Editorial: Don Blankenship and Matthew 16:26

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star:Six years and a day after one of the worst mining disasters in some four decades, a federal judge has sentenced the coal company’s former CEO to a year in prison and fined him $250,000 for conspiring to violate federal safety standards. For the 29 killed at Massey Energy Company’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia in 2010, it hardly seems enough.Donald Blankenship’s well-paid attorneys will immediately file an appeal, of course, so we’ll see about the jail time. We’d just say that if there’s a more unsympathetic personification of corporate greed in this country, well, may Blankenship be a warning to him or her.Even though Blankenship was acquitted of far more serious felony charges late last year that could have earned him significantly more prison time, it’s hard to ignore his long record of sacrificing mine safety in pursuit of higher profits — for example, falling short on the ventilation of the coal dust that exploded in this case, despite repeated warnings. It’s worth noting that autopsies of the 29 dead found that 71 percent of them had black lung disease, compared to an industry average of 3.2 percent.We suppose it’s some solace that the 66-year-old Blankenship did get the maximum for his misdemeanor conviction. We suppose it’s a wonder he got convicted at all, given that his wealth and his political connections had more than a few describing him as “untouchable.” Nonetheless, it’s hard to escape the feeling that there are two systems of justice in America, a more forgiving one for the rich and powerful and a harsher one for everybody else.Indeed, at most Blankenship will spend just over 12 days per employee victim in jail. (In fairness, he wasn’t charged with directly causing their deaths.) We can’t peer into his conscience to know how he truly feels about that. It requires a cynicism we can’t quite muster to think he wouldn’t turn back the clock if he could. We can only judge him on what he says. At his sentencing he expressed sorrow but not quite remorse, saying, “I am not guilty of a crime.” He’ll forgive the surviving families of those miners who might now say to him, “The hell you aren’t.”We feel much the same way about the captains of finance who helped bring about the 2008 recession. They may not have acted illegally but arguably obliterated many a professional ethical/personal moral boundary for wealth unimaginable to most. May they at least be sentenced to multiple meetings with Matthew 16:26: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”Editorial: Matthew 16:26, required reading for CEOs? Editorial: Don Blankenship and Matthew 16:26last_img read more

What U.S. Coal Recovery?

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Gas to Power Journal:Rebuking reports about a recovery of U.S. coal industry, IEEFA energy data analyst Seth Feaster stressed that in actual fact coal companies keep losing money. AEP, one of the country’s largest electric utilities, just purchased a wind farm while it is looking to retire, or sell two coal power plants by 2022.Nicholas Akins, AEP chairman and CEO, announced in the second-quarter earnings call that the company would buy a 2,000-MW, 800-turbine wind farm to be built in the Oklahoma panhandle, along with a 350-mile high-voltage transmission line to bring the power east. All done with a view to diversifying the utility’s fuel mix and expected earnings from wind power.Asked about coal, Akins pointed at AEP’s efforts to persuade the Ohio legislature to enact income guarantees to bail out two of its failing coal-fired plants there.Coal-fired power generation once made up nearly half of AEP’s installed capacity, but now the utility plans to retire the J.M. Stuart coal power plant (2,318 MW) in Ohio by the end of 2018, and either retire or sell coal-fired units in that state at the Conesville and Cardinal plants by 2022.“Coal-fired power has gotten so uneconomical that even coal-mining companies can’t make it work,” Mr Feaster writes with reference to Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal, which built and recently owned two now-mothballed coal-fired units in Weldon, N.C., at the 230-MW Roanoke Valley Energy Facility (ROVA), built in 1994-95.Yet, as of late the North Carolina plant was losing money. Once the operator realized more than a year ago that the value of the plant was effectively “zero,” they wrote them off to $133.1 million at the end of 2015, and got approval to deactivate the plants from PJM, the regional grid operator effective March 1, 2017. Earlier this month Westmoreland sold the plant for $5 million. Quoting public filings by U.S. energy and mining companies, Feaster writes that Foresight Energy lost $16.3 million in the second quarter of this year, Westmoreland lost $21 million. Furthermore, Cloud Peak lost $6.9 million and Contura pulled its coal IPO in mid-August allegedly because it “could not generate enough investor interest in it.”($) Critics questions ‘recovery’ of U.S. coal power utilities What U.S. Coal Recovery?last_img read more

