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OLYMPIC CHASE | HOW TO GET SPONSORED | MUD DEATH JULY 2013

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What’s on your outdoor bucket list?

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E D I TO R I A L

Hike the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile footpath across Spain.

EDITOR IN CHIEF WILL HARLAN will@blueridgeoutdoors.com SENIOR EDITOR JEDD FERRIS jedd@blueridgeoutdoors.com ONLINE EDITOR JACK MURRAY jack@blueridgeoutdoors.com TRAVEL EDITOR JESS DADDIO jess@blueridgeoutdoors.com COPY EDITORS JULIA GREEN, ROBERT McGEE CONTRIBUTORS KY DELANEY, DAVE STALLARD, GRAHAM AVERILL, DEVAN BOYLE, CHRIS GRAGTMANS

ART + PRODUCTION ART DIRECTOR MEGAN JORDAN megan@blueridgeoutdoors.com JUNIOR DESIGNER CHAD BASSETT chad@blueridgeoutdoors.com

chrisgragtmans Paddle Grand Canyon of the Stikine River in Canada: three days of nonstop class V+ in an inescapable subarctic canyon 1000 feet deep.

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A DV E RT I S I N G + B U S I N E S S PRESIDENT / PUBLISHER BLAKE DEMASO blake@blueridgeoutdoors.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE MARTHA EVANS martha@blueridgeoutdoors.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES DUSTY ALLISON dusty@blueridgeoutdoors.com NICK NOE nick@blueridgeoutdoors.com LEAH WOODY leah@blueridgeoutdoors.com BUSINESS MANAGER MISSY GESSLER melissa@blueridgeoutdoors.com

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D I G I TA L M E D I A ONLINE DIRECTOR CRAIG SNODGRASS craig@blueridgeoutdoors.com BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS is the property of SUMMIT PUBLISHING, LLC. ©2013 No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher.

BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS MAGAZINE 116 West Jefferson Street Charlottesville, Virginia 22902 p. 434-817-2755 f. 434-817-2760 56 College Street, Suite 303 Asheville, North Carolina 28801 p. 828-225-0868 f. 828-225-0878

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willharlan Bike the Blue Ridge Parkway end-to-end.

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North Carolina Appalachian Trail

Ride the TransLicense Provence 6-day Plate mountain bike Application event in France. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) now has a specialty license tag in the state of North Carolina. By getting your tag today, you’ll help the ATC protect and maintain America’s BeautyFavorite andLong Distance Trail! Facts  You must already have the vehicle registered in The ATC will receive $20 annually for each AT plate purchased or renewed. brutality. North Carolina.

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How Much Does It Cost?  $30 Regular Appalachian Trail plate*  $60 Personalized Appalachian Trail plate* You are allowed four (4) spaces for a personalized message. __ __ __ __ 2nd Choice __ __ __ __ 3rd Choice __ __ __ __ 1st Choice Name (as shown on certificate of title):

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J U LY 2 0 1 3

E O N A C F C I 3 201 YLE WORLD FREEST PIONSH2I0P13S CHSAEPMTEMBHEARLA2–G8O, RNGCE

explore the new river this summer.

Freestyle kayaking’s premier international competition is being staged at one of the leading whitewater venues in the USA – the Nantahala River Gorge in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.

, A NANTYSON CITY BR

A world-class feature, consistent guaranteed water flow, and the sport’s first digital scoring system promise to set a new standard for freestyle events.

To learn more about the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, including travel and lodging information and news updates, visit the event website:

JOHN BRYANT BAKER

FreestyleKayaking2013.com

features

13 WEST Ain’t best

28 CHASING RIO

The West is bigger, but is it better? Not according to one outdoor veteran who recently migrated east for adventure.

Eight Olympic hopefuls eat, train, and live together high in the mountains near Blowing Rock, N.C. Can Appalachia’s best runners reach the podium in 2016?

14 WALK THE PLANK Could Tough Mudder’s first death become a reason to run? One mud maven wrestles with the tragedy.

17 ON THE ROAD

39 SECRET ISLANDS OF THE CHESAPEAKE Two urban adventurers discover five quiet islands among the bay’s hidden treasures.

NANTAHALA GORGE and the GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA

Hum with road-trip wanderlust on of these eight epic itineraries for the adventurous weekend warrior.

departments 8 switchback

42 TRAIL MIX

Bike lanes along the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Victor Wooten’s wooded retreat

9 THE DIRT Cat cyclist / Hunger hike / Peace rider / Moonshine school

10 TRAILHEAD Paddling from source to sea—and back / How to get sponsored

CORRECTIONS Our June Table of Contents photo was taken by Cooper Lambla, and the photo for “Life and Death on the Water”(which originally appeared at sitezed.com) was shot by Nate Harvey.

The host city, Bryson City, NC is an easy-going, small Have a Big Vacation town with great in a Small Town things to do — hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Nantahala River rafting, scenic drives, GreatSmokies.com boating and fishing 800-867-9246

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on Fontana Lake, a scenic railroad, and world-class trout fishing. There’s a wide array of lodging, shopping and dining options. And it’s all in one of the most beautiful settings in the Southeast.

JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com 4/8/13

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10:31 AM


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Bike Lanes on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Parkway, and cannot remember a time when I’ve wished for a bike lane. Sure, there are occasions when cars will bunch up behind me, wanting to pass. When I am climbing, they get around me pretty easily, as I am usually able to keep to the far right of the lane. When descending, I maintain a high-enough speed to not hinder traffic. If necessary, I can always pull off to one of the many overlooks to let them pass. There are not many

Compiled by Devan Boyle

YES: BIKES BOOST BUSINESS Minimal traffic, amazing views, and access to historic and natural attractions make the Parkway a worldclass bike touring route. We should do everything possible to encourage cycling on this national treasure. The National Park Service has shut down multiple facilities, like restaurants and campgrounds, for lack of use, so encouraging more cycling on the Parkway seems an obvious way to attract visitors and generate additional revenue at low cost. Bicycle touring is a proven revenue generator. Oregon claims $325 million a year in economic impact from bike tourism. The reasons are obvious. Cyclists are slower, stay longer, and eat more. Not paying for gasoline and other automobile-related expenses, they have more money to spend, and they have high disposable income to start with. They tread lightly on the infrastructure. Bikes mean business, and the Parkway is an ideal route. But do we need bike lanes? It’s not as simple as you might think. Some say only dedicated paths will do. Others say cars and cyclists can share the road as is. Bike lanes fall somewhere in between. Although painted lanes provide no physical barrier, they’re a constant reminder to share the road. They also reduce vehicle speeds, further increasing safety. Motorists might complain that they will be inconvenienced by slower speeds and narrower lanes, but even if bike lanes reduce speeds somewhat, the net effect would be greater safety and a little more opportunity for motorists to take in the sights, which is the purpose of the Parkway after all. Traffic engineers might argue that bike lanes would not be the ideal treatment for the Parkway. Some prefer sharrows; others say signage is enough. In my mind, designating a few feet of roadway for bikes is a nonintrusive and costeffective way to encourage more cycling on

WADE MICKLEY

the Parkway. Tom Bowden is chairperson of Bike Virginia and a board member and vice president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation. He spent many hours riding the Parkway training for Team RAAM in 1994.

NO: DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS As an avid cyclist, I’m an advocate for anything that encourages drivers and cars to share the road. But the Blue Ridge Parkway is a different entity, and I feel bike lanes are unnecessary. Part of the Parkway’s charm is that it is a narrow, exquisitely designed 469-mile country road that travels through some of the most beautiful spots in the Southeast. The National Park Service does a great job at using the landscape to bolster the scenery. Instead of a shoulder, you can often find a carefully maintained and manicured stretch of grass. By leaving things alone, this experience will be maintained. I’ve spent quite a bit of time riding the

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situations where a bike lane would benefit the rider or the car. After laboring to ride up a thousand feet or more, the reward is an exhilarating descent. When descending on the Parkway, the rider needs the entire lane to maneuver around the bends and twists of the road. As you soar along the ridges of the mountain, you are enveloped in breathtaking views, lush greenery, and craggy rock structures below and above you. You see peaks and domes always in the distance, with a cool, breezy wind in your face. It would be nearly impossible to keep confined to a bike lane on such a descent, and if you did, it would take away from the experience. I’m in favor of anything that makes the Parkway more bike-friendly, but adding bike lanes would be drastic, expensive, unnecessary, and in many areas, logistically impossible. Instead, I would suggest that the National Park Service embrace the cycling community, encourage and support more cycling events, and educate motorists to be wary of those of us on two wheels. The Blue Ridge Parkway is an American treasure, a terrific way to allow for people to engage with nature. Let’s keep it that way. Aaron West races and lives in South Carolina, and writes about cycling for his blog SteepClimbs.com.

what do you think?

Join the bike lane debate at blueridgeoutdoors.com


O U T DOOR N E W S

thedirt

Beattyville, Ky. The new Miller Fork Recreation Preserve features more than a dozen crags and hundreds of new routes. A private landowner was looking to sell the tract, and after being pleased with the impact of climbing in the local area, she decided to offer her property to the RRGCC. The local climbing group reached out to the Access Fund, which provided both a $10,000 grant and a $200,000 loan. With the addition of their own funds, the RRGCC was able to buy the property for $245,000. The Miller Fork Recreation Preserve is located seven miles from the popular Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, another high-profile RRGCC acquisition that holds more than 450 routes on 750 acres.

BEYOND THE BLUE RIDGE

One Last Ride Eugene, Oregon

WADE MICKLEY

A funeral home in Eugene is now offering deceased cycling enthusiasts one last ride. Sunset Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home offers what they call natural burials. This includes a towed ride to a final resting place via threewheeled bicycle as well as transport to the great unknown in a bamboo casket. The total package costs around $3,500.

Peace Rider

Washington, D.C. Cindy Sheehan is best known as the mother of a fallen soldier in the Iraq war who protested just outside the Crawford, Texas, property of then-President George W. Bush. On April 4, Sheehan commemorated the nine-year anniversary of her son’s death by embarking on the Tour de Peace, a cross-country bike ride from her son’s grave in Vacaville, Calif., to Washington, D.C. The ride, which includes many speaking events in towns along the way, concludes with a spin from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House on July 3.

The Cat Cyclist Philadelphia, Pa.

Looking for a new way to waste time on YouTube? Search for the viral videos of Philadelphia bike courier Rudi Saldia, who has become an Internet sensation for riding around the city with his cat Mary Jane sitting on his shoulder. Saldia told the AP he wanted to prove to his mom that he was actually riding with MJ, so he filmed footage of the cycling duo on a mounted GoPro camera. Now, the first video he posted back in October has reached 1.2 million views. GoPro also contacted Saldia about using the footage in an advertisement.

at Moonshine University, a series of classes being offered at the Distilled Spirits Epicenter in downtown Louisville. Appropriately housed at ground zero for bourbon lovers, the center features a range of educational opportunities for liquor enthusiasts to learn about history and small-batch distilling. Courses range from shorter classes on bourbon food pairings and cocktails to a five-day distilling class that pulls in pros from Maker’s Mark and other nearby outfits. The extended class also has a business component, so you can bring your hooch to market—legally.

Hunger Hike

Springer Mountain, Ga. Aspiring thru-hikers head to the Appalachian Trail for different reasons, but a particularly noble cause comes from 13-year-old Kylie Trawick, who left Springer back in March with the motivation to end hunger. Trawick, who is hiking the trail with her father, partnered with her middle school and local food bank from her hometown of New Gloucester, Maine, with a goal to raise a pound of food for every mile that she hikes. Her adventure can be followed at sassafrasandkabooseatadventure.blogspot. com.

Moonshine School

New Crags Secured in the Red River Gorge

You weren’t raised in an Appalachian holler, but you’d still like to learn how to make a fresh batch of white lightning. Now you can

In early June, the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRRGC) and the Access Fund announced the purchase of 309 acres in

Louisville, Ky.

