Blue Ridge Outdoors July 2021

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JULY 2021

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BLUERIDGEOUTDOORS.COM

ROAD TRIPS Five Adventure-Packed Routes Across the South

COAST WITH THE MOST

GREAT GEAR FOR THE OPEN ROAD

+ B O U R B O N AN D B LU E G R ASS + PA D D L E AN O LY M P I C CO U R SE

LOCALS SHARE FAVORITE OCEANSIDE SPOTS

New North Carolina Whitewater Park FLY HIGH: HANGGLIDING IN THE BLUE RIDGE


Adventure is the destination. So crank up the music, hit the road less traveled, and feel free to get a little lost. Because the best part of a road trip isn’t the destination, but the adventures you have along the way. Plan your next road trip at virginia.org/wanderlove


Your Parks Your adventures

MOLLY’S KNOB AT HUNGRY MOTHER STATE PARK 800-933-PARK (7275) |

www.virginiastateparks.gov | Know Before You Go — Recreate Responsibly


Be The Impact. Made in the USA, within a 250 mile radius of our HQ in North Carolina.

WATCH - WAGER - WIN - REPEAT!

Enjoy family friendly horse racing action this summer & fall with FREE GENERAL ADMISSION!

Thoroughbred Racing at Colonial Downs (New Kent, VA) July 19 - September 1 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 1:45 PM colonialdowns.com Shop Online • Wholesale Blanks • Custom Design & Print RecoverBrands.com

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B LU E R I D G E O U T D O O R S | R I C H M O N D / VA B E AC H + M E T R O D. C . E D I T I O N

Harness Racing at Shenandoah Downs (Woodstock, VA) September 17 - October 16 Fridays at 3:30 PM; Saturdays at 1 PM shenandoahdowns.com

WWW.VIRGINIAHORSERACING.COM


ON THE COVER

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

Books for Summer + Rock star sandal collaborations

9 | EXPLORE

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

Take a deep dive into West Virginia’s Summersville Lake.

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

10 | THE STUDIO

A Baltimore artist’s unique creations call for inclusivity in the outdoors.

C O N T R I B U TO R S MIKE BEZEMEK E R I C J. WA L L AC E ASHLEY STIMPSON

14 | PERSPECTIVE

How to save America’s wild lands. Why I opened an outfitter in a small Appalachian town.

ADVERTISING & BUSINESS

50 | JOB BOARD

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

M A R T H A E VA N S

A wilderness specialist offers an inside look at her important role in conservation.

martha@blueridgeoutdoors.com 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

54 | GOODS

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

Hit the highways with our favorite summer road trips gear.

D I G I TA L M E D I A

56 | THE OUT AND BACK

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

After a pandemic year filled with outdoor activities, an avid adventurer is ready for a break.

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

shannon@blueridgeoutdoors.com

58 | TRAIL MIX

INTERNS

BRENNA TURPIN G R AC E G A R V E Y A N N D O U G L A S S LOT T

New tunes from Wye Oak and the Wandering Hearts, and SUSTO sings the Rolling Stones.

200 DISTRICT DRIVE, UNIT 8 ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA 28803

B LU E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

©2021 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

P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F T H E R M A L VA L L E Y H A N G G L I D I N G

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

977 SEMINOLE TR PMB294 C H A R LOT T E S V I L L E , V I R G I N I A 2 2 9 0 1

TOP: PHOTO COURTESY OF CHACO | BOTTOM: PHOTO BY ELLEN KANZINGER

16 | ESSAY

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

PUBLISHING

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7 | QUICK HITS

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

SUMMIT

July 2021

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

DAV E S TA L L A R D G R A H A M AV E R I L L D O U G S C H N I T Z S PA H N

R O U T E 1 2 I N N O R T H C A R O L I N A’ S O U T E R B A N K S I S A G AT E WAY T O C O U N T L E S S C O A S TA L A D V E N T U R E S A N D M A K E S F O R A N I D Y L L I C R O A D T R I P. P H O T O B Y C H R I S H A N N A N T; C H R I S H A N N A N T. C O M

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50 F E AT U R E S

20 | HIT THE ROAD

These Southern road trip itineraries are full of the region’s top adventures.

24 | COAST WITH THE MOST

Locals share their favorite oceanside spots.

42 | TAKE FLIGHT

We visit three of the Blue Ridge’s best hang gliding schools.

48 | NEW WAVE

A whitewater park is taking shape in western North Carolina. J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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NOW — OCT. 31 This exhibit made possible by The Batten Family Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation


QUICK HITS

NEWS + NOTES

SUMMER ROUND-UP Books, Music, and More from the Blue Ridge and Beyond BY JEDD FERRIS

Mountain Sounds

Live music is making a swift comeback with artists from all genres getting back on the road this summer. If you’re looking for outdoor show options in the Blue Ridge, head to the North Carolina High Country next month for Beech Mountain Resort’s Summer Concert Series. Over three weekends in August, the resort will host shows by Umphrey’s McGee (August 6 and 7), Tedeschi Trucks (August 14), and Greensky Bluegrass (August 21). In Virginia, organizers of the Lockn’ Festival have adjusted their format this year. Instead of hosting one four-day festival, Lockn’ Farm, located in the Blue Ridge foothills town of Arrington, will host three smaller weekend events. Grateful Dead tribute act Joe Russo’s Almost Dead will play a three night stand at the venue on August 13-15, while the following weekend up-andcoming jam act Goose will lead a multi-band bill from August 20-22 that also features Dawes, Dr. Dog, and Hiss Golden Messenger. Finally, Tedeschi Trucks Band will play three nights at the farm on August 27-29 with support from the Marcus King Band. Onsite camping is available at all three shows.

Rock Star Sandal Collabs

We’re spotting a trend. Mainstay adventure sandal brands are partnering with well-known musicians on limited edition collaborative designs. If you’re a music fan looking for new summer kicks, check out these options. Chaco X Thomas Rhett Country star Thomas Rhett loves fly fishing in his free time. He even celebrated his hobby with the tune “More Time Fishin.’” Now the multiplatinum artist has partnered with Chaco to release three different sandals, available for both men and women, with colorful fish designs. "When I’m outside my creativity levels

L E F T: H I S S G O L D E N M E S S E N G E R P L AY S I N V I R G I N I A I N A U G U S T. P H O T O B Y C H R I S F R I S I N A | B E L O W: THOMAS RHETT HOLDS HIS NEWLY DESIGNED SANDAL. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHACO

3 Summer Reads

go through the roof and it’s no wonder that nature has had such an influence on my new music,” Rhett said.

Hardly Easy Author Kim Jochl, a former competitive skier based in North Carolina, leans on her experience as a licensed pilot to craft the narrative in her debut YA novel. Set in the Appalachians, "Hardly Easy" is an empowering story of a teenaged girl determined to pursue aviation despite her father’s objections. It’s a coming-of-age tale full of hard lessons, perseverance, and adventure.

Keen X Jerry Garcia For Deadheads, Keen has teamed up with the family of Jerry Garcia to release three limited edition sandals featuring the late Grateful Dead guitarist’s art. Proceeds benefit the Wilderness Society’s effort to preserve Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

Stronger Than The Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression Ultrarunner and licensed counselor Cory Reese delivers a poignant memoir about his own battle with depression and the clarity he’s found through longdistance running. Central to the story is a particularly enlightening 314-mile journey on foot across Tennessee.

Crocs X Various Artists Crocs gained a huge boost of renewed popularity during the pandemic, as many people sought homebound comfort, and some of the world’s most popular musicians took notice. Recently, collaborative takes on the soft clogs have been released with the likes of Post Malone, Justin Bieber, Kiss, Luke Combs, and Bad Bunny. If your favorite artist gets in on the action, act fast. The limited edition designs typically sell out quickly.

Blacktop Wasteland Need a can’t-put-it-down beach read? Grab S.A. Crosby’s "Blacktop Wasteland," a fictional crime thriller recently released in paperback. Set in southeast Virginia, the story’s main character, Beauregard, is a legendary getaway driver trying to put a life of crime in the rearview. But as a struggling mechanic in an economically depressed region, he has to make some tough choices to take care of his family. J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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THE OUTDOORS ARE FREE AND SO ARE WE! Support free outdoor inspiration and news from Blue RidgeOutdoors by joining the TrailHeads Patron Program. Thanks to our latest TrailHeads! GREG L. (CHESTERFIELD, VA) • DANIELLE M. (WOODBRIDGE, VA) MARIA K. (BALL GROUND, GA) • TAYLOR K (CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA) DANIELLE D. (PORT REPUBLIC, VA) • KAROLYN J. (DAHLONEGA, GA) WILL C. (DURHAM, NC)

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

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EXPLORE

UNDERWATER

DIVE MASTERS Appalachia doesn’t seem like scuba central, but the guys at Sarge’s, a low-key, four-decade dive shop, will show you the best of what’s under West Virginia’s Summersville Lake. BY ASHLEY STIMPSON

BEING A SCUBA DIVER IN WEST

Virginia is like being a downhill skier in Oklahoma. Most of the time, your gear is likely going to languish in the basement. Perhaps that explains the enduring appeal—and staying power— of Sarge's Dive Shop on Summersville Lake in Nicolas County. In an area where adventure outfitters come and go, the guys at Sarge's have been in the business for 40-some-odd years, offering intrepid, landlocked divers underwater escapades close to home. Summersville Lake is the largest body of standing water in West Virginia, mandated by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and dedicated by the Corps of Engineers in 1966. The 2,700-acre lake was created by damming the Gauley River, flooding the town of Gad and the surrounding valleys, hemmed in— underwater and above it—by looming rock faces. It’s that rocky shoreline (as opposed to one of dirt or sand) that makes Summersville “the little Bahamas of the East,” according to Skin Diver Magazine: the cleanest, clearest freshwater lake east of the Mississippi. When state trooper Robert Adams transferred to the area in 1976, he quickly took up shore diving, eventually opening a scuba shop on highway 19, before moving it to its current location at Summersville Lake marina (where it floats almost imperceptibly atop the water). Today Sarge’s is owned by brothers Mark and Eric Allen, who bought the shop from Adams in 1990. A former science teacher, Mark tells me the shop has never made much money, but he was used to that. "In West Virginia, teachers don't make shit," he says. Instead, the dive shop was about fulfilling a passion. "I had wanted to dive since I was 9 years old," he remembers.

After moving to and getting certified in the Florida Keys, he planned to open a shop down South, but when a hurricane sent him home, helming the ship at Sarge’s seemed like the next best thing. Mark, who has a lazy West Virginia drawl and a dry-as-dust sense of humor, says he hasn’t taken a vacation since then. Hasn’t drawn a paycheck from the diving, either. In the early days, the brothers did everything—slept on the floor to provide their own security, worked long hours in wet suits to maintain the submerged framework of the marina. But after he retired from teaching, he was finally able to devote his energy to growing the business. The outfit has since made a name for itself catering to public safety organizations and first responders, teaching everything from crime scene investigation and ice rescue to heavy salvage and lifting. Like many in the outdoor community, Mark says the pandemic was actually good for business, as record numbers of people visited the lake during the summer of 2020. “My God, we were busy.” The morning I arrived for a pleasure dive, the shop was brimming with lake-goers. Sarge’s is a decidedly do-it-yourself affair; no one’s going to carry your gear or offer you fresh fruit between dives. After I paid, I was sent to the back room to find the right wetsuit, pick my own weights, and lug my oxygen tanks to the waiting dive boat. The dive group that day was varied—some of us were Summersville

A B O V E : T H E S C E N I C E X PA N S E O F W E S T V I R G I N I A ' S S U M M E R S V I L L E L A K E . | L E F T: A D I V E R G E T S T H E V I E W B E L O W T H E S U R FA C E . P H O T O B Y A S H L E Y STIMPSON

newbies, others were getting their monthly dive in. The gentleman next to me, a Bluefield native, had just returned from a diving trip to the Red Sea. Mark says that’s typical, that during the summer he gets big groups from Michigan and Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. “I talk to these guys regularly,” he says, “I see ‘em every year. They’re like family to me.” Indeed, it felt familial. As we idled out of the marina, our captain, Luke, an economically built man with a blue ribbed tank top tucked tightly into his cargo shorts, cursed the last driver for leaving the gas tank empty. We stopped for fuel—and a bag of Doritos for Luke—while folks compared their

underwater wish lists, buddying up for the dive. I was invited by two different groups to join them, one that planned to stay along the shore, the other more interested in going deep. I’ve been on a number of dive boats but never one so laid-back, so laissez-faire. Those in the know steered us first to Copperhead and the Horseshoe Cove. The former offered a vertical sheer of about 75 feet. With our flashlights we peered into crevices filled with crappy. We fingered through detritus on the bottom, hoping we’d come across artifacts from the submerged valley towns below. Mostly we just found rusty beer cans. As the whir of boat engines whined in our ears, we watched a couple of small-mouth bass eye us with suspicion. At the next dive site, we swam around and through massive rocks: a mighty boulder field that once crowned this mountain. Scuba diving is always about seeing a different world, but in West Virginia it was more about seeing this world from a different angle. That’s what the guys at Sarge’s are offering—no plane ticket or PTO necessary. In the parking lot after the dive, I saw the man who had recently returned from a dive trip in Egypt. I ask him how the two compare. “Well, this one is an hour from my house.”

