Editorial: A Train-Load of Trouble Rolls Toward Oakland FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the San Francisco Chronicle:The plan to ship 9 million tons of coal annually through West Oakland must be stopped. It’s bad enough that it’s environmentally threatening, fiscally dubious, and the product of duplicity and political chicanery.Even worse is the fact that a significant amount of public money is being invested in this ill-advised scheme.“This is a very bad idea on many, many levels,” said state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, author of legislation attempting to stop the coal-export facility at the former Oakland Army Base.“It undermines everything we’ve been doing for the past decade now to try to contain climate change,” Hancock added. “No. 1, it makes us look hypocritical.”And more than a little foolish — if not craven.Remember, Gov. Jerry Brown was at the international climate talks in Paris last December to extol the state’s innovation in reducing carbon emissions — and to implore the rest of the world to follow suit.A coal plant in China — where much of the coal going through the new Oakland depot would presumably be headed — would have the same impact on global warming as one in the Golden State.We invoke the governor’s own words of wisdom from last year:“It doesn’t make sense to be shutting down coal plants and then export it for somebody else to burn in a more dirty way,” he said. “But what we need is a national plan to reduce all fossil fuels. Certainly, coal would be at the top.”The climate impact alone should be enough to give anyone pause about a plan to ship coal on railroad lines from Utah to be loaded at the new Oakland shipping facility. But then there is the concern about local pollution, which is one of the reasons Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Council members and the Port of Oakland oppose the project.“Stop it immediately,” Schaaf wrote in a May 2015 email to the project’s well-connected developer, Phil Tagami, adding, “If you don’t do that soon we will all have to spend time and energy in a public battle that no one needs and will distract us from the important work at hand.”The battle has only escalated since then.It’s important to note that Tagami for years had vigorously denied rumors that coal shipments would be part of this $800 million cargo facility. In a December 2013 newsletter, he accused critics of spreading misinformation because his real estate firm had “no interest or involvement in the pursuit of coal-related operations at the former Oakland Army Base.”It’s now abundantly clear that coal is a key element of at least the near-term plans for the rail-to-ship transfer facility. In a March 14 Open Forum piece, a partner in Tagami’s company suggested that the “political threats to block coal” amount to “a taking of vested rights.”“Today it’s coal; tomorrow it’ll be wood pellets; and next week it will be genetically modified grain,” wrote Mark McClure of California Capital and Investment Group.Yes, today it is coal — one commodity the developer had specifically promised to exclude, in response to concerns about of its local and global environmental impacts.The questionable policies go well beyond Oakland. The Utah Legislature, looking to help get its state’s coal to foreign markets, just voted to commit $53 million in state money to help build that deep-water port in Oakland.Here’s where that deal really smells:The money is coming out of a fund from federal mining royalties that is supposed to be go to local projects in rural communities for roads, parks, public buildings, water and sewer systems. To get around that legal requirement, Utah legislators approved a scheme to dip into sales-tax revenue earmarked for transportation for the $53 million, put it in a newly created account — and then immediately reimburse it from the royalty fund.Utah’s Senate Democratic leader, Gene Davis, was quoted in the Salt Lake City Tribune as calling it “a shell game.”From a fiscal standpoint, considering the world’s shift away from coal — even in China — perhaps the best question of all was posed by Rep. Joel Briscoe, a Salt Lake City Democrat: “If this is such a great financial investment … where are the banks stepping up to fund this program?”California’s leaders need to intensify the pressure to keep coal shipments out of Oakland, whether it takes legislation, lawsuits or the project overseers simply recognizing the need to keep a promise.A trainload of trouble rolls toward Oakland