Louisville, Ky.

emmaway: Cyclist Enemy Number One

Norwich, United Kingdom In May, a British woman hit a cyclist with her car, then bizarrely decided to brag about it on Twitter. User @emmaway20, Emma Way, tweeted, “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier – I have right of way he doesn’t even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists.” Way deleted her Twitter account after she was bombarded with negative responses and the cyclist she hit came forward to police. As of press time, Norwich Police were still trying to find Way, sending her the Twitter message, “ We have had tweets ref an RTC with a bike. We suggest you report it at a police station ASAP.”

Kayaker Rescues Family of Five

Sacramento, California Matt Divittorio was paddling the American River when suddenly an SUV holding a family of five veered off Highway 50 and plunged into the water. Divittorio was quickly able to rescue three children from the mangled truck. The kids’ parents needed more help, though, as both were pinned in a way that required additional assistance. Fortunately an Eldorado County fire chief was nearby on another call and able to get to the scene within minutes to free the mother and father. The driver suffered major injuries, but everyone else escaped with bruises and scrapes. —Jedd Ferris JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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trailhead

S H OR T S

ROBERT FULLER PADDLES THE CHATTAHOOCHEE.

Shooting the Hooch

A professor paddles down the Chattahoochee for science and adventure By Graham Averill

Robert Fuller, a professor of environmental science at the University of North Georgia, recently spent four months paddling the length of the Chattahoochee River system, from its source spring in North Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. Then he turned around and paddled up the Etowah River system, knocking out 1,504 river miles and monitoring the water quality of the troubled Chattahoochee along the way. We talked to Fuller about eating freshwater fish, dodging wild hogs, keeping sand out of your tent. That’s a hell of an adventure. What made you decide to yo-yo these river systems? Fuller: The two rivers start so close together in North Georgia, and enter the Gulf of Mexico only 200 miles apart. A friend suggested paddling the Etowah into Alabama, but I thought it would be interesting to follow a mass of water down the Chattahoochee, then paddle the Gulf and come back home on the Etowah. It was more than I thought it would be in every sense: tougher, longer, and more rewarding. How do you follow a mass of water? Fuller: I traced a fluorescent dye going down the river from the Chattahoochee Spring, testing the temperature, pH levels, and conductivity. Conductivity tells you a lot about the dissolved minerals in the water. It shows if something is being added in the water. I saw some pristine water at the Chattahoochee

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Spring. As soon as you get into the suburbs of Atlanta, there’s a steady increase in conductivity, indicating the runoff of minerals, most likely fertilizer from lawns. What sort of boat were you paddling? Fuller: A Kruger Sea Wind. It’s an expedition boat made of Kevlar. It’s 17 feet, 2 inches long with a rudder. I have a sail rig built in and a comfy seat. It weighs probably 70 pounds, and I had 350 pounds of gear. It made the portages interesting. I had to make a lot of trips. One portage took me seven trips, a quarter of a mile each time. Half of your trip was upriver. That sounds insane. Fuller: It was 750 miles of upriver paddling. The most difficult paddling was when I was approaching a dam. There was one dam that was releasing so much water, I averaged paddling half a mile per hour. Typically, I can paddle four miles per hour for 12 hours with an eight-minute break for lunch. That’s how long it takes to eat Beanie Weenies and canned fruit. I ate lots of Beanie Weenies. Lots of M&Ms and dried fruit too. I ate all day long, but I still lost 20 pounds. You must have gotten into the best shape of your life. Fuller: I built a lot of muscle and lost 20 pounds, but I developed issues in my upper spine from repetitive motion. I also developed a systemic infection in one knee that was debilitating. I spent a few days laid up on a sandbar with a fever. A guy I met on the river got me into a clinic and let me stay on his houseboat for a couple of nights until I was better. What was life as a river rat like? Fuller: Cold and raining. I paddled in

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December, January, and February. I bathed in the river. Washed my clothes in the river. My sleeping bag built up some grunge. But you slowly get used to that. The Apalachicola River has lots of sandbars, which is nice if you like camping on sandbars. I get tired of sand in the tent. I spent 13 months in Vietnam, sleeping on the ground in a monsoon. But that was 45 years ago. I’d gotten comfortable. I kept a fivegallon bucket of water by the tent and dunked my feet in before crawling inside. It worked a little. The Apalachicola is famous for its oysters. Did you get to eat any? Fuller: I have leukemia, so I have to be careful about raw fish. But after seeing all the stuff we send down into the Apalachicola Bay, I think my days of eating raw oysters are done regardless. I’m reluctant to eat fish in general from the Chattahoochee River if it’s caught below Atlanta. Any moments from the trip that stick out? Fuller: The most wonderful experience on the entire trip was when I was sailing my canoe a mile off the shore in the Gulf of Mexico, paddling at 6mph, and suddenly I was surrounded by a pod of dolphins. They started rolling close to the boat and one rolled right in front of the canoe and slapped it. It was like a bunch of teenage boys, daring each other to get closer and closer to the boat. What’s your next adventure? Fuller: Right now I’m working on a novel about the trip. But there are big paddling trips I want to do. Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. Then way out there on the bucket list, I’d like to paddle the headwaters of the Missouri River. It’s longer than the trip I just did, but it’s all downstream. •


trailhead

DON’T use improper management introduction techniques. Cold-messaging a marketing or management employee on Facebook or other social media is an invasion of privacy… that is set up for their personal use. Short of getting an introduction from a mutual contact (the ideal scenario), take the time to at least find a company email. And (this goes without saying), don’t have typos or grammatical errors in your correspondence! DO work in advance. Most Team budgets are finalized and committed by shortly after the first of the year. That means if you want to work with a company beyond getting a pro-deal, you need to get on it! November and December are good months to check in, and the professionalism exhibited by planning ahead will go a very long way.

DO

How to Live the Dream

Sponsorship for Dummies By Chris Gragtmans Sponsorship is as sought-after as it is misunderstood, but there’s no doubt about the fact that it is extremely prevalent in the alternative sports world today. Massive companies like Red Bull and GoPro, alongside smaller industry manufacturers, are putting significant portions of their marketing resources into sponsorship. They align themselves with top athletes to benefit their own bottom lines alongside the athletes’ careers, and a great deal of money and product exchanges hands every year through these relationships. For athletes who truly understand the game, it really is as close to “living the dream” as you can get. The trouble with the whole system is that many athletes don’t know what to do beyond just being an exceptional athlete to set themselves apart. In these economic times, it is not acceptable to simply perform well in your sport and call it a day. After 11 years of working as a sponsored athlete in the paddlesports industry, and one year working as Pro Team Manager for Dagger Kayaks, I have learned a bit about the ins and outs of corporate sponsorship. Here are my top 10 recommendations for securing (and retaining) your ideal sponsors:

DO protect your personal brand. When a company endorses you as a sponsored athlete, they are linking their brand with you and all of your actions. Your personal brand is the image that is generated by everything that you do and everything that comes out of your mouth. Due to the Internet, our world is shrinking and information about

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all of us is much more readily available. You need to know what online and social media searches for your name will turn up and make sure that they showcase you well.

DON’T burn bridges. These industries are very small places, and negative dealings tend to reverberate far beyond any single relationship. You never know when an opportunity has been closed off due to a bad reference. Do good work and maintain good relationships.

DO

realize that it is about far more than just being a great athlete. Of course you need raw skill and talent, but what separates the truly successful athletes from those who soon fade into another profession is what goes on behind the scenes. Resourcefulness and the ability to create value for sponsors whenever possible is the most important thing.

DO think about and create your niche. What is your individual hook? What are you better at than anyone else? Team and marketing managers do not want a whole team of athletes who are chasing the same thing. When I look at Team Dagger, I see Freestyle World Champions, non-profit owners, 6-year-old prodigies, expedition paddlers, incredible videographers, and grassroots ambassadors in their local communities. Each individual comes at it with their own style and brings something different to the table. It can be helpful to consider the main needs of the companies that you are working with: big picture marketing, sales account support within each region, R&D feedback, photo and video generation for the website, and other collateral. Sometimes it can be helpful to leverage those to guide your pitch.

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keep your Team Manager updated. The more that you can stay top-of-mind and in focus for the company, the better. Regular email updates with competition results, exposure, and trip plans will position you as a professional—someone who is worthy of sponsorship dollars.

DO work hard. Many people think that being a sponsored athlete is a gravy train. I will tell you that the most successful athletes that I know absolutely work their asses off. They are always shooting media, emailing, facilitating, checking in, helping with product R&D and launch, and planning their own exploits. These things are done alongside the physical demands of training and maintaining fitness as an elite athlete. It’s not easy at all, and requires great time management and selfmotivation skills, but it is worth it.

DO hang the carrot. One thing that I have found very useful in my own dealings with different sponsors is something that I refer to as “hanging the carrot.” This means always keeping them up-to-date on upcoming projects, and what you need from them to position their brand in the best way possible. If you are thinking like this, you are doing an excellent job as an athlete. The final step to this is to follow through and deliver on all promises and commitments made.

DO have fun Taking these steps requires you to look at your sport as work. While it can be very smart to cover all the sponsorship angles, it’s equally important not to lose sight of the original passion that got you into it in the first place. If that ever goes away, the whole house of cards falls. Go outside and play—that’s why you got into this in the first place. • Chris Gragtmans is sponsored by Dagger Kayaks, Chaco Footwear, Speedboard USA, Immersion Research, Shred Ready Helmets, Astral Buoyancy and Adventure Technology Paddles.


West ain’t Best

KILLER EASt coast views like this one from jumping off rock overlooking lake jocassee, rival west coast FOR scenery.

West coast living has long been touted as better than East Coast adventure. Is it? Keelan Jones

T

he pull of the West tugs at the heart of the young. It isn’t new to my generation; author Horace Greeley first coined the phrase, “Go west, young man,” when promoting Manifest Destiny. The dramatic snow-peaked mountains and clear, steep granite rivers beckoned my friends and me when we were in our twenties, seeking adventure. But if it’s a strong hurricane-force gale that sweeps us off our feet in search of paddling the biggest drops and skiing the steepest mountains, it’s a gentle breeze that later whispers to us to return home. When something more lasting and sustainable replaced the quest for the biggest and best, I headed due east. Some things just feel like home – the sweet smell of honeysuckle, the quick blink of a firefly, and the refreshing feeling of a summer afternoon thunderstorm. Returning East after a stint out West is more than a primal homing instinct. Putting down roots in the Southeast just makes good sense.

Community The lower cost of living in the Southeast makes it feasible to rent or buy a house in an outdoorsfriendly town. Many say that East Coasters live to work, while West Coasters work to live. But the myth of the laid-back attitude is dispelled when hunting for a rental out West, where the rental market can be a full contact sport. Now with the real estate market rebounding, buyers are once again experiencing bidding wars on starter homes in California. That translates to living farther away from the epic outdoor opportunities and the like-minded people that many moved to be close to in the first place. If the stereotype of east coasters existing in a bubble of work and routine ever rang true, that time has passed. An afternoon driving around D.C. will dispel the notion that East Coasters don’t play hard. Every other car has a bike or

by Ky Delaney kayak strapped to it for a post-work ride or paddle. With all the festivals, races, and music on offer in the Southeast, the problem becomes one of choosing between so many good options. And the best part of a lower cost of living – folks don’t have to bust their hump as hard to make ends meet. Less time in the office means more time in the saddle exploring that mountain. It also means that more friends will be available for an early evening run. The technology crazed West Coasters often have dual screens competing for their attention. The good manners in the South help to remind people that there’s a place and time for technology, and that’s not on the trails.

Accessibility Good outdoor play simply is closer to home here in the East. When I lived in California, I expected to drive four to five hours to paddle or ski every weekend, and I wasn’t alone. Here good rivers are often just outside of town, making it possible to paddle a few times a week and hold down a full-time job. Mountain biking opportunities abound just a few minutes from the office, making it easier to get in the ride and eat dinner with the kids. Consistent scheduled dam releases coupled with year-round rain means it’s possible to paddle almost every weekend. From Maryland to Tennessee, the Youghigheny, Gauley, Green, Cheoah, Tallulah, and Ocoee rivers all have predictable dam releases, making it easy to plan kayaking excursions. This year, the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee River joins this list, with seven scheduled releases. Summer-time paddling in the East provides an experience unheard of out West – bare-armed paddling. Even the mountains are more accessible in the East. What the mountains lack in jagged peaks, they more than make up for with their rounded curves, surrounding towns like a soft embrace. World-class climbing destinations

including West Virginia’s New River Gorge and Kentucky’s Red River Gorge provide even diehard climbers ample challenging routes.

