Music festival darlings Donna the Buffalo celebrate their 20th anniversary with their latest offering Silverlined , the band’s seventh studio album to date. Led by founding members, lead guitarist Jeb Puryear and multi-instrumentalist Tara Nevins, DTB doesn’t necessarily break any new musical ground over the course of the album’s 13 tracks. Instead what they achieve is just another solid collection of countrified, Cajun-flavored, reggae-infused sounds, which have become their musical calling card. While Silverlined doesn’t measure up to the band’s earlier work from the mid to late 1990’s, there’s still plenty of goodies throughout to make long-time fans happy including the album opener “Temporary Misery” (with guest vocalist Claire Lynch), the live favorite “Biggie K”, which is presented here with a smoking horn section, and the album’s title track with a guest vocal appearance by David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. Here’s to 20 years and counting. -Shaun Harvey
Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have, in the face of federal inaction, agreed on a region-wide greenhouse gas emissions limit, enforced through the sale of pollution permits to large fossil fuel power plants there. Money raised is invested in local businesses throughout the region that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources Pictured: The Big Allis Power Plant, Queens, New York City. Credit: iStock Photo/ThinkstockDear EarthTalk: I understand that some Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. states have banded together to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. Can you enlighten?— Bo Clifford, Cary, NCGiven the lack of federal action to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., several East Coast states joined together in 2008 to form the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), committing to a market-based system to cap carbon pollution and lower energy bills while creating more green jobs.Under RGGI, the 10 participating states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont—agreed on a region-wide greenhouse gas emissions limit, enforced through the sale of pollution permits to large fossil fuel power plants there. The utilities that run the plants purchase the right (at quarterly auctions) to emit certain capped amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). The money raised is in turn invested in local businesses throughout Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. RGGI’s overall goal is to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector in the states involved by 10 percent by 2018.The program was conceived in 2008 by then New York governor George Pataki based on a similar federal program launched by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 that successfully curbed emissions of other pollutants that led to acid rain.While RGGI had strong bipartisan support at launch, changing priorities have since forced some states to reconsider their commitments. According to RenewableEnergyWorld.com, New Jersey is likely to back out, while factions in New Hampshire and Maine have also called for a withdrawal. “The political tides have turned significantly since the program was started, and many legislatures are now dominated by a new crop of lawmakers looking to cut spending in cash-strapped states,” the website reports.Environmentalists and many business owners have banded together to try to save RGGI in the face of economic threats to its viability. Last July some 200 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic businesses signed on to an open letter urging the governors of the 10 participating states to keep up with the program so that it can achieve its goals. “The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative shows that market-based programs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while boosting our economy and improving energy security, and we encourage you to support and strengthen RGGI going forward,” the letter states. The letter goes on to cite research showing a $4-6 increase in economic output for every $1 invested in energy efficiency programs in the RGGI states. “Even better, these market-driven investments create jobs in the clean tech sector—one of the most dynamic segments of our state economies.”Perhaps more important, RGGI “serves as a powerful model for what a comprehensive national energy policy should do” says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental group. Whether or not the economy will improve enough or climate change will become dramatic enough for Congress and the White House to take federal action to limit greenhouse gas emissions across the board is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, keeping alive programs like RGGI might be the best we can hope for.CONTACTS: RGGI, www.rggi.org; RenewableEnergyWorld.com, www.renewableenergyworld.com; Businesses Letter to State Governors, www.cleanenergycouncil.org/files/RGGIJuly2011Final.pdf.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
