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SONGS OF SUMMER Exploring Carolina Bays + A RUNNER REFLECTS ON R AC I S M + INJUSTICE ON EVEREST

Road

SH ORT + SWEET A DV E N T URE GETAWAYS

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY

Trips

Remembering Austin: Tribute to a Lost Climber


magical BATH

Journeys.

The peaceful back roads offer stunning mountain views. The great food, outdoor adventure and exceptional hospitality turn a weekend getaway into an epic road trip. That’s a Made in Bath County experience.

DiscoverBath.com · 540-839-7202 · #MadeInBathVA


Adventure is the destination. WanderLove is about reconnecting with what you love: the crisp mountain air, the breathtaking views, and the winding roads in between. Plan your next road trip at virginia.org


CONTENTS

PRESIDENT BLAKE DEMASO b l a ke @ b l u e r i d g e o u t d o o r s . c o m E D I TO R I N C H I E F J E D D F E R R I S jedd@blueridgeoutdoors.com P U B L I S H E R L E A H WO O DY leah@blueridgeoutdoors.com

J U LY 2 0 2 0

A FA M I LY P R E P S F O R A D V E N T U R E O N T H E B L U E R I D G E PA R K WAY W I T H A S T O P AT T H E P I N E T R E E OVERLOOK JUST NORTH OF ROANOKE. PHOTO BY SAM DEAN.

D E PA R T M E N T S

C R E AT I V E D I R E C TO R L AU R E N WO R T H lauren@blueridgeoutdoors.com

07 | PERSPECTIVE

A S S O C I AT E P U B L I S H E R K AT I E H A R T W E L L katie@blueridgeoutdoors.com

Running without fear is a luxury of being white.

E D I TO R I A L & P R O D U C T I O N

09 | THE GOODS

S E N I O R E D I TO R W I L L H A R L A N will@blueridgeoutdoors.com

Load up the car with gear for summer road trips.

T R AV E L E D I TO R E L L E N K A N Z I N G E R ellen@blueridgeoutdoors.com

KIM DINAN

10 | EXPLORE

C O N T R I B U TO R S

Carolina Bays are elliptical lakes with a mysterious geologic origin.

D O U G S C H N I T Z S PA H N H A R T F OW L E R E R I C J. WA L L AC E N O E L L E LY N C H MIKE BEZEMEK K E V I N H OW D E S H E L L

42

42 | TRAIL MIX

C O P Y E D I TO R S JULIA GREEN, ROBERT MCGEE

PHOTO BY BOBBI RICH

O U T D O O R N E W S E D I TO R

ON THE COVER

Listen up to our playlist of songs for summer.

ADVERTISING & BUSINESS S E N I O R AC C O U N T E X E C U T I V E

F E AT U R E S

M A R T H A E VA N S

martha@blueridgeoutdoors.com AC C O U N T E X E C U T I V E H A N N A H C O O P E R hcooper@blueridgeoutdoors.com

14 | ON THE ROAD AGAIN

When you’re ready to hit the highways, take precautions and try a short-distance trip into the wild.

AC C O U N T E X E C U T I V E TAY LO R L E A L taylor@blueridgeoutdoors.com B U S I N E S S M A N AG E R M E L I S S A G E S S L E R melissa@blueridgeoutdoors.com

19 | WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

D I G I TA L M E D I A

The outdoor industry grapples with how to move forward as the pandemic lingers.

O N L I N E D I R E C TO R C R A I G S N O D G R A S S webdir@blueridgeoutdoors.com D I G I TA L C O N T E N T S P E C I A L I S T

S H A N N O N M C G OWA N

28 | ADVENTURE MEDIA

shannon@blueridgeoutdoors.com

Bring the outdoors inside with our staff picks for best books, podcasts, and tunes.

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©2020 Summit Publishing, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

GOT A STORY IDEA OR COMMENT? submit@blueridgeoutdoors.com B LU E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

S I LV E R R U N FA L L S . P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F J A C K S O N C O U N T Y T D A

C I R C U L AT I O N I N Q U I R I E S circulation@blueridgeoutdoors.com

31 | INJUSTICE ON EVEREST

Seeking adventure, a former University of Virginia lacrosse player became a Mount Everest porter and ended up making a film about a culture of exploitation.

35 | REMEMBERING AUSTIN

Climbers pay tribute to free soloist Austin Howell, who died in North Carolina’s Linville Gorge last summer.

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38 | BURN ONE DOWN

Reflections from a world on fire, hopefully clearing the way for healthy new growth. J U LY 2 0 2 0 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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PERSPECTIVE

RACIAL INJUSTICE

RUNNING WHILE WHITE AS A WHITE GUY, I GET A BIG HEAD START—AND I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BEING SHOT.

I L L U S T R AT I O N C O U R T E S Y G E T T Y I M A G E S

BY WILL HARLAN

MY RUNS ARE USUALLY THE BEST PART OF MY DAY—when my body unclenches, my mind relaxes, and my thoughts can wander freely. Sometimes I think about work problems, or fret about my kids, or replay a recent spat with my spouse. But never once have I worried about being killed because of the color of my skin. Running without fear is a luxury of being white. Ahmaud Arbery was a runner, too. He was running through a white neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, when two white men attacked him and shot him twice in the chest. Just a few years ago, I also went for an afternoon run in Brunswick while traveling through the area. It was a rather unmemorable five-mile slog in the sticky south Georgia humidity. But as a white guy, never once in those five miles did I fear for my life. I am outraged that Arbery was killed—and that it took two months and a leaked video for authorities to arrest the men who shot him. I am even more infuriated that this keeps happening. But my outrage has not spilled into any kind of meaningful action. Like many runners, I ran a token 2.23 miles in memory of Ahmed Arbery (he was killed on February 23). But I have not taken to the streets. I have sat at home and watched others put their lives on the line to demand change. Only now am I realizing how much I have benefitted from white male privilege all of my life. I was generally aware of the unspoken benefits of being

a white dude, but only recently have I reckoned with a hard truth: as a white male, I had a ridiculous head start. My white maleness also gave me the inside lane on schools, scholarships, and careers. For a long time, I told myself a different story: I had worked hard to earn everything I achieved. I come from a blue-collar, working class family, but I pushed myself in school and landed a scholarship to an elite college. But looking back, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit: I didn’t earn most of my success. Mainly, I just showed up and followed the rules. I didn’t see all of the other barriers that non-whites faced while I breezed through school. BACK THEN, MY FRIEND SIDNEY WAS ALSO ON THE TRACK TEAM. He wore the same used running shoes all four years. He often showed up to the starting line hungry. And he still kicked my ass. I went on to college. Sid went back to the inner city. Why? Sid worked and trained harder than me— and everyone else on the team. But I was whiter than him. A few weeks ago, I called Sidney. I was nervous, but

he put me at ease. We laughed about our old coach and reminisced about our relay team that almost made it to state. And then Sid remembered something that I had long forgotten: we were stretching partners. Every day during warmups, each of us would lift the other’s leg and stretch it until our hamstrings were shaking. After a few painful seconds, our muscles would adjust, and we could push the discomfort just a bit more. I saw it in my mind again: a black kid and a white kid, stretching outside our comfort zones, pushing one another to go a little further. But for most of my life, I have stayed comfortably cocooned in my white bubble. I feel immense guilt for being a white male who has inherited immense privilege and opportunity while doing relatively little to address racial injustice. That guilt is heavy. But it’s nothing compared to the weight that people of color continue to endure. Sure, I have organized a few feel-good events helping African American kids experience the outdoors. But truthfully, I

haven’t done all that much to address racism. Here at the magazine, we've hired very few people of color in 25 years. I could have said or done something about that.

I used to tell myself that race wasn’t my problem. I agreed that racism was wrong and expressed the appropriate level of indignation during racist flashpoints, but I had bigger problems to tackle, like species extinction and climate change. But I am starting to realize that the key to addressing most global problems is to tackle the injustices at their core. The best way to save species is to keep indigenous people on their land. The best way to tackle climate change is to prevent polluters from targeting communities of color. Racism is at the root of most of our problems. I am even more ashamed of my white heritage and the atrocities my ancestors have committed. No, that wasn’t me who did those things— but like it or not, I have benefitted immensely from genocide and slavery, and I have never made any reparations. White males like me have enjoyed over five hundred years of power and privilege on this continent. And we’ve generally fucked it up. It’s a space for people of color to take the lead. Let’s be clear, though: it’s not just up to people of color to make change happen. It’s up to me—and all white folks—to do the hard work, starting with ourselves. I have to acknowledge white male privilege. And I have to acknowledge that I am a racist, because I am part of a racist, white supremacist system from which I continue to benefit. I am sorry. I am so immensely sorry. But the work can’t end with an apology and a phone call to my one black friend from high school. Racism is embedded in the system that white people have created. The very least I can do as a white guy is to help fix what my people have broken—or tear it down and replace it with something better. I don’t know what that will look like or how to get there. I don’t have the answers, and especially as a white man, I should stop pretending that I do. Instead, probably the best thing I can do is to shut up and start listening.