Hurricane Maria: ‘Attracting Capital to Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Is More Critical Than Ever’

first_imgHurricane Maria: ‘Attracting Capital to Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Is More Critical Than Ever’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Post:Hurricane Maria has dealt a new blow to Puerto Rico’s bankrupt electric company — knocking out power for the entire island and imposing costly repair burdens on a utility that was already struggling with more than $9 billion in debt, poor service and sky-high rates.And that means more hardship for local residents and businesses, whose electric rates are already more than twice the national average.Even before it was hit by Irma and now Maria, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said it needed more than $4 billion to overhaul its outdated power plants and reduce its heavy reliance on imported oil. The company filed, in effect, for bankruptcy July 2.Now, with Maria toppling transmission lines and 100 percent of Puerto Ricans without electricity, PREPA faces millions of dollars more for hurricane repairs.The utility’s struggles are a key part of the commonwealth’s struggles to restructure about $74 billion in debts, overhaul its economy and stem the outflow of Puerto Rican citizens to the U.S. mainland.“PREPA and electricity here have always been critical to economic recovery,” said Natalie Jaresko, a veteran banker, former finance minister in Ukraine and adviser to the Puerto Rican government. “What the hurricane is proving is that that infrastructure is fragile. It makes attracting capital to PREPA more critical than ever.”More: Hurricane Maria has dealt a heavy blow to Puerto Rico’s bankrupt utility and fragile electric gridlast_img read more

On the Blogs: Trump’s Fake News on Coal

first_imgOn the Blogs: Trump’s Fake News on Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wamsted on Energy:John Adams, our second president, generally gets credit for this wonderful aphorism, but regardless of who was the first to say it, the observation itself is what matters: You simply cannot wish away facts. This came to mind earlier this week when I looked at the Energy Information Administration’s monthly electric power overview (which can be found here); it’s a publication that only the geekiest of energy wonks would ever read, particularly on a regular basis. However, dry as it may be, it does one thing exceedingly well: It presents facts, just as they are—not as people may want them to be.One of the many such facts that caught my eye this month concerns electricity generation from coal, that shiny black rock that seems to be the moving force behind all the Trump administration’s energy and environmental policies. ‘The war on coal is over,’ his minions mouth repeatedly. ‘We are going to bring the jobs back,’ the president assures miners at every opportunity.Problem is, facts are stubborn things. In the EIA review, which covers the first nine months of 2017, coal-fired electricity generation fell compared to the comparable year-earlier period. To be fair, it didn’t drop by much, sliding 1.5 percent to 919,805 thousand megawatt-hours from 934,267 thousand mwh a year ago. However, if the war is over and the jobs are coming back, then there should have been no slide at all; indeed, there should have been an increase.The slide in coal-fired generation also pushed coal production for the sector, which accounts for the vast majority of U.S. coal consumption, down during the first nine months. Overall, just over 504 million tons of coal were used to generate electricity, down from 509 million in 2016—which was the lowest production year for the industry since 1979. Hardly the turnaround the Trump administration repeatedly trumpets.What the administration definitely doesn’t trumpet in its incessant tweets and coal-dominated decision-making, is that during this same nine-month period, generation from non-emitting wind and solar jumped 13.6 percent, climbing to 284,584 mwh from 250,482 mwh in 2016. Combined with hydro, renewables generated just over 525,000 mwh of electricity annually for the first nine months of the year, within hailing distance of the nation’s nuclear sector, which has generated just under 600,000 mwh so far this year.And while the administration clearly is not a fan of renewables, more growth in this sector is just around the corner. The American Wind Energy Association says 84,000 MW of wind capacity are installed across the United States, with another 25,000 MW under construction. Similarly, the Solar Energy Industries Association reports that 47,000 MW of solar capacity has been installed in the U.S., with another 21,000 MW of utility-scale solar generation currently in the construction pipeline.As much as Trump and his backers like to blame renewables and the environmental community for the downfall of coal, the stubborn little fact is that the war, such as it was, against coal was waged, and won, by natural gas. From an expensive afterthought used largely just as a peaking resource during periods of high demand in the early 2000s, natural gas has taken ever-larger chunks of the electric generation market since then. From less than 20 percent of the total in 2001 (when coal’s share was roughly 50 percent), natural gas’ share of the market has climbed steadily, reaching 34 percent in 2016 and topping coal as the largest single source of electricity in the United States.More: The Facts Tell The Story: Coal Comeback Is Nothing But A Trump Delusionlast_img read more

Floating windfarms present major economic opportunity for U.K.