Essential 2012 Albums from the South Avett BrothersThe CarpenterThe Avett Brothers have always been about heart-on-the-sleeve honesty, but on their second album for Rick Rubin’s American Recording’s label, North Carolina’s native sons get particularly personal. Through intimate finger-picking that channels some of their early independent albums, the Avetts share emotional introspection on parenthood (“A Father’s First Spring”), losing loved ones (“Through My Prayers”) and the emptiness of materialism in the tastefully horn-accented “Down with the Shine.” The end of the album has a couple surprises, including a veiled rebuke of over-development and prejudice through the infectious piano of “Geraldine” and a cleanse-my-soul unleashing of alt-rock energy in “Paul Newman vs. the Demons.”Band of Horses Mirage RockWho was the right man to reign in the Charleston, S.C.,-based indie rock heroes? Legendary producer Glyn Johns, whose resumé boasts work with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, nuanced the Horses’ usual distortion and reverb into some blissfully mellow moments of vintage folk rock. Front man Ben Bridwell channels the melancholy of Neil Young on the dusty ballad “Slow Cruel Hands of Time,” but there’s still plenty of freewheelin’ fun in the jangly rock dance tune “Knock Knock.” Asheville tunesmith Tyler Ramsey (now the Horses’ lead guitarist) also gets to sing his “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone,” a Laurel Canyon-flavored country shuffle that’s another example of how this group is ripe with versatility for the long haul.Alabama ShakesBoys & GirlsThis debut effort from a major buzz band lived up to the hype. The Alabama Shakes deliver gritty garage soul that’s propelled by the vocals of front woman Brittany Howard, whose range fluctuates between the sensual groove of Aretha Franklin to the wailing howls of Robert Plant. Boys & Girls pays homage to old school Muscle Shoals in the context of kids who grew up on Nirvana—gritty rock club energy that channels ghosts of the past.Widespread Panic WoodBefore shelving their instruments for a year-long break, Panic played a brief acoustic tour. It’s documented on this two-disc set, a compilation of the 12-show run that finds the band digging into stripped-down takes of many of their classic Southern fried jams. Highlights include the bluegrass treatment of “Imitation Leather Shoes” and the juke joint dance groove given to “Tall Boy.” Key to this collection are the choice covers, including John Lennon’s “Ballad of John and Yoko” and Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross.” Here’s to hoping for Wood Tour round two.Shovels and RopeO’ Be JoyfulAs Shovels and Rope, husband and wide duo Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst deliver gutsy roots rock that features stripped-down arrangements on acoustic guitar, a salvaged junkyard drum set, and the occasional addition of harmonica or keyboards. The group’s debut album channels the energy of their reality—young lovers traveling around the country in a Winnebago, belting out rowdy country-tinged foot-stompers with heartfelt ragged harmonies and all the power that can be mustered from weathered acoustic instruments. Throughout the record they swap instruments and lead vocals, Hearst accentuating a sultry howl on the punk-blues collision of the title track, while Trent favors a rambling folk drawl on the hypnotic crawl of “This Means War.” Without much instrumentation, the album’s appeal comes from raw emotion, but as the duo sings together on the opening track: “It ain’t what you got, it’s what you make.” •5 New Year’s Eve ShowsAvett BrothersGreensboro Coliseum • Greensboro, N.C. In their native North Carolina, the Bros. will play their biggest headlining show to date with help from folk-soul crooner Amos Lee.The Infamous StringdustersJefferson Theater • Charlottesville, Va.The expansive bluegrass heroes will deliver blistering steel and wood jams in the intimate confines of the Jefferson in Charlottesville.Pretty Lights and BassnectarHampton Coliseum • Hampton, Va.You’ll be hard pressed to find a more epic dance party, as two of the biggest EDM acts team up for a two-night (December 28-29) arena blowout at the Mothership.The RootsThe Fillmore • Silver Spring, Md.Hip-hop’s premiere live act—now best known as Jimmy Fallon’s house band—will deliver their soul-drenched grooves to the latest extension of the iconic Fillmore.Old Crow Medicine ShowRyman Auditorium • Nashville, Tenn. Culminating a triumphant comeback year that included a revised line-up and a solid new album, Old Crow will reprise their big end-of-the-year party at the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.5 more albumsThe Mountain GoatsTranscendental YouthBowerbirdsThe ClearingMalcolm HolcombeDown the RiverBeach HouseBloomJustin Townes EarleNothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
Population: 652Public lands: Chattahoochee National Forest, Wolf Creek Falls at Vogel State Park, Desoto Falls, Raven Cliff Falls, Anna Ruby Falls, Vogel State Park,Outdoor Highlights: hiking the Appalachian Trail, waterfall viewing, paddling, hiking and biking Brasstown Bald
Steven Reinhold grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina and considers this area and its people as a base camp for life. He recently completed charity expeditions to Mt. Whitney, Mt. Shasta and The Grand Teton. His latest endeavor is The Appalachian Adventure Company, specializing in custom outdoor trips.Our outdoor careers serve as one long product testing session. Eventually, through trial and error, you learn how to pack for every occasion.Don’t you love the feeling you get when your pack is dialed in with the perfect mix of gear for a trip? Whether going for a night of naked and afraid, a weekend of glamping, or an assault in the Smoky Mountain rain, having the right gear makes the experience so much better.The old days of laurel walking sticks, old packs and pads, steel percolators, 7” Winchester knives, massive Coleman camp stoves, hatchets and