J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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THE STUDIO

NATURAL INSPIRATION

DETAILED STUDIES WITH DOMINIQUE BUTLER BY ELLEN KANZINGER

GROWING UP IN NORTHERN VERMONT,

Dominique Butler spent a lot of time in the woods learning to track wildlife, fish, camp, and survive in the wilderness. It is those early and formative memories that form the foundation of her art today. With incredible attention to structure and elements, from intricate patterns to the slightest change in colors found in nature, Butler’s paintings invite the audience to immerse themselves in a world of microscopic beauty. “I learned how to observe nature at a very slow pace and how to pay attention to detail,” Butler said. “I've carried that fascination and passion for being in nature as I enter adulthood. I've also learned how to articulate my curiosity and questioning as to why there isn't much representation of Black people in nature.” It is that curiosity in artmaking that causes it to play a central part in society, illuminating issues, telling stories, expressing emotion, and fostering community. For Butler, the creativity and ability to make art is something found inside each of us, even if it doesn’t take the form of a painting, drawing, or sculpture. Artist is more than a job title or line on a resume. “Even if no one wanted to see or purchase my work, I'd still be painting,” Butler said. “It's such an intimate and personal thing, so at the end of the day, I create these works of art for me and my enjoyment. Painting is the one thing that makes complete sense to me. In no other subject or field am I as confident and comfortable than how I am with art. I wouldn't be me without it.”

The Technique

Now based in Baltimore, Md., Butler continues to find inspiration for her pieces in the world around her. Patapsco Valley State Park, about a 30-minute drive outside of the city with some of the first trails she explored when she moved to the area, is one of Butler’s favorite places for walks and hikes in nature. While outside, she takes photos with her phone of things that catch her eye, like a section of moss with a nice shape or a vibrant shade of green. “I have hundreds of these photos that just live on my phone and many of them I won't look at again for months at

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

a time,” Butler said. “When I'm ready to start a piece I'll go through some of these pictures, select a few, and then start cropping or rotating them.” One of her favorite times to go outside is right after it rains when the colors are more saturated and intense. Working from the images, Butler then sketches out her design and layers the piece with gouache and acrylic paints. With so many different types of materials, from bark and lichen to mushroom tops and leaves, each piece delves into the lines, colors, and shapes that can be found when you take the time to look closer. “I like challenging myself and attempt to capture the contrast of the various textures within my pieces,” Butler said. In between projects or when the creativity is harder

"FOREST AND STREAM" BY DOMINIQUE BUTLER. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

to come by, Butler will take a step back from her work to sketch and read. “Doing this lets me come back to a painting with a fresh start,” she said. Instead of focusing on the tiniest details, she will zoom out to work on a human portrait or animal anatomy study to flex her drawing skills and push through artist’s block.

Playing with Scale

From tiny four-inch canvases to two-foot self-portraits, size plays an important role in how Butler presents her work. Painting on a smaller scale, like her mushroom and river rock pieces, helps Butler to slow down and


New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

With four-lane highways, scenic byways and back country roads, adventure is certainly at the ready in Southern West Virginia. Here, every route offers new sights and unforgettable experiences. Discover cities and small towns, railroad and coal history, adventure and art on your next summer road trip. Southern West Virginia has the slice of Almost Heaven you’ve been searching for.

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THE STUDIO " T U R K E Y TA I L M U S H R O O M " B Y D O M I N I Q U E B U T L E R , R I G H T. IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

NATURAL INSPIRATION pay attention to what she is really trying to capture. “It's meditative in a way,” she said. “I get into almost a trance-like state. I'll spend hours not moving, completely focused on getting every small detail I can muster.” But the size also plays a dual role in pulling the audience into the scene. “I'm making the viewer stop, take a moment, and lean in to see my painting,” Butler said. “Physically making them get as close as possible. I like that intimacy.” A piece that size, small enough to be held in the palm of your hands, invites a more personal relationship with the object. In contrast with her tiny canvases, Butler is currently working on a series of large portraits of Black National Park Rangers, including Shelton Johnson and Betty Reid Soskin, and is spending some time researching the Black Buffalo Soldiers of Yosemite Park. The large canvases are a way of physically taking up space in an industry and places where all too often people of color feel unwelcome and harassed. “I would love for my work to help prompt white outdoors people to think about how they can use their privilege to make green spaces safer and more accessible to Black individuals and people of color,” Butler said. You can find more of Butler’s work at DominqueButlerArt.com or on Instagram @_dom_butler.

Brighten your adventure. Meet Woodlands, our newest DoubleNest® Print Hammock designed in collaboration with Love Letter Creative. Launching July 22 National Hammock Day

J U LY 2 0 2 1 | 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

CONSERVATION

A BEAUTIFUL PLAN How to Save Wild America for Everyone BY WILL HARLAN

LET’S FACE IT: “THE STAR-SPANGLED

Banner” is too hard to sing. All across the country this Fourth of July, voices will be cracking and folks will be forgetting the words. “O’er the ramparts?” A lot of us sound like Frank Drebbin/Enrico Palazzo in "The Naked Gun," stumbling through the anthem before sporting events. Even the flag-waving American Conservative Magazine agrees with me: “‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is set during a single, not-especiallysignificant battle in a B-list war,” they wrote in a July 4th essay last year. “It’s mostly about the American flag, which is nice, but having a national symbol play off another national symbol seems like a waste of a symbol.” Even Frank Sinatra admitted: “It’s a terrible piece of music.” I propose replacing it with “America the Beautiful,” another iconic anthem that highlights the one thing we all have in common: the land beneath our feet. It was written by a feminist poet after hiking Colorado’s 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, which overlooks “purple mountain majesties” and “amber waves of grain.” The song is simple and melodic: ”O beautiful, for spacious skies” is easy to sing. It’s emotional and aspirational— just listen to Ray Charles’ soulful rendition of it. And it’s not about a battle, a flag, or conquest. It’s about the possibilities of this nation. It celebrates a country and its people. So it’s only fitting that the country’s biggest, boldest, and most ambitious conservation plan ever would be called the America the Beautiful Initiative. It outlines a path to protect 30 percent of America’s land and waters by 2030— often referred to as 30 x 30. It also will create tens of thousands of jobs, tackle the climate and extinction crises, and address inequitable access to the outdoors. First, the plan will create more parks and protected lands, which have never been more urgently needed. As the pandemic has shown, safe outdoor spaces are more important than ever to Americans. The National Park Service

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

AN EARLY MORNING V I E W I N G R E AT S M O K Y M O U N TA I N S N AT I O N A L PA R K . P H O T O C O U R T E S Y OF GETTY IMAGES

anticipates that national parks will see the most visitors in 2021 than any other year in history, and other public lands are also expecting record numbers. “I truly believe our national parks were a refuge for many Americans during the pandemic,” said Republican Senator Tom Daines in a Congressional panel last month. “It was good for the soul when Americans visited their national parks.” Daines and other congressional leaders acknowledged that many parks are being “loved to death” as increasing numbers of Americans seek out public lands, leading to traffic congestion, long lines, crowded facilities, and overuse. Great Smoky Mountains National Park expects over 13 million visitors this year—more than the populations of New York City and Los Angeles combined. Over 14 million people will visit the Blue Ridge Parkway. The U.S. population has quadrupled over the past century, but our public lands have not kept pace. Only 12 percent of American lands are currently protected. More parks—especially close to urban centers—will enable more Americans to experience the country’s natural wonders. More parks will also improve accessibility and ensure that public lands are available to everyone— not just wealthy white folks. People of color are three times more likely to live in a nature-deprived area. More protected lands will also help protect the species that have been here for millions of years before America.

Populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have declined by 60 percent in just the past 40 years, according to a 2018 World Wildlife Fund report. Over one million species are threatened with extinction. The climate crisis is only making things worse. Protecting 30 percent of our public lands is critical to providing habitat and migration corridors for these species. “Nature in America is in trouble,” says Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “We need a collective, allhands-on-deck national effort to conserve and restore the land and water upon which we depend.” We’ve mobilized before to face a national conservation crisis. The Dust Bowl during the Great Depression led to a massive public works program. FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which provided jobs to over three million Americans. The CCC helped construct the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and many of the trails and structures in Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks. They also planted over 3 billion trees that are now part of our national forests. The America the Beautiful Initiative proposes a new CCC— the Civilian Climate Corps—to put tens of thousands of Americans to work addressing climate change, strengthening the country’s natural defenses, and restoring public lands. The Civilian Climate Corps would build

trails and plant trees, but it would also help restore wetlands, remove invasive species, and fight wildfires and hurricanes. What will America the Beautiful Initiative mean for our region? New urban and historic parks could be built—including Atlanta’s Beltline and Path400, Richmond’s Southside, and Sparrow Point in Baltimore. The Ocmulgee River Corridor near Macon, Ga., could be the South’s next national park unit, along with Birthplace of Rivers National Monument in West Virginia and Craggy National Scenic Area near Asheville, N.C. Mining sites across Appalachia could be cleaned up to protect community drinking water, restore wildlife habitat, and provide jobs. Tens of thousands of young people could join the Civilian Climate Corps to restore public lands and rebuild critical infrastructure. Private landowners would also receive additional incentives to protect their lands. Eighty-six percent of Americans support the America the Beautiful vision for public lands. More public lands—visited and maintained by a more diverse set of Americans—would improve equity, access, and opportunity for everyone. This is our moonshot moment. This is our chance to protect purple mountain majesties and put people to work safeguarding the beautiful America that belongs to all of us—from sea to shining sea.


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E S S AY

TAKING A CHANCE

MOVED BY THE MOUNTAINS

THE AUTHOR (PICTURED) O W N S A N D O P E R AT E S WHEELZUP ADVENTURES ( W H E E L Z U PA D V E N T U R E S . C O M ) IN CUMBERLAND, MD.

Why I Opened an Outfitter in a Small Appalachian Town BY MANDELA ECHEFU

STANDING IN FRONT OF THE 12-FOOT

showcase windows with a history of offering everything from pharmaceuticals to bridal gowns and other goods as far back as the early 1900s, I can’t help but be amazed by life’s twists and turns. In only a few weeks, a Nigerian immigrant and an adopted son of the Appalachians will be opening an outdoor storefront in the heart of one of Maryland’s most historic towns. I’m doing so in the hope of not just realizing the American dream for myself, but for all those who see themselves in me. It’s regularly said that America runs on small businesses; according to JPMorgan Chase research, over 99 percent of America’s 28.7 million firms are small businesses. These operations not only provide an opportunity to earn a living, they also build and develop communities, and allow their creators to tell their individual stories. Most of the vibrant small towns around the country are made up of a variety of colors, ideas, races, and genres. That’s what makes them interesting. My story is not terribly different from anyone who has a deep love for nature and understands the power of exploring the outdoors. It starts with my unscheduled encounter with the beauty of the western Appalachian Mountains in Cumberland, Maryland, while on what was supposed to be a short layover on my way up the corporate ladder. The intended destination was always a corner office with a view in the midst of concrete and glass skyscrapers. My story is of one who waded cautiously into the eddies of flat-water paddles, short hikes, and tow path bike rides, only to be sucked in by the escalating rapids of roaring whitewater runs, thrilling downhill mountain bike rides, earning turns in the backcountry skiing, and overnight solo backpacking trips. I was moved by the mountains, and among them is now where my heart feels most at home.

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“But the people who will most likely do the most good are POC like myself. That is one of the driving reasons why I have decided to roll my sleeves up and throw my hat in the ring.” In these times of national selfevaluation, where race, equality, true happiness, and other values are being reassessed, I believe it may be time for people of color to reconsider the approach of asking for permission. There has been so much discussion about promoting diversity in the outdoors, leading to many companies showing good-willed gestures like sponsoring local minority groups, shooting a few commercials or catalog covers with minority models, or hiring a person of color as a brand ambassador. But the people who will most likely do the most good are POC like myself. That is one of the driving reasons why I have

decided to roll my sleeves up and throw my hat in the ring. In 2019, while guiding on a bicycle tour from Staten Island to upstate New York, I noticed town after town featured shuttered doors and nostalgic signs of Americana, and similar scenes exist across Appalachia. I find poignant parallels between black representation in business and the region I now call home—so much potential but not enough opportunities. That’s why I have opened Wheelzup Adventures in western Maryland. I want to take an impactful step towards more inclusion in the outdoor industry, while also helping revitalize the region by bringing others into the mountains that mean so much to us. Starting any type of business is no walk in the park, no matter your race or industry. Overall, 20 percent of all employer businesses in the United States were at least 51 percent owned by minority entrepreneurs, and that number is much less in smaller mountain towns. Securing funding for a small business has many hurdles; banks are most willing to lend to those who need

it least, brands won’t approve you until you have funding and no one wants to fund you until you can show that you have brands. Everything moves so slowly with permits and licenses, until it starts moving too fast. All these are worthy challenges and hurdles worth overcoming for the potential rewards to us and our community. Ultimately, the pandemic has challenged us all to look inward and figure out how to be our best selves. None of us are guaranteed the next day, so how do we make the best of today? I believe access to, knowledge of, and community in the outdoors are vital for everyone. I believe people of color like me need to find ways to assert ourselves in these spaces so we can tell our stories, so the next generation of kids understand that we do not need to ask permission to partake in the treasures left for us by our forebears. We need to try to teach the next generation how to be competent in the outdoors and how to make a livable wage from activities centered in and around the mountains we call home.



