30-acre impoundment which has yielded largemouths over 10 pounds. Native streams lined with wild rhododendron, premium wildlife viewing and wildflower study are always guaranteed bonuses when visiting Rockbridge County fishing waters. Boat rental and camping are also available, located minutes from North Mountain with amazing views of Rockbridge County from rock outcroppings.
waynesboro, va With the South River flowing right through town, Waynesboro boasts one of only two urban fisheries in Virginia. Winding through the scenic Shenandoah Valley, the river has become a well-known angler favorite—one of the reasons it is home to the Commonwealth’s popular annual Fly Fishing Festival. When casting on the South’s Waynesboro stretch, anglers have ample opportunities to hook smallmouth bass, rock bass, and redbreast sunfish. At Ridgeview Park—an 85-acre idyllic escape with plenty of amenities for the whole family—fishing enthusiasts can catch rainbow and brown trout, bass, and bluegill from a handicapped accessible pier. For a longer adventure, float fishing trips are offered from Constitution Park, where anglers can meander 25 miles to Port Republic and along the way reel in both smallmouth and largemouth bass, rock bass, sunfish, trout, and carp. The 14th annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will take place on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro on April 12-13. The yearly event always features plenty of activities for anglers of all abilities—from seasoned veterans to novices just getting started. Festival attendees can visit over 50 onsite exhibitors and learn from experts during a range of workshops that cover everything from casting mechanics and fly tying to insider info on various fishing destinations from around the Mid-Atlantic to Alaska. There will also be demonstrations on the river in Tenkara, kayak fishing, and much more.
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botetourt county, va The mighty James River begins its majestic journey in Botetourt County, winding through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. The unspoiled beauty of the river is more accessible than ever through the Upper James River Water Trail. If you’re the adventurous
What’s Your Bot-e-Type?
type, visit the trail this spring and find some of the area’s finest canoeing, kayaking and freshwater fishing. Experienced outfitters and guides are available to assist with all of your paddling and fishing needs. An angler favorite is the spot where the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers converge in northern Botetourt to form the James. These headwaters provide some of the finest canoeing and freshwater fishing available in Virginia. A 14mile stretch of the James between Eagle Rock and Springwood is the only part of the river that has been designated a Virginia Scenic River. Whether staying overnight, through the weekend or for a longer excursion, Botetourt offers a variety of accommodations from cabins and cottages, to hotels and B&Bs. Plan your trip at www.upperjamesriverwatertrail.com.
montgomery county, va The New River is the hot spot for fishing in Montgomery County. Designated as a State Scenic River, the New is the second oldest river in the world, with only the Nile being older. Another unique feature is that the New is one of the few that flows northward. Many say the historic river holds the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. Additional angling opportunities can be found in Craig Creek, which flows into the upper James River. The stream is stocked by the state with feisty rainbow, brook, and brown trout from an area hatchery and is best enjoyed in late fall and winter when water levels are higher. More trout can be found in Poverty Creek, which threads its way southwest through the mountain pass of Brush and Gap Mountains to the New. For a leisurely afternoon of casting, try Pandapas Pond, an 8-acre lake that sits at 2,200 feet in the Jefferson National Forest—easy to reach off US 460.
Whether you’re a paddler, angler or looking to get back to nature, find your “Bot-e-Type” along the Upper James River Water Trail of Botetourt County. www.upperjamesriverwatertrail.com
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Fish Blue the
18 Popular Fishing Destinations in Southwest Virginia
A guide to 18 popular fishing destinations in a four county area of Southwest Virginia (Washington, Smyth, Grayson, Wythe) including lakes, rivers, creeks and runs.
blue ridge highlands fishing trail The Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail connects the best fishing waters in Virginia. Along the trail you’ll find some of the best angling opportunities in the state such as Whitetop Laurel Creek, one of Virginia’s largest and most beautiful trout streams. In Wythe and Grayson counties you’ll find the New River, a top 5 smallmouth bass fishery. The South Fork of the Holston River in Smyth County features two special regulation areas that help make the stream one of the premier trout fisheries in the Commonwealth. There are two fee fishing areas along the trail: the Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing area and the stocked trout waters along Cripple Creek, which offer regularly stocked trout fishing throughout the season. If lake fishing is more your style, the South Holston Lake is a 7,580-acre impoundment operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The portion of the reservoir in Washington County, Virginia portion, offers anglers more than 1,600 surface acres of water. Another option is Hungry Mother Lake, located within Hungry Mother State Park, which is a peaceful place to spend an afternoon or weekend with plenty of amenities that make it a great family destination. Order a free guide to the Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail
For more information, visit the fishblueridge.com or contact one of the visitor information offices listed below.
Smyth County (877) 255-9928 www.visitvirginiamountains.com FishBlueRidge2-13-14.indd 1
(877) 347-8307 www.VisitWytheville.com
2/14/14 9:39 AM
martinsville, va The Smith River, located in Martinsville-Henry County, Virginia, is known for its native brown trout fishery. Fly fishermen enjoy casting to these trout year-round in the tailwaters of Philpott Lake, which keeps the water cool and the fish active. In addition to native fish found there, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stocks portions of the river with rainbow trout as part of their put-and-take-program. From Philpott Lake, the Smith River travels 44.5 miles on its way across Henry County before entering North Carolina. The river’s character is constantly changing all the way, so no matter your fishing style, there’s a place for you to enjoy. On the river, you can explore some incredible scenic beauty, magnificent rock outcrops and Native American fish weirs dating back to the 1300’s. “An Insider’s Guide to the Smith River,” a waterproof map book detailing features of the river, can be purchased at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center (54 West Church Street, Martinsville) or online at VisitMartinsville.com. After a day of fishing, you can explore the arts and cultural scene of MartinsvilleHenry County, which features eight museums and galleries, artists’ studios, live music and theatrical performances. You’ll love the pace in MartinsvilleHenry County!
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abingdon, va The fisheries near Abingdon in Southwest Virginia offer some of the best fly fishing opportunities in the South. The guiding waters include high country first order creeks for wild brookies, browns and rainbows in medium size mountain and foothill streams and the Holston and Watauga TVA tail waters in nearby Northeast Tennessee. Anglers of all types enjoy trolling to Washington County on a year-round
ruc rtesy of B Photo cou
basis, but from early spring through late summer, the focus is on fly-fishing.
Specific sites that are best for fly-fishing fanatics are Big Tumbling Creek, Green Cove, Hidden Valley Lake, Holston River, Taylor’s Valley and Whitetop Laurel Creek. The latter is, perhaps, the area’s best-known spot for the sport of fly fishing, with the most active months occurring from late March through most of June. The creek is not only famous for its healthy stocks of fish, but also for its peaceful and serene setting. All of these fishing spots are especially ideal for good catches of brook, brown and rainbow trout, and several other species. For more information on fishing in the Washington County/Abingdon area, you can visit www.fishvirginiafirst.com.
The curtain rises on another day
in historic Abingdon.