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ReNews:Floating offshore wind has the potential to generate up to 17,000 jobs in the UK by 2050, according to a report from the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.The report, which was commissioned by Crown Estate Scotland, said the sector could add 10GW of capacity by mid-century and generate up to £33.6bn of gross value added. It said that the global potential for floating offshore wind – 55GW by 2050 – also offers an annual export value to the UK of at least £230m by 2031 and £550m by 2050 with appropriate support.“The UK now has a short window of opportunity to capitalise on its early advantage and realise the long-term benefits,” the report said.Policy support is essential to provide the private sector with the confidence to invest, it added. This should include ring-fenced funding for floating wind in future Contracts for Difference auctions for at least 100MW of pre-commercial projects by 2025 at a cost of £668m and 800MW of commercial-scale by at least 2027 at a cost of £1.2bn.Scottish Renewables policy manager Stephanie Conesa said: “Floating wind provides an enormous economic opportunity for Scotland and its development, as well as that of other earlier-stage technologies, has the potential to provide renewable electricity in locations where other renewable energy devices cannot be deployed.”The UK has early-mover advantage in floating offshore wind with projects such as Equinor and Masdar’s 30MW Hywind Scotland facility, the report said.More: Floating wind offers UK ‘17,000 jobs bonanza’ Floating windfarms present major economic opportunity for U.K.last_img read more