Scenery My single biggest fear about becoming a reverse transplant was that I’d miss the dramatic views I so enjoyed out West. When I first moved to California, I often pulled over on the side of the road to soak up every bit of the setting sun. Turns out my fears were completely unfounded. The Southeast boasts spectacular scenery all her own. The first time I encountered a white rhododendrum blossom floating in the current of my favorite river made me think of my vacation to Fiji, the flower was so exotic as it perfectly floated downstream. And when I climbed a multi-pitch route at Linville Gorge, the view of Appalachia’s soaring mountains reminded me of just how small and wonderful my existence is in this magnificent world. The greatest gift of my move back East is rediscovering the green that abounds in the temperate rainforest climate. In California, golden hues dominate the horizon. Returning to the lush canopy feels comforting, and its constant companion, humidity, a welcome sidekick. I use to overlook the benefits of humidity. After bundling up for a summer’s night out in California, I welcome hot summer nights where I can wear a sundress or tank top without worrying about freezing—not to mention the benefit all that moisture in the air has on my skin. Humidity is nature’s very own fountain of youth. Humidity gets me good and sweaty during a workout, letting me know I put in a decent effort. It seems almost daily that another friend announces she’s moving back East. When the illusion of the promised land disappears and the novelty fades, many of my friends return to the Southeast. And they all feel as lucky as I do to be home. • JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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Walk thePlank

Could the Tough Mudder’s first death become a reason to run?

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t some point during the halfmile, slightly uphill trek toward transportation — complicated by seized-up hip flexors and frozen fingers that couldn’t get the Clif Bars into my mouth quickly enough — I started thinking about what would come after the Tough Mudder we’d just completed. Sure, there would be Chik-Fil-A and hot showers en masse. But, after that, I’d have to write about it. And that meant I’d probably have to break one of the Tough Mudder rules: No whining. The emcee had listed off this rule when he rallied the troops before the start of the mud race that bills itself as “probably the toughest event on the planet.” I resisted the urge to whine for most of the race. But between the mid-40s weather at our 8:30 a.m. start and the onslaught of water obstacles (one, a dumpster filled with ice), the next five hours were the coldest of my life. The Tough Mudder — when taken at its nearly 12-mile, 22-obstacle whole — was quite tough. No one event was impossible, though some were more taxing than others (did I mention the Arctic Enema?). But add in nonstop shivers (yes, a symptom of hypothermia) and a little electric shock therapy, and it’s no wonder several teams spent half their time working out cramps on the sidelines. But all these details — and especially my whining — seemed trite in light of what I learned a few days after our race. We hadn’t yet jumped into water, per se, but were certainly soggy by the time we arrived at our fourth obstacle. “Walk the Plank,” the sign said. Great. This was the obstacle that really tapped into my fears, jumping almost 15 feet into a deep pool

14

by Whitney Pipkin of muddy water. It didn’t help that a logjam of people waiting to take the leap gave me even more time to think about it. “Just climb up the wall, don’t look, and jump,” I told myself. I was repeating these mental motions when a military-uniformed volunteer interrupted. He was directing traffic toward the obstacle and talking to people as they passed. I thought his words would be motivating, maybe another of those “Oo-rahs!” that the Tough Mudder used as its battle cry. But they were words of caution: Keep moving when you get in the water, he told us. Someone before us hadn’t come up right away and they think people may have jumped on top of him. Great. My turn. I crept toward the plank slowly, not wanting time to contemplate this new information. My husband had just taken the leap, so I waited at the top to see his head pop up. I was staring at the spot where he’d entered the water, expecting him to come up for a breath. Five seconds felt like a full minute before I spotted him — already at the other end, climbing out of the muddy pool. “Did you really have to swim underwater?” I thought to myself. I sighed, relieved, and then stepped off the platform (with a more girlish yelp than I’d like to admit). This particular obstacle hadn’t been the focal point of my race—until I heard the news. Someone died from it. Later that afternoon, Avishek Sengupta, a 28-year-old from Ellicott City, Md., had to be pulled from the muddy water after he had been submerged for several minutes, according to initial reports. Emergency officials — Tough Mudder posts some 75 of them around the course — were able to resuscitate him, but Sengupta died at the hospital from brain injuries the next day, news

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reports said. The Virginia medical examiner’s office ruled the death an accident. Tough Mudder officials said they could not provide additional details due to an ongoing investigation. Sengupta’s was the first death resulting from a Tough Mudder event. In the company’s threeyear history, 750,000 people have participated in more than 50 Tough Mudders across the world. Our mid-April race, along with another on Sunday, drew 14,000 people to a military training center in West Virginia’s panhandle. Spokeswoman Ashley Pinakiewicz said the company’s East Coast events have been some of its biggest. Considering the high number of participants and the thorough nature of the waivers we signed — “this agreement applies to personal injury (including death)” — I was honestly surprised that this death was the event’s first. City Hospital in Martinsburg, W. Va., treated 20 patients with injuries from the Tough Mudder races the weekend we participated, according to a statement issued by the hospital. They treated participants for heart attacks and two, including Sengupta, for near-drowning injuries. More than a dozen others suffered from orthopedic, head and hypothermia injuries, the hospital said. Our team of five signed up for the Tough Mudder to “bond.” We’re headed on an overseas mission trip this summer and thought the semitorturous event would, if nothing else, teach us to rely on each other. It did. For all the hype and hollerin’ at the start of the Tough Mudder, I found they weren’t exaggerating about its brotherly nature. I was impressed when, at the first obstacle, I watched a paraplegic man leave his handcycle wheelchair, intended for off-road uses, to Army crawl under barbed wire, not seeming to


notice the scrape it left on his Mohawk-ed skull. But I was even more impressed when I saw his teammates flank the chair to push him up the steep hills. But he wasn’t the only one who had help. I bonded not only with my group, but also with perfect strangers (especially the one who reached up and shoved my butt over a mound of mud with no footholds — thanks). In fact, perhaps the hardest part of doing this race as a girl is that most of the guys barely let you. My own husband was an offender in this category, wrapping his arms around me like a cocoon at the top of the half-pipe obstacle called Everest. Granted, by this 20th obstacle, all my I-teach-fitness-classes pride had faded and I probably would have let any one of the chivalryhigh men carry me on his back to the finish line. But I didn’t. I finished. I wrapped my frozen fingers around my hard-earned beer, wishing it were warm. We drove home, posted pictures on Facebook and analyzed the appearance of new bruises for days. One teammate had already suggested signing up for another. But when we found out that someone didn’t finish — that someone didn’t survive — it all felt trivial. Was it worth the risk? Will another 14,000 people sign up to do the same event at the same place in October? In many ways, the Tough Mudder events are about competing on behalf of those who can’t. Participants have raised more than $5 million for the Wounded Warrior Program, a nonprofit

benefitting injured service members. The Boston Marathon bombings just days before our Tough Mudder event seemed only to galvanize the teams, who donned shirts in remembrance of those who lost limbs and lives. They chanted their “Oo-rahs!” loudly, exercising their right to race, their right to risk.

One week after Sengupta’s death, participants at an event in Ohio donned black armbands and headbands in Sengupta’s memory. They said on Facebook pages that they were running for him. While Sengupta’s death may become for some a reason not to sign up, it would quickly become, for others, a cause worth running for. •

enonation.com JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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© 2013 Intrawest

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On  Road THE

TOM DALY

WEEKEND ITINERARIES FOR THE ADVENTUROUS ROAD WARRIOR

by GRAHAM AVERILL

Road. Trip. Two of the greatest words in the English language. In the South, those two words mean peak bagging and canyon tromping. They mean local food and local beer. They mean freedom and adventure...and a bag of boiled peanuts. Dig through the itineraries outlined in the following pages and find the road trip that makes you hum with wanderlust. JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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THE

HARRISONBURG TRIP Stars, Bikes, and Beer BRING: Camping gear, mountain bike, designated

driver

HIGHLIGHT: Peeping the Supermoon SOUVENIR: Bottle of Royal Pippin cider,

the champagne of apple ciders ($16; albemarleciderworks.com).

Start your road trip on a high note, 25 miles west of Harrisonburg on the West Virginia/Virginia border ONE with a 2.9-mile hike to High Knob Lookout Tower, arguably the best view in the George Washington National Forest. From the Brandywine Lake Recreation Area off US 33, climb more than 2,000 feet on the High Knob Trail to the top of Shenandoah Mountain where the stone and timber tower offers 360-degree views to Harrisonburg to the east and deep into West Virginia to the west. Spend the night at the Brandywine Lake Recreation Area, which comes complete with a cold lake and hot showers (editor’s note: pack enough food/beverages for the night—this is the middle of nowhere).

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Book it into Harrisonburg where a breakfast quesadilla ($6, stuffed with eggs, tomatoes, and tater TWO tots!) awaits at the Artful Dodger (artfuldodgerlounge.com), a coffeehouse/cocktail lounge on the court square in downtown. The Dodger gets many of their ingredients from the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market and rotates local artists on the walls. After breakfast settles, head to Massanutten Resort’s Western Slope, where 15 miles of singletrack was built on the side of Massanutten Four Seasons Resort by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. If you’re not already a member of the SVBC, access to the Western Slope is an excellent reason to join ($50, plan ahead so SVBC can mail your trail pass to you before your trip). Ride the five-mile Pink Loop for the best on the mountain, including 2K Trail, one of the newest trails on the mountain that packs big rock outcroppings, sweeping berms, technical gnar, sweeping berms, pump-track style rollers, and did we mention the sweeping berms? Head to Skyline Drive and cruise south through Shenandoah National Park, bagging roadside views at every turn. Your goal is Big Meadows Campground ($20 a night), a massively popular campground in the middle of the park, where hot grub at Big Meadows Lodge is a short walk away. Bring your telescope—the high elevation of the grassy meadow coupled with the park’s lack of artificial light, make Big Meadow one of the best stargazing spots in Virginia. Look for the biggest full moon of the year, dubbed the “supermoon,” on June 23 and the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, when you can see up to 90 meteors per hour, on August 12.