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bArter theAtre. Catch a trout in a clear
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bedford, va Bedford is a land where majestic mountain peaks stoop to drink from reflective waters of a vast highland lake and circling hawks patrol ancient forests as they’ve done since the beginning of time. It’s also a fisherman’s paradise. From casting for the beautiful trout and bass that lurk in its rivers and streams to experiencing the thrill of landing a citation stripper at Smith Mountain Lake, the fishing is unsurpassed. Chosen by B.A.S.S., LLC and ESPN, the lake has been host to the BASSMASTERS Elite series event, the Blue Ridge Brawl, which attracts anglers from around the world. The James River and numerous other streams and lakes offer a wide range of angling opportunities and settings. Largemouth bass, trout, catfish, sunfish and strippers provide a challenge to anglers from novice to professional. And Bedford is a place that offers unlimited appeal to visitors of all ages and interests. From arts, antiquing, and family attractions, to mountain biking, backpacking, and fishing on a mountain lake or a mountain stream, Bedford truly has something for everyone. Come for the fishing and get hooked on Bedford.
The National D-Day Memorial Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Blue Ridge Parkway-Peaks of Otter Smith Mountain Lake & State Park The Bedford Wine Trail & Historic Centertown Over 25 Hiking, Biking & Other Trails... And Much More! www.VisitBedford.com . 1-877-447-3257
4.5"w x 5.75"h.
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mecklenburg county, va Set in the rural countryside of southern Virginia, Mecklenburg County holds
to pull large mouth bass striper, walleye and crappie. The lake also boasts a
an idyllic landscape highlighted by 70,000 acres of water and 1,200 miles
world record catch for the largest blue catfish at 143 pounds. It was also voted
of shoreline to explore. Anglers covet the area for the abundance of fishing
the best lake in North America for catching giant crappie by In Fisherman
opportunities in Kerr Lake (best known to locals as Buggs Island Lake), as well
as Lake Gaston and the lesser-known gem Lake Gordon.
“Our fish population has become quite diverse,” adds Miley. “With so much to
Kayak fishing has become extremely popular in Mecklenburg County. Anglers put-in at Kerr Dam at Tailrace Park from the handicap accessible
catch, it’s starting to bring a lot of visitors to the area.” A popular spot for paddling and fly fishing is the Meherrin River, which was
boat launch opened through the efforts of Upper Reach Roanoke River Basin
recently designated a National Scenic Waterway, where anglers can pull small
Association, a local nonprofit dedicated to creating recreation opportunities in
mouth bass and the occasional trout.
During fishing trips the county has a variety of accommodations, including
“We’re trying to bring kayaking and outdoor recreation to the community,” says Upper Reach member Doug Miley, who’s also a local fishing guide with Frog Hollow Outpost.
hotels, cabin rentals, and an abundance of lakeside camping options. For more information on fishing and outdoor recreation in Mecklenburg County visit VisitMeckVAva.com . Another valuable resource is the Upper
In nationally known Kerr Lake, Virginia’s largest with 50,000 acres of fresh water and over 800 miles of shoreline, anglers will find plenty of opportunities
Reach website (upperreach.org), which offers interactive maps that cover the area waterways.
Kerr Lake • Lake Gaston | Boydton • Chase City • Clarksville • La Crosse • South Hill
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nelson county, va
fish. nelson style. Nelson County offers a variety of fishing opportunities. With two scenic rivers running through the scenic countryside, it’s an ideal location to visit if you are seeking solitude among the bounty of beauty in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors can cast in the idyllic Tye River with the echoes of the famous Crabtree Falls cascading in the forested backdrop. Anglers can also pull smallmouth bass out of the Rockfish River—a vibrant tributary of the mighty James River. In addition to the county’s two rivers, fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of fish in Lake Nelson, a 40-acre impoundment managed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. With opportunities for a range of anglers from beginners to experts, Lake Nelson holds chances to catch largemouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish. After a day on the water visit the county’s hard cidery or one of many wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries.
nelson county VIRGINIA
Nelson County Visitors Center nelsoncounty.com 434.263.7015
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alleghany highlands blueway The Alleghany Highlands Blueway is comprised of two lakes and two scenic rivers that offer great paddling, fishing and boating opportunities. Jackson River: The jewel of Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, the wild and
Douthat Lake: Not only is Douthat State Park one of Virginia’s oldest state parks, it’s one of its finest. The Outside Family Vacation Guide named Douthat State Park one of the nation’s 10 best. Its contribution to the Alleghany
scenic Jackson River enters the Alleghany Highlands from Gathright Dam on
Highlands Blueway is Douthat Lake, a 50-acre lake with swimming, boating and
Lake Moomaw. Nearly 30 miles of the Jackson River wind through the Alleghany
seasonal trout fishing.
Highlands, with two small segments closed to the public due to private property
Lake Moomaw: Lake Moomaw is the northern most portion of the Alleghany
and logging operations. The Jackson meets the Cowpasture River near the town
Highlands Blueway. The lake, which is shared by the Alleghany Highlands and
of Iron Gate to form the headwaters of the James River, which flows all the
the County of Bath, has 43 miles of undeveloped, wooded shoreline just perfect
way to the Chesapeake Bay. Several small streams that feed into the Jackson
for exploring by canoe or kayak yet large enough for sailing and motorboats.
River, including Dunlap Creek and Potts Creek, also offer excellent fishing
Add in beautiful campsites and world-class fishing and you’ve got a perfect
Cowpasture River: Approximately 10 miles of the Cowpasture River flows
The Alleghany Highlands is located in the western part of the
through the eastern portion of the Alleghany Highlands. Paddling on the
Commonwealth of Virginia along the border of West Virginia. The Alleghany
Cowpasture is mostly moving water with a few easy straight forward rapids
Highlands is about a one hour drive from Roanoke and approximately three
with great views of the surrounding mountains. Near Iron Gate, the Cowpasture
hours from Richmond, Washington, DC, and Charleston, WV. Visit
meets the Jackson River to form the James River, which flows through
www.alleghanyhighlandsblueway.com for more information.
neighboring Botetourt and Rockbridge counties on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.
When you’re ready to get outside, we have some insider advice for you. We have great hiking, biking and horseback riding on over 100 miles of trails, including the Jackson River Scenic Trail. We also have paddling, tubing and, oh yes, world-class fishing on the rivers and lakes of the Alleghany Highlands Blueway. Call or log on and we’ll send you a free trail guide and blueway brochure. It’s uniquely Alleghany.
www.visitalleghanyhighlands.com 540-962-2178 · 888-430-5786 Like us on
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bath county, va
TAKE FLYING LESSONS Bath County is an enticing place
Nestled in the Virginia’s Western Highlands, the County of Bath is a nature
filled with scenic vistas, local flair and exciting adventures just waiting to be discovered.
lover’s paradise. Home to the George Washington National Forest, Douthat State Park, Lake Moomaw, Dominion Back Creek Recreational Area, the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers the area offers stunning vistas, clear, cold streams and a wide range of recreational opportunities. You can hike or bike the mountainous terrain and fish in the many lakes and rivers scattered throughout the community. The vast woodlands are filled with white tail deer, wild turkey, black bear and many other game animals. Known for our fly-fishing the streams and most lakes are stocked with brown, brook and rainbow trout. Anglers also catch large and small mouth bass,
Find Someing Remarkae
bluegill, crappies, catfish and more. A community of villages, Bath County is a place where you can unwind and reconnect with nature. Take a gentle journey on the back roads of time to enjoy the scenery. The soothing mineral waters that flow from the natural springs that have attracted visitors for over 200 years, even luminaries like Thomas Jefferson and Mrs. Robert E. Lee. In addition to the many outdoor activities, high culture meets the mountains in Bath County. We have art, antique and craft galleries, outstanding concerts and unique dining options.