‘I am Asking You to Misbehave’: Companies Across the Globe Take Action on Renewable Energy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享GreenTech Media:When President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord attention quickly turned to corporate America. Would business leaders forge ahead in the fight against climate change in the absence of federal backing?In 2017, at least, the answer is yes. As of December 12, when heads of state joined to commemorate the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, 327 major corporations, worth a cumulative $6.5 trillion, had committed to matching their emission reduction plans with the Paris goals through the Science Based Targets initiative. Another 864 companies have stated their intention to adopt a science-based target within two years. These companies hail from some 50 countries and 70 sectors, including finance, chemicals, food processing, technology hardware and more. Companies headquartered in the U.S. make up 20 percent of the group and have made the greatest number of climate commitments to date, despite uncertainty surrounding the American government’s participation in the Paris accord.In addition, some 1,700 U.S. businesses from every state and of varying sizes — from Walmart to Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot in Bozeman, Montana — have signed the “We Are Still In” declaration. The initiative, which also includes cities, statehouses and college campuses, was intended to demonstrate America’s enduring commitment to delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement.Apple, for instance, issued a $1 billion green bond in June, shortly after Trump announced his exit from the climate deal, which CEO Tim Cook tried to convince the president not to quit. This is the tech giant’s second green bond, following a $1.5 billion offering that came in response to the Paris Agreement last year. Proceeds from the green bond sales will be used to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at Apple facilities.In another significant development this year, Walmart launched Project Gigaton, which asks its suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 1 gigaton by 2030. That amounts to the equivalent of taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off of U.S. roads for an entire year.Walmart is “bypassing the politics” to focus on driving down emissions internally and in its supply chain, said the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen McLaughlin, speaking at the New York Times’ ClimateTECH conference in late November. There is a business case for supporting sustainable agriculture, combating deforestation, reducing waste and purchasing renewables, she said. Cost savings is one, but there’s also the potential for business-model innovation, improved product quality and increased sales revenue.“In light of the withdrawal from the Paris accord…I wouldn’t say the political winds are favorable to the climate agenda right now,” McLaughlin said. “But we’re trying to make it practical and favorable just from a common-sense point of view.”Walmart signed the We Are Still in pledge, she added, because “we think we need to show the rest of the world that there is still a critical mass of American companies of states and cities working on this, to drive [climate action] forward.” …New recruits to the 100 percent groupAs part of their climate action plans, 119 companies have committed to sourcing renewable energy for 100 percent of their operations through the RE100 initiative. That’s up from 56 members a year and a half ago.Schneider Electric is the latest company to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity through RE100, with a 2030 target date. The European multinational also pledged to double its energy productivity by 2030, from a 2005 baseline, through an initiative called EP100. “When it comes to the climate, I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist — I’m an activist,” said Schneider Electric Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, in a statement. “Prosperity and energy are intertwined.”Other recent additions to the RE100 list include Estée Lauder, Kellogg, DBS Bank and Clif Bar. Citi Group also made the 100 percent renewables pledge in September, on top of the company’s vow to finance $100 billion in clean energy, infrastructure and technology projects. Meanwhile, French utility EDF Group recently committed to transitioning to electric vehicles by 2030 through EV100, a new initiative that seeks to make electric transport “the new normal.” All three initiatives — RE100, EP100 and EV100 — are led by the international nonprofit organization The Climate Group.At the COP23 climate conference in November, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ had a message for businesses: “I am asking you to misbehave.” He called for companies around the world to disrupt “business-as-usual” and urge governments to ramp up their climate action plans.Hundreds of businesses, in the U.S. and abroad, have accepted the secretary’s challenge. Now, the world will be watching for them to follow through.More: How Corporations ‘Bypassed the Politics’ to Lead on Clean Energy in 2017