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Pack up camp and continue south on Skyline Drive to the Bearfence Mountain Trail between mile 56 and THREE 57. Knock out the 1.2-mile loop to the top of Bearfence Mountain, which features the best rock scramble inside the park that isn’t Old Rag. The reward for your half-mile of hand-over-hand “hiking” is a 360-degree view from the summit. Head back to your car via the A.T. and kiss Shenandoah goodbye as you head toward Crozet, a small farming community that has become ground zero for Virginia’s local booze movement. “Rock Paper Scissors” to figure out who’s going to drive the car for your custom booze tour, a 30-mile loop that includes two breweries, a cider house, and a winery. Start in Crozet at Starr Hill Brewery, one of Virginia’s oldest beer-makers, for a six-beer tasting ($5) of the tasting room’s rotating taps (we like the Festie amber lager; starrhill.com). Head to King Family Vineyards where you’ll get schooled on the nuances of Virginia wines during a tasting ($7). If you’re lucky, you can catch a polo match (Sundays) at the Roseland Polo Field directly behind the winery (kingfamilyvineyards.com). Albemarle Ciderworks makes hard cider using heritage apples. The tasting room is also a great place to catch local bluegrass on weekends. Finish with dinner at Blue Mountain Brewery and Restaurant. Get the Nitro Chili Dog ($9), with a bun baked from local Goodwin Creek Farm and chili made with Blue Mountain’s Nitro Ale. Wash it down with a couple of Blue Mountain’s flagship Full Nelson, a pale ale that uses the brewery’s home-grown hops. bluemountainbrewery.com

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SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA TRIP The Local Food Quest BRING: Mountain bike, camping gear, your appetite HIGHLIGHT: Getting as high as you can in Virginia SOUVENIR: Photo of you kissing a pony Kick off this trip with some cardio by running the crest of North Mountain, aka “The Dragon’s Back,” ONE 15 miles northwest of Roanoke in the George Washington National Forest, where rocky terrain and bitchin climbs lead to views of McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. After an immediate 1,000 foot climb on Deer Trail (park off FS 224), follow the North Mountain Trail as it rolls for 4.5 miles along the narrow ridge over jagged, gray rocks offering views to your left and right. Take Turkey Trail back to your car for an 11-mile loop. Before leaving town, grab a Smoked Trout Melt ($10) at The River and Rail, a Southern café in a restored pharmacy with a seasonal menu that changes weekly (riverandrailrestaurant.com). Head southwest to Pandapas Pond/Brush Mountain, a recreation area in Jefferson National Forest outside of Blacksburg with more than 20

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miles of singletrack that’s lovingly maintained by local mountain bikers and trail runners. Start at Pandapas and take Poverty Creek Trail to the top of Brush Mountain, then drop down Jacob’s Ladder and Old Farm for a three-mile burly descent. Get a campsite on the New River at Eggleston Springs Campground ($20) and head to the Palisades Restaurant (thepalisadesrestaurant. com) for dinner. Housed inside an old general store, the Palisades serves hand cut steaks and rainbow trout sourced from local farms and streams. If you time it right, you’ll catch one of the local string bands playing live on weekend nights. Keep trucking south to Grayson Highlands State Park, where you’ll bag the state high point, 5,729-foot TWO Mount Rogers. Rogers often gets dissed because it doesn’t have a big view from its summit, but it’s the only state high point east of the Mississippi that doesn’t have a paved road to its summit. Start inside the state park at Massie Gap, hiking the A.T. four miles to the Mount Rogers Spur Trail to the summit. You’ll get long-range views from grassy meadows along the way, probably see a feral pony or two on Wilburn Ridge, and get to immerse yourself in the dank spruce-fir forest that dominates the top of Rogers. Retrace your steps to your car for an eight-mile round trip in Virginia’s High Country. Post-hike, cruise into Abingdon, which is rapidly becoming Southwest Virginia’s hub of local food. Grab dinner at The Harvest Table (276-944-5142), where the menu changes daily depending on what they can source from their own farm and partner farms. If it’s on the menu, get the Salad Pizza, which is exactly what it sounds like. Finish the day at Wolf Hills Brewing (wolfhillsbrewing.com), with a White Blaze Honey Cream Ale (or two), which uses four pounds of local honey in each barrel. Head south across the border and get a campsite at Backbone Rock Recreation Area, known for the “shortest tunnel in the world,” the 20-foot long hole that was blasted through a rock wall to accommodate a timber train. ($10 a site; 423-735-1500)

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KENTUCKY TRIP The Over / Under Trip BRING: Hiking boots, camping gear, headlight HIGHLIGHT: Going deep in Mammoth Cave SOUVENIR: Bottle of Corsair Triple Smoke

whiskey (corsairartisan.com)

Start at Bad Branch State Nature Preserve, a chunk of Pine Mountain owned by the Nature Conservancy. You’ll hike a seven-mile lollipop ONE loop through the preserve, which yields the 60-foot-high Bad Branch Falls set inside a sandstone gorge, and an

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incredible view of the Cumberland Plateau from High Rock, a sandstone outcropping on the crest of Pine Mountain. Post-hike, head eight miles north to Whitesburg, Kentucky’s hippest mountain town, for a scratch-made dinner at Courthouse Café (606-633-5859). Don’t leave without a slice of their signature Tanglewood Pie, a banana, cream cheese, and blueberry blend of goodness. If you like Whitesburg’s vibe, stick around for a show at Summit City (summitcitylounge.com), which pulls some of the best yet-to-be-discovered bands touring the South. Pitch a tent lakeside at Carr Creek Lake State Park ($20), 15 miles west of Whitesburg. Head 2.5-hours southwest to Big South Fork National Recreation Area, a 125,000-acre park split TWO between Tennessee and Kentucky that has one of the wildest rivers in the South and a high concentration of sandstone arches. Set up camp at the Blue Heron Campground ($17 a night), which will give you quick access to the park’s highlights in Kentucky. Spend the afternoon knocking out the Blue Heron Loop, a 6.5-mile hike that begins with two big overlooks of the Big South Fork River before dropping through a narrow slot in a cliff dubbed “crack in the rock.” You’ll also pass through a mining museum that details the area’s coal history and drop to the river where you can lounge on the giant slabs at Devil’s Jump rapid. Bring some food; there’s not much in the way of

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CAMERON DAVIDSON

restaurants in this remote corner of Kentucky.

THE

Head two hours farther west to Mammoth Cave National Park, where the largest known cave THREE system (400 miles and counting) sits below ground. Get there early enough in the day to join a Wild Cave Tour, a full-day, full-contact exploration of some of the wildest areas of the cave. This is legit caving—climbing, crawling, and squeezing through five miles of underground passages and rooms. ($48. nps.gov/maca) After you emerge from the deep, head 30 minutes west to Bowling Green for a tour of small batch bourbon maker Corsair Distillery ($8; corsairartisan.com)

BRING: Fly rod, mountain bike, water shoes HIGHLIGHT: Staring into the Smokies from

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WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA TRIP The High and Fly Trip Hemphill Bald

SOUVENIR: Trout caviar from Sunburst Trout Company (sunbursttrout.com)

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Get an early start to give yourself time to tackle the nine-mile out and back to the summit of Hemphill ONE Bald, a 5,540-foot high grassy bald that’s still grazed by cattle, on the eastern rim of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pick up the trail off of Heintooga Road at Polls Gap, and savor the views of the Cataloochee Valley from this remote knob. Retrace your steps, then head into downtown Waynesville, a small gateway town that’s experienced a food renaissance in recent years. Grab a plate of perfectly crispy, locally sourced fried chicken ($13) at Sweet Onion, just off Main Street (sweetonionrestaurant. com). You have your choice of breweries after dinner. We like the vibe at Frog Level Brewing

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IN ONE OF THE NATION’S TOP CULINARY DESTINATIONS

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WEST VIRGINIA’S SENECA ROCKS IS TOPS IN THE MOUNTAINS FOR CLIMBING. HIKE UP THE NORTH SIDE OR CLIMB THE SOUTH.

(froglevelbrewing.com), which has a small grassy lawn that backs up to a creek. Get their Lily’s Cream Boy. Pitch a tent 14 miles southeast of Waynesville at Sunburst Campground ($13) inside Pisgah National Forest off NC 215. In the morning, head to the Blue Ridge Parkway, driving north to milepost 420, where you can pick TWO up Flat Laurel Creek Trail. The small streams that drop off the Parkway above 5,000 feet are home to some of the feistiest wild trout in the state. In Flat Laurel Creek, you’ll find brookies waiting in deep pools. From the trailhead, hike a mile down the trail until you cross the creek, then fish your way back upstream. Even if you’re not an angler, you can spend a day boulder-hopping and swimming in the river’s deep plunge pools. Kiss the trout goodbye in the afternoon and take NC 215 into Brevard for a mini brewery tour that includes a Bohemian Pilsner at the small, but worthy Brevard Brewing (brevard-brewing.

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22

com) and the 5pm tour and tasting at Oskar Blues (oskarblues.com). Finish the night with a London broil sandwich ($10) at hip and local Square Root (squarerootrestaurant.com). Bed down riverside at the Davidson River Campground, ($20 a site) just a couple of miles outside of downtown Brevard. Pack up camp and head east to Dupont State Forest with your mountain bike, where the 80-mile THREE trail system just gets better and better thanks to local volunteers and trail building pros. Park at Corn Mill Shoals parking area and knock out a quick loop that climbs the 3,074-foot granite dome of Cedar Rock via Corn Mill Shoals, Little River and Cedar Rock Trails, then bombs down the granite face of the mountain on Big Rock Trail, arguably the best downhill in the forest thanks to copious amounts of slickrock surface and rock drops on the descent. Tack on Micajah Trail for swoopy, purpose-built singletrack before calling it a day.

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THE

WEST VIRGINIA TRIP Low Miles, Big Adventure BRING: Mountain bike, climbing gear, water

shoes

HIGHLIGHT: Long downhill on North Fork

Mountain

SOUVENIR: Facebook status photo from the top of Seneca Rocks The trip begins near the peak of North Fork Mountain, off Forest Road 79, where an 11.5-mile backONE country mountain bike adventure awaits. Pedal north on the North Fork Mountain Trail over lichen-covered boulders near the dramatic edge of North Fork Mountain, where juggy cliffs hang 2,000 feet over the river valley below. The tread is technical, but completely rideable, and after you

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make it through several miles of rolling terrain, you’ll finish with a constant three-mile downhill that drops 2,000 feet in a series of scree-covered switchbacks. Make sure you take time off the saddle to check out the views from the western rim of the mountain, including a short scramble to the top of Chimney Rock, a pillar of sandstone with a bomber 360-degree view just before the final descent. Bring two cars or arrange a shuttle with Eagle’s Nest Outfitters; 304-257-2393). Grab a site at the bottom of the North Fork Mountain in Smoke Hole Canyon Recreation Area ($20), which sits in the middle of a 20-mile-long gorge cut by the South Branch of the Potomac and offers excellent tubing and fishing from your campground. Break down camp and head to the south end of the mountain, where Seneca Rocks rises 1,000 feet from TWO the valley floor in a near-vertical sheet of sandstone. Seneca is one of those iconic climbing destinations that even non-climbers owe it to themselves to scrape their way up and over. You can hike to the north peak of Seneca, but the south peak can only be summited via technical rock climbing. There are easy 5.2 routes to the top, but if you’re not familiar with Seneca, your best bet is to hire a guide from Seneca Rocks Climbing School (Seneca-rocks.com). A full day will cost you $225, but they’ll get you to the top via a route that suits your ability and make sure all your knots are tied right, which is priceless, really. Camp at Seneca Shadows, the federally

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Jacksonville, TN

owned campground with tent sites that have views of the Rocks and clean showers for $20. There’s a trail that leads from the campground into town and the Front Porch, where the pizza is cheap (304-567-2555). Take WV 32 toward Canaan Valley, then FS 19 to the 17,371-acre Dolly Sods, a federally designated THREE Wilderness area stacked with high elevation bog and heath ecosystems, the kind of terrain you usually only find in Canada. You’re going to knock out an 8.5-mile loop that combines Red Creek Trail, Rocky Point Trail, and Big Stonecoal Trail, which serves as a mini-highlight reel of the Sods. Start at the Red Creek Trailhead off FS 19 and be prepared for pristine swimming holes, fields of reindeer moss and spruce groves. You’ll also enjoy long-range views from Lions Head, a series of flat outcroppings on Rocky Point, before you call it a day. After the hike, head into tiny downtown Davis for a Shovelhead burrito (homemade pulled pork and horseradish slaw, $8; hellbenderburritos. com) at Hellbender Burritos, then travel a bit farther into the even tinier town of Thomas for one (or three) pints of Almost Heaven Ale, an amber ale with a subtle and seductive caramel finish, at the uber-hip Mountain State Brewing Company (mountainstatebrewing.com). Call it a night at Canaan Valley State Park, where $20 gets you a primo car-camping site with hiking and mountain biking trails spreading out from the campground.