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Expand your comfort zone Torchlight Expandable Mummy Bags

Customize your comfort based on your sleep style or body shape

Expand up to 10� of bag width

Early Spring packraft trip in Escalante, UT Photo: Noah Wetzel

bigagnes.com

Lake Anna | Spotsylvania

Chart your own course, explore authentic historic attractions, arts, wineries, breweries, the great outdoors and award-winning dining. The perfect getaway is here, and ready when you are. visitfred.com

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS


THE GOODS

ROAD TRIP GEAR

Road Ready AS THE WORLD OPENS UP A LITTLE BIT MORE THIS SUMMER, A ROAD TRIP WITH PRECAUTIONS JUST MIGHT BE IN ORDER. HERE'S THE GEAR THAT WILL GET YOU TRAVELING SAFELY THIS SUMMER. B Y D O U G S C H N I T Z S PA H N

Thule Tepui Hybox Wedge

In the age of social distancing regulations, scoring a campsite is not easy. The answer? Carry your tent on your truck. Swedish rack and bag brand Thule recently acquired rooftop tent brand Tepui and the latest offering from the two is a cinch to pop open and sleep two on a built-in mattress. Plus, it converts into a cargo box when you don’t want to sleep in it. $2,000; thule.com

Yeti Rambler 18 oz. with Chug Cap

The perfect travel cup is a faithful companion when you hit the road—meet your new best friend. This multi-use double-wall vacuum insulated bottle keeps coffee warm (and beer cool) when you’re in camp and can withstand a beating. But the Chug Cap seals the deal since it makes it easy to drink water without spilling it all over yourself when you're driving. $35; yeti.com

Helinox Table One

This easy-to-set-up table weighs just 1 pound, 8 ounces and packs away small and simple. It’s a godsend when you stop in a scenic pullout for lunch or to set up camp, unfolding into a stable, spacious tabletop. Bonus points: It’s just as useful on your deck. $120-$140; helinox.com

Smith Lowdown 2 Core

Sunglasses are mandatory when you are staring out at the glare of the open road for hours on end in the summer. Smith’s latest polarized shades give your eyes all the protection they need and

do some good for the planet: The recycled material in the frames saves five plastic bottles from the landfill and the lenses feature a castor-oil-based material. $129; smithoptics.com

Zing Energy Patch

Red Bull and old, chewy gas-station coffee are usually your best bets to keep alert when you are behind the wheel late at night and the rest of your crew is asleep, but, gross. No fears. This device, which you place behind your ear for five minutes, sends out a small, safe electric current which ups your energy levels for the next four hours. It works shockingly—ha ha—well, providing a boost that feels like a few cups of java minus the shaky edge. Each patch can be used twice. $29 for six pack; feelzing.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF HELINOX

Yakima HoldUp EVO

Effectively transporting your bikes is always an ordeal when your vehicle is packed to the gills for a big jaunt. This rack will accommodate everything from fat e-bikes to your precious Colnago and tilts back with an easy-tooperate lever so that you can access all your camping supplies in the back without taking the bikes off the rack. $549; yakima.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF ZING

Benchmark Maps Southern

Appalachians Road Atlas With so much digital onslaught out there, it’s comforting and sane to open up a good, old fashioned analog map. This new atlas covers the best of the Blue Ridge region, covering ten states with a 48-page recreation guide and 88 pages of landscape maps to get you out exploring. $27; benchmarkmaps.com

Black Strap Civil Facemask

You should keep a mask in your car at all times on a road trip for stops at gas stations and convenience stores—or times outside when you will be near other people. Available in a wide range of colors, these dual-layer masks include a breathable mesh liner and wicking fabric, making them perfect for hiking. $16; bsbrand.com J U LY 2 0 2 0 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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EXPLORE

ON THE WATER

EXPLORING CAROLINA BAYS THE ELLIPTICAL LAKES WITH A MYSTERIOUS GEOLOGIC ORIGIN BY MIKE BEZEMEK

DRIVING INTO BLADEN COUNTY, I catch my first glimpse of why I’ve come. Brief gaps in dense vegetation reveal the inky blue waters of mysterious lakes that have baffled observers for centuries. At Singletary Lake, I park and walk toward a small clearing. When viewed from ground level, they look like typical lakes. A few scientists in the 1800s noticed they were unusually round, but most folks dismissed them as regular wetlands. Locals suggested whale wallows from biblical floods. Then, in the 1930s, the invention of aerial photography revealed a different story. Hundreds of elliptical depressions pockmarked the coastal plain. Some were bigger, some smaller. A few overlapped others. Most had been altered by agriculture or were filled with swampy vegetation. Others were encircled by sandy rims and brimming with open water. Each pointed the same direction, with long axes running northwest to southeast. In the black and white photos of the day, they looked like craters on the moon. A PA D D L E R C R O S S E S S A L T E R S L A K E I N N O R T H CAROLINA. PHOTO BY MIKE BEZEMEK

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

After exploring trails around Singletary Lake and Bladen Lakes State Forest, I drive to nearby Jones Lake State Park. It’s estimated there are 500,000 Carolina bays, stretching from northern Florida to New York state. Basically, one of the biggest— and mostly unknown—mysteries in the United States rests under the noses of 90 million people. The highest density of bays occurs in the Carolinas, and Bladen County, N.C., has some of the most intact and preserved ones, with many remaining year-round lakes. Standing on the pier, the 224-acre Jones Lake is smaller but eerily similar to Singletary. Some hikers, covered in mud, emerge from the southeast side of the Bay Trail. Heavy rains in recent months caused the lake to spill its rim. The hikers laughingly tell about wading through water, shoes coming off in muck, running from snakes. They warn me not to go, which pretty much guarantees I’m going. Plus, I’m already packed. After changing into sandals, I head clockwise around the southwestern side of Jones Lake. My goal is to hike 3.5 miles to Salters Lake. It’s one of the last undeveloped Carolina bays

open to the public. On my back, I have a packraft. My hope is that seeing a nearwilderness bay from the inside, at water level, will help me understand this mystery better. The Bay Trail runs just beyond the dense vegetation that rims the lake, a mix of pond cypress, pond pine, and three types of bay trees. This collection of red, sweet, and loblolly bay gives the landforms their odd name, Carolina bays, so often confused for coastal inlets. I watch for snakes as I walk, while hilarious salamanders unnerve me with their best snake-like impressions, skittering through needles and leaves. The mud on this sunnier side of the bay is patchy and manageable.

It’s estimated there are 500,000 Carolina bays, stretching from northern Florida to New York state. Basically, one of the biggest—and mostly unknown—mysteries in the United States rests under the noses of 90 million people.

Eventually, the trail joins a sandy access road running between the bays. Plodding through a fire-managed forest of candlestick pines, I consider the bay’s more exciting origin story. During the 1950s, the space age mentality was in full effect, and the prevailing theory became a prehistoric meteor bombardment. But in recent decades, computer-assisted geomorphologists began poking holes in this extraterrestrial concoction. To start, the width-to-depth ratio of the Carolina bays is way off for a high-velocity meteor strike. Some bays are over a mile wide, but each has a shallow and mostly flat bottom. Lake Wacammaw is the largest bay, five miles long and three miles wide, but it’s only 30 feet at its deepest. In contrast, Meteor Crater in Arizona is 3,900 feet wide but has a depth of 560 feet. Also, meteor impacts are highenergy events that leave behind evidence. At Meteor Crater, 66,000 pounds of the impacting asteroid have been found. Outside of such craters, tektites are expected in the ejecta— basically minerals melted during impact into ultra-dense glass. In the vicinity of Carolina bays, the only rock


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material that’s been found is sand. Speaking of which, after a few miles on the sand road, I turn onto the Salters Lake Trail (also sand). Overhead, a woodpecker patiently taps against a trunk. Pushing deeper into this new bay, the ground is blanketed with lush ferns, and the foliage reveals blue-water gaps. The trail ends at a man-made clearing, where I pump up my packraft and launch. My paddle slices through blackwater. Up close, the lake is reddish-black, colored by tannins from decaying vegetation. There are no major inflows or outflows to most Carolina bays. They fill with rainwater during winter and spring, evaporate during hotter and drier months. Unlike the lakes in Bladen County, most bays are pocosins, aka seasonal marshes. Paddling northwest, I watch for two things: resident alligators and breaks in vegetation. I don’t see either. The entire lake is surrounded by a wall of jungle, 30 to 60 feet high. At water’s edge, it’s mostly pond cypress, with lime-green needles on branches that are draped with Spanish moss. The only possible footings are occasional cypress knobs breaking the surface. If a sudden wind separates me from my boat, I’ll have to swim and wade back to the cove.

J O N E S L A K E S TAT E PA R K S U R R O U N D S T W O C A R O L I N A B AY S . P H O T O B Y M I K E B E Z E M E K

After checking out an old platform with observation hut, I decide to drift while having lunch. There’s a gentle breeze from the southeast pushing me toward the far corner of the ellipse. This offers time to reflect on the scientifically accepted origin theory. It’s not nearly as exciting as the impact theories, especially when geomorphologists blurt jargon like aeolian and lacustrine. Basically, they claim wind-oriented lakes of similar shape can be found elsewhere in the world. During prehistoric ice ages, the coastal plain saw several changes in sea level coupled with fierce winds,

which created large sand dunes. The lakes and sand rims formed slowly, from prevailing winds and currents, within these dunes. While eating my lunch, I realize I’m being watched. A tiny periscope has risen from the water, twenty feet away. While reaching for my camera, the turtle dives under. A hundred yards away, I notice a curious white spot which might be a bald eagle. Zooming in, I instead see the massive shape of a robotic ant, like something from a sci-fi movie. Turns out it’s the shadowy root ball of a toppled tree. In recent years, a fringe variation of

the impact theory has been proposed. Unfolding like a CGI sequence, it suggests an ancient comet struck an ice sheet at a low angle near Michigan’s Saginaw Bay. The resulting butterfly ejecta, a hot slurry of sand and water, was dumped across the coastal plain. The bays are steam bubbles that popped upon landing. It’s definitely exciting, and worth a close look, but relies on some questionable assumptions. For now, my money remains with boring geomorphologists. The wind is rising, swirling in from different directions. I cancel plans for a circumnavigation and return to the cove. There, I meet a local who visits often. He recommends nearby Horseshoe Bay, a lake half-filled with forest. A possible evolutionary step from year-round lake to drier pocosin. He tells about a time, in winter, when he tried to machete slash his way through jungle to the northeastern corner of Salters Lake. He couldn’t reach the water, so he climbed a tree and called it a day. Like me, he’s fascinated by the bays. And though my day is over, my curiosity is only beginning.