thick double-knee Carhartts are gone. Now, you’ll find so many synthetic materials in my kit you’ll need an organic chemistry degree to unpack.My passions include snowboarding, backpacking, adventurous travel and the “Great American Road Trip.” Of late I have found myself in the Mountaineering world trying to help spread the word for Big City Mountaineers (BCM), taking underserved urban youth on wilderness mentoring trips across the country. Recently I have opened up The Appalachian Adventure Company in Waynesville, N.C., which offers all kinds of custom trips in this area.My packing rules are simple: if a piece of gear is going to add to your experience, then bring it. Bring gifts to share with your friends at random times on the trip and always be prepared for varying weather conditions. Although every adventure demands a different list of gear, here are a few of my favorites that go to wild places with me.DeLorme inReachThis guy is the life of the party at Base Camp and DeLorme is a huge supporter of Big City Mountaineers. With this incredible unit you can send and receive messages to anyone with a link showing your current position on a remarkably detailed map. The unit pairs with an App called Earthmate on your smartphone so you can see a detailed map of your position and send/post messages with the ease of your phone’s keyboard. It is really special to bring this along on our charity climbs. It gives everyone the opportunity to communicate and share the experience with those who helped support your cause. On Mt. Shasta our team sent dozens of messages to friends, family members and supporters at Base Camp. They were able to follow our climb and know exactly where we were on the mountain at all times and the moment we returned safely.Keen Marshall Mid/WPDepending on the expedition we wear a variety of footwear ranging from full on Mountaineering boots to lightweight approach shoes. I’ve had some great success with Lowa and Salewa on the mountaineering side and love Scarpas for the latter. For all around awesomeness though I really want to highlight the Keen Marshall series. The Marshalls offer ridiculous ankle support for how lightweight they are. They are surprisingly water proof and have a really aggressive tread pattern for difficult terrain. I can train like an animal in them beforehand and then use them on the approach to camp for a big climb. Keen is another huge supporter of Big City Mountaineers and they give every Summit For Someone climber a discount code good for a free pair of boots!Liberty BottlesI have to say this is my favorite company out there right now. They are very generous sponsors of Big City Mountaineers and are run by some wildly bearded outdoorsmen from Washington. I got a chance to hang out with their crew at the last OR show and it was a blast! They make super lightweight and durable custom water bottles from all recycled materials. You can order a batch to sell for a fundraiser or to promote your business and get anything you can dream up printed on them! The Gold bottle is a one of a kind item that’s special to me. It is the first place trophy from Liberty’s annual Ping Pong tournament at the OR show I was lucky enough to win!Gear TiesThese things are great for just about anything. I usually take two of the orange ones with me since they are highly visible. You can use them to mark a trail, hang a water filter, secure an ice ax and tie just about anything to your pack. I even crossed two in an “X marks the spot” fashion on Mt. Shasta to mark a beer cache I brought to surprise my teammates!Jansport KlamathThe Klamath Pack is Lightweight, versatile and has a super-easy adjustable strap system. Most all of the packs available today are going to be great and you can’t go wrong with an Osprey but this one from Jansport was free as part of the Summit For Someone gear package! Jansport and the legend behind it, Skip Yowell, have been long time supporters of Big City Mountaineers. Skip is just about the coolest guy walking the planet and Jansport is passionate about our cause so it is an honor to have one of these wonderful packs strapped to my back!Light My Fire SporkMost everyone who has camped has eaten with one of the colorful plastic sporks from this company. The President of Industrial Revolutions which owns great brands like UCO and Light My Fire is a Summit For Someone climber himself. Light My Fire provides all of the Big City Mountaineers kids with a backpacking food kit. Check out our video from that Grand Teton climb and see our climb thanks to GoPro!GoProFor me this one is simple. I hope to grow old one day and when that happens I want to look back on all the awesome things I have done in HD. Just be sure to spring for the extra battery.Black Diamond Raven Ice AxAn ax is your best friend and sometimes life saver at elevation. Black Diamond is another generous company that donates an ax to every Summit For Someone climber! There are countless designs out there for a variety of climbing but I have really come to love the Raven series as an all-around great tool for the mountains. I go old school and carry a longer ax for better balance and strong anchors. I heard Yvon Chouinard suggest that in a speech at the American Alpine Club’s fundraising dinner last winter and the advice stuck. I even keep it with me in the back of the truck at night on long road trips as a serrated, razor sharp theft deterrent!–What’s In Your Pack is a regular column on BlueRidgeOutdoors.com. Contact us with suggestions on athletes and adventurists you want to see featured!