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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS


Hit the Road 5 Adventure-Packed Journeys to Take This Summer

The highways are calling. With this summer becoming the revitalizing season we’ve all been waiting for, there’s never been a better time to pack the car and cruise through the scenic stretches of Southern Appalachia. With that in mind we’ve assembled five adventure-based road trip itineraries to help you plot the perfect getaway. BY MIKE BEZEMEK AND JEDD FERRIS

T H E S C E N I C WAT E R F R O N T I N L O U I S V I L L E , K Y. P H O T O C O U R T E S Y OF LOUISVILLE TOURISM

Rivers and Trails in North Carolina’s Nantahala Gorge The Nantahala Outdoor Center—which offers trips on eight rivers across the Southeast—has their base right on the river next to Nantahala Falls. The center offers lodging options, a restaurant, a ropes course, and plenty more. Nearby, there are several private campgrounds with spots to pitch your tent or hook up an RV. More lodgings and restaurants are available in Bryson City, N.C., including a pair of breweries: Nantahala Brewing and Mountain Layers Brewing Co.

The Appalachian Trail passes through the NOC, and day-hikers and backpackers can explore the challenging terrain that rises steeply above the river. Nearby, mountain bikers can pick from four challenging loop trails at the Tsali Trail System, which winds through rugged hills overlooking Fontana Lake. To the northwest, on US Highway 129, is the world-famous Tail of the Dragon, a favorite stretch of road among sports car drivers and motorcyclists, which packs 318 sharp turns into 11 miles. It’s tricky driving, so proceed with caution while enjoying the experience. —M.B.

Bourbon and Caves in Kentucky Kentucky is perhaps best known for its pastoral horse farms, but the Bluegrass State also has the longest known cave system in the world at Mammoth Cave National Park. You can spend hours exploring the geologic formations of this subterranean wonder on a variety of guided and self-guided tours (reservations are not required but recommended during the busy summer months), and then head above ground for even more adventures. The park also has 80 miles of trails,

including the Big Hollow Trail, which features north and south loops and is enjoyed by both hikers and mountain bikers. Big Hollow has been named an IMBA-designated Gateway Trail for offering novice riders a proper introduction to singletrack. Accordingly, it features flowy terrain among dense forests and scenic rock outcroppings. When your legs are tired, pitch a tent at one of the park’s three main campgrounds. Then the next day drive an hour and a half north on I-65 to Louisville for some playtime in Kentucky’s largest city. Grab a room at the 21c Museum Hotel, which features its own art gallery, and sample the goods

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of the city’s favorite liquid on Whiskey Row at well-known bars like Down One, which regularly features around 150 Kentucky-made bourbons. —J.F.

Cruising the FloridaGeorgia Line At the top of Florida’s Atlantic coast, on Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is a small seaside community with big adventure potential. One highlight is the historic Fort Clinch State Park, where you can explore a pentagonal Third System fort from the 19th century. The park is known for its 3.3-mile drive underneath a live oak canopy, a popular ride with cruiser bikes. There’s also camping and a six-mile mountain bike trail along surprisingly rolling terrain. Another highlight is hunting the tidal zone for shark teeth, which over thousands of years have turned a shimmering black from mineralization. In Fernandina’s historic downtown, there are plenty of restaurants and several breweries worth checking out, including the Amelia Tavern and Mocama Beer Company. Fishing trips launch from the town port, and

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kayaking is popular in the St. Mary’s River and other tributary channels of the Intracoastal Waterway, with guided trips available from outfitters like Amelia Island Kayak. For an adventurous side trip, head north over the Georgia state line and take the ferry from the colonial town of St. Mary’s to Cumberland Island National Seashore. The largest of Georgia’s barrier islands, Cumberland is known for 18 miles of undeveloped beach, several primitive camping areas, and miles of sandy roads leading through the island’s northern wilderness of salt-pruned oak forest. At Plum Orchard, you can tour a mansion once owned by the Carnegie family, and on the southern end of the island there are several museums and the Dungeness mansion ruins. —M.B.

Olympic Nostalgia and Brews in Tennessee Host of the 1996 Olympic whitewater events, the Ocoee Whitewater Center and surrounding region make for a packed road trip destination. At the center, you can watch from the banks

as rafts and kayaks bomb through the original Olympic slalom course. Or hop in a guided boat and navigate the famous class III-IV rapids of the upper and middle Ocoee, with names like Broken Nose, Double Trouble, and Tablesaw. Other activities include hiking and biking on the riverside trail departing from the Whitewater Center, which connects to the Tanasi Trail System. Twenty miles of trails have everything from mellow walks to white-knuckle downhill riding. A fun way to stay is pitching a tent or renting a cabin at the camps of the many raft companies that run the river, like Outdoor Adventure Rafting. Other visitors rent private cabins throughout the area, particularly popular near Ducktown, where you’ll also find the Copperhill Brewery at Ocoee for postriver beers. If you’re looking for more beer, then consider a side trip to nearby Chattanooga. The city is home to around a dozen breweries, including PA D D L I N G T H E O C O E E R I V E R I N T E N N E S S E E ( T O P ) , A N D E N J O Y I N G A WAT E R F A L L V I E W O N THE BARTRAM TRAIL IN NORTH CAROLINA (LEFT). PHOTOS BY MIKE BEZEMEK


Find your MAD WanderLOVE, the strong desire to travel to and through Madison. Take a road trip! Come for the hiking, history, artisans, scenery, fishing, breweries, wineries and more. Stay in a B&B, cabin, camper, RV, lodge, vacation rental house, tent or even a yurt!

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Your great summer expedition awaits in Randolph County, the base camp of the Monongahela National Forest. This summer, hike or bike through the lush wilderness or try your hand at fly-fishing. Top off your adventure with independent restaurants and a cozy hotel stay for a truly authentic experience. This summer, Almost Heaven awaits you in Randolph County.

WVtourism.com/ElkinsRandolph

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Chattanooga Brewing and the geologically themed Hutton & Smith Brewing Company. While in town, check out the Chattanooga Riverwalk. This 16-mile paved path along the Tennessee River is popular among walkers and bikers, offering access to scenic views, museums, and restaurants. The path ends near Lookout Mountain, with several sites to explore, like the underground waterfall, Ruby Falls. For hiking and biking, the Lookout Mountain Trail System, administered by the National Park Service, has 30 miles of trails that crisscross the mountain and visit historic Civil War battle sites. —M.B.

Bikes and Bluegrass in Southwest Virginia There are many trail-friendly towns in the Blue Ridge, but Damascus takes it to another level, hence the nickname Trail Town, USA. The tiny burg in the mountains of southwest Virginia has seven paths running through its borders, including the Appalachian Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, and the flat and scenic Virginia Creeper Trail. Perfect for

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a family-friendly bike ride, the latter is a 34-mile rail trail with a gentle grade that runs into the vast Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. With the mid-point of the Creeper located in Damascus, the town has many outfitters, including Sundog (sundogoutfitter.com), that will shuttle you to Whitetop Station to take the 17-mile ride back to town. After a long day of pedaling, grab a beer at the Damascus Brewery and a meal at the Old Mill, a historic inn and restaurant on the banks of Laurel Creek, where you can also stay for the night. The next day, drive a couple hours east towards Galax and visit the Blue Ridge Music Center (blueridgemusiccenter.org), located at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The center, dedicated to the old-time and bluegrass sounds of the region, hosts a free Midday Mountain Music series with local musicians every afternoon that it’s open, as well as outdoor concerts by national acts on the weekend. Upcoming shows in July and August will feature the Steep Canyon Rangers, Sierra Ferrell, and Chatham Rabbits. —J.F.

BANDS WILL PERFORM LIVE ALL SUMMER ON T H E O U T D O O R S TA G E O F T H E B L U E R I D G E M U S I C CENTER. PHOTO BY MIKE DUNCAN


Summer road trips and daydreams of far away places will lead you straight to the mountains of Tucker County. Here, West Virginia’s highest peaks will introduce you to cool, well-spent summer days and optimal star gazing conditions under the black of night. While you’re here, you can bask in the beauty of the expansive Dolly Sods Wilderness or chase the breathtaking Blackwater Falls. With all this and more, you’ll find a slice of Almost Heaven you’ve been longing for.

WVtourism.com/TuckerCounty


Runningon Coastal Time Summer is here and we’re headed to the Atlantic Coast to find some of the best spots by the water. BY ELLEN KANZINGER

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W

hen April Parker moved to Tybee Island, Ga., she moved for a lot of the same reasons other people move to the Southeast coast—warmer weather, shorter winters, and the beach. But once she settled into life on the barrier island, Parker discovered even more. For this month’s roundup of some of the best coastal adventures in our region, BRO spoke with local residents to find some of the best spots to visit. Whether you’re looking for summer fun or a more secluded fall stay, get a taste for life on coastal time.

Beach Biking Tybee Island, Ga.

With the move from Atlanta complete, Parker started exploring her new home by bike. “I started riding all the time,” she said. “I was telling my friend, ‘I can ride this route every day and never get tired of it.’” At just 3.4 square miles with plenty of bike-friendly roads and pathways, it’s the easiest way to get around town. “I was able to appreciate that slower pace,” Parker said. Although parking can be difficult, Parker found ease exploring the area’s shoreline by bike. “The beach is one of those places where you can get out of the house and you don’t have to spend a lot of money,” she said. “The vibe is real chill, laid back. Everybody is on island time.” With the amount of biking she was doing, Parker’s friends encouraged her to start her own bike tour company, and in 2018, she opened Tybee Beach Bike Tours. “It’s a friendly community so I plan my tour so [visitors] can experience it like a local,” Parker said. “After this tour, they can rent a bike and feel free to roam around the island with a general sense of where they are and what may be around.” Her Best of Tybee tour is a six-mile ride around to the area’s top spots, including a lighthouse, biking on the beach, parks, and local businesses, while the Tybee Back River Sunset Cruise is a 1.5-mile ride offered in the evenings. Parker is in talks with several restaurants to add a third tour, highlighting the food of the island. LOCAL FAVORITES: Parker’s favorite spot on the

island? The Back River Fishing Pier overlooking Tybee Creek in the evenings. “I never get tired of the sunset,” she said. “I still make it a daily goal to go and try to see the sunset every day.” TOP SPOTS: Bike McQueens Island Historic Trail

along the Savannah River, check out the view from Tybee Island Lighthouse, or learn something new from the Tybee Island Marine Science Center before heading into town for a meal from local favorites like Salt Island Grill, Huc A Poos, and StingRay’s Seafood. Just 30 minutes inland, Downtown Savannah offers a wide variety of history and walking tours, plus even more dining options like Sweet Spice Restaurant and The Grey. L E F T: W H E N H E ' S N O T D E S I G N I N G S U N G L A S S E S , F I N D S E A N H O L M E S O N T H E WAT E R . P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F H O L M E S . R I G H T: T Y B E E I S L A N D LIGHTHOUSE. PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES

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D I A N N E C A M P B E L L A N D H E R D O G , F I O N A , PA D D L E D AV I S C R E E K . PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMPBELL

Down by Mobjack Bay Mathews County, Va.

When Dianne Campbell moved to Virginia 13 year ago and took up paddling, she soon found herself visiting Mathews County almost every weekend. It wasn’t long before she relocated to Mathews permanently. “Other than the [Florida] Keys, Mathews is probably the best paddling I’ve ever done,” Campbell said. “Like the Keys, it has a lot of shallow water. If you choose your routes, you can pretty much paddle all day without coming into contact with a motor boat.” As her love of kayaking grew, so did her passion for the waters of Mathews. After the area’s previous outfitter closed, Campbell decided to open Mobjack Kayaking to share some of her favorite spots with visitors. From early morning bird watching to full moon paddles, Campbell offers a variety of tours to see the area almost any time of the day or season. Winter Harbor offers a sheltered waterway with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, especially during shorebird migration season, while paddles on the East River or out to the New Point Comfort Lighthouse provide a deep dive into the historical landmarks of the area. For the most experienced paddlers, Campbell recommends heading out to Wolf Trap Lighthouse, which is nine miles round trip in open water. “With the bigger, longer kayaks, you can get out to some really remote areas and just feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere,” she said. LOCAL FAVORITES: As someone in these waters day

in and day out, Campbell knows the best spots around. “If I’m taking my dog, I like to go out in Davis Creek, which is where I live,” she said. “If I’m on my own, I like to circumnavigate Gwynn’s Island. It’s a huge area for paddling. I could go on and on and on.” TOP SPOTS: Paddle up to the dock at Hole in the Wall

Waterfront Grill for a creekside meal or head to Main Street to explore local businesses. Plan your visit for Mathews Market Days in September for local artisans, live music, and friendly faces. You can even stop by the Mathews County Visitors Center to see some of

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" H E AV E N ' S D E C L A R AT I O N , " A S C E N E O F T H E O U T E R B A N K S , B Y JAMES MELVIN (RIGHT). IMAGES COURTESY OF MELVIN

Campbell’s stained glass pieces, a trade she learned from her father.