Plenty of fish without plenty of people to fish them? That’s the perfect day on the water. Join us in Cherokee for miles of pure freestone streams and more trout than your basket can hold. For permit info: VisitCherokeeNC.com or 800.438.1601 VisitCherokeeNC.com

VisitCherokeeNC.com

J U LY 2 0 2 0 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN SHORT DRIVE, MULTI-ADVENTURE WEEKEND GETAWAYS BY ELLEN KANZINGER

14

BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS


With summer in full swing, many are itching to get back on the highways of Southern Appalachia. And while towns and cities in the footprint of the Blue Ridge have been gradually reopening, this is still a time to practice social distancing, respect pandemic-related restrictions, and take recommended precautions while traveling. With that in mind, we’ve crafted some short-distance, multi-adventure road trip itineraries in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. When you’re ready to pack up the car and go, these getaways will take you deep into the woods, offering plenty of space to explore mountain vistas, refreshing rivers, and miles of trails.

Casting, Climbing, and Chasing Waterfalls in North Carolina

E S T I M AT E D R OA D T I M E : 2 - 4 H O U R S

Pack your boots and a fly rod for a drive through the backroads of southwest North Carolina. With thousands of miles of trout streams in Jackson County, N.C., you’ll be able to find plenty of space to cast a line. For specific spots, check out the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail for some of the best waters in the area for brook, rainbow, and brown trout. Brookings Anglers (brookingsonline.com) in Cashiers offers gear and guided trips on the mighty Tuckasegee River and other mountain trophy creeks away from the crowds. From there, start heading east towards Brevard, a cool mountain town that’s a great hub for accessing the maze of trails in the Pisgah National Forest and the nearly 250 waterfalls in surrounding Transylvania County. For scenic cascades, seek out Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah or Bridal Veil Falls in the

H A N G O U T AT WAT E R R O C K K N O B O F F T H E B L U E R I D G E P A R K WAY I N N O R T H C A R O L I N A . P H O T O B Y S T E V E Y O C O M — COURTESY OF JACKSON COUNTY TDA

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DuPont State Recreational Forest. The next day continue cruising east to Chimney Rock State Park for rock climbing and rappelling adventures. Hit up Fox Mountain Guides (foxmountainguides.com) if you’re looking for introductory lessons or a full-day guided trip. If bouldering is more your style, check out Rumbling Bald Climbing Access for more than 1,500 bouldering problems that will test your skills. For a short, steep, rewarding hike, take the Outcroppings Trail to the top of Chimney Rock for views of the lake and gorge below.

Hiking, Riding, and Swimming in western Maryland

E S T I M AT E D R OA D T I M E : 1 -2 H O U R S

For a sampler of the wild and scenic mountains of western Maryland, start with the Savage River State Forest to access more than 54,000 acres of hardwood forests and rhododendron blooms. Hikers have plenty of options, including the rugged 17-mile Big Savage Trail and the 24-mile Backpacker Loop. You can also immerse yourself in the woods on the New Germany Trails, a 10-mile network well known as a prime destination for cross-country skiing in the winter. From the forest’s main access point in Grantsville, it’s a short drive to the Cumberland Visitor Center, where you can unload your bike and ride the C&O Canal Towpath. This flat, historic former railroad route features attractions and camping spots dotting the 184-mile trail, which runs all the way to Washington, D.C., and connects with the Great Allegheny Passage in the other direction towards Pittsburgh. If you prefer to see the area by water, hop on the Potomac River for a scenic paddle between locks, or dive into the cool waters of Deep Creek Lake. You can access Maryland’s largest freshwater lake at Deep Creek Lake State Park, which features a beach area for swimming and a boat launch.

Water and Trails

in the northern Georgia Blue Ridge E S T I M AT E D R OA D T I M E : 2 - 4 H O U R S

A cool down and an adrenaline rush can both be achieved with a whitewater rafting trip on section IV of the Chattooga River, which sits

P A D D L E D E E P C R E E K L A K E , M A R Y L A N D ' S L A R G E S T F R E S H WAT E R LAKE. PHOTO BY KRISTEN FISCHETTI, HIGHER FOCUS STUDIOS— COURTESY OF GARRETT COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS


Tips for Social Distancing Outside and Staying Safe on the Road 1 . PAY AT TE N TI O N With the pandemic, the situation is changing daily as state and local officials make adjustments and announce new regulations. Before heading outside, check for guidelines in your own community and wherever you are headed to make sure it is safe to be outside. Don’t expect all of the amenities, like water, restrooms, and campgrounds, to be open during this time. Plan ahead, pack everything you need, and abide by closure signs. 2 . PAC K IT I N , PAC K IT O UT Make sure to have masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, soap, snacks, water, and anything you may need while outside. You should always pack out everything you bring in. But it is especially important to take care of all your trash and belongings as park staff is reduced at this time.

on the Georgia/South Carolina border. From their Chattooga outpost in Mountain Rest, S.C., the Nantahala Outdoor Center is now offering limited guided trips with new safety protocols on the classic Southern river— made famous in the 1972 film Deliverance—which features a handful of consecutive class IV rapids. If you’d rather cast in calm waters, grab your rod and reel and check out the Toccoa River for excellent trout fishing on a mountain stream. As the river winds north, the waters feed into Lake Blue Ridge, which is nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest and features 100 miles of shoreline. More fishing options are found at Lake Nottely, which in addition to being stocked with bass by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, holds channel catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Following some time on the water, make your next stop a trailhead and take the eightmile hike to the Appalachian Trail’s southern terminus, Springer Mountain, from Amicalola

Falls. Up north, another favorite is Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald, which holds stunning 360-degree views from the 4,784foot summit.

Mountain Biking and More Water in the Mountain State

E S T I M AT E D R OA D T I M E : 1 -3 H O U R S

Within the dense forests of northeast West Virginia, the Canaan Valley is a mountain biker’s playground with trails and loops scattered throughout the area, featuring miles of world-renowned singletrack that will have your legs screaming by day’s end. Head to

V I S I T L A K E T R A H L Y TA AT V O G E L S TAT E P A R K I N T H E M O U N TA I N S O F N O R T H E R N G E O R G I A . P H O T O B Y J A S O N CLEMMONS

3 . AVO I D H I G H U S E A R E A S If there are already a lot of cars at the trailhead, don’t add to the congestion. Be prepared with a plan B, C, and even D before heading out. Find another trail to hike or come back at another time. It is important to maintain your distance from others, at least six feet apart, and narrow trails don’t always allow for this. Avoid groups larger than 10 people and stick to recreating with the people you live with. 4. BE KIND AND C O N S I D E R AT E This is a stressful time, and everyone is affected by COVID-19 in a variety of ways. Be respectful of other people’s health and safety by keeping your physical distance, wearing a mask around others, and being kind to employees at parks and campgrounds. 5 . S TAY LO C A L Now is not the time to hit all the parks, trails, summits, etc. on your bucket list. Think of the small communities that are on the edge of your favorite park or forest. Help stop the spread of the virus by staying local and not visiting communities more vulnerable to a pandemic.

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Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and Blackwater Falls State Park for scenic rides through protected areas and hit up area classics like Moon Rocks, Blackwater View Trail, and Allegheny Highlands Rail Trail for hours in the saddle. Just down the road, you can cool down on the Cheat River Water Trail. Flowing north towards the Maryland border, paddle or float nearly 40 miles with nine access points along the way. Take in the many natural sights and sounds of the valley and mountains as you meander past shallow pools and towering canyon walls. Those looking for more of a whitewater thrill should check out the Cheat Narrows for some family fun and Class III rapids with Blackwater Outdoor Adventures (blackwateroutdoors.com). For hiking, options are plentiful in the Monongahela National Forest, but a can’t-miss destination is the Dolly Sods Wilderness and Scenic Area, one of the highest plateaus east of the Mississippi that features red spruce and other flora usually found much farther north. With more than 17,000 acres to explore, Dolly Sods is also perfect for finding an isolated backcountry camping spot.

Southern Road Trips: More Options S C E N I C D R I V I N G A N D S C U B A D I V I N G I N U P S TAT E S O U T H C A R O LI N A

Take a trip through the mountains of South Carolina on the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway (SC 11). Choose from a number of stunning hikes at Caesars Head State Park such as Raven Cliff Falls. Paddlers, anglers, and scuba divers will enjoy exploring the waters of Lake Jocassee from Devils Fork State Park. Finish up with some laps on the flow trails at Stumphouse Mountain Bike Park off of the Palmetto Trail. H I K I N G , B I K I N G , A N D E X P LO R I N G C AV E R N S I N N O R T H E A S T TENNESSEE

Start off with a hike at Roan Mountain State Park at the base of one of the most scenic sections of the Appalachian Trail. Look into the RV and tent campsites for a multi-day trip. Grab a bike and head to the professionally built mountain biking trails and skills park at Tannery Knobs in Johnson City, Tenn. Once you’re done at the park, ride into town to refuel and rest up. From there, make your way to the Appalachia Caverns for a wet and muddy tour beneath the Earth’s surface. C LI M B I N G A N D C O U N T RY M U S I C I N K E N T U C K Y

Head into the Daniel Boone National Forest to discover hiking trails, waterfalls, and natural stone arches. Discover the many waterways for fishing and paddling, as well as top notch rock climbing in the Red River Gorge. View the towering rock exposures and natural sandstone bridge at Kingdom Come State Park. Travel the Country Music Highway (US 23) as the music of Eastern Kentucky intertwines with history, culture, and coal mining. HIKING AND FISHING IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

Fish the waters of the biologically diverse Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area, from the deep pools of the creeks to Laurel Bed Lake stocked with brook trout. With more than 5,000 miles of trails in the area, you’re sure to find a new spot to hike in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Walk, run, or bike New River Trail State Park as the rails-to-trail path follows the New River for 57 miles. B R O O K E A N D R E W F L Y F I S H I N G T H E B L A C K WAT E R R I V E R I N D AV I S , W E S T V I R G I N I A . P H O T O BY BRIAN SARFINO

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS


Where Do We Go From Here? BY ELLEN KANZINGER

OUTDOOR RECREATION ADVOCATES, EVENT PRODUCERS, AND RETAILERS DISCUSS HOW THE PANDEMIC IS AFFECTING OUTDOOR RECREATION IN OUR REGION AND WHERE THE INDUSTRY IS HEADED.