In an internal memo leaked to the Associated Press and first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump shrink the boundaries of at least six of the 27 national monuments that the Department began reviewing back in April.The recommended monuments include two in the state of Utah—Bears Ear and Grand Staircase Escalante, one in Nevada—Gold Butte, one in Oregon—Cascade-Siskiyou, and two in New Mexico—Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte.The review also recommends a reduction in size to multiple marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean and proposes opening the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean to commercial fishing.In addition to shrinking the boundaries of monuments, Zinke’s recommendations will open some of them up to previously prohibited extraction activities. This includes the canyons of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which—according to a report from the Interior Department—contain “an estimated several billion tons of oil and large oil deposits”, and Maine’s Khatadin Woods and Waters National Monument, where Zinke is seeking to implement an active timber management program.Zinke also proposed adding 130,000 acres of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana known as the Badger-Two Medicine to the national monuments list, citing the region’s importance to the Black Feet Nation.Since assuming the helm of the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, a former Senator and Navy SEAL from Montana, has styled himself an advocate and proponent of public lands in the vein of Teddy Roosevelt, but his recent recommendations have conservationists worried that his tenure could ultimately compromise Roosevelt’s public lands legacy.“The recommendations within Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s National Monument Review could negatively impact key fish & wildlife habitat, reduce outdoor opportunities, and undermine the Antiquities Act that has enabled the long-term protection of millions of acres,” read a statement released back in August by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a conservation organization out of Missoula Montana.The Antiquities Act, which was signed into law by Roosevelt himself in 1906, affords presidents the legal authority to designate national monuments, but many argue that it does not give the executive branch the power to alter or rescind previous designations—as Trump and Zinke are now clearly attempting to do.“Any actions that would dismantle these natural wonders would violate Americans’ deep and abiding love for parks and public lands and fly in the face of 2.8 million Americans who expressed opposition to these changes,” said President of the Wilderness Society, Jamie Williams in a statement posted to the organization’s website. “We and millions of other Americans stand by the belief that those lands should be preserved and handed down to future generations. We urge President Trump to ignore these illegal and dangerous recommendations and instead act to preserve these beloved places.”For his part, Donald Trump has expressed disdain for the size and amount of national monuments declared by his previous three predecessors, calling the designations a “massive federal land grab” during an executive order signing at the Department of Interior back in April.“It’s time to end these abuses and return control to the people, the people of Utah, the people of all of the states, the people of the United States,” Trump went on to say.Stay tuned as we continue to cover this important and ongoing public lands issue.