Fly Fishing in Bath
the clinch river in the heart of appalachia The Clinch River meanders through mountain communities of Southwest Virginia offering more than 100 miles of fishing opportunity—afloat, from a tree-lined bank, or midstream on a quiet morning. Native species include the spotted bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, and sauger. In fact, the Clinch and its tributaries are the sauger’s only Virginia waters. Others include the largemouth bass, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, longear and bluegill sunfish, channel and flathead catfish, as well as musky, black crappie and freshwater drum. The Clinch has taken on the moniker “Virginia’s hidden river.” It’s not as well known as the James and the New, but that’s a good thing for the savvy angler. The region is working to care for one of North America’s most biodiverse rivers, while showing it off. Outfitters are setting up in welcoming communities from Tazewell to Dungannon. And the friendly people here might just tip you off to their favorite place to fish. And around here, they like a festival. Bring the family and time your trip to take advantage of one of the many community celebrations along the Clinch. There are whole weekends full of events and a host of other outdoor activities to combine with your visit to make this a family getaway.
visitclinchriver.com • heartofappalachia.com
Virginia’s Hidden River. In Southwest Virginia, there runs a hidden river, surrounded by the richest and most diverse collection of life in all of North America, undammed, and with 100 species of fish. This is the Clinch, and it is the heart and soul of the place we call home.
Come discover the Clinch,Virginia’s hidden river, and let your journey begin. visitclinchriver.com heartofappalachia.com 276-762-0011
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waynesboro one fly
The Waynesboro One Fly is a fly fishing tournament for teams of two anglers. Each contestant competes using a single fly that follows tournament guidelines. Participants will fish a three-hour session on an assigned beat with one fly of their choosing. The winning team will receive a prize-package worth over $1000. Spectators may watch the tournament action for free and enjoy strolling along the Waynesboro Greenway Trail. In conjunction with the event hundreds of additional 14”-20” rainbow trout will be added to VDGIF stockings of the South River Delayed Harvest area. These trout, funded by angler donations and another grant from Waynesboro Tourism, promise to make Waynesboro a preeminent regional destination for fly fishing. For more information contact South River Fly Shop (540-649-1915) or visit our website.
Anglers and adventurers planning a trip to the scenic waters of the New River Valley can visit Tangent Outfitters in Pembroke, Va., for all of their gear needs. As the area’s only fully stocked fly shop, Tangent is located just a quarter-mile from premiere fishing waters with opportunities to cast for trout, bass and musky. With a staff of experienced guides and more than 100 miles of fishing access on the magnificent New and adjoining creeks, Tangent also leads a range of trips of varying length for anglers of all abilities. The full-service outfitter also rents canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Biking enthusiasts will also find Specialized rentals and shuttle access to the New River Trail.
April 26, 2014 A fly fishing tournament between teams of two anglers.
Prizes from Echo Fly Fishing, G. Loomis and others! Supplemental Stocking of South River DH 14”-20” Rainbows: February- May 2014
www.flyfishwaynesboro.com • Waynesboro, VA
smith mountain lake, va
TANGENT OUTFITTERS & Cascade cafe The only fly shop in the New River Valley. Local Flies. Local knowledge. A great place to start your trip in the NRV. Trout, smallmouth bass and musky in a small/local geographic area. Experienced guides on the New River since 1993 tangentoutfitters.com 540-626-4567
M A G A Z I N E
Making your plans for a short getaway or extended vacation? Consider Smith Mountain Lake It’s closer than you think! A short drive from Roanoke, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount and even Greensboro, this incredible travel destination has just what you are looking for; for every age, stage and interest. Anglers of all skill levels can drop a line at one of the public fishing ramps or get out on the lake by boat; marinas and boat rentals are abundant. Fishing turns to ‘Catching’ with one of the many professional fishing guides who know where the fish are and what it takes to haul them in. There’s a great variety of Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Muskie, and Citation Striped Bass galore in this fisherman’s paradise.
500 miles of glistening shoreline nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Year-round appeal. History & Wine anytime. Fish. Boat. Golf. Dine. Shop. For a FREE Visitor’s Guide: visitsmithmountainlake.com or 540.721.1203.
SUBMIT YOUR FISHING PHOTOS TO INSTAGRAM! #BROTightLines. Most likes gets a BRO t-shirt.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Greenough
Waynesboro One Fly
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giles county, va The New River in Giles County boasts 37 miles of some of the best fly-fishing waters in Virginia for those that like to chase warm water species. Routinely ranked the top smallmouth and musky fishery in the state, the New River is a year-round trophy fishery. The winter months boast some of the hottest musky fishing in the South, and muskies can be a sucker for a well-presented fly. Smallmouth also bite year round, but the summer months bring out the bugs and the top water fly rod bite. If you’ve never had a wily New River brown bass tug on your 8-wt, you are missing out. And even if the fish aren’t biting, the New River is worth a float trip with some of the most beautiful cliffs and bluffs towering over a river east of the Mississippi. If smallmouth and musky aren’t enough, Giles County features both stocked and native trout streams with Big Stony Creek, Little Stony Creek, Sinking Creek, Dismal Creek, Wolf Creek, and Mill Creek being a few of the more popular ones. So grab your fly rod and come visit the rivers, creeks, and streams of Giles County where fly fishing and the outdoors go hand in hand. –Britt Stoudenmire
mountain lakes of lewis county, w.va.
Lewis County’s most incredible assets are the numerous lakes and lush green mountains of this gorgeous West Virginia landscape. A careful balance of preservation and allocation has resulted in a wide range of outdoor experiences for adventure enthusiasts to enjoy. Beautifully unique, the forested mountainsides and peaceful lake waters invite hiking and biking, camping, fishing and hunting, boating and golfing
at every level. From sparkling sunrises, to warm sunsets and night skies illuminated by stars rather than city lights, there really are few places on earth as lovely as Lewis County’s Mountain Lakes. Oak, maple, birch, pine and various fruit trees populate the forests and provide homes for numerous animals. Common wildlife includes whitetail deer, squirrel, rabbit and hundreds of fowl species. Trout, muskie, bass and catfish populate the area’s lakes and streams, including Stonewall Jackson Lake. Watercraft rentals and knowledgeable
Beautifully unique, the forested mountainsides and peaceful lake waters invite hiking and biking, camping, fishing and hunting, boating and golfing at every level. From sparkling sunrises, to warm sunsets and night skies illuminated by stars rather than city lights, there really are few places on earth as lovely as Lewis County’s Mountain Lakes.
professionals throughout the area will assist you to ensure a one-of-a-kind water adventure. Whether you want to fish, swim or simply enjoy the land from atop the water, you will find the right fit in Lewis County.