Lovers’ Leaps

first_imgTall tales form the Southeast’s most legendary high-elevation spots.Young and star-crossed lovers, determined to spend eternity together whatever the cost, cast themselves from a precipice to escape barriers to their marriage in life. So says the lore behind almost every Lovers’ Leap. The cast of characters usually includes chiefs, warriors, and maidens. These legends date back to early settlers, who made famous many a high cliff with tales of Native American-inspired romantic tragedy. Despite their dark lore, or perhaps owing to it, Lovers’ Leaps remain popular spots for their staggering views— worthy settings for any tale of passion.Lovers’ LeapHot springs, N.C.Historian Hazel Moore wrote Hot Springs of North Carolina about the history of the small town she grew up in. She includes a Lovers’ Leap legend written in 1906 by Sally Royce Weir about a Cherokee chief named Lone Wolf, who ruled beside the Tahkiostie (French Broad) River. He wanted his daughter, Mist-On-The-Mountain, to marry a powerful but old brave named Tall Pine.One day, Mist-On-The-Mountain fell in love with Magwa, a handsome young visitor to her village. When her father refused Magwa’s marriage proposal, Mist-On-The-Mountain traveled to the foot of the towering rock to meet Magwa, when Tall Pine, who had followed them, struck and killed the younger man. Mist-On-The-Mountain ran, but Tall Pine cornered her on the high cliff, where she heard Magwa’s spirit call to her. She leaped into the river to join her lover, and moments later a panther struck and killed Tall Pine before he could escape the lurid scene.Today a popular side path of the Appalachian Trail, this Lovers’ Leap hike rewards you at the top with sweeping views of the French Broad River 500 feet below. It’s a short hike at only 2.6 miles round trip, but like most Lovers’ Leaps, it’s a strenuous one, gaining 1,000 feet in elevation. You’ll find river birches, maples, and oaks shading the riverside path. Begin at the Silvermine Trailhead. Follow the river-side path until you see white blazes for the Appalachian Trail, and then orange blazes marking the Lovers’ Leap trail.Lovers’ LeapHAWKS NEST STATE PARK, ANSTED, WV.The popularly accepted legend for what is now Hawk’s Nest State Park was documented by George W. Atkinson in his 1876 book History of Kanawha County. It stars a Shawnee Indian chief who, like the father in the Hot Springs tale, disapproved of his daughter’s love for a young brave. Instead, the chief arranged for a marriage between his daughter and the chief of a neighboring tribe. The young maiden courageously refused the marriage, telling her father she loved a warrior in her own tribe. Angry, her father ordered her to stay in her tipi under guard until she consented, but she managed to sneak out toward dawn. She fled to the tipi of her true love, and they escaped together. Soon after, the chief and his warriors picked up their trail and cornered the two lovers on the cliff that overhands the New River. Rather than be separated in life, they embraced and made the fatal plunge.In what is today Hawk’s Nest State Park, this Lovers’ Leap stands nearly 500 feet above the New River Gorge. “It’s a short trail, but you’ll definitely get exercise,” says Gia Tyree, office manager at the park. “We call it ‘Nature’s Stairmaster.’” Despite the grim folklore, Tyree says people seek it out “to find a peaceful spot to take in the sights.” This trail starts at Hawk’s Nest State Park office and travels down steep wooden steps to the overlook.Lovers’ LeapBLOWING ROCK, N.C.This towering cliff shares a similar legend, but with a less harrowing ending. It is said that a Chickasaw chief journeyed with his daughter from the plains to what is now the Blowing Rock to hide her from a white man’s affection. One day the maiden flirtatiously shot an arrow in the direction of a Cherokee brave she saw in the distance. He came to her and they soon fell deeply in love. Then a reddening sky made the brave think it was a sign of trouble calling him to his own tribe. As the maiden begged him not to leave her, the brave felt so torn between love and duty, he jumped from the high rock. But when the maiden called to the Great Spirit to bring her lover back, the winds blew the brave up into her arms.At 3,000 feet above the John’s River Gorge, the Blowing Rock offers views from Hawksbill Mountain to Mount Mitchell. The winds from the John’s River Gorge blow so strongly that when it snows, you’ll see flurries rise toward the sky. This Lovers’ Leap offers a scenic overlook without a hike. From the Blowing Rock parking lot, follow the trail with 1200 feet of gradual climbing to the observation tower. •Lovers Leap SignMore Lovers’ LeapsRock CityLookout Mountain, Tenn.The story here is that young Native American lovers were forced apart because their tribes were at war with each other, so they jumped to their deaths in despair.SauteeNacoochee, Ga.Here, two young Native American lovers from opposing tribes were told they couldn’t be together, and when the brave was thrown from the cliff in punishment for their affair, the maiden jumped out of her father’s arms to join him.Noccalula FallsGadsden, Ala. Legend has it that a Cherokee maiden threw herself from the falls after her lover was driven from her tribe.Natural TunnelDuffield, Va.Locals tell the story of a maiden who fell in love with a brave when he rescued her from a bear, and when her father, the chief, refused to allow their marriage, the young couple jumped to their deaths from the pinnacle at sunrise.last_img read more

2,754 Miles. 89 Days. 1 Wheel.