Thru-hiking for months on end is out of reach for most of us. But a weekend backpacking trip? Most of us can carve that time into our schedules. Luckily, the Southern Appalachians are chock full of sub-100 mile trails that offer a thru-hiking experience in just a few days.Wild Oak Trail, VA This 25-mile National Recreation Trail forms a perfect weekend loop moving from easily accessible front country to some very remote corners of the George Washington National Forest. The loop begins along the headwaters of the North River, but quickly climbs to the ridges and stays there, which means water is scarce.“A lot of the trail follows ridgelines that provide some very panoramic vistas,” says Dennis Herr, who organizes fun ultra runs on the Wild Oak Trail.Total Mileage: 25.6Highlights: Ridgeline views, solitude, mountain laurel and oak speciesMore Info: Wilderness AdventuresDay OneBegin your 7-mile day at the parking area near North River Gap (the low point along the trail) and start your counter-clockwise hike by climbing Grindstone Mountain and Chestnut Ridge. Prepare for the views along the ridge leading to Little Bald Knob, the highpoint of the trail at mile 7. Look for small, flat clearings near Little Bald Knob to pitch your tent for the night. Take a walk out the gated FS 427 for excellent views from the ridgeline.Day TwoSave enough water for the 8.5 mile hike, including the three-mile, 2,000-foot drop to the North River. The next climb to Big Bald Knob is steep and rocky, but this perch has arguably the best views along the trail. You’ll hike along the border of the Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness before taking a hard left to descend Dividing Ridge. Look for campsites along the trail before you reach FS 96.Day ThreeAt 10.2 miles, the last day is your longest. Climb up Hankey Mountain to the gated forest road for several miles. Then the trail gets technical again, with the last few miles highlighted by steep, rocky climbs leading to dramatic overlooks before dropping back down to the parking area.Iron Mountain Trail, VA The Iron Mountain Trail can seem a bit disjointed at times: a 19-mile stretch between Cross Mountain and Damascus that ends with a road walk into town, then another 14-mile section near the Little Dry Run Wilderness. But the best section parallels the Appalachian Trail inside the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area running for 23 miles between Damascus and Highway 16.“This is the old route of the A.T. and it’s had a lot of rest,” says Jeff Patrick, who leads hikes all over the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. “The rest of the High Country gets so much use, but Iron Mountain, even though it’s close to town, doesn’t see a fraction of the boots.”Total Mileage: 23Highlights: Rocky terrain, shelters, solitude (everyone’s busy hiking the A.T.)More Info: Mount Rogers OutfittersDay OnePick up the trail just outside of downtown Damascus and begin a rocky climb up to Feathercamp Ridge. Camp at the Sandy Flats Shelter for the night. It’s a short 6.2-mile day, but this will give you time to take an optional side trip down Feathercamp Trail, which drops into a cover offering a series of wading pools and small cascades.Day TwoContinue heading east on the Iron Mountain as it crosses a forest road and rolls and dips over small knobs along the Iron Mountain ridgeline. Eventually, you’ll start passing some older growth trees and pass the Straight Branch Trail shelter, 4.5 miles into your day. Keep on trekking another four miles to the Cherry Tree shelter. There’s some road walking as you skirt the edge of Round Top and Double Top.Day ThreeThe Iron Mountain Trail, which shares the path with the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail for less than two miles. You’ll cross paths with the A.T., then drop and rise in and out of seasonal creek gorges. Between the A.T. and the intersection of 4022, locals know of a pasture with incredible views called Comers Meadow. It’s off trail, but if you’re looking for adventure, it’s worth seeking out. The big finale of this portion of the Iron Mountain is Comers Falls. Take the Comers Creek Trail 0.2 miles to a series of drops and pools inside a tight, rocky gorge.The North Fork Mountain Trail offers stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley. Photo by Michael McCumber.North Fork Mountain Trail, WVThe North Fork Mountain Trail is a 24-mile long ridgeline trail running along the entire crest of the North Fork Mountain near the Virginia-West Virginia border. Along the way you’ll get incredibly dramatic views of Shenandoah Mountain, Seneca Rocks, two forks of the Potomac, and Dolly Sods. The mountain has long been highlighted by the Nature Conservancy for its surprising biodiversity. The rocky crest supports ancient, twisted oaks, white pines, beds of ferns, even virgin red spruce. The trail is the centerpiece of a recent effort to create a federally designated Wilderness area.Total Mileage: 24Highlights: Views, rocky outcroppings, more views, virginMore Info: Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides Day OneStart at the southern terminus and roll along the