W

here do we go from here? That’s the question on everyone’s mind. In a time when COVID-19 continues to affect day-to-day life and the future is filled with uncertainty, what will outdoor recreation look like when we are able to start gathering again? Throughout the ongoing pandemic, cities and states have experienced an increase in the number of people getting outside. With outdoor recreation considered appropriate and essential for maintaining health in almost every state, people are turning to the outdoors for physical exertion and mental wellbeing. Pete Eschelman, director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation, said parks in the Roanoke, Va., area have seen anywhere from a 50-to-200percent increase in visitation since March. At a time like this, with localities looking to cut their budgets due to a decrease in revenue, parks and rec budgets are typically the first thing on the chopping block, but Eschelman argues that now is really the time for cities and states to fund those I think those opportunities more than communities ever. “Developing our that get out in recreation infrastructure front of this is an opportunity to invest trend, make in resources like trails and some serious river access points that will benefit the quality of life and investment, economy of the community and build their down the road,” he said. outdoor brand “We’re anticipating seeing are going to win. people leaving densely populated areas and moving to less densely populated areas. So, I think those communities that get out in front of this trend, make some serious investment, and build their outdoor brand are going to win.” Roan Mountain, Tenn., is one of those places that relies on outdoor recreation to bring in tourism dollars as an official Appalachian Trail Community. Mike Hill, a Carter County commissioner representing Roan Mountain, said businesses in town rely on the thru-hiker bubble that comes through each year. “When they come off trail in Roan Mountain, they’ve been in the I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y K E V I N H O W D E S H E L L / K E V I N C R E D I B L E . C O M

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The Great Appalachian Road trip call for a free Trip guide heartofappalachia.com

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

276-762-0011

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woods since Erwin, Tenn.,” he said. “They’re start line, volunteers working aid stations, and hungry. They’d love to do some laundry. They crowds surging towards the stage—it’s difficult to need resupply items. A shower with hot water and imagine what these events will look like with social a washcloth is a huge deal. They come off the trail distancing measures put in place. with discretionary income and specific needs.” Gerry Seavo James, founder of The Waterman When the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Series and Explore Kentucky, puts on events asked thru-hikers to step off the trail in March, throughout Kentucky, including paddling races, Roan Mountain lost out on some of that revenue festivals and a triathlon, that draw thousands of generated by hikers stopping in town. The people from across the country. And all of it—the town also canceled their annual trail festival, funding, the participation, the permits—is up in Hikerpalooza, originally scheduled for May. the air. “For me it’s a big hit, but also for the local Although the class of 2020 thru-hikers will have community it’s a hit because we come and camp to reschedule their thru-hikes, Hill and buy food and gasoline,” James and others in the community are The trail is still here, said. “They stay at the campground pushing the message that Roan our characters are still or a hotel, we buy shirts, there’s Mountain is the perfect place to get we eat at the barbecue here. There’s plenty of snacks, outside away from other people. restaurant where it ends. It’s part of room, and we'll see you this ecosystem of events around the “We are Roan Mountain and we are the Appalachian Trail,” Hill said. state.” when you get here. “Social distancing wise, it’s a really James started canceling events awesome opportunity to get out away from it all. I scheduled in March, April, and May before really think that message is going to resonate more Kentucky got its first confirmed case to keep and mean more to people now than it would have people safe. But the uncertainty of how long the six months ago. The trail is still here, our characters pandemic would last, and how widespread the are still here. There’s plenty of room, and we'll see effects would be, made it difficult when thinking you when you get here.” about events farther down the line. For two years, James has been helping plan the Outdoor Adventure Weekend with the Friends of Cherokee State Historic Park for June 2020. The park was So how can the outdoor industry be a part of originally built during a time of segregation as one our economic recovery? The Outdoor Alliance, of the few parks in the South open to the Black a national coalition of 10 outdoor recreation community. Funds raised from a weekend of art, groups, including IMBA, Access Fund, and music, and cultural activities would go towards American Whitewater, is advocating for recreation revitalization of the park, including new signage, a infrastructure projects at the Congressional level. pollinator habitat, and programming. The threeCommunications Director Tania Lown-Hecht said day event has now been rescheduled for Summer the pandemic amplified inequalities that have 2021. existed in communities for a long time. “Where “It all came crashing to a halt,” James said. are the green spaces, parks, and forests and who “For this African American-oriented project that can get there?” she said. “Our hope already has less attention than legacy is that decision makers, especially organizations, can we bounce back For this African members of Congress, see how after COVID? The economy’s going to American-oriented important that kind of recreation and be down. Can we get the donations project that already we need?” green infrastructure is for the country and see that as a priority investment.” has less attention than These events, no matter their size, To address these inequalities legacy organizations, take time and funding to succeed. and contribute to economic for Color the Crag, a can we bounce back Planning recovery, organizations including climbing festival held at Horse Pens after COVID? The Outdoor Alliance are pushing 40 to promote black, indigenous, for national solutions like a economy’s going to be and people of color climbers, takes conservation corps dedicated to a full year to prepare for down. Can we get the organizers rebuilding outdoor infrastructure four days of climbing, clinics, and donations we need? demos. Leaders from Brown Girls and providing jobs. Legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act Climb and Brothers of Climbing, the would provide permanent funding for the Land partnership behind the festival, decided to cancel and Water Conservation Fund and money for the festival in October to take care of themselves, backlogged park maintenance projects. “That their families, and their community during these would provide crucial funding that will help put difficult times. Brittany Leavitt, the festival’s people back to work, address urgent maintenance director of operations, said even if the pandemic needs, and have more close to home recreation were over by the end of the summer, it wouldn’t be opportunities,” Lown-Hecht said. enough time to get everything together. “We’ve all seen the documentary of Fyre Fest,” she said. “That's pretty much what they did. They did it in a few weeks to try and figure things out. That’s just An event, whether it’s a race, festival, or fundraiser, impossible.” is centered around the idea of community and With the Summer Outdoor Retailer show bringing people together. Racers huddled at the cancelled, opportunities to network with brands for

The Road to Recovery

Rethinking Events

moving forward

sponsorships were cut short. “There’s been furloughs and layoffs,” Leavitt said. “A lot of brands have downsized MORE VOICES their employees. FROM THE Therefore, most OUTDOORS of that money isn’t PREDICT THE PATH going to go towards AHEAD. events. It’s going to go towards Amy Allison, director of supporting their North Carolina’s Outdoor employees. That Recreation Industry takes a big toll on us Office, on tourism post-pandemic: “When because we aren’t the restrictions start to able to redesign loosen, we are going to or reconfigure that see visitors flooding our public lands, making it support system for more imperative than this event.” ever for us to do our part When funding to mitigate that impact and take care of our increases, Leavitt gateway communities, said brands need our wild places, and those to take a look who work and volunteer at how they are in those areas.” sponsoring athletes Dr. Kim Walker, coand influencers in founder of Abundant the industry and Life Adventure Club, on taking a simpler with what resources. approach to getting “Recognizing that outside: “It doesn’t have being paid in income to be very complicated, is important,” she you don’t have to go very far, and you don’t have said. “Likes aren’t to spend a lot of money. I going to pay the feel like a lot more people rent. There’s multiple are realizing or revisiting their appreciation for levels of who has the health benefits of rank in the industry, spending time outdoors.” whether it’s in the Jenn Chew, director nonprofit or forof The Assaults, on profit world, and supporting events in the who comes out of future: “The uncertainty this situation okay. If of when it can open back up has affected brands want to come not only the people who out of this in a better work in the industry, light, they have to whether it be event directors or producers, start thinking about but even people that the bigger picture. are stagehands, AV How are they actually companies, and anything creating space that has to do with putting on events. Without for BlPOC people participation, they’re in their business going to die off, just as in higher-level they are right now with not being able to have positions? How are them. I think it’s really they going to look important for people at their ambassador to participate, support, and attend events, and athlete team? festivals, rides, races, and How are they actually concerts.” taking the time to listen and wanting to fix the problems versus just throwing money to try and do a quick fix.” When deciding to cancel or reschedule, Tes Sobomehin Marshall, race director and founder of runningnerds, looked at each of her events individually. “If it’s a fundraising event that was meant to raise money for a charity, and that’s J U LY 2 0 2 0 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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moving forward

one of their main sources of income, I think it’s important to try to figure out a way to keep people engaged,” MORE VOICES Marshall said. “I’m FROM THE not trying to force OUTDOORS virtual events PREDICT THE PATH down the running AHEAD. community’s throat. I want to do stuff Andrea Hassler, that people want.” executive director of Southeastern Climbers While many of Coalition, on nonprofits: her races were “We have seen a dip in canceled or turned nonprofit contributions into virtual events, as a result of a decrease in the economy and the Marshall is still instability and uncertainty considering what of the future. Members to do about her are still willing to contribute, and they have. largest event. The But without the ability to Race, scheduled for offer events in person, the first weekend our fundraising is limited. I’ve also seen a decrease of October, brings in the availability of grant in runners from funding for projects. across the country. A lot of corporations Even if she can get that typically sponsor or provide grants have a permit, Marshall diverted that funding wonders if people elsewhere or do not have will show up. “We that funding available because of the current could be allowed economy.” to have an event, but are people Jenny Baker, host of going to sign up for The Georgia Jewel, on balancing work and it?” she said. “Are parenthood: “As parents, they going to feel we need to be present comfortable coming for our children. At the same time, our livelihoods out?” are in jeopardy. How When putting do you manage that, in a request for emotionally? Your mind is constantly on that a permit, event hamster wheel of what producers have bills can I put off, what to demonstrate things do I need. And safety, security, and then your children are home and they don’t recycling plans. understand things either.” Marshall thinks they will have to demonstrate a plan for preventing the spread of diseases in the future. “I think it’s going to be very similar to how things changed after 9/11 with security and safety protocols,” she said. “I think it will change and eventually it will feel like the new normal. That’s my opinion. We were always conscious of health and cleanliness when it came to events, but I think there’s going to need to be a more outward show.”