first_imgThe Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the longest off-pavement trail in the world. Stretching for 2,754 miles from Banff, Canada, to the Mexican border near Antelope, N.M., the GDMBR accumulates a total of over 200,000 feet of elevation gain. For even the most experienced of mountain bikers, the GDMBR’s unpredictable weather and rough terrain prove to put a fair amount of wear and tear on bike, body, and mind. Now imagine pedaling all of those 2,754 miles on a unicycle. Gen Shimizu from Charlottesville, Va., is one of the few to have done just that.“A lot of people said, ‘that’s really cool,’ when I first told them what I was doing,” says Shimizu, “but I’m sure behind my back they were saying, ‘this guy is nuts.’”Shimizu was by no means an avid unicycler when he first made the decision to ride the Divide. Having attended the University of Virginia to study mechanical engineering, Shimizu had lost touch with his childhood unicycling passion after high school. In fact, he hadn’t even touched the one-wheeled contraption in over a decade.“I don’t remember when or how I discovered the Great Divide Route, but when I did, I knew immediately that I’d be riding it some day,” Shimizu says. “I made the decision to ride the route about nine months before starting, and when I decided to benefit a charity I realized that I needed a way to draw attention and distinguish the ride. Getting rid of a wheel was the first thing to pop into my head.”Shimizu most certainly drew attention to his plans. During the months leading up to his trip, he attended outdoor events throughout the region and publicized his cause via social media. By the end, he had managed to raise $10,600 for the Polaris Project, an organization aimed at ending human trafficking. After donating the dough, Shimizu was ready to begin his self-supported (and self-funded) GDMBR ride.“I left on June 23, 2012,” he says. “It took me 89 days to reach the Mexican border.”The first few weeks in Canada proved to be challenging for Shimizu, especially given that he had done little to no training prior to departure.“I’d only tried riding the unicycle with a full load once before the trip and had done minimal off-road riding,” he says. “I approached the trip with the mindset that it was another long-distance backpacking trip, except with a wheel.”Despite Shimizu’s lack of mountain biking experience, he was well versed in the ways of the woods. Having thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004, traversed 1,200 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2006, and thru-hiked the Long Trail in 2011, Shimizu knew of the challenges he could encounter in the wilderness. The one challenge he had not prepared himself for were the long miles in the saddle.“Every day was a challenge,” he says. “During the first part of the trip, I was often counting by tenths of a mile and had to stop every mile just to get off the seat.”The discomfort did little to slow Shimizu down. Once he became accustomed to the routine, he was averaging 40 to 60 miles per day and resupplying every three to four days. Throughout the journey, Shimizu only suffered a sprained ankle; for him, it was more the mental challenges that were starting to take their toll.“The loneliness hit me about halfway through the trip,” Shimizu says. “I had to deal with that for a few weeks before finally meeting up with a few other cyclists in southern Colorado.”For the latter half of the ride, Shimizu seldom spent a night alone, which proved to be a comforting luxury given his fear of the dark. By the time the group reached New Mexico, Shimizu was able to keep up with his two-wheelin’ friends on steep climbs.“For me, New Mexico combined my longest mileage days with the biggest climbs, most challenging terrain, least daylight, and heaviest pack weights,” he says.  “I was sometimes loaded with 22 pounds of water in addition to food and gear and trying to ride 50 to 70 miles a day over 10,000-foot passes. I was really pushing my limits.”Although Shimizu came across a few unicyclists who were riding the GDMBR, he was not exempt from the smiles and stares of disbelief whenever he cruised by a crowd. Once, Shimizu was coming upon an overlook in the Grand Teton National Park when he realized how truly spectacular a sight he was.“There were several people lined up along the road, and I realized they weren’t facing the amazing lake and mountains but the road,” he says. “I started looking around for a grizzly or some other sort of wildlife that they were photographing, but it turned out that I was the attraction.”Although Shimizu valued his time on the GDMBR, he says that he will probably forgo any future long-distance mountain unicycling trips in the future.“Every so often I’ll catch myself thinking about possibly doing another unicycle trip, but then I have to slap myself,” he says. “One of the things I value most about doing these trips is that my memories are so much more vivid. I can recall events from every day of my ride, but I’d struggle to tell you what I did two days ago.”See what it takes to ride a unicycle – and see if Jess can do it – on BRO-TV: Unicycling 101.last_img read more