ridgeline, where you’ll get your first big view of Germany Valley and Spruce Knob to the west. Eventually you’ll reach High Knob, which has campsites and a view of Seneca Rocks. If you’re fit, push forward and turn this into a two-day, one-night trip, where you stash a car with water and food at FS 79, halfway into the trail. There are campsites within a short walk of either side of the road.Day TwoContinue hiking north and enjoy the views of Dolly Sods and the South Branch of the Potomac. The trail arrives at Chimney Top Rocks, a massive sandstone cliff band with arguably the best views along the trail. Shortly after the cliffs, you’ve got an 1,800 foot descent over 2.5 miles to Route 28, near Smoke Hole Caverns.The Laurel Highlands Trail meanders through some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic river valleys. Photo by Michelle Adams.Laurel Highlands Trail, PAThe 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking trail serves as the backbone of a 218-square-mile forested area that ’s called the Laurel Highlands. The area has 600 miles of hiking trail. The Laurel Highlands Trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park and the Youghiogheny River to the Conemaugh River, connecting a variety of maintained forests along the way.“You hike from park to park, running along the ridge, occasionally dropping into stream valleys, and popping back up for great views from cliffs,” says Bruce Sundquist, who wrote a guide to the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail for the Sierra Club.The trail is blazed at regular intervals, has concrete mile markers, and offers shelter systems with reliable water, making this the most beginner-friendly long trail in the region. Note: the hiker’s bridge over Interstate 76 has been removed and an 8-mile road walk detour is in place.Total Mileage: 70+Highlights: Shelter system, cliffs, expansive views and roaring riversMore Info: Wilderness Voyageurs Day OneStart at Ohiopyle State Park and hike along the river before climbing to the top of the ridge for views of a bend in the mighty Yough below. You’ll drop off the ridge into a stream valley, cross a forest road and arrive at the first trail shelter after six miles.Day Two Start your day with a two-mile climb to a level ridge at 2,500 feet. You’ll skirt a pond below Cranberry Glade Lake before mile 14, then pick up your next shelter at mile 18.5.Day ThreeKeep rolling along the ridge at 2,700 feet through a state park, then drop off Grindle Ridge, cross a few creeks, and arrive at next shelter at mile 24.Day FourEnjoy the scenery near Seven Springs Resort, as well as some brief lake-side hiking. After the eight-mile detour, continue hiking north to the highlight of the trip, Beam Rocks, offering sweeping views to the east. Your shelter for the night sits at mile marker 46.5.Day FiveThis 11-mile day rolls through Laurel Ridge State Park where you’ll spend the night at a shelter at mile 57.Day SixYou’ve got 13 miles to the northern terminus through some of the most scenic terrain along the trail, especially as you skirt the rim of the Conemaugh Gorge. Views of the river below are almost continuous for the last few miles of this thru-hike.John Muir Trail, TNThe 20-mile John Muir National Recreation Trail in Eastern Tennessee (lovingly referred to as “the other JMT”) follows a tiny piece of the 1,000-mile journey that John Muir took from Kentucky to Florida in 1867. The trail predominantly follows the Hiwassee River, except when it rises via switchbacks to ridgelines and cliff bands to offer gorgeous views of the broad, green canyon.“Trillium, jack in the pulpit, bloodroot, and other wildflowers line the trail in April and May,” says Harold Webb, a native to the area who owns the Webb Brothers General Store.Total Mileage: 19 (not including a side trip)Highlights: wild flowers, swimming holes, gorge viewsMore Info: The Webb Brothers General StoreDay OneBegin at the Childers Creek Parking area and start hiking upstream. The first three miles are flat and easy, passing through wildflower meadows. You’ll do a little road walking but also get up onto some high bluffs with great views of the river and its green gorge. The gorge gets thin at “the Narrows” and the trail rises to a serious cliff line high above water level. Find primitive campsites along Coker Creek.Day TwoYou have seven miles from Coker Creek to TN 68, most of which is hiked along the Hiwassee River. Optional Side trip: Before you break camp, hike 2.5 miles up the Coker Creek Falls Trail to the falls of the same name, which is a series of ledges and pools (the biggest drop is 40 feet).Before the hike is over, you’ll leave the river to climb a ridge to an overlook 600 feet above the riverbed that offers a view of the Hiwassee Gorge and beyond. The trail continues for a mile past TN 68, but it’s typically overgrown and strenuous.A hiker pauses at an outcropping along the Tanawha Trail near Grandfather Mountain, N.C. Photo by Todd Bush.Tanawha Trail, N.C.13.5 miles may not sound like a long trail, but the technical terrain and panoramic side trips make the Tanawha a mini-epic adventure. The Tanawha (Cherokee for eagle) parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway along the edge of Grandfather Mountain, running from Beacon Heights to Julian Price Park.