A New Way of Doing Business

From online sales and curbside pickups to virtual events, retailers are reimagining the way they interact with customers. For Joey Riddle, owner of Joey’s Bike Shop in West Virginia, bike sales and bike repairs are through the roof. “We have no bikes on our floor and we can’t get any,” he said. “That’s 22

BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

needs the running community’s support more the biggest problem right now. Bike companies than ever. “You’re seeing that across the board,” are sold out of bikes. Typically, this time of year, he said. “Shop local, drink local, eat local. I think we have over 100 bikes in stock. We have 15 with that message is getting through to people and I nothing on the horizon probably until July.” hope they remember it after we get through the Most bikes and bike parts are made overseas. pandemic.” While in-person fittings will always be Between factory closures, shipping delays, and Phidippides’ bread and butter, Ware does think that restrictions, companies are struggling to keep the ways in which the pandemic forced them to get up with high demand. Riddle is actually turning creative will help them serve customers unable to away customers, telling them he’ll call if he finds get into the store down the line. any bikes. “This is like the perfect storm,” he said. For seasonal businesses “We’re getting in whatever we can. like River & Trail Outfitters, the It doesn’t seem to matter what it is. When people start going pandemic hit at a particularly We’re selling it.” to sporting events again difficult time—the lowest cash point At the same time, more bike and living their lives as of the year coming into their main manufacturers are shipping directly to customers—a growing trend they did before, I’m hoping season. “For a seasonal business, really have to think about the in the last five years, with the a lot of these folks don’t you three or four months to make hay pandemic fast tracking the way forget how much fun they while the sun shines,” said owner bike companies do things. But had riding bikes with their Natasha Baihly. “You just really customers are still coming into the shop when something isn’t shipped family or going out in the hope you’re going to get those of months in order to make right, or they can’t put something woods and getting away couple your business go. You don’t get the together. “The internet cannot fix from screens. I hope they opportunity to slide it into the winter your bike,” Riddle said. or have things pick up in the middle Altogether, Riddle sees the continue to do that. of the fall.” increased interest as a good thing The outfitter offers a variety of activities and for the bike industry. “Hopefully we can retain 10 camping options near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to 15 percent of these new customers,” he said. including whitewater rafting, kayak, tube, and bike “When people start going to sporting events again rentals, and food tours. River & Trail opened up and living their lives as they did before, I’m hoping in May with new guidelines in place. For rafting a lot of these folks don’t forget how much fun they trips, they’re keeping it to one group per boat. had riding bikes with their family or going out in the Shuttles are running at 30 percent capacity with woods and getting away from screens. I hope they the windows down and are sanitized after every continue to do that.” trip. Common spaces at the campgrounds are At Phidippides, a running store in Georgia, the closed and porta potties were added to each cabin. staff tried to figure out how to keep the shop open “There is just a whole lot of uncertainty,” Baihly when so much of their business is done face to face. said. “Everyone was not sure what to plan for, not When relying on online sales wasn’t working, they sure if they should hire for all of their programs. started offering virtual fittings through Zoom. Store With an outdoor business, you kind of recreate the employees walked customers through the normal wheel every year. You have at least a chunk of staff process, asking about their running habits and that’s new. So, there’s a whole lot of effort that goes watching them run around. The customer could then into preparing for a short amount of time. The big get the shoe shipped to them or pick it up curbside question is what do we invest in and prepare for not to see if it fit. “A big concern when we rolled this out knowing what kind of a season we’re was the feel of a shoe is so important to have.” and we were afraid we were going Shop local, drink local, going River & Trail was also in the to be taking a lot of returns through eat local. I think that middle of an expansion when the this process,” said General Manager message is getting pandemic hit, preparing to open Sloan Ware. “But it actually hasn’t been the case. Most of the time, through to people and another location for their whitewater trips. The Baihly’s decided we’re able to get down to a shoe that I hope they remember it rafting to take a leap of faith and go ahead is going to work really well for that person. It hasn’t been as difficult with after we get through the with the new location in hopes that families would be looking for ways returns as we initially expected.” pandemic. to get outside together this summer. While the virtual fittings have “My dad always said that boats and beer were the helped Phidippides stay open during this time, it things that would withstand anything,” Baihly said. hasn’t made up for people coming into the store “And I think he might be right. We have 48 years and looking around. “Across the board, people are behind us, so that’s a wonderful thing.” very concerned about where their money is going,” Ware said. “Right now, buying a $130 pair of shoes This article includes the most up to date is a luxury good. With so much uncertainty in the information since this issue went to press on June world for people’s incomes, it’s a big ask for people 18. Since that time, certain details affected by the to be spending a lot of their money on something pandemic may have changed. Please check with outdoorsy.” local regulations and organizations before making Having been a part of the Atlanta running plans to get outside. community since 1974, Ware said now the shop


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2020

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DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2020

Martinsburg & Berkeley County

WEST VIRGINIA

Enjoy an evening out with friends at one of the eclectic restaurants, visit the Martinsburg Roundhouse—the only structure of its kind in the world—have an outdoor adventure along the Tuscarora Trail, and enjoy the scenery as you putt along the greens on The Woods Golf Courses.

Get to the Heart of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle where you can discover, explore, and experience charming Martinsburg and scenic Berkeley County. Here, you can shop in eclectic stores, browse vibrant farmer’s markets, visit the galleries of amazing artists, and savor delicious delights. Only 90 minutes from Baltimore and Washington D.C., and along Interstate 81, Berkeley County is situated at the northern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley and eastern gateway to West Virginia’s serene mountain landscape. It’s your turn to get away, relax, and unwind in a beautiful piece of “Almost Heaven.”

Go Outside and Play Berkeley County offers the ultimate outdoor experience, from rugged hiking trails to the scenic nature paths, public parks, fishing streams, and nature preserves. Adventurers can explore the 23,000-acre Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area that contains extensive hiking, camping, fishing, and boating opportunities. The Route 9 walking and biking trail stretches between Martinsburg and the Charles Town/Ranson area, offering users wide-open views and diverse terrain from flat land to sloping hills. Don’t forget to pack your lure and fishing rod along with your hiking boots and a bike helmet. Sleepy Creek Lake, a 205-acre impoundment, provides trophy bass, crappie, and northern pike, and allows night fishing with permission. You can also fish from any of the public access streams flowing throughout the county. If observing nature is more your style, Berkeley County has two nature preserves that house a wide variety of birds and plants. Stauffer’s Marsh Nature Preserve, in Back Creek Valley, and the Yankauer Nature Preserve each offer easy walking trails that allow for wildlife observation. Finish a day of well-earned victory with a delicious meal in Martinsburg’s downtown food scene. Your outdoor adventure begins here in Martinsburg and Berkeley County, W. Va.

@VisitMartinsburgWV @VisitMartinsburgWV @VisitMartinsburgWV

Downtown Martinsburg – Martinsburg, W. Va., where small-town charm meets big adventure.

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DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2020

Allegany County

MARYLAND

Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland, is an authentic destination filled with small town charm yet big time adventure. The gateway to the Allegheny Mountains, 25 percent of its land is publicly owned, making outdoor recreation abundant. The region also features two arts and entertainment communities, and the county is home to DelFest, one of the nation’s largest bluegrass festivals. History and heritage speak loudly as you walk the streets, taking in the architecture and three centuries of American historical sites. The mountains are calling!

For a little lift in the spirits, be sure to hit Mountain Maryland’s Tap and Pour Beverage Tour, visiting some of the area’s awardwinning wineries, breweries, and distilleries.

Go Outside and Play

A favorite pastime is to gather the group to fish, canoe, kayak, or float the Potomac River, which bends and winds, separating Maryland from West Virginia. If water is what you are after, then be sure to also experience the 243-acre Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park. It is known for water sports, swimming areas, and dog-friendly beaches. Plus, the region features the terminus of the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, a car-free 330+-mile, internationallyknown bicycle trail destination. When the day of adventure is over, immerse yourself in the community with walkable shops, outdoor dining, and wineries! The county is home 150 developed miles of biking and hiking trails, and within a 2-hour drive to nearly 1,200 miles of trail systems.

Giles County VIRGINIA

Giles County, also known as Virginia’s Mountain Playground™, is home to five towns—Pembroke, Pearisburg, Narrows, Rich Creek, and Glen Lyn—plus the communities of Newport, Eggleston, and White Gate. In Giles, you’ll find the outdoor adventure fit for you, your family, your friends, or all the above!

Lodging is varied and unique, like the cabins at Walker Creek Retreat.

Go Outside and Play

The New River Water Trail is the link to it all. With 37 miles of the New River and ample public access, outdoor adventure revolves around scenic beauty in Giles. Floating and paddling are just a snippet of what you can do. Try out the off-road trails at Kairos, dual sport rides with GearHead, or any one of the three amazing waterfall hikes! Stay at Mountain Lake Lodge, Inn at Riverbend, Walker Creek Retreat, or other unique lodging, including riverside and mountaintop campgrounds. Round out your adventure with The Bad Apple or The Palisades, premier destination dining experiences. The Cascades is just one of three waterfall hikes to play at in Giles.

@MountainMaryland

@GilesCoVA @NewRiverWaterTrail

@MountainMaryland

@GilesCoVA @NewRiverWaterTrail

@Mountain_MD

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DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2020

Alleghany Highlands

VIRGINIA

The Alleghany Highlands is considered Virginia’s outdoor playground with over 50 percent of the land located within National Forest. The region is home to over 100 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as two lakes and rivers that form the Alleghany Highlands Blueway. All lead to waterfalls, wildflowers, or amazing mountain views.

Kayaking on the Cowpasture River.

Go Outside and Play

With a trailhead located just minutes from downtown Covington, the 14.4-mile Jackson River Scenic Trail has a surface of finely crushed gravel and is well-suited for family bike rides and hikes. Douthat State Park offers plenty of space for adventure on the trails and peace and quiet in the campgrounds and cabins. Head to the park’s 50-acre lake for trout fishing, boating, and swimming or hike and bike the 40 miles of trails. The Alleghany Highlands Blueway is comprised of two mountain lakes and two scenic rivers that offer great paddling, fishing, and boating opportunities. You can kayak or canoe on rivers with fun Class I & II rapids or leisurely explore miles of lakeshore. If you are looking for your next outdoor destination, look no further than Virginia’s Alleghany Highlands!