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Chattanooga, TN

THE

EAST TENNESSEE TRIP Smokin’ ‘Nooga BRING: Mountain bike, water shoes, courage HIGHLIGHT: Scrambling the Chimney Tops SOUVENIR: Handcrafted beer mugs from

Moccasin Bend Brewing (bendbrewingbeer.com) Start at the Sugarlands Visitor Center on the western edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park ONE and head up Newfound Gap Road to the Chimney Tops Trail parking lot. This is a four-mile out and back that takes you to the rocky spine of a 4,840-foot knob with stellar views stretching deep into the park. Out of 900 miles of trail inside the park, Chimney Tops is one of the most stunning short hikes. Start by following and crossing Walker Prong for a mile as it makes its way into the West Fork of the Pigeon River, then ditch the creek and start climbing the mountain in earnest. You’ll gain 1,335 feet on your way to the ridge. The trail gets rootier and rockier the higher you climb, until eventually you’re scrambling hand over hand on solid rock with vertigo-inducing exposure. Hop and scramble your way across the spine of the mountain, pausing for a sack lunch with impeccable views. Post-hike, set up your tent in Elkmont Campground ($17), then drive just west of the

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Arden, NC

JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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ALL WOMENS’ 5K MUD RUN / WALK

RICHMOND 9/28

Your Friends Your Pace Your Fun

That’s Pretty Muddy. A WOMEN–ONLY MUD RUN SERIES.

WHAT IS PRETTY MUDDY? Pretty Muddy is a new national series of women-only adventurous obstacle course “mud run” events for people who want to get outside, spend time with friends and have lots of fun. More than a race, it’s a “non-competitive” personal challenge, bonding experience and party all rolled into one. This year, Pretty Muddy will unite women who want to live life to the fullest... and build a spirited, health-focused community that will live well beyond a single day.

WHY YOU WILL LOVE IT! • A chance to try something new, have fun with your friends and feel the empowerment of accomplishing a goal. • Team focused and laughter inducing. • All fitness levels embraced. • No time keeping, means no anxiety. • Obstacles are optional.

Find your event. Sign up. Tell friends. Tell everyone. Do it. Love it.

POCAHONTAS STATE PARK RICHMOND, VA SEPTEMBER 28, 2013

• 5K Adventurous run or walk course • Best-in-class obstacles • Mud... lots of MUD • Epic finish line party with music, entertainment, drinks and celebration galore CONNECT WITH US

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CHATTANOOGA’S TERMINAL BREWHOUSE OFFERS SOME OF THE BEST LOCALLY CRAFTED SUDS IN THE SOUTH.

park to Townsend, where you’ll splurge on one of the finest meals in East Tennessee at Dancing Bear Lodge. The menu changes nightly depending on what the chef pulls from his partner farms, but expect something to the tune of cornmeal-dusted rainbow trout over grits (dancingbearlodge.com). Head south along US 411, skirting the edge of the Smokies to the Ocoee River Gorge, where the TWO Ocoee offers class IV whitewater winding through steep and green mountains. The Ocoee is damreleased, so check tva.gov for the recreational release schedule. If you can, go on a weekend when the Upper Ocoee is flowing, allowing you to do the Upper/Middle combo trip for 8.5 miles of class III-IV that includes the ’96 Olympic canoe and kayak course as well as big-hit rapids like Grumpy’s and Humongous. And keep an eye out for the new breed of whitewater SUP paddlers who test the limits of SUP on the Ocoee all summer long. Pitch a tent at the Thunder Rock Campground, inside the gorge on the banks of the river ($12). And bring your mountain bike. The Thunder Rock Express is the highlight of the Tanasi trail system, which begins and ends at the campground. The screaming 1.5-mile downhill is

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well worth the sweat equity it takes to climb out of the gorge. Keep the bike lubed for your final day, when you’ll hit the everexpanding Raccoon Mountain Trail THREE System just outside of Chattanooga. SORBA Chattanooga has built 22 miles of singletrack on TVA land above downtown, with more to come in the future. The Chunky Freeride area offers steep downhills, big jumps and overhead drops over natural boulders. The Small Intestine Trail is the exact opposite, with smooth, flowing singletrack cut through a tight forest. Bust out a couple of loops, then drop into downtown Chattanooga for a mini brewery tour that includes the Chattanooga Brewing Company (chattabrew. com) in the hip North Shore neighborhood, the inventive Moccasin Bend Brewing at the base of Lookout Mountain (bendbrewingbeer.com), and Terminal Brewhouse (terminalbrewhouse.com) in the up and coming Southside neighborhood. Grab a dog or two at Good Dog, where the meat and all the fixings are harvested within 100 miles of the shop (eatatgooddog.com). After the beer tour, settle down for the night at The Crash Pad, a boutique hostel that caters to adventureminded travelers (crashpadchattanooga.com; bunks start at $27).

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THE

N.C. HIGH COUNTRY TRIP Low Mileage, High Intensity BRING: Mountain bike, bouldering pad, sense of adventure HIGHLIGHT: Staring into the Grand Canyon of the

South

SOUVENIR: Tales of seeing the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights Lube the chain and head to the new Rocky Knob Bike Park, just east of Boone off US 421. Local bikers spent ONE $2 million and countless hours of sweat equity to build this eight-mile, 185-acre mountain biking nirvana that’s packed with wooden bridges and optional boulder drops. You need to ride the whole park (maybe ride it twice), but keep an eye out for PBJ, almost two miles of downhill bliss. Rocky Knob also has three separate skills parks. Skinny Skills is the perfect place to sharpen your bike handling skills. For dinner, stop in at The Gamekeeper

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JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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HAVE A WILD TIME Find Someing Remarkae

The County of Bath is an enticing place filled with scenic vistas, local flair and exciting adventures just waiting to be discovered.

ge, ountains d i R M One fo ot in the Blueegheny the othe in the All r

With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west, the Alleghany Highlands is Virginia’s ultimate mountain playground with over 100 miles of trails for hiking, biking or riding.

Get your free Trail Guide today.

Racoon Kit

www.alleghanyhighlandstrails.com

1.800.628.8092 www.DiscoverBath.com

888-430-5786

The Perfect Getaway for Adventure Lovers • Start your weekend in our crystal clear mountain streams and long, lazy rivers – ideal for canoeing, kayaking and river rafting. • Continue your adventure on land with mountain biking and scenic hiking over awesome trails that wind through old growth forests and mountain ridges. • Climb the high quality rock routes at Coopers Rock. . . Or go underground and explore wild caving.

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• Then wind down with local bands in our compact, action-packed downtown.

800.458.7373

Call us to help plan outdoor adventure itineraries for all ages, accommodations and nighttime entertainment.

tourmorgantown.com/outdoors

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(gamekeeper-nc.com), a Southern restaurant that focuses on seasonal ingredients and a variety of wild game like rabbit and pheasant, along with farm-raised bison and ostrich. Camp at Honey Bear Campground, off the Parkway at milepost 294, for a ridiculous array of amenities like wifi at your campsite and free corn hole ($20 a night; honeybearcampground.com) Head south on the Blue Ridge Parkway for some pebble wrestling at Grandmother Mountain Boulders, one of the finest TWO bouldering fields in the Southeast. Hundreds of high quality granite boulders with problems ranging from V1 to V11 make this a popular spot, particularly during the summer when the High Country’s higher elevations and cooler temps offer breezy climbing conditions compared to the rest of North Carolina. You won’t have the rocks to yourself, but there’s plenty of room to spread out. If you’re new to the sport, head to the Long Wall, which has several routes for beginners. Corner Crack is a V1 with big holds and an easy top out. If you fancy yourself a hero, check out Full Throttle on the Engine Block boulder, a V11 that has only been sent by a few climbers, one of whom is Chris Sharma. Park in the Grandmother Parking Area off the Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 307.4. Pitch a tent at Linville Falls Campground (milepost 316; $16 per night). Once the sun sets, head over to the Lost Cove Cliffs Overlook at milepost 310 and try to spot the Brown Mountain Lights, a mysterious series of glowing orbs that rise from Brown Mountain in the distance.

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Wake before sunrise and head farther south on NC 181 to Linville Gorge, a nearly 2,000-foot-deep, 12-mile canyon THREE that offers some of North Carolina’s best hiking, whitewater paddling, and rock climbing. Start at the Table Rock Parking Lot, off Ginger Cake Road on the eastern rim of the gorge. If you’re looking for a quick, but steep hike with killer views, hike 1.2 miles to the summit of Table Rock for a view that stretches deep into the belly of the canyon. If you want something more epic, go rim to rim on the Mountains to Sea Trail, an 11-mile one-way expedition that starts at Table Rock and follows the eastern rim with excellent views of the gorge before dropping down to a bridgeless river crossing and climbing up the western side and Kistler Highway. Even if you only follow the MST along the eastern rim of the gorge, you’ll be treated to a bevy of views and rock outcroppings to scramble. (Editor’s Note: Carry a map and arrange for a shuttle if you’re doing the full rim to rim).

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THE

NORTH GEORGIA TRIP Water, Water Everywhere BRING: Water shoes, mountain bike HIGHLIGHT: Getting thrown from the raft during Five

Falls

SOUVENIR: Photos of getting thrown from the raft during Five Falls

Kick off the weekend with a bang by rafting Section IV of the Chattooga River, outside of Clayton, Ga. The Chattooga was the first ONE Wild and Scenic River in the South, cutting a 40-mile gorge through some of the most rugged terrain in Georgia and South Carolina. Section IV offers a full day of class IV-V “drop and pool” whitewater. You’ll remember two things about rafting the Chattooga: Five Falls, where five different waterfalls are sandwiched within a quartermile long gorge, and the solitude. The forest service limits the number of rafts on the river and times the guided trips so you won’t see another rafting group. For dinner, grab a patio table at the Universal Joint in Clayton for a Steinbeck burger with pimento cheese, bacon, and jalapenos. Pitch a tent farther south on US 441 at Tallulah Gorge State Park. Time it right, and you can partake in one of the park’s Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hikes (July 21/22), which will take you across the 1,000-foot deep rock canyon (gastateparks.org).

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Travel west for a milder water day at Lake Chatuge, a TVA reservoir on the Hiwassee River with 130 miles of shoreline split TWO between North Carolina and Georgia. The lake spreads into the surrounding mountains in dozens of finger-like coves, making it the ideal scene for SUP exploration. If you have your own board, launch from the Jackrabbit Mountain Recreation Area, on the North Carolina side of the lake. If you’re boardless, book a trip with Southern Water Trails (southernwatertrails.com; $80 for 3 hours). Either way, as you are paddling, keep an eye out for some of Chatuge’s 100 different species of bass swimming beneath your board. Grab a site at Jackrabbit Mountain for $15 a night.

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Continue west, traveling 55 miles to Ellijay, where the class III Cartecay River offers seven miles of scenic whitewater. It’s an THREE ideal river for kayakers still perfecting their river running skills, thanks to the drop and pool nature of the creek and straightforward class II-III drops and slides. Cartecay River Experience (cartecayriverexperience.com) runs shuttles and offers guided instruction on the river. You’ve earned the Wild Hog and Beef Meat Loaf ($11) at The Farm Table inside the Tabor House (706-276-1861) in downtown Ellijay, where the menu is seasonal and sourced from North Georgia farms. Ellijay is apple country, so don’t leave without stopping by one of the local farms. Check out the massive Farm Market at Hillcrest Orchards (hillcrestorchards.net), where you’ll find everything from bushels of apples fresh from the trees to homemade fried apple pies. Their cider slush is legendary. Or head north to Blue Ridge, where the 17-mile Aska Adventure Trail system stretches along the bank of Lake Blue Ridge, offering some of Georgia’s best mountain biking. Knock out the hardy 8-mile Green Mountain Trail, which will give you a broad view of the lake before dropping down to the shore and climbing back out again. You’ve earned the Shrimp and Grits ($21) at Harvest on Main (harvestonmain.com), in downtown Blue Ridge, a farm to table restaurant where much of the food comes from the chef’s own farm. After dinner, stroll to Blue Ridge Brewery for a pint of Blue Ridge Blonde ($5; blueridgebrewery.com). •

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GO OU T S I DE AN D PLAY

We’re hitting the road again at this summer’s hottest events! Come by our booth for chances to win cool gear from our sponsors! 12th Annual Floydfest Floyd, VA July 25-28

For more great road trip ideas, head over to BlueRidgeOutdoors.com JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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Run-ivation Slacking on your summer training schedule? Use these five tips from ZAP athletes to put get you back on track.