Relaxation Station Outer Banks, N.C.

James Melvin was hooked, literally and figuratively, the first time he visited the Outer Banks. “This is an artist’s paradise,” he said. “I felt a sense of peace and serenity here that weekend we came down. We caught a lot of fish, and I think that helped the decision as well.” Soon after that first visit, he moved to Nags Head in 1981 and found the inspiration to really dive into painting and pursue art full time. Using oils, pastels,

and acrylics, Melvin’s pieces capture the true essence of coastal living. “I love doing the old Nags Head cottages because they have great history,” he said. “To me, they represent the Outer Banks. I also love painting geraniums because they are symbolic of summer and rocking chairs because they’re a symbol of relaxation, which is what people come here to do.” In addition to his beach life scenes, Melvin has also illustrated over 40 children’s books with friend and fellow Outer Banks resident Suzanne Tate. “I love art,” he said. “I don’t see myself in a box, just painting


Home to the Monongahela National Forest, Watoga State Park and more, Pocahontas County is certainly nature’s mountain playground. This summer, pack up the car and explore one of many scenic routes. You’ll soon find that these rolling Allegheny Mountains provide the perfect backdrop for any trip. No matter which direction you take, every turn in Pocahontas County will be Almost Heaven.

WVtourism.com/PocahontasCounty

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First,

Point & Click.

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Ready for the perfect road trip getaway? Let the winding roads lead you to Southern Virginia for the paddling, history, arts, motorsports, wineries, craft distillery, brewery, dark skies, trails, fishing, culinary delights, and much more. Your weekend road trip awaits.

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When outdoor adventure calls, a summer road trip to Jefferson County is the answer. Bring along your bike or set out for a hike on the Appalachian Trail. Afterward, beat the summer heat with one of River Riders’ exhilarating whitewater rafting expeditions. Then, end an eventful day with cold brews at Bavarian Brothers or Abolitionist Ale. This summer, let Almost Heaven set the perfect road trip itinerary.

WVtourism.com/JeffersonCounty

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Seaside Escapes Check out these other coastal spots for more trip ideas in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Charles County, Md. Paddle the remains of the sunken “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay before heading into town for a drink at Patuxent Brewing Company, home of the official beer of Charles County— Sunken Sips.

one thing. I like seeing what you can do with it because there are so many different possibilities with the medium.” Featuring tales of all kinds of sea creatures, like Lindie Lobster, Harry Horseshoe Crab, and Jenny Jellyfish, kids of all ages will enjoy learning about the biology and history of the coast. Recently, Melvin has been experimenting with some more abstract pieces and Caribbean scenes inspired by his wife’s home in Antigua. “I always liked just exploring color and getting to see the possibilities of what can happen when you don’t control it too much,” he said. LOCAL FAVORITES: When he’s not painting

in his home studio (recently opened again to visitors) with the morning northern light, chances are Melvin is out fishing one of the area’s many waterways. Jennette’s Pier, stretching 1,000 feet into the ocean, and the attached North Carolina Aquarium research center is a popular spot for anglers. Since he regularly gets his inspiration from the nature of the Outer Banks, you can often find Melvin soaking up the sights. “I like to walk down to Bodie Island on the beach because it’s quiet, especially in the fall,” he said. TOP SPOTS: For more time by the water,

you can find opportunities for hang gliding, kitesurfing, and primitive camping up and down the Outer Banks. If you’re looking to grab something to eat, Melvin recommends O’Neal’s Sea Harvest and Darrell’s Seafood Restaurant for a taste of the local catch.

A New Perspective

S E A N H O L M E S O N T H E WAT E R S O F C H A R L E S T O N , S . C . PHOTO COURTESY OF HOLMES

Charleston, S.C.

As Sean Holmes was looking for a place to relocate his sunglasses company, Nectar, he knew he wanted to be somewhere on the East Coast near the ocean. “The water is healing in so many ways,” he said. “Ultimately, I had buddies in Charleston, came to visit, and just fell in love with this area, the marsh, the low country, and the people here.” Surrounded by a maze of rivers, lakes, and the ocean, the area offers plenty of opportunities for surfing, fishing, paddling, and boating. “The best of all the worlds are down in Charleston,” Holmes said. Holmes, who built the company in Atlanta, Ga., and Richmond, Va., before moving to Charleston, wants to promote the East Coast adventure scene, believing this side of the country has as much to offer as the West Coast. “We still have sunsets, mountains, oceans, and lakes—all the things that they have,” he said. “We grew up surfing crappier waves and snowboarding on ice. But then if you put us on fresh powder or better waves, we can hold our own.” Each pair of sunglasses in Nectar’s collections is named after an iconic East Coast landmark, paying tribute to the awe-inspiring places that call to us, from Harpers Ferry and Bear Mountain to Anna Ruby Falls and Emerald Isle. Many of these locations are places Holmes has visited on his adventures, like growing up surfing Hatteras and the Outer

Banks. “It’s this really unique area on the East Coast that does produce some of the best waves and has so many different personalities to it, from the waves you surf and the people you meet there,” he said. Nectar’s new premium acetate line is made from a thin resin block of wood pulp. “These are all blended and hardened, so when you cut out the frames with the CNC [router], each one is slightly different, which I think gives a little character to each one,” Holmes said. By 2022, the company aims to have all of the sunglasses in the classic collection made from recycled plastic bottles. LOCAL FAVORITES: For the full Charleston

experience, it’s best to try multiple modes of transportation. “There’s just a whole different experience when you’re on the water in Charleston versus when you’re walking downtown, seeing the buildings and history,” Holmes said. “Both are equally amazing.” You can regularly find Holmes surfing the waves at Folly Beach or hiking in Francis Marion National Forest. TOP SPOTS: From the convergence of the

Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers out to the barrier islands, Four Hole Swamp, and Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, you can’t go wrong no matter which direction you choose to go.

Virginia Beach, Va. Spend your day exploring the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and Lake Rudee or hang out by the boardwalk and beach for fun in the sun and waterfront dining experiences.

Bear Island, N.C. At Hammocks Beach State Park, discover a world of coastal habitats from the barrier island and marshes to the maritime forest. Home to endangered sea turtles and nesting shorebirds, this is a wonderland of wildlife with plenty of opportunities for paddling and beachfront camping.

Murrells Inlet, S.C. Between Huntington Beach State Park and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll find some of the best birding on the East Coast in this stretch of South Carolina coastline. There are plenty of opportunities for fishing, paddling, and hiking these low country waterways. •

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DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

KINGSLAND

Georgia

Destination Adventure Su m m e r i s h e r e, and r o ad t r i p s e a s o n i s i n f u l l sw i n g . W h e t h e r y o u p r e f e r p ad d l i n g m o u n t a i n w a t e r s , f l y i ng h i g h o v e r s tu n n i n g v i st a s , o r r e l ax i n g o n a p o r c h , t h e s e 1 5 o ut d o o r h o t s p o t s f e at u r e s o me t h i n g f o r ev e r y o n e. D i s c o v e r t h e b e s t s p o t s to e a t, p l a y, a n d s t ay i n t h i s g ui d e t o s o m e o f th e b e st a d v e n t u r e d e s t i n at i o n s i n t h e M i d Atl a n t i c a n d S o ut h e as t .

Kingsland is nestled between two of Georgia’s natural treasures. To the west is the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, one of Georgia’s seven wonders, and to the east is the beautiful Cumberland Island National Seashore, famous for its wild horses and the ruins of Dungeness. Kingsland is located off I-95 at Exit 3 at the Georgia-Florida line.

Cumberland Island National Seashore is Georgia’s largest barrier island accessible by the Cumberland Island Ferry. Plan to stay for the day on this remote island, surrounded by its natural beauty.

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY

Birds flock to this corner of Southeast Georgia with hundreds of species making their homes in the marshes, rivers, and woods. From the coast to the swamp, the views are spectacular.

VISITKINGSLAND.COM 800.433.0225 Skyline Drive in Shenandoah, Virginia; photo by Dave Herring, courtesy of Unsplash

VisitKingslandGeorgia

VisitKingslandGeorgia

all photos courtesy of Visit Kingsland

Travel to Kingsland and marvel at the natural wonders, take in history, and taste delicious dishes you’ll want again. Catch the ferry to the untamed island of Cumberland. Bring your camera to catch the horses running wild along the white sand beaches or near Dungeness ruins. ‘Land of the Trembling Earth’ was the name for the Okefenokee Swamp. A boat tour or kayak brings you close to the beauty that surrounds you in these dark waters. View a kaleidoscope of colors with over 300 species of birds. Nature’s beauty can be spotted at every turn along the southeast Georgia Coast.


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

ALPINE HELEN Georgia

After a day of exploring downtown Helen, cool off with a float down the river with Helen Tubing Company.

all photos courtesy of Alpine Helen

A natural beauty perched on the Chattahoochee River in the north Georgia mountains, Helen is Georgia’s official outdoor adventure destination. With a population of only 430 residents, Helen is the state’s third most visited city. There is no other town that packs so much charm and so much to do into only 2.1 square miles. Discover the charm of Bavaria in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains when you travel to a place with old world towers, quaint hotels, artisan tours, festivals, gingerbread trim, cobblestone walkways, and traditional German foodstuffs. It’s the perfect spot for a family vacation or romantic getaway. From pub crawls to dessert tours and every taste in between, make reservations to savor the season with Helen & Back Food Tours.

HELENGA.ORG | 706.878.2181

EAT How better to fully experience the flavor of Bavaria than with authentic dining—schnitzel, pretzels, sausages, craft beers, and so much more. Try something different, and find some new favorites. Of course, Alpine Helen offers dining options for everyone—from formal to relaxed, uptown to down home, with your favorite local dishes and flavors from around the world, too. PLAY Hike to one of the most visited waterfalls in the south—Anna Ruby Falls. Located just two miles away from Downtown Helen, take a short, paved path to the thundering falls surrounded by Chattahoochee National Forest. Ride the new Georgia Mountain Coaster as you look out over town and the river as you race down the track, reaching speeds up to 28 miles per hour. Keep up the energy at Nacoochee Adventures where you can soar above the trees on a canopy tour or take an off-road sightseeing excursion on an ATV. STAY You’ll never run out of things to do in Helen, but at some point, you need a respite. Helen offers lodging for every taste and budget—practical motel options to save you money for shopping, attractions, and dining. Or spacious condo and vacation rentals that let you bring plenty of friends for plenty of fun, plus charming bed and breakfasts, and rustic cabins. There are even camping options so you can sleep under the starry night sky. AlpineHelenWhiteCountyCVB

AlpineHelenGA


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

THE HEART OF APPALACHIA Virginia

Escape the everyday world in the beautiful mountains of scenic Southwestern Virginia.

Hike the Little Stony National Recreation Trail— the 2.8 mile trail follows the stream through a 400 foot deep and 1,700 foot wide gorge.

HEARTOFAPPALACHIA.COM | 276.762.0011

EAT Try something new or enjoy an old favorite in one of the local eateries. The Spirits of the Clinch run deep. The choice is yours for prize-winning craft breweries, cideries, distilleries, and wineries to quench your thirst! The options are many, so pick a place, pull up a chair, and get ready to treat your taste buds in the Heart of Appalachia. PLAY With the views and trails at Breaks Interstate Park, the Grand Canyon of the South, you will find yourself in awe of nature and beauty. Spearhead Trails offers the visitor a chance to go off-road through the Appalachian Mountains on off-road vehicles—bring your own or rent one! The State Parks of SWVA offer a look at history while enjoying the region’s varying geographic wonders. Float one of the many biologically diverse rivers with one of many friendly outfitters in every county! How better to take in the gorgeous waterfalls of the Heart of Appalachia than while floating? Float and hike to get the best ones. Schedule an Elk Tour at the Breaks Park or stop into Wilderness Road State Park to see where the buffalo roam. STAY Rest assured you won’t have any trouble finding a comfy bed to get you ready for your adventure-filled days in the Heart of Appalachia. From boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, to rustic cabins and star-filled skies by the glow of a campfire, one thing is certain—there’s nothing quite like the peace and quiet of a night in a mountain home. VisitHeartofAppalachia

TheHeartofAppalachia

all photos courtesy of Heart of Appalachia

The Heart of Appalachia—in Virginia’s great Southwest— is a treasure trove of outdoor recreation, amazing scenery, and abundant wildlife that leaves many visitors wondering if their surreal experience was a dream. With an ever-growing list of fans, you’ll surely not want to miss out on the fun, excitement, and love! From the curvy Appalachian backroads to the Spirits of the Clinch, and all points of interest in between, you’ll not be let down! Girlfriend getaways, epic road trips, amazing hikes, wondrous waterfalls, river-ready adventures—pick one and start planning your exhilarating time in Virginia’s great Southwest! When your daily adventures end, pull up a chair or stool at one of the many watering holes, distilleries, or wineries in the region to put the cap on the perfect day in the great outdoors.