@AlleghanyHighlandsVa @VisitAlleghanyHighlandsVa VISITALLEGHANYHIGHLANDS.COM | 888.430.5786

Primland Resort

PATRICK COUNTY, VIRGINIA

With a jaw-dropping range of outdoor activities, Primland beckons adventurers of all stripes to the Blue Ridge’s premier resort. Nestled on 12,000 acres amid stunning vistas in Patrick County, Virginia, Primland offers breathtaking experiences both indoor and out—all in a luxurious atmosphere that’s authentic to its mountain setting.

The Lodge features high-end rooms, two restaurants, a spa, world-class amenities, and much more.

Go Outside and Play

Primland’s Highland Course ranks among the best mountain golf courses in the U.S. Or check out the 18-hole disc golf course designed by game pioneer George Sappenfield. Hit the trails on a mountain bike, on foot, or on horseback. Go tree climbing. Explore Talbott Reservoir in a kayak. Fly fish for wild brown, brook, and rainbow trout on the Dan River. Or catch trout, bass, and channel catfish from three stocked ponds. Enjoy shooting sports and archery. Go off-roading in a Recreational Terrain Vehicle (RTV). Try out tomahawk throwing. This isn’t even a complete list of Primland’s activities! Visit for an unforgettable experience.

Take an RTV out for a guided spin and enjoy panoramic perspectives of the beautiful property on trails created especially for offroading.

@Primland @PrimlandResort @Primland

PRIMLAND.COM | VISITPATRICKCOUNTY.ORG


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2020

Shenandoah County

VIRGINIA

Shenandoah County calls you to breathe the mountain air and experience the thrill of summer outdoor recreation. Enjoy shady trails on foot or on horseback. Bike the mountains and scenic backroads, or float down the Shenandoah River in a canoe for great fishing or a leisurely paddle. Six charming small towns along Route 11 in the Valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains offer an essential hub of places to stay, eat and shop after a full day of river, sky and mountain adventures.

Palmyra Church Road Group by Synaptic Visuals riding down a scenic road of the Blue Ridge.

Go Outside and Play

Shenandoah County has plenty to offer the outdoor enthusiast whether by air, on the ground or along the river. • Hike, bike or horseback-ride through some of the 178 miles of trails through George Washington National Forest. You’ll find trails to suit every skill level. • Enjoy the slow and lazy bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River by canoe, kayak, or simply wade in and go fishing. • Take your car or bicycle along the scenic country roads for pastoral views of farmland and mountains. • Get a bird’s eye view of the valley with zipline adventures, skydiving or floating in a hot air balloon.

Southern West Virginia

Rolling hills, breathtaking overlooks and magnificent cascades await in Southern West Virginia. Whether you are in search of astonishing scenery, wooded treks, or an enjoyable driving tour, you’ll find plenty of places to escape to in the great outdoors.

With some of the best whitewater on the East Coast, West Virginia offers up Class V adventures on the New River and Gauley River.

Go Outside and Play

Whether you’re looking for a non-stop adventure, planning a relaxing getaway, or want to explore a little of both, you’ll find the perfect combination of activities during your Southern West Virginia vacation. Known as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, Southern West Virginia is chock full of experiences. Scale the sandstone cliffs of the New River Gorge on a guided rock climbing adventure or tackle Class V rapids on the river below. Paddle along the flatwater of Summersville Lake or explore lush forest trails on a mountain bike. Adventure awaits in Southern West Virginia. From singletrack paths to leisurely rail trails, biking is a great way to explore Southern West Virginia.

Enjoy kayaking the Shenandoah River.

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injustice, and privilege” woven in with accounts of family gatherings, terrain, and, of course, food.

ADVENTURE MEDIA BRINGS THE OUTDOORS INSIDE

Broken Ground

from the Southern Environmental Law Center This podcast from the SELC uncovers the heart of environmental issues facing the South with the people on the front lines of disaster and innovation. In season one, host Claudine Ebeid McElwain and the Broken Ground team explore the legacy of energy in the South, from coal ash pollution and pipeline development to the current state of solar power. Season two, just released June 30, explores the direct impacts sea level rise and climate change are having on daily life, focusing on the communities of Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va. You can also catch interviews with leaders of the Southern environmental movement, including Drew Lanham, Dr. Robert Bullard, and Margaret Renkl.

OUR STAFF SHARES THE PODCASTS, BOOKS, TV SHOWS, AND TUNES THAT HAVE KEPT US INSPIRED DURING QUARANTINE BY ELLEN KANZINGER

When we weren’t able to visit our favorite trails or go on our planned trips, the BRO staff turned to creators, artists, and entertainers to bring the best of the outdoors to our screens as we stayed safe through social distancing. Here are some of our favorite listens, watches, and reads that gave us hope and inspired future adventures.

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Ghosts of West Virginia

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey

by Derick Lugo Walk the Appalachian Trail with Derick “Mr. Fabulous” Lugo as he details going from never hiking to a 2,100+ mile thru-hike in his debut memoir. At its core, The Unlikely ThruHiker is about a first-time hiker figuring out the ways of the trail and connecting with other hikers. For more A.T. adventures, you can find chapters that didn’t make the book at dericklugo.com, and in lieu of a canceled book tour, you can 28

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catch Lugo talking about his thru-hike and the book with Jennifer Pharr Davis as part of her Armchair Adventure Book Club series on YouTube.

The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell, edited by Elizabeth

S. D. Engelhardt and Lora E. Smith The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell is a collection of

essays and poems on food and tradition that offers enlightening perspectives on the contemporary Appalachian table. Elizabeth Engelhardt writes, “What can be grown, what can be raised, what can be preserved, and how, all is determined in some relation to mountains and hills. What tastes good, what is emblematic, what is avoided,

and who gets a voice in deciding, all to develop with mountains in the discussion.” The book explores themes of “identity, power,

from Steve Earle Editor Jedd Ferris recommends the latest album from country-rock bard Steve Earle. “Earle's latest album pays tribute to the 29 coal miners who died in a 2010 explosion at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine,” he said. “Through a riveting set of hardscrabble folk tunes and twangy ballads, Earle remembers the lost while also illuminating the bigger issue of blue-collar Appalachians being marginalized for profit.” And who can forget The Last Dance? “ESPN's 10-part


This spring McGowan spearheaded BRO’s new Trail Mix Live series, bringing music to our readers virtually through live streaming concerts every week. “One of my favorite parts of this time of year is getting ready for music festivals and live shows,” she said. “Listening to the artists that are a part of our region's music festivals flooded my mind with some really enjoyable memories of past year’s festivals, like LOCKN' and Red Wing. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Fruit Bats, Alabama Shakes, Josh Ritter, and other great acts from our documentary series about Michael Jordan's final title run with the Bulls has been a comforting throwback to my youth, especially with the absence of professional sports,” Ferris said.

Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

by Lulu Miller “It was an amazing book about resilience and finding order in chaos,” said Hannah Cooper, BRO account executive. “It’s part memoir about Lulu's life and part biography of David Starr Jordan, a taxonomist who helped categorize like a full fifth of all known fish

species.”

The Damsel

from Erin Lunsford Shannon McGowan, Blue Ridge Outdoors’ digital content coordinator, has been enjoying Virginiabased singer-songwriter Erin Lunsford’s new album "The Damsel." As part of the album’s release, Lunsford collaborated with Richmond artists to create a visual collection interpreting the 13 tracks on the album. Proceeds from print sales will help support Culture Works RVA's Artist Relief Fund in response to COVID-19.

region. Plus making some time to practice guitar more has been nice. Long story short, music has been my main inspiration.”

High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed

by Michael Kodas High Crimes digs into the Everest boom and a new breed of mountaineers attempting to summit the mountain. BRO account executive Taylor Leal recommends this, “quick read that exposes the happenings above Everest Base Camp where more factors besides Mother Nature and physical fitness enter the picture.” Although he doesn’t usually watch a ton of television, Leal has also been enjoying Alone on Hulu. “[It] appeals to the Survivorman/Les Stroud-lover that involves minimal interaction from the outside,” he said. “A great dive into the human psyche as it evolves when exposed to extended isolation. I binged all 6 seasons quicker than I'd like to admit when COVID hit.”

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A Celebration of Wildlife And Mountain Culture

Guided Elk Viewing Tours Live Music & Storytelling Mountain Art Showcase Food & Craft Vendors Taxidermy Competition Photography Workshops Wild Game Dinner Elk Bugling Competition Kid-Friendly Activities Hotel & Cabin Lodging Full Hook-up RV Space Primitive Camping Access to Visitor Center

Summer at Snowshoe might just be the answer to this year’s

October 14-17

Follow @WildBuchanan for updates! Southern Gap Visitor Center 276-244-1111 www.WildBuchanan.com

stay-indoors, stay-away spring. For now is the time to get-outside, and smell-the-great-outdoors. Start with a sampling of fresh mountain air with a side of never-ending views, wash it all down with a round of stand-up paddleboarding, and work up an appetite swinging a club or commanding a RzR. Summer at Snowshoe – join us to adventure responsibly.*

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JULY 2 – OCT 18

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The perfect mountain getaway, closer than you think. Experience hiking trails, waterfalls, rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, ziplining, camping, fishing and more. Stokes County, North Carolina is an outdoor destination like no other. hangingrock.com snowshoemtn.com

Download our app to help plan your trip! 30

BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

*We are continuing to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More information regarding the precautions the resort is taking to protect staff, community and guests is available at www.snowshoemtn.com/covid. Photo Courtesy: Fox Mountain Guides


INJUSTICE ON EVEREST ATLANTA’S NATE MENNINGER MADE A FILM ABOUT WORKING AS A FOREIGN PORTER ON AN EXPEDITION TO MOUNT EVEREST— AND DISCOVERED STAGGERING INJUSTICES. B Y E R I C J . WA L L A C E

n late 2018, former University of Virginia lacrosse standout Nate Menninger got an idea that would change his life forever. By then he’d spent four years traveling the world seeking extreme adventures and learning about other cultures. “I was interested in things that were dangerous and heavy on the adrenaline,” says Menninger, now 26 and based in Atlanta. “But there had to be some kind of historical tie, some sense of cultural uniqueness and authenticity around the experience.” He spent two months living in Pamplona, Spain, training with, then running alongside, local veterans at 2016’s Running of the Bulls. Next came investigating Belize’s scuba-diving scene—namely, the Lighthouse Reef and its famous Great Blue Hole, a 400-plus-foot-deep marine sinkhole some 43 miles offshore. That was followed by a six-month South American solo backpacking trip to shred in Chilean and Argentinian backcountry ski areas. Time in Nepal brought vow-of-silence Vipassana Meditation, mountaineering at 20,305-foot Imja Tse, and guide work for U.S. adventure-tourism company, Putney Student Travel.