Romance in the Backcountry: Tips and Tricks

first_imgBen and I have lived in a van for seven months now. Purposeful romance is usually last on the list of things we make time for, right after vacuuming our carpet and cleaning the bugs off the front bumper. Living in a van can really put a damper on the romance. Ben doesn’t fit lengthwise in the van, so he sleeps diagonally and I sleep in a corner. We go days, sometimes weeks, without a real shower. We have so many cuts and bruises and bug bites that shaving would be laughable. But somehow we still wake up each morning and say “I love you.”This did not come easily. We’ve had super low moments, where Ben has hiked in one direction, and I in the other. But for the most part, we’ve become a well-oiled machine, able to predict movements before they happen. I plug his phone in before he reaches for the cord, he sets my slippers below the bed before I lift my head from the pillow. We share romance in a different way when living in such close quarters, and in the backcountry. Here are a few suggestions for van living and backcountry hiking to help you and your sig-other adjust more quickly than we did!Bagged wine, boxed wine, doesn’t matter, just bring it.Whether you’re hiking 15 miles to your camp spot, or you are parked on the side of the road after a long drive, DO NOT forgo wine. It is essential and COMPLETELY worth packing in on long backpacks or taking up space in your tiny van. If you don’t have a half-drunken bag of wine laying around right before you set off on your trip, consider buying these. They pack down once you drink them, and are the perfect serving size at the end of a long hike day. While you’re at it, don’t forget dessert.ProTip: Bears LOVE wine. Almost more than I do. Don’t forget to pack your empty wine carriers in a smell proof bags or bear bin.Zip your sleeping bags together, just don’t forget to wear long pajamas.This applies to sleeping in the van, and also in the backcountry. A lot of brands make compatible gender specific bags, meaning the men’s zips along the left and the woman’s on the right.  You can completely unzip them individually and then zip them back together so you have one huge sleeping bag to cuddle in. This is great for me because I am the perma-big spoon. With the bags zipped together, we can cuddle all night! Make sure to strap your sleeping mats together so there’s no cold hard spot between the two sleeping bags.  You MUST wear long pajamas, nothing kills romance faster than sticking to the person you’re sleeping next to. Whether you’re in a van and five days out from your last shower, or a zipped together sleeping bag after a sweaty uphill slog, cover your gross, unshowered skin, and cuddle away.Pro Tip: On extra cold nights in the backcountry, make sure the area of the sleeping bag between your heads is closed so no heat can escape through space between.Skinny dip to get the hot spots.If you have the ability to get in a large body of water, DO IT! It saves you from being a sticky mess and having to wear long pajamas at night (see above). When you’re backpacking, it might be the most refreshing thing you can do. All you really need to clean is the ‘hot spots.’ Everything else is icing on the cake, and completely unnecessary. When you’re van’ing, try a solar shower if a large body of water is inaccessible or too crowded. If water isn’t available, wilderness wipes are the next best thing. And remember- hot spots!Pro Tip: There is no good way to travel with a full solar shower. Put it inside and it will absolutely spill. Leave it on a trailer or secured to the top of your van and SOMETHING will puncture it. Take it from the five solar shower fatalities we’ve had, a full solar shower is a dangerous thing.But seriously, kind words.This is the cheapest, and most effective way, to keep the romance alive when living in a van or hiking with your honey in the backcountry. There is no trick here, simply expressing your love and reminding each other you appreciate the small things they’re doing (carrying the wine so I don’t have to, and then letting me drink more than my fair share- you’re the best Ben)!  You can try yelling encouragement to each other when you’re halfway up a mountain pass. Kind words can go a REALLY long way, especially when your pack feels like it’s getting heavier even though you’ve already consumed the chocolate you stashed in there just in case. Those are the times when it is most important. Especially because the chocolate is gone.Pro Tip: Kind words obviously help for us, but people communicate love in totally different ways, check out the five love languages if you haven’t already. Maybe your sweetheart would feel the romance most if you secretly stashed some chocolate for them and pulled it out at the right exact moment on that uphill climb. Okay– that works for me too.There are a few items that make romance in the backcountry a little easier. Check out this list from Elevation Outdoors for some more ideas!Ben and I finish our tour in one month and we can’t believe it’s coming to an end. We will have no idea what to do with a shower every day, food in a fridge, and sleeping in the same spot every night. If anyone has tips on how to do romance in a stationary house, we would love to hear them, because we have certainly forgotten how.If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.last_img read more