GRAYSON COUNTY

Virginia

ALLEGHANY HIGHLANDS

Virginia

GraysonCountyTourism

Visit Fries, Va. where the New River Trail State Park runs right beside the New River.

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. Most lead to waterfalls, wildflowers, or amazing mountain views.

Take the pup kayaking on the Cowpasture River.

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY Grayson’s two state parks provide ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Grayson Highlands has 13 trails for hiking and horseback riding with spectacular views. Access to the Appalachian Trail can be found in the park, and this is the perfect place to spot wild ponies. There are worldclass biking trails, including the New River Trail State Park and the Virginia Creeper Trail. The New River is the perfect place for a peaceful float or some Class III rapids. The fishing in Grayson County can’t be beat whether you fish for bass in the New or for trout in the pristine creeks.

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! #UniquelyAlleghany

The fishing in Grayson is wonderful from rivers to trout streams.

Bike the trails at Douthat State Park.

GRAYSONCOUNTYVA.COM 276-773-8002

VISITALLEGHANYHIGHLANDS.COM 888.430.5786

VisitGrayson

Grayson County VA

AlleghanyHighlandsVa

VisitAlleghanyHighlandsVa

all photos courtesy of Alleghany Highlands

all photos courtesy of Grayson County Tourism

Grayson County, Va. is home to the state’s highest peaks as well as the second oldest river in the world. There are endless hiking and biking trails, plus creeks, rivers, and streams around every bend that are full of colossal fish, rock bluffs, and boulders that will challenge even the most experienced rock climbers.


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

TAZEWELL COUNTY Virginia

Tazewell County is filled with outdoor adventure, delicious restaurants, and picturesque driving routes for an unforgettable vacation!

Known for its warm hospitality and friendly attitude, Tazewell County is ready to welcome you!

VISITAZEWELLCOUNTY.COM | 276.245.6194

EAT With dozens of local shops and restaurants to explore, you’re guaranteed to find something that catches your eye and whets your appetite. Tazewell County boasts a wide range of southern home cooking, one-of-a-kind culinary dishes, and local tap houses. PLAY Surrounded by gorgeous scenery, come to play and explore the rich history. Trade the hustle and bustle of daily life for a peaceful gateway. Whether you’re lacing up your hiking boots, buckling your bike helmet, or launching your kayak, there is no shortage of enthralling excursions and adrenaline rushes. You’ll also find excellent shopping opportunities, with a collection of fine artisan works, boutique clothing, and unique gift items. STAY When the day is done, kick your feet up and relax in one of many comfortable lodging establishments. Whether you prefer a bed and breakfast after a full day hitting the town or settling into a cabin or camping site after your outdoor pursuits, Tazewell County offers a variety of places to play and stay. VisitTazewellCounty

Tazewell_County_Virginia

all photos courtesy of Tazewell County

If it is true that the mountains draw you in, then pack your bags for a long stay in Tazewell County. From hiking, biking, fishing and camping, Tazewell County is truly the Mountains of Adventure! Your visit will be rewarded with plentiful fishing from native trout streams and local lakes, kayaking on the Clinch River and Lake Witten, and versatile hiking and biking in breathtaking Burke’s Garden. It’s all waiting for you in Tazewell County. No matter what brings you to Tazewell County, you’ll feel right at home while making lifelong memories in the Mountains of Adventure!


SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY

Virginia

PRIMLAND RESORT

Patrick County, Virginia

all photos courtesy of Patrick County

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.

Spotsylvania County offers a harmonious blend of rural landscapes and outdoor adventures in a setting as unique as its name. Spotsylvania is a one-of-a-kind destination, offering water sports and fishing on Lake Anna, awardwinning wineries and breweries, a worldfamous distillery, and scenic walks along endless miles of trails nestled among historic Civil War battlefields.

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY For a weekend getaway full of outdoor adventure, Spotsylvania County is your ideal destination! Enjoy an action packed stay at the Wilderness Presidential Resort and cool off with a nationallyrecognized treat from The Battlefield Country Store. Or indulge in a waterfront cabin at Lake Anna State Park and climb aboard an open-air train car at the Rappahannock Railroad Museum. Take in an exciting nighttime race at Dominion Raceway or sit back, relax, and take in the sounds of a live band at one of the four outdoor wineries. No matter what your interests may be, it’s time to find your spot in Spotsy!

Feed your inner child while staying in one of the Treehouses at PrimlandAuberge.

Enjoy a lake view cabin at Wilderness Presidential Resort.

VISITPATRICKCOUNTY.ORG AUBERGERESORTS.COM/PRIMLAND VisitPatrickCountyVA

PrimlandAuberge

VisitPatrick

Take in live music while sipping robust wines at Wilderness Run Vineyards

VISITSPOTSY.COM | 540.507.7090 VisitSpotsy

VisitSpotsy

all photos courtesy of Visit Spotsy

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, Va., Primland offers breathtaking experiences, both indoor and out—all in a luxurious atmosphere that’s authentic to its mountain setting. Primland is now part of the Auberge Resort Collection, and is rated #1 in the Southeastern U.S. Race the mountain breeze on by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. the Old Appalachian Trail.


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

ROANOKE — VIRGINIA’S BLUE RIDGE Virginia

Book a paddling trip on the Upper James River with Twin River Outfitters. With over 60 miles of trails, Carvins Cove has been described as “Disneyland for bikes.” Relax with a postadventure craft beer flight at Salem’s Parkway. Cool down with a slide into the water at the Roaring Run Recreation Area.

Roanoke is the largest city along the Appalachian Trail and features access to more than 240 miles of the iconic footpath.

VISITVBR.COM | 540.342.6025

EAT They have trails for everyone in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, including those who want to check out the local food and drink scene! Virginia’s Blue Ridge Cheers Trail is a collection of nearly 30 breweries, wineries, and craft spirits producers located in the region. Each one features their own unique flavors and atmospheres that serve as great spots for a post-adventure drink. Text “CHEERS” to (540) 253-4311 to download your free VBR Cheers Trail Mobile Passport and receive exclusive special offers and discounts! PLAY Chasing waterfalls is highly encouraged in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls are some of the best hikes in the region, and the entire family will enjoy visiting spots like Roaring Run Falls, Apple Orchard Falls, and Bottom Creek Gorge. You can even wear your swimsuit and make your way down the natural waterslide along the Roaring Run Trail! STAY Whether it’s a historic downtown hotel, charming bed and breakfast, peaceful rustic cabin, or a luxurious lodge, you’ll love the variety of overnight lodging options to choose from in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. And no matter where you’re located, it’s never far from a local trail to explore! VisitVBR

VisitVBR

all photos courtesy of Visit VBR

You’ll find over 1,000 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and paddling in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, which serves as the perfect destination for an outdoor adventure. Check out epic hiking on the Appalachian Trail, backcountry mountain biking in the Jefferson National Forest, scenic paddling on the Upper James River Water Trail, and treetop camping at Roanoke County’s Explore Park. It’s time to be a #Trailsetter in the Blue Ridge Mountains.


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

BATH COUNTY Virginia

Escape to a magical place with unspoiled mountain views, endless outdoor recreation, and legendary hospitality.

The fly fishing opportunities are endless in Bath County. Douthat State Park and Lake Moomaw are popular spots.

DISCOVERBATH.COM | 540.839.7202

Bath County is developing a reputation as a destination for food lovers, thanks in part to a renaissance in local family farms. Creative chefs are working their magic with local ingredients offering genuine farm-to-table experiences. The foodie scene is enhanced by the presence of a fantastic craft brewery, winery, and cidery. PLAY There are over 160 miles of trails around the county. Some are designated just for hiking, while others are available for mountain biking and horseback riding. Road cycling is popular on the winding back roads with little traffic and lots of mountain views. Anglers come from all over to fly fish the rivers and smaller streams around Bath County. If you have always wanted to learn to fly fish or would like to improve your technique, consider spending time with a professional guide. Paddling is available on the Jackson River. STAY Bath County has been welcoming visitors since before the American Revolution. The Omni Homestead became America’s first resort more than 250 years ago and has hosted presidents, celebrities, and royalty on it historic grounds and impeccable golf courses. Today, visitors can choose from a wide variety of accommodations, including local motels, private rental homes, awardwinning bed and breakfasts, inns, and even camping. Experience legendary hospitality in Bath County. CountyofBath

CountyofBath

CountyofBath

all photos courtesy of Discover Bath

Located in the mountains of Virginia, west of the Shenandoah Valley, Bath County offers the perfect blend of outdoor adventure and extraordinary hospitality. After a full day of hiking, riding, or paddling, you’ll love relaxing in a cozy cabin, charming bed and breakfast or even a world-famous resort. Reward yourself with a cold craft beer and a great meal prepared by a local chef and you’ll be ready for another full day of adventure. More than half of Bath County is national forest land. In addition, the county is home to Lake Moomaw and Douthat State Park, one of the original six Virginia State Parks and still one of the best. With so much protected land in a peaceful, rural county—not a single stoplight in the entire county— there is lots of room to explore.

EAT


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

LEXINGTON, BUENA VISTA, & ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY Virginia

After a day of paddling, pedaling, or hiking, hit the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Grab a passport, gets stamps, and earn your t-shirt! Trail Blazers welcome!

Buena Vista and Glasgow, Va., are Appalachian Trail Communities close to the James River and the longest pedestrian-only bridge on the trail.

EAT From hot dogs to haute cuisine, chefs are inspired by what’s local, home-grown, and fresh. Cap off a fun-filled day of exploration with an artisan dessert or a craft beverage. Raise your glass to mountains, excellent flavors, and good times with great friends. PLAY Lexington is the perfect base camp for an outdoor enthusiast’s itinerary. The historic downtown is completely walkable and boasts over 65 indie-owned shops and eateries, historic sites, and guided tours with Lexington Carriage Company. Visitors will experience the small-town charm, southern hospitality, and friendly faces Lexington is known for. Hit the road with these ten must-do activities! Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, Natural Bridge State Park, Upper James River Water Trail, Shenandoah Beerworks Trail, bike the Valley, Glen Maury Park, Chessie Nature Trail, Boxwerwood Nature Center, and Gems of Rockbridge Geocaching Trail. STAY Stay at one of the three hotels within walking distance of the historic district and two universities. The Georges, a thoughtfully restored 200-year-old inn, was named #2 Best City Hotel in America and #53 of the top 100 hotels in the world in the 2020 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. For those looking for a more rustic or rural setting, the area offers many cabins, vacation rentals, and eight campgrounds.

LEXINGTONVIRGINIA.COM | ROCKBRIDGEOUTDOORS.COM

LexingtonVa

VisitLexingtonVa

all photos courtesy of Visit Lexington

Whether you’re looking for a weekend escape or a weeklong quest, your “SMALL TOWNS, BIG BACKYARD” road trip begins in Lexington, a Virginia Main Street Community. Rockbridge County is the southern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley. Conveniently located at the junction of I-81 and I-64 W, visitors have access to a “big backyard”—65,000 acres of public forests, parks, recreation areas and two rivers where outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can hike, bike, paddle, fish, and camp. Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County is the perfect destination to “disconnect to reconnect” with quaint small towns, awe-inspiring natural wonders, and the winding roads in between.


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

HARRISONBURG & ROCKINGHAM Virginia

With a full summer of festivals and events, the largest agricultural fair in Virginia, the Rockingham County Fair, will take place August 16-21 with a full grandstand lineup including bands, a tractor pull, and demolition derby.

EAT Not only is the area home to bustling farmers markets featuring local produce, but it also houses a community of restaurants that bring farm-fresh to life in their unique dishes. An array of flavors will satisfy everyone’s palate, with eateries like Log Cabin Barbecue and Old 33 Beer & Burger Grill, or for the more daring, something from another country at BoBoKo Indonesian Café or Beyond Restaurant. Whether you prefer to dine rooftop, on the patio, or in a historic building, there’s a restaurant for you in this dining destination. PLAY Situated in the shadows of the Alleghany, Blue Ridge, and Massanutten mountains, this vibrant destination boasts a diverse mix of county trails, bike-friendly streets, and challenging mountain bike courses. Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing with Massanutten River Adventures is popular with locals and visitors. Head underground at the local caverns to discover the wonders of nature. Whether your preferences range from tame to extreme, Harrisonburg and Rockingham have attractions to get your heart pumping, your mind expanding, or to let you simply relax. STAY After exploring and discovering, rest your head at one of the countless hotels, refurbished historic homes, or a four-season resort. The beautiful bed and breakfasts and historic inns offer comfort and luxury. Wherever you choose to stay, you’ll find friendly folks to make sure your visit is pleasant.