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Platts:One of first states to enact an energy storage target, Massachusetts, received its largest utility-scale energy storage system Tuesday when ENGIE and Holyoke Gas & Electric launched a 3 MW/6 MWh system connected to a solar farm near Boston.Located adjacent to the former 136-MW Mt. Tom oil- and coal-fired power plant 90 miles west of Boston in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the battery energy storage system was connected to a 5.8-MW community solar PV project. ENGIE North America supplies power from the solar plant to local utility Holyoke Gas & Electric under a 20-year power purchase agreement, ENGIE Storage spokeswoman Anne Smith said in an email Tuesday.As battery costs decline and policies are enacted to encourage energy storage development, companies are increasingly interested in the technology, particularly when it can be paired with generation resources allowing the flow of power to be more efficiently managed.ENGIE is working on additional energy storage projects in the region. “Massachusetts is primed for growth in the energy storage market thanks to their progressive energy policy,” Smith said. Utilities in the state are required to procure 200 MWh of energy storage by 2020. Massachusetts also has a goal to generate 50% percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2035.The Mt. Tom solar plus storage system will be used to reduce peak demand on HG&E’s distribution grid, according to a statement. Rising demand-based costs throughout the New England market have been accounting for a large portion of energy costs, which has created pressure to reduce peak energy usage, according to the statement.“This project is the perfect illustration of energy transformation in action – affordable, clean energy replacing traditional fossil fuel power generation,” Frank Demaille, ENGIE North America president and CEO, said in the statement.More: Largest energy storage system in Mass. launched as solar plus storage trend continues ENGIE completes Massachusetts’ largest storage project
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Victoria Advocate:The [648 megawatt] Coleto Creek Power Plant, which generates millions of dollars in tax revenues annually for Goliad County, will shut down by 2027.The Fannin coal plant, which was built in 1980, is closing due to a combination of federal environmental regulations and competition in the Texas energy market, said Brad Watson, director of community affairs for Vistra, the parent company of the plant’s owner-operator.In a memo sent to Goliad County officials this week, Watson said it would be prohibitively expensive for the plant to comply with two recently finalized rules enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One of these regulates the disposal of coal ash and the other limits the level of toxic metals in wastewater discharged from power plants. “Ultimately, compliance with these EPA rules would require investment in new equipment, costing tens of millions of dollars,” the memo said. “This investment cannot be justified based on the underlying economics of the plant and the uncertainty of more stringent regulations under a new presidential administration.”Goliad County Judge Mike Bennett said the plant’s impending closure reinforces the need for officials to seek additional sources of tax revenue. “This does not come as a surprise,” Bennett said Tuesday. “We all knew that the power plant was going to shut down at some point. We’re going to have further discussions with them about trying to bring other industry onto that piece of property.”In addition to the costs imposed by federal regulations, Watson said market pressures contributed to Vistra’s decision to close the plant. The Coleto Creek plant is the smallest of the three coal plants the company’s subsidiary, Luminant, operates in Texas, according to the memo. The plant is designed to be a baseload plant, which means it provides enough power to meet energy demands at any time of day, but it has been operating at just 38% capacity in the first nine months of 2020, which is unusually low, Watson said.The Coleto Creek Power Plant’s closure is part of a broader trend away from coal in the energy industry as a result of environmental regulations and competition from natural gas and renewables. Luminant closed three Texas coal plants in 2018, and in September, Vistra announced plans to shut down all seven of its coal plants in Illinois and Ohio.[Mark Rosenberg]More: Coleto Creek power plant shutting down by 2027 Vistra to close 648MW Coleto Creek coal plant in Texas by 2027
Our beginner’s guide to surfing the South dishes the best places to catch a wave, stand-up paddleboard, and kite surf.Fact: Man cannot live on mountain sports alone. Rock climbing and mountain biking are noble pursuits, but every once in a while, your body and soul crave the beach. That’s not to say a weekend at the beach has to be a 72-hour marathon of umbrella drinks and trashy novels. The Right Coast is alive with adventure sports, and you shouldn’t let your lack of sea legs deter you from taking part in the surf. We found three different islands a short drive from the Southern Appalachians, where you can pick up the basics of the hottest coastal sports. Learn to SUP outside of Charleston, surf your first wave on Virginia Beach, and catch the wind on Cape Hatteras. This isn’t a beach vacation. This is cross training.Standup PaddleboardingFolly Beach, Charleston, S.C. What makes Folly Beach, an island 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, the ideal place to learn how to standup paddleboard? In a word, variety. Three miles of river and countless tidal creeks separate Folly from the mainland, offering unlimited potential for laid-back, eco-minded excursions. On the other side of the island, the Atlantic Ocean graces Folly with predominantly mellow waves ideal for SUP surf sessions. Wanna see dolphins? Check. Full moon paddle? Check. SUP yoga? SUP surf? SUP races? Check, check, and check.