Honest Truth: Jennifer Pharr Davis Shares Lessons from the Trail

first_imgWhen you reach the finish line, sign onto social media, or visit the local hangout in an outdoor town, adventure jargon tends to be the same. You hear repetitive phrases about epic pursuits: “ah man, you should have been there,” “we slayed that course,” “it was insane…” “off the hook…” or as the uber cool kids say—“it was dank.” But there’s one thing missing from modern outdoor adventure: honest reflection.As outdoor athletes and recreationalists we love to push boundaries, but when we discover those limits and need to take a step back it can be difficult to process, let alone discuss. This past fall I hiked across the state of North Carolina on the 1,175 mile Mountains-Sea-Trail. But I wouldn’t do it again—at least not in the same manner.To be clear, I loved the actual trail and the hiking experience. My hesitation going into it was that I would not enjoy or appreciate a route that was actively being built and is connected by 500 miles of road. I was wrong. It was incredible to be one of the first 100 hikers to complete the full length of the MST. Like holding a newborn baby during the first few months of life, there’s something intimate and exceptionally sweet about being one of the first thru-hikers to finish a particular long trail.Speaking of children, this was a family affair and I was also anxious about how my kids would fare. That’s one reason why my husband Brew and I decided we would only hike as a family when and where it was appropriate. Our plan was to spend the early mornings and evenings together, but during the day I would walk alone.When we began our three-month migration across North Carolina, my daughter Charley was four years old and my son Gus was just shy of a year. I wanted nothing more than for my children to enjoy the experience of being a family of nomads: spending time every day in nature, building memories together, and learning important life lessons from the people and the land of their home state. And in that sense, our journey exceeded my expectations.Charley learned about Cherokee culture near Great Smoky Mountains National Park; she rode shotgun in a tractor turning up sweet potatoes in Sampson County; and she voluntarily picked up trash on North Carolina beaches in an effort to protect the sea turtles. She gained an education that won’t be offered in kindergarten.Gus, on the other hand, was held or chased down by a myriad of friends and strangers. He was loved by people—and he gave love to people—from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs. He’s more joyful and trusting than he would be if he hadn’t spent a fourth of his life in the arms and homes of people he’d never met.When we were packing up our camping gear, toys, and bags of clothes for the start of the adventure, I wasn’t worried about my husband or my marriage. But the second day of our hike we rushed Brew to the Emergency Room in Cherokee with pain in his chest. He had a condition called pericarditis. It can be really serious but it’s also easily treated with medication and, thankfully, has no lasting side effects. So, hours after the diagnosis I was back on the trail. Brew wanted me to hike. In fact, he insisted that I continue. But I regret walking away from my husband.I should have stayed put that day, perhaps for several days or even weeks, to make sure he healed up well. But at the time, Brew and I both felt like I needed to keep hiking. The culture of adventure is to push through pain, not stop for it. There is also a pressure that comes with adventure. It’s both internal and social, and it tells us that quitting in the middle of the woods—where no one is present and no one is watching—will look horrible.As difficult as the beginning of the hike was for Brew in a physical sense, the greater challenge came from the emotional strain of handling logistics, caring for our young brood, and watching me leave each morning to live out my dream—and his. He would love to hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail someday. I took it for granted that the man who helped me set a Fastest Known Time on the Appalachian Trail, the hands-on father who loved spending time with his kids, would have no trouble supporting me and our offspring on this adventure. But it was too much.Over the course of three months, I saw my husband bottle up stress and unleash it. We spent evenings crying together and other nights far apart. I’ve seen adventures, mountains, trails, and rivers tragically claim lives, but I have also observed them end marriages and separate families. I love adventure, but my outdoor identity and status does not mean as much to me as Brew, Charley, and Gus do.We will not undertake another journey similar to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It’s not healthy for our family. We found our limits and it’s time to take a step back. There are amazing individuals scaling mountains and completing long trails with young—sometimes very young—children. But all families are different, all individuals are different, and it’s important to remember that we can draw inspiration from other people without comparing ourselves to them. Everyone has their own sweet spot for adventure and it shifts over time. My plan is to take on some more ‘rad,’ ‘ripe,’ ‘lit’ long trails in a decade or two—with my husband.last_img read more

Richmond, Va, not Asheville, NC, will be future home of Whitewater Hall of Fame

first_imgAfter a nationwide search, two cities were left standing as the potential future home of the International Whitewater Hall of Fame and World River Center: Asheville, NC and Richmond, Va. Yesterday, it was announced that Richmond, settled along the James River, won the bid. Asheville had hoped to interest the Whitewater Hall of Fame in locating near the town of Woodfin’s world-class whitewater wave, currently in development. To see more photos of the paddlers, wildlife, and passionate outdoor community of the James River Park System, take a look at the photography of Rich Young. Photo of the James River in Richmond, VA by Rich Young center_img In the end, Asheville lost the bid to Richmond, who had more properties, strong vision and fundraising in place. The Whitewater Hall of Fame and World River Center recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport of whitewater paddling.last_img read more