U R ISM.CO
More exciting than a city zoo and more thrilling than an amusement park, a vacation or meeting in the great outdoors of the Mountain Lakes is something everyone should experience.
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Tenkara USA Tenkara is the method of fly-fishing in which only a rod, line and fly are used.
While the beauty of tenkara fly fishing lies in its simplicity, its portability
The reel is obsolete, unnecessary. A fixed length of line attaches to the tip of
and speedy setup are equally as appealing to the outdoors enthusiast. Tenkara
the tenkara rod, and you cast the fly to that pocket where the fish may be. Fly-
rods are telescopic and an 11ft rod packs down to a mere 20 inches case.
fishing is simple and we want to show you how simple it can be.
Along with a spool of line, tippet and some flies, all you need for fly-fishing fits
The simplicity of tenkara, a Japanese method of fly-fishing, has attracted the
easily in a pack. Tenkara anglers take their rods on backpacking trips, climbing
attention of those wanting a simpler way to fly-fish. Tenkara is a method that
adventures, mountain bike rides or casual hikes. You never know when you
is minimalist by nature but also happens to be the most effective way to fish
might find a stream that youâ€™d like to fish.
The vision of Tenkara USA is to introduce tenkara outside of Japan and make
Tenkara is not just about the absence of a reel; it shows us a different
fly-fishing part of your outdoor pursuits. Founder Daniel Galhardo has spent
approach to the sport. With few elements between you and the fish, tenkara
months in Japan learning tenkara directly from the masters in Japan to ensure
can be interpreted as a philosophy that takes fly-fishing down to its most
that Tenkara USA products and content are of the highest quality and remain
fundamental level. With less gear there is more freedom to travel farther and
true to the roots of tenkara.
add tenkara to other outdoor pursuits.
Tenkara USA is the first company to introduce tenkara outside of Japan
After discovering tenkara in Japan, Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo
Since 2009. We make a full line of rods, lines, and flies to get you started. Check
recognized tenkara as a perfect tool for mountain fishing and backpacking
out our website for more information on tenkara equipment and how tenkara
anywhere. Over the past few years heâ€™s worked to introduce the simplicity and
can fit in with your next adventure: www.tenkarausa.com
portability of tenkara to anyone interested in fly-fishing.
tenkarausa.com â€˘ 888.483.6527
All you need is a rod, line and fly
14th Annual April 12-13, 2014
2014 SPEAKERS Matt Supinski • Lefty Kreh • Fishy Fullum • Beau Beasley • Ed Jaworowski Wanda Taylor • Tracey Stroup • Blane Chocklett Tom Gilmore • Cory Routh & Others! *NEW for 2014 • Extensive Celebrity Fly Tyers Section • Advanced Specialty Classes • Beginner Fly Tying & Casting Classes
Advance tickets, merchandise sales, fly fishing class registrations & program information:
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hunter banks Fly fishing in the Southeast is like nothing else in the country, thanks to the unmatched diversity of species available in the region. You can wet a line for
these anglers. We at Hunter Banks understand that a fly rod is not a single purpose piece of
native brook trout in the small streams high in the mountains or huge brown
equipment and we pride ourselves on providing our customers with versatile
trout in abundant tailwater rivers. Warm water species like bass and carp are
options that can be used on a variety of water. We have the largest selection of
prevalent throughout the South, and the elusive musky draws anglers from
technical fly fishing gear in the area, and we carry almost every major brand of
around the country to try their hand at the “fish of 10,000 casts.” Along the
fly rods, reels, and lines.
coast, saltwater species like redfish, bonefish, and tarpon roam the flats and
Once you have rod in hand, our highly skilled fly fishing instructors will have
backwater marshes. Virtually any type of fly fishing you prefer and any species
you casting like a professional in no time. We provide top-notch instruction on
you target can be found in the Southeast, fueling a fishing community as unique
casting, fly selection, knots, and reading the water. Our fly fishing guides are
and diverse as the waters they fish.
well seasoned and will put you on fish, whether wading legendary rivers like the
Hunter Banks Company has been serving the Southeast fly fishing
Davidson and North Mills or floating larger rivers such as Tuckaseegee, South
community since 1985. Every year we bring you the Fly Fishing Film Tour
Holston, or Watauga. Our well-traveled staff will also help you arrange your
and the International Fly Fishing Film Festival, along with fly tying clinics with
next fly fishing adventure, or develop your own, to fishing destinations such
innovative fly fishing professionals. Some are calling the Southeast the new
as Jupiter, FL, Charleston, SC or abroad to Argentina or the Bahamas. Stop by
West when it comes to fly fishing due not only to the diversity of the fishing, but
either of our stores, located in Asheville and Waynesville, and see for yourself
the energy of the fly fishing community in general and we are proud to support
why Hunter Banks is the premiere fly shop in western North Carolina.
hunterbanks.com • 828.252.3005 • 800.227.6732
Photo credit: Steve Seinberg
Fly fishing the South since 1985. Asheville & Waynesville NC 828-252-3005 | HunterBanks.com
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curtis wright outfitters
Sourwood Inn is perched at an elevation of 3,200 feet in one the most popular Locally owned Curtis Wright Outfitters has been proudly serving anglers
areas of Western North Carolina. The idyllic inn is located two miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway and 10 miles from downtown Asheville. The retreat
in the Southern Appalachians for a decade. Friends Jeff Curtis and Carlton
allows guests to enjoy the area’s outdoor opportunities and still easily access
Wright Murrey shared a longtime dream to open a fly shop in the mountains of
Asheville’s arts and entertainment.
Western North Carolina. It became a reality in April 2003 with the opening of
Guest rooms feature a wood-burning fireplace, private balcony, and a tub with a view. The primarily Arts and Crafts design affords the shared guest
the duo’s first location in Weaverville and expanded with their second shop in Asheville three years later. The shops offer anglers the essential fly fishing gear and accessories from
spaces to be both spacious and private. A well-stocked library paired with a rocker-filled porch makes for a relaxing afternoon, and when you feel like
companies such as Simms, Sage, Scott, Ross, Fishpond, and Umpqua. The
stretching your legs there are two miles of walking trails on the property with
shops’ product mix has been expanded to include outdoor apparel from
many more miles of hiking and biking nearby. Partnering with Curtis Wright
Columbia, Patagonia, ExOfficio, and Royal Robbins. Curtis Wright Outfitters has
Outfitters enables the Inn to offer guests guided fly fishing trips in the area.
some of the best guides in Western North Carolina. They offer full and half-day
And now guests can experience falconry right on the property. Join Jeff and
trips fishing for trout and small mouth bass. Partnering with Sourwood Inn has
Rocket Girl for an unforgettable flight.
enabled them to offer comfortable mountain lodging and fly fishing packages.