“SUP is blowing up, and we have pristine conditions here on Folly,” says Jon Ory, owner of Charleston SUP Safaris, which operates a smorgasbord of SUP adventures from a shop adjacent to the Folly Boat Ramp, adding that Folly’s break is ideal for SUP surf sessions. “If it’s a knee-high day, which is typically what Folly sees, you’ll get into the waves easier with a paddle and SUP. Those ankle biter waves are a lot of fun on a SUP.”But most of Ory’s clients stick to the inland side of Folly, where the river runs for three miles and tidal creeks wind through the marsh grass. The ecosystem is teeming with wildlife, from the jumping mullets just off the nose of your board to the visiting shorebirds. The river even has a surprisingly large number of bottlenose dolphins, and manatee have even been seen playing near the boat ramp in recent years.For more information about Folly Beach visit www.follybeach.comFor the True Beginner, The Dolphin TourThis two-hour excursion starts with ground school, where you’ll learn the basics of SUP before setting out on the river. If it’s a fit group, you can do a 3.5-mile loop exploring the sinuous creeks that stretch away from the Folly River’s main channel. Beach the boards on a couple of sandbar banks to get up close and personal with the marsh and its wildlife, and keep an eye out for the prized bottlenose dolphin.For the More Adventurous, Morris Island Lighthouse SafariThe Morris Island Lighthouse used to be connected to Folly, but years of erosion and hurricanes have severed the ties between the two nubs of land. If you’ve got the chops, you can set out for a four-hour, 12-mile round trip paddle to this seldom-visited beacon. Be prepared to maneuver the board in and out of currents and tides. Once at the lighthouse, you’ll get to shell the remote beach and watch dolphins feeding at the mouth of the Folly River.Folly Vibe: Folly is the quintessential surf town, with only a handful of restaurants, bars, and requisite cheesy tourist shops on the main drag leading to the beach. Stay at Tides, a modern hotel on the beach next to the pier. Taco Boy has pricey, but good surf-inspired Mexican. Find gear and guides at Charleston SUP Safaris.SurfingSandbridge, Virginia Beach, Va.Virginia Beach has been a hotbed of surfing for more than 50 years, hosting the longest running surf competition on the East Coast (East Coast Surfing Championship). The breaks in front of the boardwalk near the hotels are obviously the most popular, crowded with locals looking for consistent waves and tourists just getting their surfing legs beneath them. Locals at First Street, arguably the best break on the beach, have been known to get territorial on occasion. But you won’t have to worry about that if you head 25 minutes south of the resorts to the sleepy community of Sandbridge, where a mellow wave eases beginners into the art of surfing.“The type of wave we have makes first-time surfers really comfortable,” says Ross Summerall, a Virginia Beach local, long-time surfer, and general manager of Surf and Adventure Company in Sandbridge. “It’s a natural beach break that occasionally gets big, but mostly, it’s knee to waist high, and one of the most consistent breaks in Virginia Beach. It’s a long-boarder’s paradise.”The break is so beginner friendly, Billabong partners with Surf and Adventure Company to host a series of camps for kids and adults.For the True Beginner, Private Lesson Just like in the classic film Point Break, learning to surf begins on the beach, where you’ll learn the fundamentals, get the safety break down, and watch more experienced surfers in action. In the water, you’ll wield a soft-top long board in knee-high surf inside a surfer-only designated zone within Sandbridge’s Little Island Park, complete with lifeguards. It doesn’t get much safer. “Learning to surf can be intimidating. There’s a lot to worry about in the surf–the board, the leash, the break–but there’s always an instructor within arm’s length,” Summerall says.For the More Adventurous, False Cape Bike and Surf Trip False Cape State Park, three miles south of Little Island Park, is a mile-wide stretch of public land separating the calm Back Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The 4,000-acre park has six miles of pristine beach that are only accessible by bike, hiking trail, or park-led tram. Translation: the beaches and breaks are wide open and crowd free. Surf and Adventure Company organizes surf and bike trips to False Cape, hauling your boards and gear on trams, allowing you to pedal to the break unfettered. The company also arranges for nature talks with False Cape rangers. Surf and Adventure is planning to do one False Cape trip a month. If you’re a newbie, you can even use the trip to take your first lesson on the crowd-free beaches of False