“You’re either walking through rolling meadows or extremely rocky boulder fields,” says Jason Berry, a hiker who chooses the Tanawha for short overnight excursions.Sections of the Tanawha are so biologically diverse that massive boardwalks were helicoptered into place to keep our feet off of precious plants. Accessing the trail is easy, thanks to the Parkway. The tread is schizophrenic, oscilating between smooth singletrack to rocky steps to boulder hopping.Total Mileage: 13.5 (not including sidetrips)Highlights: Boulders, stargazing, boardwalks, and big viewsMore Info: Footsloggers in Boone and Blowing RockDay OneStart this 9-mile day at Beacon Heights and head north. Pass under the Lynn Cove Viaduct (an engineering marvel that attracts visitors all on its own), and gets even more technical as you make your way up to Rough Ridge, an expansive rock outcropping with beautiful views. Along the ridge, you’ll climb rock stairs, squeeze through chutes, and climb boulders. ”It’s like a jungle gym for big people,” Berry says.After the ridge, the terrain mellows. Stop at the Hi-Balsam Shelter near Flat Rock, an amazing stargazing site.Day TwoYou’re roughly six miles from the northern end of the Tanawha. Optional Side Trip: The Cragway Trail offers views of the Boone Fork Bowl. After a mile, hang a left on the Nuwati for a short hike to Storyteller’s Rock for an even better view of a valley. Take the Nuwati downslope to its junction with the Tanawha in 1.2 miles, then continue your journey north.The terrain gets progressively easier as you near the terminus at Julian Price Lake, with meadows blanketed in spring wildflowers.Fires Creek Rim Trail, N.C.Backpackers come to this 25-mile loop for one thing: solitude. The Rim Trail hugs the ridgeline around the 21,000-acre Fires Creek Wildlife Management Area, in a remote corner of the Nantahala National Forest. Blowdowns and briars also cover this rugged, remote trail, and water is scarce, so be prepared to work for your solitude.Total Mileage: 25Highlights: Solitude, rugged terrain, high elevation balds, expansive viewsMore Info: Appalachian Outfitters: 828-837-4165.Day OneStart at the trailhead at the Fires Creek Picnic Area soaking in the 25-foot Leatherwood Falls before heading northwest on the Rim Trail. Travel 8 miles on your 3,000-foot climb to Big Stamp. The Phillips Ridge Trail junction is one of the few reliable sources of water, so stock up for the journey ahead.Day TwoPack up camp and continue your trek along the Rim toward Tusquitee Bald, 7.3 miles away. You’ll cross Weatherman Bald, which sits just under 5,000 feet and offers partial views of the surrounding peaks, and the headwaters of Fires Creek. When you reach the edge of Tusquitee Bald, scramble up the Chunky Gal Trail a short distance to the grassy, 5,200-foot summit.Day ThreeThe last nine miles are a predominantly downhill hike as you make your way back to the Fires Creek Picnic Area. Along the way, you’ll pass Potrock Bald, which many backpackers say is the best view along the trail.Side trips along the Tanawha Trail lead to swimming holes and cascades. Photo by Todd Bush.Art Loeb Trail, N.C. This 30-mile-long footpath traverses balds, rocky knobs, Wilderness areas, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.“If you take the A.T. and mash it up into 32 miles, you get the Art Loeb,” says Marcus Webb, a Brevard-based hiker and climber.With rhodo tunnels, waterfall sidetrips, 360-degree views, and ridgeline traverses, the Art Loeb is a highlight reel of the Southern Appalachians. There are even a few shelters stashed along its route.Total Miles: 30Highlights: Bald knobs, expansive views, shelters, side tripsMore Info: Pura Vida Adventures Day OneFrom Daniel Boone Camp, tackle the beastly 2,000-foot climb to Deep Gap in under four miles. Optional side trip: a three-mile out and back to the summit of 6,030-foot Cold Mountain. From Deep Gap, head south through the heart of Shining Rock Wilderness, traversing the Narrows, a mile-long ridgeline crest. Eventually you’ll pass Shining Rock, a massive collection of quartz rock. In 8.2 miles, reach Ivester Gap and set up camp for the night.Day TwoFrom Ivestor Gap, keep heading south on the Loeb, crossing 6,000-foot Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob, a rocky dome with 360-degree views. Cross over the Parkway and hike Shuck Ridge. You’ll reach another Deep Gap at 7.6 miles. Set up camp, or pick a spot in the shelter for the night.Day ThreeAfter leaving Deep Gap, you’ll summit Pilot Mountain, with great views of Looking Glass Rock. Butter Gap Shelter is only 6.1 miles down trail. If you’re looking for another side trip, check out Butter Gap Trail, which offers a dramatic waterfall just 1.5-miles from the Loeb.Day FourIt’s 8.2 miles to the southern terminus at Davidson River Campground. Skirt Cedar Rock Mountain shortly after leaving the shelter, and at Cat Gap, consider a side trip to John Rock, a granite cliff that drops 200 feet. After the gap, it’s a steady drop and smooth sailing into the campground.