Visitors start the day with a yummy breakfast that is served daily, and Chef
The latest addition to their guide service is Falconry. There is nothing like
Kacia Stuart prepares delicious seasonal and contemporary regional dinners
handling and flying a bird of prey and seeing these magnificent creatures up
Thursdays through Sunday evenings. Sourwood Inn was opened in 1998 by
close. Curtis Wright Outfitters has created a friendly shop atmosphere where
local residents, Nat and Anne Burkhardt, along with their daughter and son
folks enjoy visiting and sharing their fishing stories. Stop in and say hello to Jeff
in law, Jeff and Susan Curtis. They, along with the friendly and loyal staff, look
and Carlton. They’ll be happy to help you find the perfect place to cast.
forward to helping you plan your visit.
Mountain Lodging on 100 Wooded Acres Located 2 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway and 10 miles from Downtown Asheville. All 12 rooms have wood burning fireplaces, private balconies and tubs with a view. SourwoodInn.com • 828.255.0690
Full and Half Day Trips • Wade and Float Trips • Trout and Small Mouth Bass • Friendly and Professional Guides • Two Full Service Fly Shops - Asheville and Weaverville • Falconry Experience •
Sourwood Inn & Curtis Wright Outfitters offer Fly Fishing Packages - check out our websites for details.
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brookings anglers For most anglers, fly fishing is more than just catching fish, and that is no different at Brookings. Although catching fish rarely takes a backseat, we pride ourselves on the long lasting relationships we have made through fly fishing, and the places they have taken us. Founded in Cashiers in the mid 1980’s, Brookings has been a staple of the western North Carolina fly fishing community and has been a hub for anglers who enjoy fishing some of our incredible local waters. The western corner of North Carolina boasts some of the east coast’s best fly fishing on waters that range from high elevation trickles, to roaring tailwaters. Brookings clients and guides can regularly be found on the Nantahala, Tuckasegee, Chattooga, French Broad, and Davidson Rivers, as well as countless other small streams in Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests and also Panthertown Valley. With our beautiful full service fly shop and guide service conveniently located at the intersection of highway 107 and highway 64 in the quaint town of Cashiers, we are never too far from water and are just a jump away from upstate South Carolina, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Birmingham. When it comes to exceptional fishing, outstanding guides, beautiful scenery, and convenient location, look no further than Brookings Cashiers Village Anglers in Cashiers, N.C. We look forward to seeing you in the shop and out on the water.
scenic tailwaters, private water for trophy trout, and intense summer-time smallmouth bass trips.
828-743-3768 | firstname.lastname@example.org | BrookingsOnline.com
M A G A Z I N E
Lodging Fly Fishing Guide Trips Angling Equipment Cigars Apparel Guides for first-time to experienced Books anglers -and everyone in between. DVDs Destinations include high elevation mountain streams,
Brooking’s is licensed to guide in Nantahala and Pigsah National Forests as well as Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
jackson county, nc Save the Date! The Southeastern Fly Fishing Festival is May 16 – 17. The festival (www.southeastfff.org) returns to Jackson County for the second year. The festival will feature equipment manufacturers, fly-demonstrations, a casting area and surprises for anglers of ages. Whether an angler goes to the festival first or goes straight to the water, they’ll find plenty to love in Jackson County along the WNC Fly Fishing Trail. The trail includes some of the best trout waters in the Smokies, as well as the Raven Fork’s Trophy Trout Water in Cherokee. Call today, or visit the website, www.FlyFishingTrail.com, for a free water-resistant map to 15 prime spots to fish in Jackson County.
flyfishingtrail.com A map to 15 prime fishing spots and trophy trout water!
SUBMIT YOUR FISHING PHOTOS TO INSTAGRAM! #BROTightLines. Most likes gets a BRO t-shirt.
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cherokee, nc In Cherokee, NC, the waters run pure from ancient sources, and the fish are
to get excited
spring fishing is almost here.
freshly stocked and plentiful. Around you, the last wisps of morning fog cling to the nearby Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. But you’re not here for the fresh air and sunshine. You’ve come to fish the longest privately owned and stocked fishing waters, and the best east of the Mississippi. For the modern-day angler, the 30 miles of streams on Cherokee’s Qualla Boundary offer both food and fun for serious and amateur anglers. The Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program’s mission is to remember and respect ancient traditions while providing the most enjoyable fishing experience we can. Catch-and-keep and catch-and-release seasons are each part of a fishing season in Cherokee that lasts all year long, keeping you doing what you love. The tribe’s Enterprise Waters are legendary for large fish and a full-limit catch: limit is 10 fish per day, per permit. Cherokee is full of hidden, private fishing spots, one of which could easily become your secret fishing hole. Consider the Parkway Haven, a portion of Raven Fork set aside for catch-and-release fishing. This 2.2-mile stretch of water, which runs north from where the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses Raven Fork, offers deep, inviting pools alongside riffles, runs, and pocket waters. If you can’t find an ideal spot there, you just aren’t looking hard enough. We know the best hooks and lures for fish. And for fishermen. As proof positive, you’ll find the managed stocking and control of some of the most beautiful goldens, rainbows, browns, and other trout, along with an exciting blend of amateur fishing events and those for the competitive angler. Once you’ve easily purchased a fishing license from any of the many locations around Cherokee or at VisitCherokeeNC.com, you’re ready to compete. Or play. Just check the tournaments and dates below, and then join us in Cherokee. Cherokee’s Cast Into Spring Tournament March 28–30, 2014 $11 entry fee and $20,000 in tagged fish Cherokee’s Memorial Day Trout Tournament
Cast Into Spring Tournament
May 23–25, 2014 $11 entry fee and $10,000 in tagged fish Cherokee’s Dog Days Trout Tournament July 18–19, 2014 $11 entry fee and $10,000 in tagged fish The Qualla Country Trout Tournament
With $20,000 in tagged fish, you’ve got plenty of reason to register and join us. After all, everything’s a little livelier in spring, including Cherokee trout. It’s just an $11 entry fee—available everywhere Cherokee fishing permits are sold. Then all you have to do is register, catch trout, and redeem the tagged ones for cash at Artist Row on Hwy 441. Open to all ages.