Cape.Sandbridge Vibe: Even though Sandbridge is technically incorporated into Virginia Beach, it’s a world apart. Instead of the bustling resort hub of VB, Sandbridge is a five-mile strip of land with two roads and a community of 500 beach houses, most of which are vacation rentals. The community is laid back and family oriented. Find a rental condo or house at visitvirginiabeach.com. Grab local oysters at Sandbridge Island Restaurant and Raw Bar. Guided trips and lessons are found at Surf and Adventure Company.Kite SurfingHatteras Island, Outer Banks, N.C.Trip Foreman wants you to understand one thing about kite surfing: “It’s not as hard as you think.”Foreman helped pioneer this sport on the Outer Banks, where athletes, strapped to boards, harness the power of the wind with kites. He was holding onto the first kite that went up on Hatteras Island, which had long been a hotbed of wind surfing because of the ideal weather patterns (read: windy). The kite surfer and co-owner of REAL Watersports admits kite surfing looks intimidating to the uninitiated, but insists that the equipment and teaching methods have finally made the sport accessible to the common man.“In ’98, when we all first started playing with kite boarding, it was hard. The only people who could kite surf were 25-year-old watermen who were too stubborn to quit,” Foreman says. “But now, the equipment is more user friendly. Anyone who can learn how to snowboard can learn how to kite surf.”And if you’re going to learn, you want to learn in Hatteras, a barrier island that catches wind in all directions, enabling kite surfers to play an average of 22 days a month. This is where the Wright Brothers first took flight, after all. Even better than the windy conditions, is the Pamlico Sound, a flat body of water separating Hatteras from the mainland that’s waist-deep as far as the eye can see.“Pamlico is the best place to learn in the world,” Foreman says. “Shallow, windy…it’s like a custom-built practice pool for kite boarding.”For the True Beginner, Zero to Hero CampREAL Watersports has developed the Zero to Hero camp, a three-day immersion in kite surfing that’s designed to turn you into a proficient kiter who can buy or rent a kite and practice on your own. You’ll go from land-based practice to ripping 20 miles per hour across the Pamlico Sound in a single weekend. “The learning curve is surprisingly fast,” Foreman says. “Three days and it clicks, similar to snowboarding.”If you’re curious, but not sure if kite surfing is for you, sign up for the 1.5-hour Ground Control lesson, where you’ll learn the fundamentals of kiting and get the chance to wield one of the powerful stunt kites that propel boarders across the water up to 30 miles per hour. “Once you hold onto that large kite and feel the power, you’ll be hooked,” Foreman says.For the More AdventurousOnce you’ve mastered the “kiddie pool” of the Pamlico Sound, head across the street for advanced lessons on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where the ocean offers more of a challenge because you don’t have the consistent surface beneath your board. The waves and swell offer a challenge, but the ultimate goal for many beginner and intermediate kite surfers is catching big air. “There’s nothing like jumping 20 feet in the air with a kite,” Foreman says. “You can get up so high, you can see over the island into the sound. Everything becomes really small from up there.”Hatteras Vibe: Hatteras is a largely undeveloped barrier island with seemingly endless stretches of wild beach and dunes. A handful of small “villages” are scattered along the interior of the island. Buxton sits in the middle, making for a good base camp for exploration. Grab fresh sushi at Diamond Shoals. You’ll find plenty of hotel options, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t camp on the National Seashore. Check out the Cape Point Campground in Buxton. Sign up for lessons with REAL Watersports.
MULTISPORTThe Jungle Cup 5k SeriesWinnsboro, South CarolinaMarch 2 and 23, 2013“Welcome to the Jungle!” Scream it like Axl as you grind through one of the grittiest new obstacle courses. The Jungle Cup Series has recently expanded to five races with two upcoming in our footprint (March 2 at Carolina Adventure World in Winnsboro and March 23 in Baltimore). The 3.1-mile course is peppered with 21 unique challenges. Racers will swing on ropes over water, climb steep walls, throw spears, trudge through swampy mud pits, push sleds, haul logs, and brave fire pits, as they try to complete one of the most unconventional 5Ks around. tarzanscup.comShenandoah Epic Adventure RaceBentonville, VirginiaApril 20-21, 2013Traversing the rugged backcountry of the George Washington National Forest, solo racers and teams of two or four will cover over 100 miles in up to 26 hours, navigating their way through a wild course filled with epic terrain that also finds its way into Shenandoah River State Park. Racers will cover the course through a range of disciplines, including trekking, orienteering, canoeing on the Shenandoah River, mountain biking, and some special team challenges. rev3adventure.comNew River