Olympic Dreaming Athletes train at Appalachia’s only elite running center with the hope of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.

W

Find a four-legged running pal. ZAP’s unofficial mascot is the neighbor’s dog, Toby, who joins ZAP athletes on afternoon runs around the premises. Toby has been clocked at speeds of 25 miles per hour.

2.

Take meaningful breaks so you come back recharged. Coach Pete encourages runners to take time off after hard races and orders them to forget about running.

3.

Adopt a mantra. Saying a word can change how your body feels. One ZAP runner tells himself, “Stay on the gas,” to remind him to push forward. Another ZAP athlete tells herself that she’s “strong and light” during steeplechase races.

4.

Visualize yourself running. Coach Pete works with runners to visualize races weeks beforehand. Runners report that when race day arrives, they feel more relaxed because they’ve already succeeded in their mind.

5.

Get inspired by looking at pictures of other runners. ZAP athletes tape photos of Olympians above their beds and watch races to motivate for hard training runs.

by KY DELANEY

ith the renaissance of U.S. distance running upon us, many U.S. runners have reason to hope to join their East African competitors on the podium at the 2016 Olympics. Part of the credit for the resurgence goes to the handful of post-collegiate running programs for Olympic hopefuls in the U.S. Training centers, like ZAP Fitness, the only center in the Southeast. High in the mountains outside of Blowing Rock, N.C., eight elite runners live and train at ZAP while also maintaining the premises and hosting running camps for half the year. To get a better idea of the lifestyle of a professional runner, I tagged along with the team.

THE ATHLETES ESTHER ERB I arrived at ZAP on a blustery spring Saturday afternoon to find a half-dozen elite runners mowing the grass and landscaping, some clad in Reebok running gear, the center’s sponsor. Later, some of the athletes set up for dinner and cleaned up afterwards. Esther Erb, wearing a tank top and tiny running shorts, greeted me with a warm smile. She’s a wisp of a marathoner with strawberry blonde hair. We walked through ZAP’s facility, located on 68 acres literally at the end of a dirt road. The two wooden buildings, connected by a breezeway, are perched on a well manicured lawn, which in turn is surrounded by dense forests. Esther has lived at ZAP for three years, ever since returning from a two-year stint teaching

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1.

English in Austria on a Fulbright grant. Inside the building is a large industrial kitchen that opens up to the dining area. Around the corner is the massive fitness room where treadmills and elliptical trainers sit in front of large glass windows overlooking the idyllic creek that flows across the property. Esther pointed to a treadmill and said, “That’s the loved and hated alternative gravity treadmill. It allows runners to train without bearing weight.” “Why dreaded?” “It’s where we train when we’re injured. Being injured here is the worst, when you have to nurse your injury while everyone else is going full force.” Esther led me upstairs where the athletes live, and she showed me her own small apartment where she created a movie watching set-up for the athletes. She feels lucky to be here. “It’s a dream come true to be able to run for a living,” she says. She admits that the social aspect can be tough, with the closest town, Boone, dominated by college kids. Esther makes the best of it by singing with a local choir. In fact, the only thing that rivals Esther’s running is her singing. She sang the national anthem at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. Because she sang, she didn’t have time to warm-up. She still set her marathon personal record, finishing 27th in 2:37:21. Esther led me to the adjoining building, a lodge with a large living area and a long hallway leading to bedrooms, where running guests

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stay. She shows me my simple bedroom before excusing herself to finish her second run of the day, an easy six mile recovery run.

Alyssa McKaig That evening I met some of the other runners at dinner. Alyssa McKaig has long, curly brown hair and piercing blue eyes. She explained that she’s the athlete who has been at ZAP the longest. “I just want to see how fast I can be. As long as I can get faster, I’ll stay. I want to get better at the 5K, the 10K, and the marathon – all of it.” I later learned that based solely on resumes, Alyssa seems the most likely to have a shot at being part of the 2016 Olympic team. She placed eighth in the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, running 2:31:56.

Cameron Bean Cameron Bean is a lanky, good-natured Southern boy. By his own account, when he first came to ZAP, a sponsor wouldn’t have even considered giving him a free pair of socks. Cameron, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn., graduated from Samford University in Alabama and didn’t have the race times to meet standards to get accepted into ZAP. He called up ZAP’s lead coach, Pete Rea,


Run at ZAP Fitness Center

anyway. Coach Pete told him, “If you move up here you can train with the team. It’s on you to find a job and a place to live.” Cameron spent the first year training in the mornings and working at a local restaurant in the evenings. He was always tired. “I’d been running forty or fifty miles a week. Coach Pete bumped me up to seventy to eighty miles. Then I’d stand on my feet all night at work. I’d get home and hit my bed like a rock.” His hard work paid off. He went from being a not-much college runner to being in the top ten in the country in the steeplechase.

Mike and Sarah Crouch Mike and Sarah, both ZAP athletes, got married last year. Mike married into the infamous Porter running family (Porter is Sarah’s maiden name). Sarah’s mom became an elite marathoner at forty-two years old and currently runs seventy to eighty miles a week. Her fifty-two year old dad races in mostly 5Ks. His goal at every race is to not get beaten by any woman who isn’t in his family. Her older sister regularly logs seventymile weeks, her brother runs the steeplechase for Northwest University in Seattle, and her younger sister won the Vancouver Half Marathon this year. Even Sarah’s grandmother was still running ultra marathons well into her sixties. It’s no wonder that Sarah qualified for the Olympic Track and Field Trials in the 10,000 meters in 2012. Mike Crouch fits right in with the legendary running Porters. As a collegiate runner at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, he was the most decorated runner in school history, and arguably the most dominant runner in the country in 2009 and 2010. He recently ran 13:55 at a 5K. Sarah and Mike had an intimate wedding at ZAP last December. And, yes, they both ran the day of their wedding. At the reception, her sister proposed a toast to “the couple with a combined body fat percentage of 8.” The couple honeymooned in Cancun, each running about ninety miles in the heat and humidity.

The Lifestyle After dinner the athletes spent the evening talking about running. The daily routine is simple: Eat. Run. Eat. Work out core. Do chores. Run. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Every couple of weeks the athletes get a massage and meet with Coach

Pete for individual training sessions. Races punctuate the runners’ grueling training schedule. They travel frequently to races where they receive elite treatment – their expenses are covered by ZAP, and their transportation pre-arranged by race officials. The athletes even get spoiled with free running gear. When training is going well, there’s nowhere these athletes would rather be than tucked away in nature, running without distractions at ZAP. Even in running paradise, though, it’s not all stipends and free shoes. On days when it’s pouring down rain and freezing cold, some of the athletes admit to daydreaming about going to an office and sitting in a cozy cubicle with a mug of coffee instead of training. Often, the athletes miss out on the milestones of friends and family. And sometimes they miss out on doing things that “normal” twenty somethings do, like listening to live music. Sure, they can see a show every now and again, but never during important training time. And Cameron, who has a certain infatuation with motorcycles, wishes he could own one, but said, “Coach Pete would kill me. The risk of getting injured is just too great.”

Coach Pete Rea The next morning I woke up to the sound of wind and rain. My first instinct was to pull the blanket up higher and go back to sleep, but then I remembered that I would be watching the team run and get to meet Coach Rea. Three runners and I dashed through the rain to hop into Coach Pete’s car. Before we could even close the doors, Coach Pete was all contagious enthusiasm on this otherwise dreary rainy day: “I saw this interview of an Italian hurdler. You guys need to see his extension over the hurdles – I’ll show it to you back at ZAP. Anyway, in the background of the interview, this music was playing and I thought I’d play it for you today, when you might need a bit of motivation.” Coach Pete finally paused to take a breath, while he fumbled with his iPhone. The only sound was the windshield wipers. “Okay, here it is, a little soul for you this morning.” Soon the runners were bobbing their heads along the Sam & Dave classic “Hold On I’m Comin.’” We arrived at the day’s running destination, Todd Railroad Grade, a country road

Think you’ve got what it takes to be an elite runner? Check out their website at zapfitness.com to see if you’re fast enough to qualify for ZAP’s A or B standards, which determines the stipend amount and other perks. But just being fast doesn’t make a ZAP athlete. Coach Pete told me he’s looking for “a diamond in the rough.” He tends to favor runners who have been undertrained or trained incorrectly. Coach Pete looks for runners graduating from smaller, lesser known schools. He takes a close look at each applicant’s training log in search of athletes who potentially could benefit from receiving Olympic-level training. Personality also plays a huge role in the decision making process. Runners live, train, and work together in a rural environment. An important aspect of the interview is a three-day stay at the running center, where applicants are expected to pitch in with chores. Don’t fret if you don’t have the race times to train at ZAP full time. The center offers a host of running camps each summer, appropriate for runners of all abilities.

that parallels the headwaters of the New River. He parked next to an old-fashioned general store and took off with the runners for their warm-up. Back from his short run, Coach Pete excused himself to call Cole Atkins, the one ZAP runner who raced that day and placed fifth. “Proud of you,” he said. “You’re fit, you had a good run. The four guys in front of you were really moving. Make sure to take care of those legs – ICE!” Coach Pete and I zoomed off to catch up with the runners on the road. Each time we passed an athlete, he shouted words of encouragement.

Words to Live By After the workout, we returned to the training center to refuel. Coach Pete explained that his work is to teach consistency and patience to a generation that expects instant gratification. According to Coach Pete, if his runners train hard week in and week out, while remaining injury free, they will be in a position to qualify for the 2016 Olympic teams. When I pressed him about who had the best chance of snagging a spot on an Olympic team, Coach Pete adamantly maintained that all of his runners have a shot at making the team. Coach Pete summed up his coaching philosophy, “As a coach, I want them to care about it badly. I want running to be a big part of their lives. But I also want them to have balance in their lives. I remind them that the sun still comes up, that their family still loves them no matter what time they run. Not running well might be disappointing, but it isn’t a tragedy. In the end, it’s just running and doesn’t define a person.” • JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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. . . n o i t a n i t s e D enture! v d A

Your guide to the best Road Trip destinations across the Blue Ridge Starts HERE. If you are looking for a mountain to conquer, a river to win over, or just a long ride from valley to valley, pack your bags and hit the road with Blue Ridge Outdoors this summer. In the Blue Ridge, all roads lead to adventure.

Ready. Set. Go! Greetings Fro m

Montgomery C

ounty, Virginia

Montgomery O

utdoors

Where to Begin READY, SET, MontGOmery County, VA! Scenic hikes and thrilling paddles in Montgomery County VA? Yes. Also enjoy many lodging, dining and entertainment options available to you here. Go! Begin planning your adventure online with www.visit.yesmontgomeryva.org.

• GO Dis c Golfin g! Golde as challe nH nging as it is scen ills course of 37 holes, is ic. • GO on the New River. L rapids, p azy float ick your s to adve pleasure nture . • “GO lo cal” and experien Road, ar ce t of ‘Rou nd the M music of The Cr America ooked ountain n and Un , authen iversity vistas. t i towns an c d unspo iled rura l

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h a o d n a n e h S e h T a i n i g r i V , y e ll a V Take the Roads Less Traveled Use your passport to explore the Main Streets of Harrisonburg, Waynesboro and Luray or discover fun at Massanutten Resort. Shop, dine or stay at any 4 participating businesses in at least 2 partner destinations to get your passport validated and submit for chances to win vacation giveaways. Online at www.Mountains2MainStreets.com.

Eat FIND LOCAL FLAVORS AND CULINARY DELIGHTS ON THE MAIN STREETS OF HARRISONBURG, LURAY AND WAYNESBORO. EXPERIENCE SPECIALTY DINNERS, TASTE FINE WINES AND SAMPLE SELECT BREWS. ALL OF THIS PLUS SO MUCH MORE CAN BE FOUND AT MASSANUTTEN EATERIES!

Play WITH OVER 6000 ACRES TO EXPLORE, PLAYING AT MASSANUTTEN IS VIRTUALLY LIMITLESS! ZIP THROUGH THE TREES, SPLASH AT THE WATERPARK, LACE UP YOUR HIKING BOOTS, RELAX AT THE SPA OR HIT THE GREENS! THE CHOICE IS ALL YOURS!