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J I B A N TA M A N G A N D N AT E M E N N I N G E R W O R K T H E I R WAY PA S T A M A D A B L A N O N T H E I R 5 T H D AY A S P O R T E R S F O R A N E X P E D I T I O N T O E V E R E S T B A S E C A M P. ( A SCREENSHOT FROM THE PORTER. SHOT FILMED BY BABIN DULAL)

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WITH MULTIPLE MARYLAND STATE PARKS AND OVER 80 COUNTY PARKS, HARFORD COUNTY IS OPEN FOR EXPLORATION.

Create Your Memories

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J I B A N TA M A N G ( L E F T ) , S U K R A TA M A N G ( R I G H T ) A N D N AT E M E N N I N G E R ( C E N T E R ) , R E S T F O R ENERGY WHILE PORTERING FROM LUKLA TO P H A K D I N G O N T H E I R WAY T O E V E R E S T B A S E C A M P. ( P H O T O TA K E N B Y B A B I N D U L A L )

Menninger’s aforementioned epiphany centered around what to do next. “It felt absurd to have spent that much time in Nepal and not climbed Mount Everest,” he says. “I got fixated on the notion of climbing the world’s tallest mountain.” But there was a catch: Trips cost $25,000-$50,000 U.S. dollars per person. Menninger didn’t have the money. The solution? “I thought maybe I could get a job as a porter,” he says. Hauling expeditioners’ gear would let him climb Everest for essentially the cost of a plane ticket. And the gig promised intimate access to the elusive world of Himalayan guides and porters. Menninger’s Putney contacts helped him get a job with a Nepali outfitter. Contracting for a March 2019 expedition made him one of the country’s first foreign porters, and then came the idea for a documentary. “I started thinking, ‘If I’m gonna keep doing these adventures, I need to find a way to share them with others and give them a life beyond my own experience,’” says Menninger. A film would offer viewers an unprecedented window into the lives of porters, celebrate their physical prowess, and help Menninger establish himself as a media personality. All that happened and more. Menninger’s film, “The Porter,” was released earlier this year. It reveals a world of segregation, exploitation, and disturbingly low wages. Yet, the seriousness of its focus was accidental. “I was trying to make a movie using personal experience to highlight one of the world’s hardest and most physically demanding professions,” says Menninger. But the human injustices he observed were blindsiding and devastating. “I’m not gonna lie, it made me weep,” says Menninger. “That’s when I realized: That’s going to be the true subject of my movie.” The film follows Menninger from the small,

6,300-plus-foot-high Himalayan city of Jiri to Mount Everest’s 17,600-foot basecamp and back. He chose the route because, although more circuitous than others, it was used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when they made the first Everest summit in 1953. The roughly 230-mile out-and-back took Menninger 23 days to complete. For the first week, he carried around 60 pounds of camera gear and supplies on the way to meet expeditioners in the mountain village of Lukla. After that, he bumped weights to 90 pounds, working up to a staggering 220 pounds on the final day. “Private porters often carry that much and more,” says Menninger. While government regulations cap loads for outfitter employees at 55 pounds, “they almost always carry more. And my goal was to get the true experience, so I followed suit.” The work proved unfathomably hard. Physical demands were exacerbated by extreme elevation and unanticipated psychological strains like money problems, no bathing, poor nutrition, segregation from clients, and harsh sleeping conditions. “I’d played Division I sports and done my share of dirtbaggy backpacking stuff; I came into this thinking I’d take it in stride,” says Menninger. But that wasn’t the case. “You’re sleeping on floors; skipping meals and eating stuff like salted rice balls; being treated, at best, like you’re invisible, at worst, like an indentured servant. All of which takes a huge toll.” Menninger plodded along in a disheveled fog. His belly growled with hunger. As he added more weight, his body rebelled. “I spent the last few days in an exhausted daze,” he says. “It took every ounce of willpower I had to force myself to keep up and keep going.” The problems, Menninger realized, mostly stemmed from low wages. Porters made just $15 a day—and had to pay for their own food and lodging. While clients stayed in village hostels, porters slept in alleys or

begged floorspace. They didn’t bathe. They carried no change of clothes (to make room for expeditioners’ gear). Relying on expeditions for income—tourism is the region’s primary industry—they pinched pennies to bring more home to their families. “They’re basically hoping to break even on daily wages and get a decent tip at the end,” says Menninger. But while tipping is compulsory with reputable outfitters, it isn’t regulated. “The climbers are with the guides: They don’t see how porters live and they don’t know their wages.” Menninger received a $100 tip upon reaching basecamp. After expenses—including an unpaid return trip—it was essentially his take-home pay. “The injustice of it didn’t really hit me until I got back to Jiri,” says Menninger. The Nepali government charges about $11,000 per person in fees for permissions to summit Everest (891 achieved the feat in 2019 alone). That same year, outfitters were governmentally mandated to charge at least $35,000 to coordinate trips. Still, porters—on whose backs the industry is literally built—barely make a living wage. “Here I was, gorging myself on food and getting ready to spend two weeks exploring the country before flying back to my posh U.S. existence,” says Menninger. Meanwhile, fellow porters would catch a night or two of rest, then set out again. “And that will go on throughout the climbing season and beyond.” The realization gave direction to the film and led Menninger to begin pushing for better wages. He hopes to use “The Porter” as a catalyst for reform. “These practices are unfair, exploitative, and have to change,” he says. While Menninger emphasizes the issue’s complexity, “To me, reform starts with visitors demanding their porters are getting paid fairly for the grueling work they’re doing, and being treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.” J U LY 2 0 2 0 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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REMEMBERING AUSTIN FRIENDS AND FELLOW CLIMBERS PAY TRIBUTE TO PROLIFIC FREE SOLOIST AUSTIN HOWELL, WHO DIED IN NORTH CAROLINA’S LINVILLE GORGE LAST SUMMER. BY HART FOWLER AND NOELLE LYNCH

n June 30, 2019, rock climber Austin Howell died after a fall while free soloing Shortoff Mountain at Linville Gorge in North Carolina. He was 31. At the time, we were in the process of editing two articles we had worked on together about Austin, a fearless and free-spirited adventurer, who was passionate about his sport. One was about free-soloing for this magazine, Blue Ridge Outdoors, the other about the climbing in video games for Electronic Gaming Monthly. After interviewing Austin multiple times, transcribing those interviews, and researching his endeavors, it has become difficult to put into words the profound effect his sudden passing had on us as writers. Moreso, it wouldn’t be right to compare our experiences to those of the many

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friends, family, and fellow climbers who were close to him. So to honor his memory almost exactly a year after his passing, we interviewed some of Austin’s friends and fellow climbers and asked them to share memories, as well as what drove him to excel and test his limits on the rocks. He’s remembered as an ambitious, extremely skilled climber, who was willing to help others that had the same dedication to the sport with a selfless nature and precocious attitude. “He definitely didn’t want to die,” says Ben Wu, a guide and photographer. “It was climbing that gave him life.”

Susan Hill

Susan is a mother of two who’s been climbing for 10 years and first met Austin at Joshua Tree in 2015.

She watched him free solo and was “oddly comfortable with it.” They were self-proclaimed “corporate dirtbags,” ascendant in their respective industries and working day jobs that allowed them to spend as much time as possible climbing. They formed an immediate bond and she counted him as a “brother from a different mother.” At the time, both lived in the Chicago area, and they climbed in the Midwest on both rock and ice. They took impromptu climbing road trips on a whim. Austin, an expert lead climber, encouraged Hill’s climbing by sending her routes and exercises, and they had planned a trip together to Linville Gorge. “At a drop of a hat he would send climbing routines for anyone he knew. He wanted to teach people everything he knew and give back. I really feel

A U S T I N H O W E L L TA K E S A M O M E N T T O A P P R E C I AT E HIS SURROUNDINGS DURING HIS FREE SOLO OF D O P E Y D U C K ( 3 5 0 F T. , 5 . 9 ) , L I N V I L L E G O R G E . PHOTO BY BEN WU

he was an artist, the smartest person and most complex and genius person I’ve ever met. Climbing for him was his way of giving back to this world. His ideas were so robust and well thought out. He could see the problem before it was actually there. He was the best problem-solver I’ve ever met.”

Jim Weck

Jim climbed at the same gym as Austin, Vertical Endeavors, which is located just outside of Chicago. The two became friends and Austin encouraged and mentored Jim’s climbing. The two were planning to meet up at the gym the weekend after Austin got back from Linville. “He liked to climb peacefully, and

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not jump around like some people, it was like a thing of beauty and I miss that so much. He didn’t do things to be flashy or get attention. From a distance he comes off cocky, but he really wasn’t a show-off artist or anything. He loved climbing; he didn’t go out to seek attention. He would skip a route if he felt it was too dangerous.”