Gorge Challenge Extreme TriathlonFayetteville, West VirginiaAugust, 2013The race starts with a 12-mile mountain bike leg that departs from the Fayette County Courthouse and winds its way to Cunard on the Gorge’s ridgeline singletrack trail network. Then it’s time to paddle an eight-mile stretch of the New’s wild class III-IV rapids. The tri concludes with a burly 8.5-mile trail run up and out of the gorge on a series of steep switchbacks. newrivergorgechallenge.comKing of the Smokies TriathlonLake Junaluska, North CarolinaSeptember, 2013Started just three years ago in 2010, the King of the Smokies features both sprint and International distance courses that include an open-water swim, a winding bike ride on rural mountain roads, and a run around the lake. kingofthesmokies.comNation’s TriathlonWashington, D.C.September 8, 2013Triathletes love to see the sites in D.C. Hence the consistent sellouts of this annual early fall Olympic distance race. The popularity is attributed to the scenic course that winds past the monuments and memorials of the Nation’s Capital. The race features a 1.5K swim in the calm part of the Potomac River past Arlington Cemetery, a flat and fast 40K bike ride past the White House and Washington Monument, and a 10K run that goes by the Jefferson Memorial and U.S. Mint. nationstri.comBest of the RestTRIATHLONSTriadventure Spring Sprint TriathlonChristiansburg, VirginiaApril 7, 2013 • triadventure.comOver the Mountain TriathlonKings Mountain, North CarolinaMay 15, 2013 • setupevents.comAlleghany Highlands TriathlonClifton Forge, VirginiaMay 18, 2013 • cliftonforgemainstreet.orgRock Hall International Triathlon(A Set Up Cup Qualifier)Rock Hall, MarylandJune 1, 2013 • setupevents.comJamestown International Triathlon(A Set Up Cup Qualifier)Williamsburg, VirginiaJune 8, 2013 • setupevents.comI Love the Tavern TriathlonRichmond, VirginiaJuly 28, 2013 • richmondmultisports.comLuray TriathlonLuray, VirginiaAugust 17-18, 2013 • luraytriathlon.comTri Creek Falls TriathlonFall Creek Falls State Park, TennesseeAugust 18, 2013 • endurancesportsmanagement.comBattle of the PotomacNational Harbor, MarylandSeptember 12, 2013 • setupevents.comADVENTURE RACESPalmetto Swamp Fox Adventure RaceFrancis Marion Forest, South CarolinaMarch 16, 2013 • kandoadventures.comBrake The Habit Adventure RaceBoyds, MarylandMarch 16, 2013 • adventureaddictsracing.comBlue Ridge Mountain Adventure RaceBlue Ridge, GeorgiaApril 13, 2013 • adventureracega.comRev3 Knoxville Sprint RaceKnoxville, TennesseeMay 4, 2013 • rev3adventure.comRundisney Expedition Everest ChallengeDisney World Resort, FloridaMay 4, 2013 • rundisney.comHenricus Dauber Dash Obstacle RunHenricus, VirginiaJune, 2013 • sportsbackers.orgRed River Gorge American ClassicSlade, KentuckyNovember 2, 2013 • flyingsquirreladventures.comMUD RUNSSpartan RaceCharlotte, North CarolinaMarch 23, 2013 • spartanrace.comGoodwill Mud RunGreenville, South CarolinaApril 13-14, 2013 • goodwillmudrun.orgWarrior DashMountain City, GeorgiaMay 4, 2013 • warriordash.comMiller Light Filthy 5k Mud Run, pesented by Ruff WearRichmond, VirginiaMay 17, 2013 • dominionriverrock.comTough MudderVirginia Beach, VirginiaJune 1-2, 2013 • toughmudder.comTribal QuestFredericksburg, VirginiaJuly 13, 2013 • thetribalquest.comHelgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run at Smith River FestMartinsville, VirginiaAugust 10, 2013 • milesinmartinsville.comMerrell Down and Dirty National Obstacle and Mud Run SeriesAtlanta, GeorgiaOctober 13, 2013 • downanddirtymudrun.comFor more great Race Ahead information check out these sections:SnowsportsTrail RunningRoad RunningMountain BikingRoad CyclingClimbingPaddlingHikingMultisportSuperlatives
Bluegrass festivals are where it all begins. These are the best:DelFestMay 23-26Cumberland, Md.delfest.comBasics: A long weekend of pickin’ and grinnin’ takes place Memorial Day weekend in the scenic Potomac River Valley, surrounded by the vast Appalachians of Western Maryland. This fest was created to honor living bluegrass legend Del McCoury, who headlines each day and gets around for sit-ins with most of the bill’s main acts.Bands: In addition to daily sets from Del and the boys, the line-up boasts a long list of high-profile progressive pickers, including Old Crow Medicine Show, Yonder Mountain String Band, Trampled by Turtles, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops. A big surprise this year is two sets from Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, who will bring some funky rock exploration to the string band party.Set Break Escape: Bring your bike and stretch your legs on the Great Allegheny Passage, a 141-mile rail trail that runs from Cumberland through shaded valleys all the way to Pittsburgh.FIVE MORE…Aiken Bluegrass FestivalMay 10-11Aiken, S.C.Bluegrass, bikes, and beer. They come together at this two-day bash in Aiken, which features picking from Keller Williams and the Travelin’ McCourys, Larry Keel, Della Mae, and the Hackensaw Boys. On Saturday, start the day with a family bike ride downtown and during the fest enjoy micro suds from fest sponsor New Belgium Brewing Company.aikenbluegrassfestival.orgDr. Ralph