September 5–7, 2014
FishCherokee.com • 828.497.6700
$11 entry fee and $20,000 in tagged fish Rumble in the Rhododendron November 7–9, 2014 This two-person team fly-fishing competition is held on 2.2 miles of trophy,
Spring is here and the fishing is hot. Take your game to the next level with these essentials. by JACK MURRAY 1. Orvis Silver Sonic Guide Wader
4. Kast Vapor Tech Top
When you want the best, use what the pros use. Orvis designed their Silver Sonic Guide Wader to stand up to the abuse of those who make their living on the water, making them 300% more abrasion resistant and 40% more puncture resistant than their other waders. The four-layer nylon construction is not only supremely durable, it also is supremely breathable, so you can spend an entire day on the water in comfort, just like the pros. $395; orvis.com
Springtime on the water means being ready for anything. Chilly mornings give way to warm afternoons, and then back to chilly evenings when the sun dips below the ridge. Keep your body temperature regulated with this piece that can be used as a moisture wicking, sun-protecting (30 SPF) base layer, or as a low-bulk mid-layer. The bamboo blend is soft to the touch, quick-drying, and anti-microbial so you can wear it all day and not have to worry about stinking up the bar afterwards. Your fish stories will do that for you. $49.99; kastgear.com
2. Howler Bros. Pescador Shirt Howler Bros. set out to create the perfect fishing shirt, and the Pescador pretty much nails it. Hidden vents, snazzy pearl snap buttons, and a straight cut bottom, make it equally at home on the drift boat, in the waders, or at the bar. The quick-drying polynylon blend with keep you cool, dry, and protected from the sun, and the relaxed fit will let you double haul all day without feeling restricted. $85; howlerbros.com
3. Smith Chief with ChromaPop Smith breaks visual ground again with their ChromaPop lens technology, which blocks light wave intersections, basically taking the guessing game away from your brain to reduce eye fatigue and producing true color. To put it a better way: it’s like your current polarized fishing sunglasses, except way, way better. When paired with the full coverage, lightweight Chief frame, there will be nowhere for fish to hide. $209; smithoptics.com
5. Redington Butter Stick Glass is not dead. Long the neglected younger brother of modern graphite, fiberglass is making a comeback as a rod material, and for good reason. With a slow action similar to classic bamboo rods, it performs well on a mountain creek when trying to land tiny flies in tiny water to spooky wild trout. The flex gives a delicate presentation while still having enough backbone to roll cast to the far bank. Plus, when you hook up, that 8-inch brookie will feel like a steelhead on the end of the Butter Stick. $250; redington.com
6. Montana Fly Company Aluminum 10-Compartment Fly Box From the aesthetics of the perfect cast, to the fur and feathers, the world of art and the world of fly fishing intersect both on and off the water in this fly box. No one has utilized this connection better than Montana Fly
Company with their reels and aluminum fly boxes featuring stunningly beautiful River Camo fish art. The box is made from rugged aluminum and features a classic 10-compartment design on one side and foam slits on the other. Pulling a piece of art out of your vest will always put a smile on your face, even when you are getting skunked. $40; montanafly.com
7. Fishpond Westwater Zippered Duffel The last gear bag you’ll ever need, this rugged duffel has enough space to fit everything you require for a day, or week, on the water. With double rod tube holders, removable backpack straps, heavy-duty lash points, and over 5,000 cubic inches of storage, Fishpond packed on the features. But at under three pounds, they also kept the weight down. This bag can be used for everything from international travel to backcountry camping trips, or even as a boat bag. $200; fishpondusa.com
8. Rio Trout Perception fly line When stalking finicky trout in clear water, you need all the help you can get, and Rio’s new premier fly line is here to lend a hand. Rio made their line from ultra-low stretch material, allowing for more touch when casting, more precise mends, and more sensitivity to subtle takes. The line also features a hydrophobic coating for better flotation and AgentX slickening formula for shooting line faster. The line also features three distinct color segments for precise distance casting at a glance. It all adds up to more fish in the net. $90; rioproducts.com MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
GRIZ Ronnie McCall
The Edward Abbey of the East stirs controversy hiking off-trail in the Smokies. by PETER BARR
e’ve had some words about hiking off-trail,” said David Landreth about his frequent run-ins with National Park Service rangers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “They say they don’t ‘sanction’ offtrail hiking. I hate that word. It means there’s no law against it, but they don’t want you to do it.” Off-trail explorer. Bushwhacker extraordinaire. Defender of wild places. Mentor and lightning rod. Few people in the southern Appalachians have so influentially spread their passion for the outdoors to others as has Landreth. And few have pissed off so many along the way. Landreth—or just “Dave” or “Griztrax” to his friends—makes no bones about his preference to explore the southern Appalachians without restriction. He’s spent more time crawling through rhododendron thickets and clinging to exposed rock faces than he ever has on maintained trails. And that’s how he prefers it. “I can see their point. They don’t want to
have to go in and rescue people.” But Dave’s understanding with the rangers goes only so far. He once vehemently defended his pastime to an NPS officer who criticized him for endangering himself and those that join his off-trail pursuits. “‘I think you have a right to go out and get killed if you want to,’ I said to the ranger. He didn’t really care too much for that.”
Off-Trail Junkie Not surprisingly, Dave has become an unofficial target of Smokies rangers. He’ll find them waiting next to his car—recognizable by its “GRIZTRAX” vanity tag—at trailheads. He endures their interrogations about his most recent excursion while they admonish him for what they perceive as recklessness. Griztrax likens off-trail hiking in the Smokies to a drug. The exhilaration he receives from swimming through a laurel thicket or diving face first into saw briars intoxicates him. Wilderness is at the source of his addiction. His insatiable
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lust for wandering Yellowstone’s grizzly country— while hauling plaster into the backcountry to make molds of bear tracks (he has over 300)— garnered him his trail name. “You get something out of grizzly country like nothing else in life. You wake up in the morning, see the sun shining, and realize you made it through the night…nothing compares to that feeling.” Landreth gets a similar fix from off-trail hiking in the Smokies. He’s a veteran of some of its most classic bushwhacks, logging dozens of offtrail ascents up The Chimneys, Charlies Bunion, The Jumpoff, Anakeesta Ridge, and countless creeks, slides, and ridges of venerable Mt. LeConte. Many of Dave’s Smokies off-trail climbs have become legend. Seeking out the most remote summits and narrowest ridgelines, Landreth and his gang of bushwhacking companions have stepped foot where few humans—if any— have before. With that in mind, Dave bestows
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enticing—or chilling—monikers to some of his most memorable destinations, including No Name Ridge, Devil’s Elbow, Picnic Ridge, and the especially reassuring Suicide Slide. In recent years, Landreth developed a particular infatuation with Mt. LeConte’s infamous south face, renowned for its remoteness and a treacherous exposure, known as Huggins Hell. “I’m addicted to that place. I’ve probably done about 40 different routes to the top.”