Stay DISCOVER ALL FOUR SEASONS AT MASSANUTTEN RESORT! NESTLED IN THE HEART OF THE BEAUTIFUL SHENANDOAH VALLEY, MASSANUTTEN OFFERS A WIDE VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS.

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• Lace up you r boots and e njoy a hike in Shenandoah the National Par k and explore many waterf one of alls along the Applachian T r ail. • Get hooked catching trop hy trout on th South River e in Waynesbo r o or paddle o Shenandoah n the River in Lur ay. • Hike or bik e in Harrison burg. • Splash at th e Massanutt en Waterpar the greens at k or hit the Massnutt en Golf Cour se. • Ride horseb ack on a guid ed trip in the Shenandoah National Par k. #M2MPassport


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, y e ll a V e k o n a o R e g d i R e u l B s ’ irginia

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Explore the Blue Ridge

Begin your Blue Ridge Day by visiting the Roanoke Valley Visitor Information Center in Downtown Roanoke. Open seven days a week, the visitor center offers a wealth of valuable information about what to do in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Online at: www.visitvablueridge.com or call 540-342-6025.

Eat WITH MORE RESTAURANTS PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER PLACE IN VIRGINIA, THE ROANOKE VALLEY IN VIRGINIA’S BLUE RIDGE OFFERS AN OUTSTANDING VARIETY OF CUISINE FOR ANY APPETITE. WWW.VISITVABLUERIDGE.COM/RESTAURANTSNIGHTLIFE/DINING

Play AS THE LARGEST METROPOLITAN AREA IN THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, THE ROANOKE VALLEY FEATURES AN EXCITING BLEND OF ARTS, CULTURE, SHOPPING, NIGHTLIFE, HISTORY, ATTRACTIONS AND SPECIAL EVENTS ALL SURROUNDED BY AN ABUNDANCE OF OUTDOOR RECREATION. WWW.VISITVABLUERIDGE.COM/THINGS-TO-DO

Stay WHETHER YOU’RE LOOKING TO STAY AT A CHARMING BED & BREAKFAST, CAMPSITE UNDER THE STARS, LUXURIOUS HOTEL, INTIMATE MOUNTAIN CABIN OR WATERFRONT RESORT, VIRGINIA’S BLUE RIDGE HAS A SPECIAL PLACE FOR YOU. WWW.VISITVABLUERIDGE.COM/HOTELS-LODGING

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Roanoke Outdoors

• Take a driv e and have a picnic on the Ridge Parkw Blue ay, voted “Am erica’s Favori Drive.” te

• Experience the incredible views of a hik McAfee Kno e to b, the most p h otographed sp the Appalach o t on ian Trail. • Reel in a pri ze-winning fi sh from the b waters of Sm eautiful ith Mountain Lake, which over 500 mil features es of glistenin g shoreline. • Bike the ch allenging ter rain of the tr Carvins Cov ails at e Natural Re serve. • Kayak the scenic waters of the Upper River Water James Trail. Facebook.com/RoanokeValley


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Greetings Fro m

Martinsville, Virginia Time to Explore

Whether you are coming in for a day-trip or a week’s vacation, The Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, located at 54 West Church Street, is a one-stop option for travelers seeking tourist information for the immediate area as well as the entire state. Online at www.visitmartinsville.com

s r o o d t u O e ll i v Martins

g in a charmin y il m fa e th h ekend wit • Spend a we ark. Stone State P y ir a F t a in b ca trout, er where wild iv R h it m S ant. e in th ws are abund o b in • Cast a line ra d n a , redbreast small mouth, tt ing at Philpo ik h d n a g n ti ing, boa ge f the Blue Rid • Enjoy camp o p ro d ck a b enic Lake with a sc Mountains. Run ustle 5k Mud H e it m ra lg e in the H th. • Get muddy on August 10 t s e F r e iv R at Smith River ng the Smith lo a s e il m 0 2 than • Bike more . Trail System

Eat FENDERZ - STEP BACK IN TIME AS YOU WALK IN THIS CLASSIC DINER. WITH VINTAGE AUTO-THEMED SANDWICHES LIKE THE T-BIRD AND FENDER BENDER PLUS A WIDE SLECTION OF DELICIOUS SHAKES AND ICE CREAM DESERTS, THIS WILL BECOME A MEMORABLE STOP DURING YOUR VISIT. 276.647.4555

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Stay THE KETCHIE HOUSE - THIS CHARMING COTTAGE OFFERS TWO ONE-BEDROOM SUITES, EACH WITH A PRIVATE BATH AND SITTING AREA. ITS LOCATION IN A HISTORIC DISTRICT PUTS IT WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE TO MUSEUMS, TRAILS, SHOPPING AND DINING. KETCHIEHOUSE.COM

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Experience Adventure “Giles Style” Plan your Giles County adventure at our awardwinning website www.visitgilescounty.org. Click on “Play” for information on fishing the New River, hiking the Appalachian Trail or the falls at Cascades, Dismal, or Mill Creek and for more information on outfitters who can assist you. www.facebook.com/pages/Giles-County-Virginia

COUNTY, VA

iles

Live.Work. Play.

Greetings Fro m

Lexington, Vir Lexington Ou

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From Hiking to History Discover the natural attraction of Lexington and the communities of Rockbridge County. Hike, bike, horseback ride, camp, golf or even take a low-speed trek through zebras, buffalo, and ostriches. Start at www.lexingtonvirginia.com or stop by our visitor’s center at 106 East Washington Street in Lexington. For a free visitor’s guide, call 877-453-9822. Facebook.com/LexingtonVA

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Local Outdoor Activities


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, y t n u o C r e k c u T Virginia t s e W Start Getting Tuckered! Davis, WV, the highest incorporated (and coolest) town in West Virginia (3109’+) is the starting point for all of your family’s outdoor adventures. Maps, directions, and lots of opinions are available at the Tucker County Information Center on William Avenue. Online at www.canaanvalley.org or call 800-782-2775.

Eat CHECK OUT ONE OF OUR RESTAURANTS LISTED IN “101 UNIQUE PLACES TO DINE IN WEST VIRGINIA”; HELLBENDER BURRITOS, FLYING PIGS, WHITE GRASS CAFÉ. DON’T FORGET TO STOP BY SIRIANNI’S CAFÉ.

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Local Outdoor Activities

Tucker County Outdo

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• Go see the fa lls at Blackw ater Falls Sta Park and don te ’t miss Lindy Point Overlo o k . • The Cheat River, provid in g all kinds of adventures fo water r everyone! • Scenic Cha irlift Ride at Cannan Vall Resort or Tim ey berline Reso rt providing breathtaking views! • Hike, Bike, or Fish at two State Parks, Wilderness A two reas and/or th e Monongah National For ela est. • Stop by our two quaint to wns, Davis a Thomas. Sho nd p, dine and ta ste handcraft ed beers.

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m o r F s g n i t e Gre

s e k a L , s e v a C s ’ y k c Kentu Corvettes Region and s r o o d t u O y Kentuck

und elow gro k. b d n a e abov l Par ariety of h Cave Nationa v a y jo • En mot ffers at Mam s e i t i t Park o v r i d t o s ac e R e out an tate m S o e C k . a a n L mari n River service l l nd. u f • Barre a d ing arou f an l h s o g fi , t g s e n i b y lodg the some of Kentuck d d n n a a y s e jo , n en e beauty ncan Hi h u t D e , s l l a u c on. rdell H es show ves Regi a C • The Co 00 Scenic Driv y k c u y1 e Kent Highwa ity of th s r e v i d and history

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Start Your Engines With over 50 attractions, 21 Cave Tours, 4 Lakes and 1 World Wonder, Kentucky’s cave region has something for everyone. Visit our website to plan your getaway to the home of America’s Favorite Sports car, the Corvette. Make sure to save time for kangaroos, dinosaurs, zip lines and roller coasters. 800-326-7465 www.caveslakescorvettes.net

Greetings Fro m

Lewis County,

West Virginia

Lewis County

Start Your Engines 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. Online at MountainLakesCVB.com 888-238-8881 304-269-4988

Outdoors

• Fish fo rt mile Sto rout, muskie, ba newall J ss and c atfish in ackson Lake. the 26• Visit S tonewal lR camping sites, hik esort State Par k ing and rated fiv biking tr , featuring e-start r ails, and esort an A A A • You ca n also fin d attrac Mill, th tions su e and nu ch as Ja merous West Vi ckson’s museum rginia M s includin useum o gt f Ameri can Glas he s. Facebook.com/Mountain.CVB

Local Outdoor Activities


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Greetings Fro m

Mountain LakeLodge, V A Family Fun! Mountain Lake Outfitters at the entrance to Mountain Lake Lodge is the ideal base camp to start your outdoor adventure, connecting you to our hiking and biking trails! We’re also the starting point for the Mountain Lake Treetop Adventure, our new aerial adventure ropes course! Online at www.mtnlakelodge.com

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erial ia’s newest a in g ir V r e v o res! c • Dis top Adventu e e r T e k a L - Mountain er 22 g - Explore ov in ik B in ide! ta n ou n or with a gu w o r • Hiking & M u o y n o s ined trail miles of fern-l dventure arning and a le w e n a is ke! p • Kids Kam Mountain La t a 2 1 to 5 s r kid experience fo gateway to all r u o y is s r e nd Lake Outfitt iles County a G t • Mountain a th s e c n e experi the adventure ve to offer! New River ha riety of ers a wide va ff o e g d o L r! e k La in the summe ts n • Mountain e v e n sa ti c and ar outdoor musi www.facebook.com/MountainLakeLodge

Eat NEW FARM TO TABLE DINING IN HARVEST! HARVEST CREATES CUISINE THAT RELFECTS OUR COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT!

Play TREETOP ADVENTURESS IS AN AERIAL ADVENTURE COURSE WITH MANY FUN ELEMENTS. THE COURSE WILL FEATURE SKY BRIDGES, SWINGS, ROPE LADDERS, AND MULTIPLE ZIP LINES! SEVERAL DIFFERENT COURSES TO CHOOSE FROM!

Stay MOUNTAIN LAKE LODGE - JUST REOPENED MAY 3 AFTER A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR RENOVATION! MANY DIFFERENT STYLE OF LODGING EXPERIENCES AVAILABLE FROM THE MAIN STONE LODGE,FRONT LAWN COTTAGES, AND BLUEBERRY RIDGE MOUNTAIN HOMES!

Local Outdoor Activities


a family getaway to Three days / two night family suite in the Main Lodge or Rustic Cabin Accomodations.