Bones Rangel

Bones was an instructor at Vertical Endeavors, and Austin’s outgoing persona led them to be close friends. Rangel is also a professional videographer and he filmed Austin on a handful of climbs at various crags arounds the Midwest in the hopes of making a documentary. Austin worked teaching cell-phone tower workers how to climb safely, and he brought Rangel to the on-site practice towers so the two could rehearse rappelling and shooting together. “One of the first things he showed me was the [well-known] photo of him soloing naked and I thought this guy is dorky and hilarious and that’s my kind of friend. “I was never too worried about filming him. I trusted his process, listening to him talk in-depth about climbing on those trips, and how

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precise he was with his climbing. He usually listened to music when climbing, and on some of the easier climbs I have some funny clips of him dancing to the music on a hold.”

day, sharing a common In His Own Words love of music and climbing. The two had “When you find something planned their that gives you that deep of a first climbing sense of peace, why would you trip together let it go?” he says. “For most that summer. people, if they’ve really found “He had just sent me his something that’s meaningful soloing music in their lives, the choice…is playlist and it going to be really obvious. The was like Tony trick is admitting it.” Jason Chumley Hawk sending Jason is a a trick guide. —Austin Howell, on climbing, to musician I looked up Blue Ridge Outdoors in 2016. Read and outdoor to the guy for more about his quirky, adventurous adventure some of the pursuits in the full profile here: guide in North routes he did Georgia. He that probably connected no one else will with Austin probably do on social on this planet media, where ever again. He he was very was an amazing active and guitar player; he communicated played excellent with many 12 string guitar. fellow climbers He played very on Facebook, melodically and Youtube, and Instagram. Jason and chill, and very beautiful. The music he Austin spoke or texted nearly every put in the background on his Youtube

channel is almost eerie.”

Ben Wu

Ben is a photographer and adventure guide who lives near Linville George. He first met Austin while resting with his brother on Jim Dandy. He remembers noticing the free soloist approaching wearing unlaced hiking shoes, a tie-dyed shirt that read “Keep Austin Weird," shorts, and a beret. Austin offered them Snicker Bars and continued climbing ahead of them. He found him on Instagram and they communicated regularly. Two years later Austin invited him to rappel and take photographs of him at Shortoff Mountain. After a long day of shooting, the two parted ways, with Austin staying behind to do a few more laps. He learned of Austin’s fall from the search and rescue team at the trailhead. He was tasked with informing Austin’s friends and family about his accident. “Even though I didn’t know him very well, he had this really infectious personality. You could tell his excitement for climbing and for life in general was genuine, that was very contagious. He inspired me to be a better person and work on my own goals.”


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BY JULIA GREEN

n the last two months, I haven’t refinished any furniture, built any shelves, or painted any bathrooms. There is no new garden, no reorganized closets. For me, pandemic activities have been limited to working and walking, cooking and baking, reading and resting, or trying to. And, of course, zoom zoom zoom. I was raised to follow rules; obedience and anxiety have succeeding in keeping me almost entirely at home, away from others. My husband goes to the grocery store. We chat with neighbors from a safe distance when we cross paths on walks. So it felt momentous when I declared myself ready for our first socially distant hang, a backyard fire with a neighbor. I set out three chairs around the fire pit at three, six, and nine o’clock, with several feet in between. My husband and I could have sat closer but it did not feel right. While he built the fire, I sat and stared at the empty chair across from me, as it if were Passover and we were waiting for Elijah’s visit. Instead, Dan showed up. We exchanged the new pleasantries, which have morphed from the standard How are you I’m fine to something more complex and absorbing, an intimate surf through our anxieties and cautions. Dan was continuing to distantly visit with his nearby family, but only outdoors and without embrace. Our extended, aging

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family lives in New York City, where they are shut up in their apartments like lab rats, safe so far. I worry about them and volumes of vulnerable people: the underpaid essential workers, the kids who relied on school to get fed, the immunocompromised, the homeless, the unemployed, the uninsured, the undocumented. Over the flicker of the fire, we talked about masks, grocery washing, canceled vacations and concerts, the new touchstones of our transformed existence. The conversation finally turned away from the pandemic. Dan was reading a book about lucid dreaming practices of Tibetan monks. I am halfway through David Foster Wallace’s thousand page novel, Infinite Jest. We talked about board games and quantum mechanics—I listened—while

the sun sank and the light grew thinner, finally collapsing into night. The blackness felt necessary, showing us the stars, blocking out the worry of the world. We made s’mores, Dan from a plate we prepared with careful, clean hands—untouched marshmallows shaken directly from the bag, still wrapped chocolate bars and graham crackers. They were delicious, some of the best I’ve ever had, tasting of childhood and freedom and pleasure and joy. We are living in tiny times, where a very small thing can bring on a big feeling. A burnt dinner, a bad night’s sleep, a scratchy throat can feel catastrophic. And a warm marshmallow on a graham cracker gooey with chocolate can approach nirvana. I’ve struggled with joy these

Explore

SUMMERS COUNTY

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PHOTO BY JULIA GREEN

BURN ONE DOWN

months—it seems selfish, dangerous even, in a time when so many are suffering. But as I wiped the chocolate from my chin and watched the smoke rise toward the sky, I felt that long lost friend sidle up. And I remembered there’s a lot I don’t worry about: my overgrown, janky hair, my inability to wear what a friend calls “hard pants.” I don’t worry about what we eat for dinner or the pounds I’ve put on from sweets and wine. I don’t worry about the dentist appointment I’m very overdue for, or even my job. I am grateful to have it now and have no control over if it goes away. The winds of the world are blowing fiercely, so hard some of us have been pushed into acceptance, that tricky word the meditation podcasts keep mentioning. I perfected my firebuilding skills during a wintertime writing residency in the Georgia mountains. Nested amid the logs and kindling were crumpled pages from my notebook, handwritten drafts I’d typed and no longer needed. I stirred and stoked, waiting for the heat to build, drawing on the patience writing has taught me. Fire fills me with a sense of wonder, recalling our ancestors whose survival depended on it, who, when the food was cooked, stayed by the flames to share stories. I wonder what the story of this time will be, what we will think and feel when we look back years and decades later. Fire can be a life-giving force, as well as a destructive one. Currently, it is an expression of rage, a reckoning of accumulated hurt. It doesn’t resemble a controlled burn in a forest, but I wonder if the principles are the same— to make way for new, healthy growth, we must shed, we must clear. Destroy to rebuild. As the world burns, I watch the hummingbird outside my window, write sentences when they come to me, and hold my breath, waiting to see what’s next.


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TRAIL MIX

FRESH TRACKS

songs of summer ROOTSY JAMS TO ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST BY JEDD FERRIS

Wilco

“Tell Your Friends”

Wilco released this oneoff single back in May via Bandcamp with download proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. Lyrically, the song has an optimistic, 42

BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

straightforward message for the times (“Don’t forget to tell your friends/When you see them again/O’ I love you”), while the atmospheric arrangement will one day be just right for swaying arm in arm with your favorite concert buddy.

Imperfect at the Ryman” culls highlights from Price’s threenight stand at the legendary Nashville venue and features guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, Jack White, and Sturgill Simpson.

Margo Price

“Be Afraid”

“Twinkle Twinkle”

Ahead of the release of her upcoming album, “That’s How Rumors Get Started,” which comes out July 10, country-soul singer-songwriter Margo Price dropped a couple singles from the highly anticipated effort. “Twinkle Twinkle” is a hard-hitting fuzz-rock scorcher with a cautionary message about the price of success. Price also released a surprise live album through Bandcamp in May. “Perfectly

the rest of the record, a turn towards angst-fueled protest from an Americana legend.

with sweeping synths, crashing beats, and a sing-along chorus.

American Aquarium

“Trippin’”

“The Luckier You Get”

This rumbling anthem from Isbell’s latest collection of songs, the excellent “Reunions,” is about facing fears and doing what you believe is right, set to a motivating backdrop of uplifting heartland rock.

The North Carolina outfit made their latest album, “Lamentations,” in Los Angeles with producer Shooter Jennings, and it’s easily the group’s most sonically fulfilling effort to date. But the driving force is still the blue-collar wisdom of band leader BJ Barham, who celebrates the value of a hard day’s work in this soaring alt-country rocker.

Lucinda Williams

Woods

As the opener of Williams’ fourteenth studio album “Good Souls Better Angels," the punk-blues swagger of this defiant rocker sets the tone for

The lyrics lament frustration, but the arrangement of this earworm from Woods’ new album, “Strange to Explain,” is cathartic and inspirational,

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

“ You Can’t Rule Me”

“Can’t Get Out”

Futurebirds The Georgia psych-country stalwarts dropped a gem of an album, “Teamwork,” at the beginning of the year and this jangly jam is a standout full of nostalgia and mischief.

Waxahatchee “Fire”

If you take a road trip or even just a backroads drive this summer, this breezy standout from Waxahatchee’s excellent new album “Saint Cloud” is made for windowsdown introspection. Singersongwriter Katie Critchfield offers open-hearted reflection on relationship complexities, backed by watery keyboards and a steady groove.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALL EYES MEDIA

RIGHT NOW FESTIVAL SEASON SHOULD be in full swing. Many of us would love to be navigating stages and set times, and breaking a sweat while dancing to the sounds of our favorite bands, both new and old. But unfortunately the future of live music is still uncertain, so we need to create our own sonic experiences. To make a mix for your backyard grilling or gardening, here’s a list of some of our favorite new songs by artists from the South and beyond.


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OPEN FOR

PADDLERS

Charles County, MD is home to Mallows Bay, the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000. Kayakers can explore the remnants of the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay, which is home to 118 World War I-era wooden steamships and vessels. Paddle near tremendous wildlife; the park inhabits osprey, waterfowl, bald eagles, heron, and an array of marine species and mammals. Once life has returned to normal, come and create your own adventures, memories, and stories in this legendary place. ExploreCharlesCounty.com

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Blue Ridge Outdoors July 2020  

Blue Ridge Outdoors July 2020

Blue Ridge Outdoors July 2020  

Blue Ridge Outdoors July 2020

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