Stanley’s Annual Memorial Weekend Bluegrass FestivalMay 23-25Coeburn, Va.One of bluegrass music’s early forefathers, Stanley turned 86 this year, and he’ll still give you chills when he sings classics like “O’Death.” He also still hosts this traditional bash at his old home place, featuring some of his favorite bands like Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, the Grascals, and Larry Sparks.drralphstanley.comGraves Mountain Festival of MusicMay 30—June 1Syria, Va.Set next to the splendor of Shenandoah National Park, this longstanding bluegrass fest features a mix of the traditional and progressive picking among the welcoming comfort of Graves Mountain Lodge. Acts include the Steep Canyon Rangers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lonesome River Band, and IIIrd Tyme Out.gravesmountain.comROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches FestivalJune 27-29Owensboro, Ky.The past and present of bluegrass is celebrated with this three-day fest in Owensboro, home of the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Leftover Salmon, the Punch Brothers, David Grisman, and the Steeldrivers will take the stage at Yellow Creek Park for the museum’s biggest annual fundraiser.rompfest.com Mountain Song FestivalSeptember 13-14Brevard, N.C.North Carolina native sons and Steve Martin’s backing band, the Steep Canyon Rangers bring a solid line-up of bluegrass heavyweights to Brevard every fall for a pickin’ party at the Brevard Music Center’s open-air auditorium with Pisgah in the backdrop. Acts this year still to be announced.mountainsongfestival.comCheck out the rest of our Outdoor Festival Guide!
“Desire is full of endless distance.” ~ Robert HassThe best part of leaving Western North Carolina is returning. After a week sailing in the Caribbean, it was the first glimpse of the soft rolling mountains on the horizon that awakened something in me. When my eyes first gaze the Blue Ridge Mountains, the feeling is always the same – my breathing softens, my eyes smile, and my heart opens wide. I’m home.It wasn’t always that way. I spent most of my twenties and thirties searching for a place. I thought I’d discover where I belonged if only I looked hard enough. I moved from Maryland to Wisconsin to Australia to Delaware to Chicago to California. And then I spent a decade hopping around California from Monterey to the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe and back again. I was always going – sometimes solo, sometimes partnered, sometimes moving for a job, sometimes having nothing lined up, but always looking for a place to call home. By my mid-thirties, the new and novel lost some of its allure, tinged with loneliness. The idea of traveling somewhere to see the sun set in another beautiful place with no one to share it with no longer appealed to me.After quitting my job to travel, I followed a man to Southern Appalachia. I never intended to stay, but the universe had other plans for me. It turns out that finding a place to call home required me to stick around for longer than a season.Those melancholy blue ridges are more beautiful because of their distance. Small molecules of oxygen and nitrogen in the air scatter shorter wavelengths of light, coloring the mountains blue. That dreamy atmospheric blue only exists from a distance. Whenever I climb a mountain, chasing a better view, I lose that beautiful haze altogether. Once I get to the place on the horizon, it changes to the up-close and I’m left chasing the next mountains, the ones even further away.Up close, those mountains aren’t blue at all. At first, the mountains teased and taunted me with a promise that turned to disappointment. I could never arrive at the place, to stand in the hazy blue promise land, far more beautiful than the yellows and greens and browns and greys of up close.I’ll always be restless and tempted to explore new places. I’m a drifter, a dabbler, eager for the new. The distance tempts me with promises that are always just out of reach. But the Blue Ridge Mountains remind me that there are some things we can’t possess and I can admire that certain beauty that owes itself to the distance, admiring it without ever wanting to get there.My son, a toddler now, and I spend our time together outside. Whenever I point to the mountains in the distance, he’s more enchanted with a rock, leaf or stone by his foot. He finds contentment in our own yard, most of the time not even caring if we ever leave our driveway. His wonder is contagious, and he’s taught me how to find contentment right where I am. I’m finding my sweet mountain town is more than enough, that there’s wonder in every new bloom. Instead of chasing the far away, these days I’m focused on what’s right in front of me.I still admire the beauty of the far away, but I try to live life up close, engaging with the world right where I am. Living up close sometimes means turning inward, exploring my own depths and chasing the edges of my imagination and crevices of my soul. The blue-hued mountains always within view have helped me to bridge the distance between myself, becoming my place in the world.