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Chesapeake Secret Islands of the

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y friend Roland and I often lament that we live on opposite coasts. We both have the kind of rare jobs that let us set our own hours (I’m a freelance journalist, he runs a tech company), so we share the luxury of being able to travel in the middle of the week while most other grownups are confined to cubicles. So when Roland called me up one Tuesday night saying he was in town and in need of an adventure, I knew a spur-of-the-moment road trip was in order. We spent a few minutes weighing the standard options within a 100-mile radius: hike White Oak Canyon/Cedar Run? drive out to Blue Hole for a swim? rent out kayaks on Lake Anna? And then it came to me. “We could pick a random island in the Chesapeake and try to get to it?” I phrased it as a question, not entirely sure the suggestion was worthy of practical consideration. But he was immediately on board. I dragged around Google Maps, marveling at the tiny specks of land I never knew existed. We eventually settled on Solomons Island. He recalled the area since many years ago, his parents, both biologists, worked on a boat off its coast. The next morning greeted us with 78-degree sunshine and clear blue skies. We headed east in Roland’s black Volkswagen Jetta, and in two short hours, we made it to the southern tip of the Calvert Peninsula on Maryland’s Western Shore. There, where the Patuxent River unites with the Chesapeake Bay, lies Solomons Island. We parked by the boardwalk and walked

by Suemedha Sood around, acquainting ourselves with the historic fishing village. We passed through a marina and saw a couple of boats that hailed from the same place we did, D.C. In the boatyard, two men were making repairs on an impressive sailboat. Wandering down the riverwalk, we came across a little hut with a sign saying “Solomons Boat Rental.” Upon closer inspection, the shop was closed, but another sign had a number to call if no one was around. The office only had a few powerboats available. Since I had never driven a powerboat in my life before, we decided to go for it. We had the owner meet us in a couple hours so we had a bit more time to explore the island. We couldn’t visit Maryland without eating crabs, so we looked for a place serving up genuine Chesapeake crab cakes. Unfortunately, most restaurants were closed. We finally came to a little retail strip home to the CD Café. It was open and full of locals; plus, the name was too good to pass up. Only after we were seated did we realize the menu was devoid of crab dishes. Our mission was a failure. When our server recited the day’s specials, though, a crab cake sandwich answered our prayers. It smelled amazing coming out of the kitchen. The gently pan-fried cake was bursting with sweet lump meat – no pesky additives to interfere with the fresh, succulent crab. After lunch, we headed back to the boat rental office and took out a 19-foot bow rider. We set off up the Patuxent, with practically the entire river to ourselves. I took the wheel and

gave driving a try. Breathing in the delicious air, I was exhilarated by the feeling of speed on the water. As we headed north, we stumbled upon several tiny coves and creeks concealed by the picturesque landscape. Each one was more peaceful than the last. Surrounded by lush greenery, we passed by the appropriately named Greenwell State Park on the left. It was so beautiful out there, so quiet, so incredibly scenic, I couldn’t believe we were just 60 miles from the nation’s capital. I realized that in about the same amount of travel time from D.C., I could be exploring any number of islands hidden within the great expanse of the Chesapeake. A couple months after my Solomons excursion, I enlisted another friend on a mission to discover the wetland island of Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. And a couple months after that, I vowed to learn about and eventually visit the many other treasures the bay has been keeping secret all this time.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge Eastern Neck is a 2,285-acre island enjoying federal protection as part of the Chesapeake’s vast complex of national marshlands. The refuge is a birder’s paradise, providing habitat to dozens of species, including bald eagles, tundra swans, hawks, and various songbirds and waterfowl. Cradled by the converging waters of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay, its system of tidal marshes, upland forests, freshwater ponds, grasslands, and carefully managed croplands JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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attract over 100,000 migratory and wintering birds seeking sustenance and sanctuary. Several hiking trails make it easy to explore this peaceful island on foot. Although swimming is not officially permitted in surrounding waters, passersby will likely encounter a few rulebreakers. Those who visit with boats in tow, however, can launch their kayaks or canoes from Bogles Wharf Landing, off the eastern edge of the refuge. Kayakers who’d rather rent can do so near the park’s entrance at the outfitter Eastern Neck Boat Rentals – just remember to bring cash, since this tiny shack of an operation does not accept credit cards or checks. The refuge itself also periodically hosts group kayaking nights for boat owners with a love of moonlight paddling.

Solomons Island Far less desolate than Eastern Neck, Solomons has a number of attractions in town, including waterside concerts, the Calvert Marine Museum, the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, the Harbor Island Marina, a few great seafood houses, and even a tiki bar (cleverly named Tiki Bar). By land, get your juices flowing with a self-guided bike tour of the island. By water, the Patuxent Adventure Center rents out (and sells) SUP boards in addition to leading kayaking expeditions that introduce tourists to the local marine life.

St. George Island Although I may be biased by my own introduction to the island, I would say the best way to experience St. George is by sleeping on

40

its shores, under the stars, with the waves gently lapping nearby. Private campgrounds on the beaches of St. George Island, where the Potomac River flows into the bay, include the family-owned Camp Merryelande and Far East Beach. The latter site has kayaks and canoes that campers can rent. In addition to swimming and kayaking, many visitors also catch their own lunch or dinner – either right off the beach or at one of the nearby fishing piers.

Smith Island The ferry to Smith Island leaves twice daily, at 12:30pm and 5:00pm, from the nearby town of Crisfield (adjacent to Janes Island State Park – itself worth a visit for its secluded beaches and saltmarsh water trails). Kayaks can be taken on the passenger ferry for a small additional fee. The heart of America’s soft shell crab industry, Smith Island is part of a remote archipelago of arteries that pump life into the seafood economy up the coast. During warm months, visitors can watch the crabbing and crab picking in action. The Smith Island Crabmeat Co-op invites curious tourists to watch the picking process, either via an observation window, or up-close inside for $3 (crabmeat samples included). After feasting on soft shell crabs or crab cakes at one of the island’s restaurants or seafood markets, be sure to try a slice of Smith’s signature dessert, Smith Island Cake – 8 to 15 layers of yellow cake divided by sheets of icing, cream, and/or crushed candy bars and iced with a cooked chocolate fudge frosting.

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Tangier Island Tangier Island, population 727, is so isolated that its people have their own distinct dialect. Encircled by Virginia’s portion of the bay, the island was founded in the late 1600s by Cornish settlers with their Elizabethan parlance. Over the centuries, this has combined with islander mannerisms to create the unique island accent. Most families on Tangier rely on crabbing and fishing for their livelihoods. Watermen wake up at 3am to begin harvesting soft shell crabs or oysters. The fruits of their labor can be unpredictable; last year’s erratic weather yielded a crab surplus in the spring, and then a crab shortage in the summer. Visitors can get a taste of what it’s like to be a Chesapeake waterman by riding with a local captain for a crabbing tour of Tangier. In addition to crabbing tours, the bed and breakfast Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House offers eco-tours, birding trips and sunset boat excursions.

Watts Island There is something astoundingly romantic to me about the notion of a deserted island. An uninhabited land practically right in my backyard, just a couple hours outside a city swarming with four million people. The tiny island of Watts can be visited on a day trip from Tangier via kayak or canoe (or other small boat), as it lies just a few miles east of the larger landmass. Few settings in this world can make us feel like explorers, wandering and discovering a strange and unknown place. Watts is one of them. •


G EAR

thegoods

Journey Gear

Summer Essentials for Adventure Travel By Jedd Ferris Whether you’re heading to another side of the Blue Ridge or beyond the border, these travel essentials will come in handy on your next trip.

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1. Smith Lowdown

3. Freewaters Scamp

Yes, the Risky Business shades are back in style. Smith’s new take is the Lowdown, sunglasses that let you look cool, like a preScientology Tom Cruise, and also offer stalwart performance features including high-quality polarized lenses that are designed to filter glare that persists during coastal hikes or on the water during off-shore paddling trips. Plus the frames are made from a lightweight renewable castor plant that will keep you feeling free when you’re jet-setting between mountain towns. $119; smithoptics.com

Perfect for expediting airport security and giving feet post-adventure relief, the Freewaters Scamp looks like a standard flop, but you’ll feel the difference of the Therm-aRest cushion footbeds. The softness delivers instant comfort, and the ridge design that’s been pleasing campers for years provides air circulation during long sightseeing sessions. $36; freewaters.com

2. Patagonia Island Hopper Shirt This shirt was made for destinations unbound. Built with a blend of recycled poly and organic cotton, it offers relieving ventilation when you find yourself trapped under a blanket of humidity. Patagonia’s fabric also features UPF 15 sun protection and intentional light colors to repel rays. Also, since it dries within minutes you can give it a sink wash when you need to freshen up. $85; patagonia.com

4. Osprey Sojourn 25 Adventure luggage is a real thing. The Osprey Sojourn will roll through the airport like a standard travel piece, but when you suddenly find yourself hitchhiking along a dirt road, unzip the suspension system and throw it on your back. The wheeled pack features nearly 3,600 cubic inches of space, so you’ll have plenty of room to organize essentials, especially in the open main compartment. You can also attach an Osprey Daylite when you need additional space or a convenient daypack for side trips. $289; ospreypacks.com

5. Eagle Creek All Terrain Money Belt Now an old standby when it comes to stashing some emergency bills, the All Terrain has an incognito zipper pocket sewn into an unsuspecting utility belt. $20; eaglecreek.com

6. Icebreaker Escape Short Escape Shorts are all about versatility, equipped for both wandering city streets or impromptu trail jaunts in faraway places. The shorts are made from a blend of cotton and mostly merino wool, which breathes easy and resists odor so slipping them on for a second day in a row won’t cause offense. Plus, the clean cut means you can shroud your inner dirt bag when asking strangers for directions. Women should check out the similar Icebreaker Via. $119; icebreaker.com JULY 2013 • BlueRidgeOutdoors.com

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trailmix

C U LT U RE B I N

sive s a M Festival the New ded to ! e Hea e Ridg Blu

Just when you thought the festival landscape couldn’t get anymore crowded, a late-season announcement is bringing the Blue Ridge a high-profile bash that could be an annual game changer. The Interlocken Music Festival is taking place September 5-8 at the idyllic Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, Va. Located on a 4,800-acre expansive property between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, the festival is shaping up to be a long weekend of jam-rock nirvana that’s expected to draw up to 30,000 people. Initial artists announced include Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Furthur featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, the Black Crowes, and the String Cheese Incident. The festival is also focusing on unique collaborations like String Cheese playing a set with country rock hero Zac Brown and Panic doing a full set of Credence Clearwater Revival tunes with John Fogerty. Furthur will also play a set featuring the Dead’s acoustic masterpiece Workingman’s Dead. Additional artist announcements are coming soon. interlockenfestival.com.

The Nature of Bass

Victor Wooten’s Wooded Retreat By Jedd Ferris

Victor Wooten’s bass playing is unmistakable. Known for mixing fluid jazz technique and heavy doses of funky thump, his virtuosic acrobatics have undoubtedly taken the instrument to a new level of range. For the past three decades, Wooten has exercised his chops as a member of Grammy-winning banjo-driven fusionists Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. These days, though, he’s spending a lot less time in the tour bus and a lot more time in the woods. This summer the bassist is leading a full schedule of music camps at Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature at Wooten Woods. He’s turned a secluded 150 acres along the richly bio-diverse Duck River into an idyllic retreat for musicians. The property is located west of his Nashville home in the small town of Only, Tenn. Wooten has been hosting music and nature camps for close to a decade, at first renting space at a nearby state park. When he realized teaching in this setting would

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become a permanent endeavor, he decided to purchase his own land in 2008. The idea is to give musicians of all levels expert instruction in a peaceful environment. “In the woods you can let go of your nerves and baggage and just play,” Wooten said during a recent interview. “I find people trying to get better on an instrument make faster progress in this natural setting.” Years ago, Wooten took classes with naturalist Tom Brown, Jr. He noticed some striking similarities between learning wilderness skills and making music and soon started incorporating similar exercises into his music teaching. He believes being in the forest heightens the senses and that ultimately translates to better playing. During courses that cater to specific instruments, students are divided into groups and rotate between instructors, who offer instruction on theory, soloing, and the relationship between music and nature. There are also more specific portions of the camps devoted to naturalism and survival skills. “We’re trying to raise the awareness of the student in different areas,” Wooten adds. “It gets them away from the normal aspects of music. Most musicians think they need to lock

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themselves in a practice room all day. That’s true to a certain extent, but it’s a slow way to improve. You need to get out and interact with others—or to use a musical term, jam.” Wooten certainly has plenty of experience to relay. He was playing in a family band with his brothers by age 5. The group opened for soul legend Curtis Mayfield, and by the time he had finished high school Wooten had shared the stage with War, Frankie Beverly, and the Temptations. Wooten met Fleck in the late 1980s, and along with his brother Roy Wooten, joined the banjo ace to form the Flecktones. The group picked up five Grammy Awards between 1997 and 2012 and along the way blurred the improvisational boundaries between jazz and bluegrass in front of audiences around the world. Wooten also fronts his own band and has released nine solo albums dating back to 1996. Although he’s certainly not done being a professional musician, this husband and father of four is happy to have found a new musical outlet that keeps him closer to home. “Now tours are being booked around camps,” Wooten says. “It’s time for me to share what I’ve learned from years of being on the road.” •


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Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine July 2013