Enjoy a variety of local eateries in Virginia’s first Culinary District or at a local farm-to-table restaurant.

VISITHARRISONBURGVA.COM

HarrisonburgTourism

VisitHarrisonburgVA

VISITROCKINGHAM.COM

RockinghamCountyVA

VaShenValley

all photos courtesy of Visit Harrisonburg

Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, bounded by two magnificent mountain ranges and the impressive Shenandoah River, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are must-see destinations that boast diverse outdoor recreation, thriving cultural attractions, vibrant and inviting small towns, numerous historical attractions, and farmto-table dining opportunities. Situated just two hours from D.C. and minutes from the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park, its central location makes it an easy destination for a day, weekend, or week-long trip.


SHENANDOAH COUNTY

Virginia

MOUNTAINEER COUNTRY

West Virginia

The North Fork of the Shenandoah runs low and lazy throughout the summer—perfect for fishing, kayaking, and tubing.

all photos courtesy of Visitt Shenandoah

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY Hit the road and get ready for adventure! Shenandoah County has a variety of accommodation styles from tent camping to “glamping” or hotels, bed and breakfasts, and rustic cabins. Bring your gear for your favorite activities, such as mountain biking, road biking, and hiking, or get on the water with a kayak, canoe, paddle board, or fishing poles. With over 178 miles of trails, there is plenty of room for horseback riding, special OHV trails, and hikes with rock scrambles and incredible views. Experience Shenandoah County by air with a highadrenaline rush skydive or with a quiet trip through the valley in a hot air balloon.

The Xtreme Adventure Package was made for adrenaline junkies!

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY Fly, climb, shoot and stay—the Mountaineer Country Xtreme Adventure Package for six people includes a hair-raising tandem freefall, worldclass indoor climbing with equipment, and hands-on experience at a bestin-class firearms facility. The package includes three rooms for two nights in Mountaineer Country, W.Va., and costs just $2,450 total for six people, a $3,300 value. Package details, required waivers, and booking your Xtreme Adventure Package is at VisitMountaineerCountry.com/Xtreme.

So many options for places to stay such as this “glamping” dome, or try one of several tiny houses, bed and breakfasts or cabin rentals.

VISITSHENANDOAHCOUNTY.COM 540.459.6227 VisitShenandoah

ShenandoahTravel

VISITMOUNTAINEERCOUNTRY.COM 800.458.7373 VisitMountaineerCountry

VisitMountaineerCountry

all photos courtesy of Visitt Mountaineer Country

Find your way back to mountains, rivers, fresh air, and all of the outdoor activities you love in Shenandoah County, whether on the ground, in the sky, or on the water. Only 90 miles from Washington, D.C. and 150 miles from Richmond, Shenandoah County is the perfect weekend destination.

Mountaineer Country is an extraordinary land of natural beauty and outdoor adventure! This exciting American destination has a secret: a wealth of outdoor adventure–from whitewater rafting and kayaking to mountain biking–plus hometown breweries, amazing historical sites, an extraordinary nightlife, and casual dining with a local flair.


DESTINATION ADVENTURE 2021

MARTINSBURG & BERKELEY COUNTY West Virginia

Whether you’re on the open water, at a gathering with friends, or strolling downtown Martinsburg, make fond memories in this little piece of “Almost Heaven.”

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

TRAVELWV.COM | 304.264.8801

EAT They say you eat with your eyes before your stomach, but all your senses will be full to bursting after tasting the culinary delights of Martinsburg. Get the napkins ready for a greasy burger from local favorite Blue White Grill. Make the evening memorable with a reservation at wine bar and restaurant Brix 27 for an evening of food and music. Polish off a slice, or two, of homemade cheesecake from Everything Cheesecake. PLAY With extraordinary outdoor adventures waiting, there’s only one thing to do—get lost! Lose yourself in the biking and hiking trails or go primitive at the rough camping sites in the 23,000-acre Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. Civil War spies and hidden tunnels and trains, oh my! History is a proud part of the present, and you can be part of the story. Learn how a little girl grew up to become a Southern spy, tour the home of Martinsburg’s founder, and walk the rails to Martinsburg’s iconic Roundhouse train station. STAY Luxury is in every detail at the local hotels, with great chains like Hilton, Holiday Inn, Fairfield Inn, and more. Like a rugged setting? Tuck in at the RV campgrounds and let nature lull you to sleep.

VisitMartinsburgWV

VisitMartinsburgWV

all photos courtesy of Visit Martinsburg

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.”


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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS


FREE AS A BIRD ELITE HANG-GLIDING CENTERS O F F E R O N E - O F -A- K I N D V I E WS A N D A DR E N A L I N E - PAC K E D A DV E N T U R E B Y E R I C J . WA L L A C E

CRUISING A RURAL STRETCH OF U.S. 13, I SPOT

something unexpected: A pair of hang-gliders soaring high above Virginia's Eastern Shore. I pull over and watch them cruise over maritime forests and dense tidal marshes toward Quinby Harbor, Upshur Bay, and the wild barrier islands that lay beyond. The sighting leads to a fantastic discovery: The Shore is home to one of the most unique hang-gliding operations on the East Coast. Tandem tours carry visitors upward of a mile in the air and feature views of the Chesapeake Bay and more than 100 miles of protected shoreline. Gliding over isolated wetlands, bays, and the longest chain of undeveloped barrier islands in the global temperate zone proves to be a bucket-list experience. Hang-gliders, I realize, are like the motorcycles of the sky. Only there are no roads, lanes, traffic lights, motorists, or rumbling engines to contend with. “The wind is in your face and you’re soaring like a bird,” says Don Guynn, owner-instructor of the Virginia Hang Gliding Flight School. "It’s like a childhood fantasy come true; the freedom is intoxicating. Gazing down at the world from such dizzying heights brings this amazing sense of perspective. It’s meditative and joyous all at once.” Luckily the Southeast is home to more than one exemplary hang-gliding center. Though few and far between, each brings incredible views and thrilling experiences.

The Virginia Hang Gliding Flight School

Don “Freeman Sky Coyote” Guynn became obsessed with free-flight around the age of 17 and has spent more than two decades sharing his passion for the sport with others. Years of teaching at top learning centers in Florida, Colorado, and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina inspired Guynn, a certified master pilot, to found his own hang-gliding school. But he wanted to do things differently. “Most places have beginner and intermediate learners launching off small hills or dunes,” says Guynn. Flight time averages less than 10 seconds. Return climbs—especially up sand dunes—are often physically intensive and time-consuming. That makes skill building tough. Guynn starts by teaching the basics on the ground. Flight training is streamlined using a small aircraft to

tow students to higher altitudes and tutor them in a tandem setting. That means learners get personalized instruction and incredible views. Guynn grew up near the Eastern Shore of Virginia and knew the peninsula was the perfect location for a free-flight school. The area is sparsely populated, free of major airports, and features world-class aerial sights. Guynn relocated in 2013 and launched Virginia Hang Gliding on a 25-acre property near Onancock. Today the school offers a variety of tandem tours, certification classes, and towing services for established pilots. The “Mile High” experience carries patrons to altitudes above 5,000 feet. The peninsula is just 10 miles wide on average, so fliers can enjoy simultaneous views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Looking to up the adrenaline factor? Guynn’s aerial

L E F T: S O A R I N G I N T H E T E N N E S S E E S K Y. P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F L O O K O U T M O U N TA I N F L I G H T PA R K | A B O V E : L A N D I N G I N N O R T H C A R O L I N A . P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F T H E R M A L VA L L E Y H A N G G L I D I N G

acrobatics package brings stunts like barrel rolls, corkscrews, and loop-de-loops. Tandem experiences start at $199; virginiahanggliding.info

Thermal Valley Hang Gliding

Craig Pearson discovered hang-gliding as a high school freshman when he spotted pioneers leaping off Hibriten Mountain and coasting thermal winds to mileplus altitudes. “It was the wildest thing I’d ever seen,” says Pearson, now 58. “I said, ‘Now that’s something I’d like to try.'" J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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n u F y l i m EPIC Fa unty hington co s a w & n w o In hagerst

Get Adventuresome at our 5 National Parks and 8 State Parks

#MasksUpMaryland / #RecreateResponsibly

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Thurmont, Maryland - Get Away to the Mountains! W E ’ V E B E E N S O C I A L D I S TA N C I N G F O R D E C A D E S !

Cunningham Falls State Park

3 Covered Bridges

Historic Main Street

Catoctin Mountain Park

Wineries | Dining | Shopping | Hiking | Orchards

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B LU E R I D G E O U T D O O R S | R I C H M O N D / VA B E AC H + M E T R O D. C . E D I T I O N


Pearson dove into the sport soon thereafter— and spent as much of the next 40 years as possible launching gliders off mountains and cliffs in North Carolina and the greater U.S. He quit his job as an electronics technician in 2010 to found a flight school in Lenoir, N.C., with his wife and son. “It was one of those chase-the-dream scenarios,” says Pearson, a certified United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding instructor. “To me, I can’t imagine a better way to make a living than introducing people to the crazy, joyous world of free-flight.” Pearson started by partnering with Foothills Regional Airport. Early offerings were limited to tandem tours and towplane shuttles for certified glider pilots. But he wanted to do more. “Our goal was to create a [full-service learning institution] that could become sort of the central hub for a larger community,” says Pearson. The family connected with other local enthusiasts and landowners to expand operations. The efforts have produced one of the East Coast’s most extensive hang-gliding programs. Thermal Valley now boasts progression-based training facilities for all skill levels, tandem experiences, certification courses, and a variety of services for skilled pilots. The Happy Valley educational center offers hypercharged learning opportunities for beginners and intermediates. A large, grassy flying area is equipped with an anchored, variable-speed towing system for enhanced training efficiency. The platform brings 30-40 seconds of airtime and altitudes up to 60 feet. Golf carts provide swift and breezy shuttling. More

advanced fliers can use the system to practice turns and climbing. The new Butte Mountain facility is located a few miles north. There, advanced students practice footlaunching from 800-1,000-foot cliffs. Landing fields are situated at various distances so pilots can practice longer or shorter flights. The facility is open to certified gliders as well. Tandem tours from $159; thermalvalley.net

Lookout Mountain Flight Park

One of the oldest and most respected institutions in American hang-gliding awaits in northwest Georgia near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lookout Mountain Flight Park was founded in 1980 and is currently the largest full-time hang-gliding school in the U.S.—and one of the only dedicated free-flight resorts on the planet. “This is definitely a world-class hang-gliding destination,” says certified instructor, C.J. Giordano. He’s flown at hotspots throughout the U.S., Central America, and elsewhere. “I can say without reservation that Lookout Mountain is fundamentally unique; there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the country.” For starters, the resort occupies a rural valley and 2,000-foot ridgeline in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The landscape is staggeringly beautiful; amenities are unparalleled. The 144-acre landing zone is surrounded by a wide range of lodging options that include luxury cabins, RV docks, tiny houses, and primitive camping. There’s also an on site general store, retail shop,

T H E R M A L VA L L E Y H A N G G L I D I N G O F F E R S TA N D E M F L I G H T S I N T H E C ATAW B A VA L L E Y O F N O R T H C A R O L I N A . P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F T V H G

eatery, swimming area, music stage, central bonfire pit, and more. Educational programming spans all skill-levels of paragliding, ultralight aircraft and hang-gliding. Patrons learn the basics and level-up on a series of progression-oriented training hills. Tandem flights offer sightseeing thrills for fliers aged 10-100. More advanced students can practice tandem and solo launches from ridgeline platforms as high as 2,300 feet. Veterans flock to the park to use its premium facilities and shuttle services. “We’re basically the national country club of [freeflight], but without any of the country club pretention,” laughs Giordano. He discovered Lookout Mountain taking beginner hang-gliding classes in 2012. He moved to the resort full-time in 2015 after becoming a certified instructor. “Yes, the facilities are great, but what really makes this place so special is the community,” says Giordano. Most premier hang-gliding spots are extremely isolated and visited solely by experts. On-season weekends at Lookout Mountain, however, typically bring more than 100 fliers and their families. Some are greenhorns, others are veterans or even professionals. “But everybody that’s here is here to fly or support somebody that wants to,” Giordano continues. “To me, that’s just incredibly cool.” Tandem experiences start at $249; flylookout.com J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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This summer, a fistful of paddle strokes and a handful of bellyflops into a true mountain lake might just be the best remedy for, well, last year. Add a double dose of fresh mountain air and never-ending views, and your Chi will practically rebalance itself. Prepare for the effects of mountain therapy to be immediate and most certainly habit forming.

Book your lodging with us, and enjoy a free Activity Fun Pass for everyone in your group.