I spent a year living in Southern California learning how to surf. During the colder winter months, I had the dream of pulling a double—skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. It is, quite possibly, the perfect day, made even more perfect because the two adventures are diametrically opposed; There aren’t many places where you can shred powder and waves within a couple of hours drive of each other. It eluded me while I lived in SoCal because, you know, work, but since living in the Southern Appalachians, I’ve gotten to enjoy a different kind of double—ski in the morning, mountain bike in the afternoon. Logistically, this is much easier to do in here because our skiing is isolated (and largely manmade) and there’s killer mountain biking everywhere. Still, it’s a hell-of-a day that leaves your legs wrecked and your soul recharged.I’ve knocked out a handful of doubles over the last several years, but so far, this year, it’s eluded me. Again, work. But I’ve found the next best thing: ride today, ski tomorrow. It was 50 degrees and sunny earlier this week in Asheville. My local trails were dry and I carved out an extra hour during lunch so I could put in a quick, 10-mile ride on sinuous singletrack. The next day was brutally cold at my local ski hill for Whiskey Wednesday. The snow guns were blowing as we hit the slopes in record numbers for a post-work ski session under the lights. It’s surreal to go from perfect biking conditions one day to arctic skiing the next. It’s almost as odd as bagging both adventures in the same day. You shouldn’t be able to do this—riding singletrack one day, skiing the next. Life shouldn’t be this good. And yet…Of course, beer made it all the better. After the bike ride, I went with something sessionable—Oskar Blues Pinner at my favorite neighborhood lunch spot. I still had work to do, after all. But I was worked after three hours of skiing blissfully sketchy terrain. The only thing to do in that situation is begin rehydrating with a series of IPAs. I chose Highland Brewing Company’s newest beer, simply called, Highland IPA, which is by far the best single IPA they’ve ever produced. It falls in line with the modern West Coast mentality of being fruity and citrus forward thanks to a trifecta of hops from the Pacific Northwest (Chinook, Citra and Centennial).There are no scientific studies to prove the regenerative properties of a good IPA, but after a few of Highland’s finest, I could feel the energy and power moving back into my legs and I began to wonder if I could carve out enough time tomorrow for another mountain bike ride. Ride today, ski tomorrow, ride the next. Life shouldn’t be this good.
“Those first few months after the accident, I was losing the battle. And then I tied my first fly.”It’s no secret that fly fishing not only changes lives but saves them as well. Fly fishing has helped disabled veterans with PTSD, people combat depression, and troubled youth find a creative outlet. There is just something about it. It’s meditative, healing, and unbiased. Fly fishing doesn’t care who you are or where you are from. It doesn’t care about your age or the color of your skin. Whether you consider it an art, a sport, or even therapy, fly fishing is loved by all for the same reason. It’s a passion. It’s a way of life.In this video by Orvis, we meet Joey Maxim, a [then] 16-year-old who found his way back to life from the brink of death through fly fishing. A basketball, soccer, and lacrosse player, Joey was an active kid. He was a Straight-A honor student and aiming to go to Westpoint.On their way home from a birthday party, Joey and his friends crashed into a tree. He suffered two collapsed lungs and aspirated. He wasn’t breathing. His recovery was bleak. After having your passions taken away from you, starting life over is unimaginable at any age. Fly fishing gave Joey a second chance.Check out Joey’s story and learn about his incredible recovery process below.Justin Forrest is an outdoor writer, fly fishing addict, and co-founder of Narrative North—based in Asheville, N.C. He posts pictures of cats and fishing on Instagram sometimes.