A mentor to many I first corresponded with Dave a decade ago. He hosted an online forum, Wild Country, composed of an underground group of Smokies off-trail hikers. A backpacking trip in the Smokies—my first ever exposure to backcountry—had me devouring literature detailing classic Smokies treks. Accounts of adventures into the Park’s most inaccessible terrain had me chomping at the bit to explore it for myself. My naïve enthusiasm to want to first explore the most dangerous corners of the Smokies
before completing on-trail hikes was met with distaste and distrust from those on the forum. I endured enough heckling from the group to nearly lose my growing fervor for exploring the Smokies—that was, until Dave jumped to my defense. “Hey, don’t let the naysayers trip you up,” he wrote to me in 2004. ”Some folks try to discourage anyone who pushes the limits outdoors, or that hikes in a way that doesn’t fit their mold. I’ve never went in for the—what seems to be popular—belief that there is a ‘right’ way to hike or backpack.” Dave’s compassion for my newfound interest in outdoor adventure boosted my confidence at a time when others were telling me I wasn’t ready for the adventures that lured me. Shortly thereafter, I joined Dave for my first-ever off-trail bushwhack. We ascended the Porters Creek Manway to what Dave referred to as “The Wall”—a ridiculously steep headwall that forms the main Smokies divide. As I clung to a near vertical slope with little to hold onto and nothing to
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stop a fall, I put faith in Dave’s trust in my own ability to complete the climb. We crested the Smokies spine at Dry Sluice Gap—the final pitch so steep and harrowing that only adrenaline kept my terror at bay long enough to literally crawl hands-and-knees onto the Appalachian Trail. It was on that hike that Dave passed on to me his addiction for wild places and off-trail adventure. But it also went far deeper than that. On that hike, Dave explained why he refused to let others discourage my outdoor pursuits. “If you show someone wild places, and you show them your own passion for it, you never know… one day they might show others, and one day they might end up fighting for it.” The gravity of Dave’s words wouldn’t hit me until years later when I found myself devoted to a career in land conservation, fighting every day to preserve the wild places that Dave first showed me and encouraging others to cherish them as he did. Dave showed me the wild places back then, and sure enough, I fight for them now. Said Landreth, “That’s one of the proudest things in my life.”
Ronnie McCall PETER BARR Ronnie McCall
Griztrax has had similar influences on others. He once led his friend Ronnie McCall on his first-ever hike in the Smokies—an off-trail hike at that—up an exposed, laurel-choked ridge near Mt. LeConte. “It was the most brutal off-trail hike I’ve ever been on. The temps were in the 90s and at one point, it took us over an hour and a half to cover 200 feet. For that whole distance, we never saw the ground, crossing instead over a thick web of greenbrier draped across rhododendron,” Landreth recalled. “I figured that if he survived that one, nothing else would ever hold any fear for him, and so far, it hasn’t.” The experience opened McCall’s eyes to the exhilarating world of Smokies bushwhacking. He’s returned with Dave dozens of times since, each trip a bolder off-trail trek.
Abbey of the East Landreth’s influence extends beyond those he’s personally taken into the wilderness. For years, his griztrax.net website served as his public testament to the value of wild places, luring countless hikers to stray from the maintained
trails. Dave’s inspiring prose and stunning photography are captivating. His outspoken commentary in defense of wilderness even led some to call him the “Edward Abbey of the East.” “I can’t remember a time when the outdoors wasn’t part of my life. With that, you get defensive of it. You love it so much that you hear somebody else using or abusing it, and you want to fight for it. It makes you argumentative.” Like Abbey, Landreth has a penchant for rubbing some people the wrong way. NPS rangers aren’t the only people he’s pissed off. Dave’s outspokenness ramps up each election season in adamant defense of policy supporting wilderness preservation and environmental protection—which doesn’t always sit well with more conservative outdoor folk. He’s hurt feelings in the backcountry, too, once separating from his off-trail partners in fear that he might be reported late and overdue to the National Park Service. “With the reputation that I have with [the rangers], they would eat that crap up,” admitted Dave. “I can be kind of an asshole sometimes. But my off-trail hiking partners are a
good influence on me.” “We’ve had some scary moments out there,” Landreth confided. But even at age 62, it’s going to take a lot to get Dave to break his off-trail addiction. “I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I don’t want to live past the point that I can’t do this stuff. I don’t want to be like [19th century mountainman] Jim Bridger, sitting blind in a rocking chair, trying to feel sunshine on my face while looking back to the west at my glory days. If I get hurt, I hope it’s bad. I want to die out there.” Like Abbey, Landreth will live on long after he’s done showing others the excitement of off-trail adventure—or pissing folks off in the process. “I don’t want everything that I’ve learned to die with me. If I can influence one or two people to do what I’m doing—that’s the coolest thing in the world.” • Peter Barr is author of Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers. He has hiked all 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—and also has done his fair share of bushwhacking. MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
HippieLodges The most laid-back lodging for paddlers, hikers, climbers and other outdoorsfolk. by AARON BIBLE Looking to step up your accommodations from the back of your Toyota truck? Got a new girlfriend who insists on having a shower? For all those who might wear their hair just a little too long, who always travel with at least one dog (call before you book), and who are looking for a bed or a bunk to lay their weary head, here’s a look at our top laid-back lodging picks for your outdoor adventures. We’re not sure what thread count you’ll find, but it beats washing up in the gas station bathroom. Many of these spots are truly first class in both atmosphere and service.
North Carolina The Sweet Peas Hostel, situated conveniently above the Lexington Avenue Brewery in trendy Asheville, is the ideal destination for all fun hogs in the area. Yes, you heard that correctly, it’s connected to a micro brewery. This is a contemporary hostel with meticulous upkeep and a good vibe. Choose from bunks, pods, or private rooms that put you right in the heart of downtown Asheville, centrally located to much of the best outdoor recreation in the Southeast. sweetpeashostel.com The other nearby outdoors mecca of Hot Springs (take out for French Broad, Big Laurel, Spring Creek) has a myriad of offerings from slimy to swanky, as well as a number of solid campground options. To continue your
downtown trend, check out the Iron Horse Station, a one-stop shop for eats, coffee, live music, drinks, and lodging. It sits on the Appalachian Trail and the multi-building complex is ripe with history, and now with convenience. While prices are reasonable by any standard, they aren’t exactly dirt-bag style, so you might consider combing your hair and shaking the sand out before you walk in. theironhorsestation. com The Nantahala Outdoor Center’s various and expanding lodging accommodations at any of their rafting centers are really a can’t-go-wrong hook up whether it’s hiking, biking, or paddling you’re after. But it’s the NOC’s original outpost located right on the Nantahala River, spitting distance from the new world-class competition play hole, in a quaint but plentiful setting that is not to be missed. Just west of Bryson City, the lake, river, and mountain recreation is unbeatable by Southern standards, whether it’s family whitewater or Great Smoky Mountains National Park action you seek. The authentic and convenient cabins, inn, hostel/bunk house and campsites offer something for everyone, with a nice little restaurant on-site. noc.com
Georgia Nestled along the Appalachain Trail in Dawsonville, Georgia, is the well-known Hike
Inn, a welcome respite for those putting in long, sweaty hours on the trail. There are indeed a few lodging options along the trail with similar names, coincidentally, but they aren’t all located a mandatory five-mile hike into the Chattahoochee National Forest. (They have their own parking area at the top of Amicalola Falls.) The Hike Inn prides itself on family style meals and world-class views, as well as their comfortsof-home vibe. The Inn features 20 rustic guest rooms, hot showers, communal areas, and rates include breakfast and dinner. hike-inn.com