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MAKING WAVES NEW WHITE WATER PA RK TAKI NG SHA P E IN NO RTH CA RO LINA BY MICHAEL WELCH

SCOTT SHIPLEY, A VETERAN KAYAKER OF THREE

Olympic games and the founder and president of S2O Design and Engineering, has been getting calls from Asheville for almost as long as he’s been building whitewater features. None of those calls ever resulted in a whitewater park, but that appears likely to change. In 2016, the nearby town of Woodfin was mobilizing to create a system of greenways that would revitalize its French Broad riverfront. Located on the northern border of Asheville, this system would tie into the city’s own plan for greenway improvements—plans that had been proposed years earlier but were just starting to gain momentum. Marc Hunt, former Asheville City Councilman and former chairman of the city’s Greenway Commission, reached out to Shipley to look into the viability of a whitewater feature on the French Broad. A lifelong paddler himself, he felt that a surfable whitewater wave could serve as a centerpiece of the transformation and add a “Blueway” component to the Greenway effort. As the two kayakers floated the river scouting for a viable location, Shipley’s eyes lit up when they came around a bend. It appeared they had found the perfect spot. Only they hadn’t. After falling in love with the location and the amenities it offered next to the existing Riverside Park, Shipley’s 2016 Conceptual Design and Feasibility Study showed that you could create a

whitewater feature there, but not one that would make it through the permitting process. He explains, “In the U.S., one of the requirements that we have for placing a feature in a natural river is that we can’t raise the flood level. You’d hate to live in a house by the river and find out your basement flooded because of a play park downstream. That’s why we’re held to the same construction standards as a dam or a bridge.” It was a setback, but the 2016 study included several alternatives. Besides more complex and expensive construction methods, it identified another feasible location for a world-class feature approximately 350 feet upstream of the original. In 2020, the town purchased the adjacent riverfront property from WastePro, and last April, leaders including town manager Eric Hardy signed a $719,000 contract for the detailed design of the wave and the park improvements that would accompany it on shore. That figure is just a part of the project’s approximately $6 million price tag, but it’s a big slice that demonstrates the ongoing commitment to the plan. And what does a $6 million investment get you? According to Shipley’s 2017 Hydraulic Analysis, “The wave would create a place to surf, kayak, and float that would attract users from throughout the region and country. Similar features, located in similar places, have been found to be significant attractions that have multimillion-dollar economic impacts, host major kayaking events and festivals, attract visitors from afar, and draw and encourage the local community to pursue outdoor recreation.” Shipley’s firm has already designed a smilar feature in the Camphill Surf Park on the Hawea River in Wanaka, New Zealand. Camphill was designed to produce surfable features in flows that vary from 300 to 7,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). That range applied to the French Broad will create year-round opportunities for kayakers, paddle boarders, river surfers, and many other users. It's an exciting proposition, particularly in an area known for its outdoor amenities. Shane Benedict is the Head of Design at Big Adventures, a paddlesports manufacturer in Fletcher, N.C., and one of the original

F E AT U R E S AT A N E W W H I T E WAT E R PA R K I N W O O D F I N , N . C . , W I L L R E S E M B L E T H O S E AT T H E C A M P H I L L S U R F PA R K O N T H E H AW E A R I V E R I N WA N A K A , N E W Z E A L A N D ( P I C T U R E D H E R E ) . P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F S2O DESIGN

founding partners of whitewater brand Liquidlogic Kayaks. “As a boater and as someone that runs a local paddlesports business, I’m really excited about the Wave’s potential to expose people to the fun you can have on the water.” Benedict has long been a pioneer in the local paddling scene, and he explains that, “There are tons of great rivers for freestyle kayaking in the greater Asheville area, but distance and river level dependencies make them difficult to rely on. It will be awesome to jump in the river at the wave park for an after-work or after-school session, and that accessibility will help grow the sport.” Chris Gragtmans, another local kayaking expert and real estate professional, is excited about the project’s potential to unite citizens and transform a part of the river that has long been neglected. “The beautiful thing about greenways and blueways is that they are a nonpartisan subject, and everyone can see and feel their benefits. Deliberate participation from public and private stakeholders is required to breathe new life into a neglected and environmentally contaminated real estate corridor like the French Broad River, and that’s exactly what is occurring.” It’s difficult to pinpoint a completion date, and Shipley describes permitting as a big unknown that involves lots of regulatory hurdles. His best guess is a design phase that takes about a year, including construction of a 1/13th scale model at a lab in Prague. The modeling step adds to the overall cost, but it also ensures the feature lives up to its potential. Construction, which cannot start until the river is at its lower point, will take another year. Shipley has built dozens of features around the world and knows the result will be worth the wait. “There's that moment when a park has just opened, and a family pulls up in a van and a bunch of kids jump out. Some of them float, some play on the feature, some just sit on the bank and read, but it's awesome to create this thing that wasn't there before and get to see people utilize it.” J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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JOB BOARD

FIELDWORK

WANDERING WILDERNESS WITH KATHLEEN PANGAN Welcome to the Job Board, where Blue Ridge Outdoors goes behind the scenes with outdoor industry professionals on how they got the job, their daily routine, and more. BY ELLEN KANZINGER

FROM INVASIVE SPECIES REMOVAL AND HABITAT

restoration to mapping for UPS, leading yoga sessions for people with special needs, and organizing volunteers for nonprofits, Kathleen Pangan has done a little bit of everything over the last two decades. In her most recent role, Pangan spent a year as a wilderness specialist with Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS). Working in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area of Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, which includes four wilderness areas, she spent her time monitoring recreation sites, organizing data, connecting with specialists, and writing reports. “I think the reason I liked UPS so much was there was a breadth of tasks,” Pangan said. “The combination of fieldwork, computer analysis, and outreach is what appealed to me.” But Pangan’s main duties were evaluating her assigned area in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964, which created the highest form of legal protection for designated public lands, intending to completely preserve their natural, undisturbed character. “There should be a place where you can feel like it’s just you and nature,” Pangan said. BRO: What did your day to day look like as a wilderness specialist? KP: It depends on what the needs of the district are. For my position, it’s more time management for seasons. At the beginning of my season last June, I walked all the trails and scouted to make sure I knew where all of the blow downs were. In wildernesses, you can’t use mechanical tools like a chainsaw. So you have to use an axe or cross cut in order to take these trees that have fallen into our paths to put them aside. I hosted the trail crew team and showed them where they were at because I’m more familiar with the area. In the fall, I managed my time so that I would be able to walk all trails in all the wildernesses and look for recreation sights. I recorded all of them using a tablet and put them on a map. This is for management to be able to see how many people are coming, how popular a place is, if there’s trash, are the trees getting chopped down, is the ground eroded and trampled. Throughout the winter and into spring, that is when

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A V I E W O F M O U N T R O G E R S N AT I O N A L R E C R E AT I O N A R E A F R O M B I G P I N N A C L E . PHOTO BY ELLEN KANZINGER


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J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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JOB BOARD

FIELDWORK

L E F T: K AT H E E N PA N G A N I N H E R U N I F O R M . C O U R T E S Y O F PA N G A N . R I G H T: W I L D P O N I E S R O A M T H E W I L D E R N E S S A R E A S O F V I R G I N I A ' S HIGHEST PEAK. PHOTO BY ELLEN KANZINGER

we’re researching and doing our reports. The report summaries and narratives are kind of like storytelling. Why is this wilderness special, and what are the parts of it that you can’t measure with numbers? At Mount Rogers, I have been working on the baseline assessment, which is more straight up numbers and technical. This requires me to research with all the specialists at the district level, the forest level, and sometimes the regional level. I’m contacting the biologist because she would know what plants or animals are in this area. Then I’m talking to the fire manager and asking him did you do any prescribed burns near the wilderness? In my forest, I was also talking to the hydrologist because she would know about impaired water and the watershed nutrition class. At the regional level, there are air experts who would know about nitrogen, sulfur, and ozone. I gather all the data and talk to the specialists until I understand it and then write about it. What was one of your favorite aspects of the job? When the trail crew came back in the fall. Seeing other humans in person and knowing that we were all doing this sort of almost simple task of clearing trees out of the trail, there’s something almost pure about it. I really enjoy technical report writing but sometimes it gets a little cerebral. I think having this balance of being in nature, clearing trails so that people can walk

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is a really nice counterpart to this report writing that is mainly for future land managers.

and more about feeling that soul-deep truth of your identity as part of creation.

What are some of the benefits of a temporary position like this? A seasonal position like this year as a wilderness specialist is a fantastic introduction to the Forest Service and wilderness work, which can allow you to see if you enjoy the work and find it fulfilling as well as feel the culture of the workplace. The other benefit is if you don't have a background in land management or technical report writing, the season gives an amazing comprehensive experience for independent research, field work, technical writing, and communications across the Forest Service and partner organizations.

Do you have a favorite place within the wilderness you covered? I really like Mount Rogers itself. It is popular since it’s the highest point in Virginia, so I feel like a good amount of people go up there. But I think that even though you’re seeing other humans, there’s something to, “I went to the top.” You feel good about it. You see these really interesting trees and the moss on the ground, and you feel like you’re somewhere totally different. The other place I really like is Little Wilson Creek Trail. There’s only one trail in this wilderness that is hiker only. It’s really hard to access. When you get there, there’s not a lot of people and you feel like you’re really in the middle of nowhere in nature. There’s more solitude and peace within it.

From your personal experience, what's the difference between hiking on a trail or in a park versus exploring a wilderness area? A wilderness area is ideally a view of the most natural state of the area with as limited human influence as possible, whereas a park or non-wilderness trail might have heavy modification or changes to the environment to more benefit human recreation. I feel that a trail in a park is a great place to see other people while being in what is a sort of comfortable, curated nature, while a wilderness is where I am utterly immersed in nature. It's less about being around other people or getting that great photo

What are your tips for navigating wilderness areas safely? You want to go enjoy the outdoors and adventure but I feel like a lot of people I’ve met are lost. They didn’t have a map. They didn’t even know how to read a map. There’s no signal out here on your cell phone. Figure out where you are on a map. I don’t know how many times I want to say map but… Know where you’re going. Make sure someone else knows where you’re at and you have a check in and check out time.


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JUST MINUTES AWAY FROM THE ASHEVILLE AIRPORT


THE GOODS

TRAVEL-TESTED GEAR

LOKI BASECAMP FALCON 8

BLACK SERIES HQ19

SNOW PEAK MILK BOTTLE

BALL AND BUCK PREMIUM WAXED COTTON HAT

LUNO AIR MATTRESS 2.0

GET OUT OF HERE! Quarantine is a memory. The country is open and ready for you. The road is calling. Here’s the gear you need to make that big trip into the new new normal even better. BIOLITE FIREPIT COOKING KIT

Black Series

Loki Basecamp

Ready to go all in for life on the road? This classy, 19-foot home on wheels is ready for deep adventure with a suspension system that allows each tire to move independently, sucking up the hits of rough terrain. But the real selling point is the inside—a full kitchen with stove top, refrigerator, and microwave and a full bathroom with a shower and washing machine mean you really can live wherever you park it. Solar panels keep everything running away from hookup power. $63,995; blackseriescamper.com

Loki, which made a name for itself converting shipping containers into structures, refers to this four-season slide-in unit for an 8-foot truck bed as an “adventure pod.” It’s certainly one high-end place to call home away from home, with all the amenities of any custom van inside and an advanced control system that includes dimmable LED lighting, diesel heating, air conditioning, and an isotherm refrigerator. $135,000; lokibasecamp.com

HQ19

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

WACACO NANOPRESSO

B Y D O U G S C H N I T Z S PA H N

Falcon 8

Luno

Air Mattress 2.0

Looking for a way to sleep

in your vehicle that won’t require a mortgage? Do it the old-school way (with a touch of class). This durable air mattress inflates right in the back of your car or truck, providing you with a comfy bed no matter where you pull over. Best of all, it comes in two sections so that you and your sleeping partner can set the firmness according to your individual preferences. $280; lunolife.com

Snow Peak Milk Bottle

No road trip is complete without that trusty drink bottle. This vacuum-insulated, stainless steel 500ml beauty will keep your iced drinks cool

and your hot chocolate steamy while you keep your eyes on the road. $75; snowpeak.com

BioLite

FirePit Cooking Kit

We have sung the praises of this smokeless, solar-powered fire pit and grill in the past. BioLite improved the system for cooking on the road with accessories that make it even better for preparing food: A griddle will heat up those flapjacks; a grill lid concentrates heat; and a tool kit helps you flip those steaks. $360; bioliteenergy.com

Wacaco Nanopresso

Need that shot of crema-

frothed goodness to get you through no matter where you wake up? Weighing less than 1 pound and fitting in the palm of your hand this portable espresso maker provides an impressive pour, with 18 bars of stable pressure at your fingertips. $65; www.wacaco.com

Ball and Buck

Premium Waxed Cotton Hat

With a sense of old sportsman style, Massachusetts-based brand Ball and Buck brings a bit of class to your road trip lid. We love the waxed cotton which can endure a little precipitation and only feels better the more you wear it. $48; ballandbuck.com


ENO KILI MAP DOUBLE NEST HAMMOCK

ICEMULE 25L TRAVELER

YETI CROSSROADS 60L DUFFEL

GUZZLE H2O STREAM

VSSL JAVA COFFEE GRINDER

DERMATONE MINERAL SPF50 NOTOUCH SUNSCREEN STICK

OTTERBOX FAST CHARGE STANDARD CAR CHARGING KIT

SMIITH RIPTIDE

ENO

Kili Map Double Nest Hammock

A collaboration with Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that builds Black connections and leadership in nature, this special version of ENO's popular hammock not only offers up the ideal spot to rest when you pull over, it reaffirms participation in the outdoors for populations that have been underserved and celebrates Outdoor Afro’s joyous Mount Kilimanjaro expedition. $80; eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com

Yeti

Crossroads 60L Duffel

One thing is certain—Yeti knows how to build gear that

can withstand serious abuse. This roomy duffel can haul all the clothes and gear you need for that big summer road trip. Best of all, its smart design allows you to divide the bag into three compartments. $250; yeti.com

Smith Riptide

The best sunglasses for the big trip not only protect your eyes from the glare of the sun but also look damn good doing so. The snazzy Riptide features scratch-proof lenses with Chroma Pop, enhancing color and easing the burden on your eyes on those long hauls. $259; smithoptics.com

VSSL

Icemule

Connoisseurs of the bean will appreciate this handy travel grinder. The durable, sleek, hand-powered machine offers 50 settings so that you can dial in the perfect grind for your morning necessity. $150; vsslgear.com

Everyone loves a big hard cooler, but that beast takes up a lot of space in your vehicle. This 35L soft cooler is the answer—able to keep beverages and snacks handy during the drive and serving as the ideal picnic basket when you want to pull over. The big top opening makes everything inside easy to access on the go. $200; icemulecoolers.com

Java Coffee Grinder

OtterBox

Fast Charge Standard Car Charging Kit

These days we know you are lost without your electronics, so keeping them juiced up while you are in transit is key. Designed to endure constant bending, this baby gets the job done 3.6 times faster than the standard cord. $35; otterbox.com

25L Traveler

Guzzle H2O Stream

Meet the best system we have tested for keeping your water supply clean and full on the road. This push-button filter

will draw and purify water from a lake or stream or suspect sources in a campground. It provides an impressive 1.1 gallons per minute filtered through a carbon block that removes 99.99% of contaminants. $1,125; guzzleh2o.com

Dermatone

Mineral SPF50 No-Touch Sunscreen Stick

You often forget to apply that sunblock while you are driving. Don't make that mistake. This stick is easy to keep nearby in your vehicle and won’t get your hands greasy. $10; dermatone.com

J U LY 2 0 2 1 | B L U E R I D G E O U T D O O R S . C O M

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THE OUT AND BACK

MY COVID HANGOVER There is such a thing as pandemic outdoor adventure overload. B Y G R A H A M AV E R I L L

DOES ANYONE ELSE NEED TO TAKE A NAP?

Let’s just recap recent events, shall we? A tumultuous presidency led to a great political rift, a global pandemic

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BLUE RIDGE OUTDOORS

FATIGUE

turned high fives and hugs into acts of aggression, everyone decided at the same time that riding bikes and camping were awesome, the world ran out of bikes and camping gear, caring about the health of other people became a violation of individual rights, and only private school kids actually set foot in a classroom. I’m probably leaving something out, but that’s the last year or so in a nutshell. So, I say again, does anyone else need to take a nap? It’s been a long year and I’m tired. But there’s no time to rest because the U.S. is finally crawling out of its COVID hole. People are getting

vaccinated, restaurants are open for indoor dining, some of us can even go to the grocery store without a mask. Things are, dare I say it, getting back to normal. Or at least, as normal as we can be after going through a global pandemic that divided our country both physically and philosophically. Everybody approached their pandemic year differently. Personally, I was determined to make the most of the dismal situation. We’re stuck at home and can’t see friends or family? Okay, we’ll go camping. A lot. We played board games and learned new skills. I read books! I built my own climbing wall and revamped my backyard pump track. I did a pushup

AFTER A LONG YEAR FILLED WITH CAMPING AND BIKING, THE AUTHOR CAN'T MUSTER THE ENERGY FOR AN ADVENTUROUS SUMMER.

challenge with my high school buddies (I did not win, unless you consider repetitive use injuries as winning). I did multi-day bike rides. We paddled lakes we’d never seen before as a family, hiked to remote waterfalls, and spent more time skiing the local hill than we have in years past. You could argue that I lived one of the most purposeful years of my adult life in 2020. And it was objectively awesome. I got after it and made the most of the strangest year in modern history. And now I’m fucking tired. Not


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THE OUT AND BACK physically tired. More like emotionally tired. Like after you go all out for your best friend’s wedding and spend the majority of the night doing the worm on the dance floor and chatting up said best friend’s weird and handsy aunt, and the next morning you simply have nothing left to give to the world around you. You’re all used up. Spent. Let’s face it, even if you dedicated all of 2020 to camping and giving your backyard a makeover worthy of an HGTV show, it was still a difficult year. I feel like I spent my time trying to be upbeat and point a flashlight on the silver lining of a very, very gray cloud for myself and my family. Especially my kids. I watched firsthand as they suffered one disappointment after the other. No school. No Little League. No camps. No playdates. No visits from grandma…2020 was the year of “you can’t do that right now.” So we leaned really hard into the things we could do—neighborhood bike rides and constant campouts and hiking and exploring parks and forests we’d never been to before. We thought if we just kept ourselves busy enough, we wouldn’t really notice all of the things we were missing. And honestly, I kind of loved it. For a guy who doesn’t like big social situations and who would rather spend most of his time in the woods, the global pandemic had its upside. Sure, those woods were more crowded than normal because suddenly the entire country decided that riding bikes and camping was the best and they should definitely start a podcast about it, but I was still in the woods doing the things I loved. As good as pandemic life was, I’m obviously glad the world is getting back to the neighborhood of normal. My son’s playing little league and my daughter can do volleyball camp again. We could even travel this summer if we want to. I feel like there’s a weight lifted off my shoulders because we’ve gotten through this very challenging thing. But I need a minute before I get full speed ahead into my new, old life. I’ve spent so much time and energy on making the most of the past year, and now that it’s over I’m exhausted from the inside out. I keep reading articles about how, as a society, we have all of this pent-up energy because of our year of stay-at-home orders and social

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FATIGUE

distancing, and that people are looking forward to blowing it out this summer with big trips and big plans. Everyone seems to agree that this is supposed to be the “BEST SUMMER EVER!!” It makes me think I’m the only one who’s exhausted and that maybe I approached the pandemic all wrong. Instead of attacking it, maybe I should’ve let it wash over me. Maybe I should have taken more naps and developed a more complicated relationship with alcohol. I actually drank less during the pandemic, doing a deep dive into non-alcoholic beers. Who drinks less when the world is crumbling around them? What’s wrong with me? Did I miss my opportunity to take a year off? And now I’m supposed to get excited about the chance to get on a plane and visit a far-flung beach or carry a heavy backpack through a national park on the other side of the country? I’m not saying I’m sick of the outdoors, but I need a rest day. But like for two or three months. I’m not supposed to tell you this because I’m an outdoor writer and this is an outdoor magazine, but all I really want to do right now is wander around the mall drinking a giant Jamba Juice. Maybe get a soft pretzel and see a movie. You know what I mean? But summer is in full swing and that usually means big adventures for myself and my kids. I should be organizing multi-family swimming hole excursions and epic rides across vast forests, but I just don’t know that I have the energy. What am I supposed to do with this newfound ennui for the outdoors? My wife says she needs a big vacation. Something tropical with surfing. My son wants to ride bikes all the time. My daughter wants me to take her and her friends camping. How can I muster the energy to spearhead all of these adventures when I just want to take a nap? I’m sure I’ll get there. Maybe after I catch the first wave while surfing at the beach, or maybe after I watch my kid go big on his favorite jump line, I’ll rediscover my stoke for outdoor adventure. Until then, I guess there’s always tubing. That sounds okay. Sitting in a river with a couple of beers and letting the current take me. That’s restful. I’ll start with tubing and see where it goes. But don’t expect me to paddle. I’m just gonna float.


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TRAIL MIX

N E W T U N E S I N J U LY WYE OAK’S NEW SINGLE, “ T N T, ” F O L L O W S U P L A S T YEAR’S “NO HORIZON,” A C O L L A B O R AT I V E E P W I T H T H E BROOKLYN YOUTH CHORUS. P H O T O B Y K E N D A L L AT WAT E R

OUR FAVORITE SUMMER JAMS If you’re in search of fresh sounds, let your ears wander through Trail Mix, our monthly playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In July we’re highlighting new tunes from Wye Oak and the Wandering Hearts, plus South Carolina folk-rock outfit SUSTO’s take on a Rolling Stones classic. B Y J E D D F E R R I S A N D D AV E S T A L L A R D

SUSTO “Dead Flowers”

SUSTO, the folk-rock outfit led by singer-songwriter Justin Osborne, strips down on the new live album, “Rogue Acoustic,” which was recorded in the group’s hometown of Charleston, S.C. A highlight is a gritty cover of the Rolling Stones’ languid country tune “Dead Flowers,” which features Osborne singing alongside guest vocalist Hunter Park, who performs under the moniker She Returns From War. —J.F.

Songs from the Road Band “Amarillo Blue”

Songs from the Road Band is a new project featuring familiar faces from the Blue Ridge bluegrass scene. Led by bassist Charles Humphrey III (formerly of Steep Canyon Rangers) and mandolin picker Mark Schimick, the group is quickly gaining traction on the string band circuit, gigging regularly and releasing sporadic singles ahead of a full album this fall. “Amarillo Blue” is a classic breakup song with high, lonesome harmonies and nimble

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picking. Schimick takes lead vocals and wonders, like many itinerant musicians, why the call of the road is often stronger than the desire for a stable home. –J.F.

Nathaniel Rateliff “Mavis”

You’d never know that Nathaniel Rateliff was singing to just 125 people, and not a sold out crowd of 9,000 plus, on this cut from his new live record. Recorded at Red Rocks in September of 2020 during a socially distanced/streamed tour, Rateliff certainly doesn’t let the circumstances impact his performance. Buoyed by mates from his touring band and a cadre of musician friends, Rateliff’s joy in playing live is evident as each chorus swells, surely delighting the lucky few who were in attendance. —D.S.

The Wandering Hearts “Dreams”

When you get a chance to record a tune written by Grammy winner Marty Stuart and his wife, Connie Smith, at the legendary Cash Cabin, you jump on it. On “Dreams,” the British trio of Chess Wiffin,

Tara Wilcox, and AJ Dean Revington provide lush, celestial harmonies, and Stuart accompanies on both mandolin and guitar, creating an undeniably airy, vintage country ode to holding on to dreams and setting the course of one’s life by wild aspiration. —D.S.

Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, Jason Isbell “Outfit”

On Father’s Day in 2014, Jason Isbell’s dad got a pretty incredible present. His son, joined by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley—his former mates in Drive-By Truckers—performed "Outfit," the longtime crowd favorite, during an intimate acoustic show at the Shoals Theatre in Florence, Alabama. The performance expresses the undeniable musical chemistry shared by the trio; Isbell and Hood’s harmonies ably capture the song’s emotion and Cooley’s understated acoustic lead runs add the perfect accents to what is arguably the best father/son song ever written. —D.S.

Sara Bug – “Rosebank”

Sara Bug has a delicate, whispery voice that calls to mind that of Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, with a bit more of a country drawl. Her new self-titled album features a blend of old-school twang and indie-rock edge, the latter exemplified on the standout track “Rosebank.” Fuzzy guitar work and a stomping tempo create a moody atmosphere for Bug to ruminate on how she copes with a sour heart.

In this case it’s riding her bike as fast as she can down a familiar road, even though, as she sings, “it’s hard to cry on a bike.” —J.F.

Wye Oak “TNT”

You’d expect a song called “TNT” to eventually explode with sound, but the soothing track from the North Carolina duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack simmers in a mellow zone. In line with the gentle approach often found in Wasner’s solo project Flock of Dimes, the new standalone single is a meditation on the changing of seasons with Wasner’s voice floating amid swirling guitar and jazzy drums. The busy group also promised another new song is coming this summer. —J.F.

The Rubinoos “I Want Her So Bad”

The four members of The Rubinoos were still teenagers in 1976 when they walked into the CBS studios in San Francisco and laid down the 11 tracks that would become “The CBS Tapes.” Recorded live and loose, the reckless abandon with which these Bay Area power pop rockers played is evident on “I Want Her So Bad.” The vocals and guitar work are brash and the drums frenzied, proving yet again that the spirit of rock and roll is best captured in the bravado of the young. —D.S. To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.


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