Pennsylvania For those keen on running the Youghiogheny (Upper or Lower) or taking advantage of some of the other incredible outdoor rec that is PA, consider a stay at Ohiopyle’s Trillium Lodge. You can book direct or through outfitter Wilderness Voyageurs for all your outdoor adventure needs. Situated on 40 acres and just a stone’s throw from Ohiopyle State Park, the area is renowned for its paddling and biking opportunities. The lodge holds 23 people and can be rented in whole or in part year-round. trillium-lodge.com
Tennessee It’s important to consider some of the family-run and laid-back campgrounds around the Blue Ridge region when out recreating—and the MARCH 2014 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
Nolichucky Gorge Campground & Resort near Erwin, Tenn., is no exception. The Nolichucky River Gorge features some of the premier hiking, boating, floating, biking, and fishing in northeastern Tennessee, surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest with the AT and additional whitewater options nearby. (423) 743-8876; email@example.com
Virginia In the prime Appalachia territory of Damascus, Virginia, home to the Virginia Creeper Trail, you can go the VRBO route, find cabins online, shack up in inexpensive hotels, camp, or you can stay with Miss Ginny at the Lazy Fox Inn. When you look up “quaint B & B” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure there’s a picture of the Lazy Fox Inn. lazyfoxinn.com; (276) 475-5838. Near the town of Luray in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and located right on the Shenandoah River lie the five Shenandoah River Cabins. Open year-round and featuring fireplaces, hot tubs, decks, docks and views, you’ll find yourself just five minutes from world-class canoeing, biking, spelunking, golf, vineyards and the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. The River Cabins website can connect you with local outfitters and shuttles, and this dog-friendly property is just 90 minutes west of Washington D.C. river-cabins.com
West Virginia For premium access to the Potomac River Basin and all the fly fishing, paddling, hiking, biking, and other recreation this tri-state area has to offer, book a swanky room at The Angler’s Inn, a B&B in the quaint and sublimely located Harpers Ferry. It sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and even offers guided fly fishing trips and is affiliated with the nearby Kelly’s White Fly Shoppe for all your angling desires. This is premium access to the D.C.-area whitewater scene, so save up your beer and burrito money for this one. theanglersinn.com To paddle, climb, hike, and bike the New River Gorge, there’s a simple answer for dirt-lovers of all kinds: the River Rock Retreat Hostel, just a quarter mile from the famed New River Gorge Bridge. There’s no kitchen, but at $22.50 per night, you can afford to eat out, and you couldn’t be any closer to the outdoor goods. riverrockretreatandhostel.com •
AT BEAUTIFUL LAKE EDEN
M AY 8 - 1 1
F E S T I VA L Beats Antique
F r e e Yo u r F u n k y S e l f a t L E A F ! & Fall LEAF: October 16-19
Los Lobos 40th
The curtain rises on another day
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stop at wolf Hills Brewing for
See Artists E ve n t s T i c ke t s :
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delicious crAft beer. pedal along the scenic
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Choose your adventure.
Upcoming Events Beginner Cave Trip - March 8
Backpack 5K Run Challenge - March 22
River Rock Yoga - March 13
Pub Run - March 25
Kayak Roll Session - March 19
Mill Mountain Mayhem 10K - April 12
For more events, maps and outfitters, visit
MARCH 2014 â€˘ BlueRidgeOutdoors.com
C U LT U R E B I N
Hear That Whistle
Former Cadillac Sky frontman returns with new band By Jedd Ferris
Nashville songwriter Bryan Simpson had put together a music career to be envied. Less than five years ago, his lauded alt-minded bluegrass group Cadillac Sky was on the brink of big things. The band had proven it could pick skillfully and respect tradition but also blend in some progressive sensibilities, which led to spots at all the right galas, including a band competition win at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. In 2010 the group released a critically acclaimed experimental acoustic album, “Letters in the Deep,” which featured production by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and soon after came a high-profile tour with Mumford and Sons. But while professional success escalated, Simpson felt personally uneasy. A spiritual calling didn’t jive with the rigors of the road that came with being in a touring band, so in 2010 he stepped down as the band’s lead singer and mandolin player just one show into the Mumford tour. “I had no way to develop any habits of holiness,” said Simpson, during a recent interview. “I wanted to sort out my life, because it had been thrown into turmoil. By God’s grace, I realized I was no longer the center of my life, and that’s a lot to take. It was a necessary time for me to leave.” Despite trying to forge ahead with new frontman Levi Lowrey, Cadillac Sky disbanded the following winter. Devoted to exploring his newfound Christianity, Simpson initially kept a low profile, but earlier this year he resurfaced with a new project, The Whistles & The Bells, which will release a debut album on March 4. “These songs spoke to what the last three years of my life have been about,” Simpson said of the new 12-song set. “This has been a positive thing. Writing them helped me, so I had to get them out.” Simpson said at one point he blamed music for his internal struggles, but soon realized it was not the source. During his break he remained a behind-the-scenes songwriter while also immersing himself in spiritual discovery with missionary trips to Africa and Mexico. He eventually found himself with a batch of songs worthy of a brand new identity. While The Whistles & The Bells’ self-titled album features help from Simpson’s old Cadillac Sky bandmates Matt Menefee (banjo) and Ross Holmes (violin), the sound is more expansive than history would predict. On the opening “Mercy Please,” Simpson keeps his faith front and center as a mellow acoustic intro eventually gives way to bombastic, horndriven soul-rock fury. “Transistor Resistor” features an amped gospel charge and Simpson howling like a possessed preacher. Back when Simpson was reinterpreting the high lonesome sound with Cadillac Sky, his
voice always displayed unique range, but on his new album his singing exhibits soaring intensity. Case in point, “Canary Cage,” which takes off with the crescendo-dominated folk explosiveness that Mumford has popularized. Simpson made the album in Nashville with Grammy-winning engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Thile, Keb’ Mo’). He also received help from some of Music City’s best players including bassist Byron House (Sam Bush). “With this project the shackles are off,” Simpson said. “I didn’t feel like I had to live up to anything. I didn’t know if anyone was going to listen to this record or care about it. I just wanted to get back to making music.” Simpson isn’t sure how far he’s going to take the new project. So far he only has one show booked to support the new release, a show at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville on March 20. He revealed he’s open to touring, but keeping himself balanced is also priority. “I‘m ready to play shows and continue the conversation that these songs will hopefully create,” he said. “Inherently in the name, though, The Whistles & The Bells is not the whole of me. It’s going to accentuate what my life has become.” •
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Nickel Creek Reunites Seven years after calling it quits, pioneering pop-bluegrass trio Nickel Creek will return with a string of shows this spring. The group, which features mandolin ace Chris Thile, along with siblings Sara Watkins (fiddle) and Sean Watkins (guitar), formed back in 1989 and went on to become extremely popular for a sound that blended skillful acoustic string work and catchy song craft. The band sold millions of records and won a Grammy Award for “This Side,” the 2002 album produced by Alison Krauss. A new album is in the works, but first, the group will play a run of select dates that starts at the venerable Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (April 18 and 19). The band will also stop at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., on May 3.
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Have a week to get away from it all? Or just a weekend? Whatever time you have, you should spend it in Southern West Virginia, the outdoor recreation capital of the East. Explore our expanded trail system, rugged mountains and roaring rivers. We have it all and it is all closer than you think in Southern West Virginia.
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Published on Feb 24, 2015