The die offs stand out because they are affecting only mussels. “It seemed very strange that there was one species out of a biodiverse assemblage that was being affected,” Tony Goldberg, a veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin told The Guardian. “From an epidemiologist perspective that is a red flag for infectious disease.” In Tennessee, researchers are studying the mass die-off of the pheasantshell mussel in the Clinch River, which has spread up the river into Virginia. Usually, mass die-offs of animals in rivers are caused by human action, such as oil spills, but scientists suspect this event is caused by disease. It’s not the first time a mass die-off of mussels has been observed in Tennessee. In the 1980’s and 1990’s a similar phenomenon took place on the Holston and Powell Rivers. Back then, researchers were also unable to determine the cause. “When you talk about these massive global extinctions, these are the species that are really blinking out,” Jordan Richard, a wildlife biologist studying the Clinch River mussel die-off told The Guardian. “And there’s so many of them nobody even notices.” Mussels are dying off, killed by a mysterious disease in places around the U.S., including Tennessee and Virginia The death of a large number of mussels can change the ecosystem in rivers. And the worry is not just for the mussels. If it is a disease killing the invertebrates, there’s a chance it could adapt and spread to other freshwater species over time. There are approximately 300 freshwater mussel species in North America, 71% of which are considered endangered, threatened or of concern. In the southeast alone, it is estimated that close to 24 species of mussels have gone extinct.
Systematized area registry: so that the dogs learn exactly where to search, how to carry out searches and what to search for and find. Adaptation to extreme situations: consists of familiarizing the canines with loud sounds, textures of different types of terrain, different environments, weather, etc. Collar or leash-restricted tracking: habituates the dog to only obey his master’s orders by use of these tools. Point-to-point tracking: is utilized on the battlefield in front of the entire troop. Association of smells: consists of permeating dog toys with different smells, including narcotics, explosives, etc., and teaching the dogs to recognize these by way of positive stimulation. During a visit to the Colombian Military’s School of Engineers’ (ESING, for its Spanish acronym) Bogotá Canine Training and Re-Training Center, Diálogo talked to the NCOs responsible for the canine program and met many of the teams during their training sessions. Sergeant First Class Rafael Viveros, director of the search and rescue program, explained that the use of dogs for this type of task is not only a logical move, but one that greatly benefits the force because, “[the dogs] have 250 million olfactory cells in comparison to the five million that humans have. In addition to their agility and speed, this makes them an important asset to find a person that may need help.” The Army recruits or purchases the dogs from different breeding kennels, mainly Labradors or golden retrievers, for their agility, intelligence, ease of learning, good-natured disposition and in general, for the positive results gained thus far. But they also work with German and Belgian shepherds. At the same time, the Army personnel look for specific profiles to fit the dogs’ human counterparts. They carry out thorough psychological testing in order to choose personalities that are kindred to animals and the work involving them. The courses for the dogs and their trainers vary in length. For example, the canine guide courses for search and rescue and explosives detection last 14 weeks each, divided into 48 weekly training hours of classes, such as explosives detection techniques, crinology, first aid, canine training techniques, explosives, kennel maintenance and upkeep, and weaponry. Likewise, the courses designed for the dogs last three months in which the pups learn to recognize smells by means of repetition and positive reinforcements. During training the dogs run through a field where they smell out a number of metal containers distributed throughout until correctly identifying the one holding a small amount of explosives. Once they identify it they sit next to it, a passive sign to their trainer that the search was successful. Given the case, the trainer rewards the animal with one of its toys, which in turn serves the dog as a stimulus, and is previously impregnated with the smell of the explosive substance it is being trained to recognize. According to data from the Colombian National Army and statistics from the Presidential Program for Mine Action, 1,079 members of the Armed Forces died between 2000 and 2009, while 3,711 were hurt, most of them mutilated. “The participation of canine-soldier teams has been highly effective for our Army because the percentage of casualties and those injured by explosives –both, to our troops and to the civilian population, has been greatly reduced as a result,” said Captain Eliécer Suárez, chief of the Canine Department at ESING. During the search and rescue of anti-personnel mines in the operational field, the dogs are trained to sniff through a given area until they successfully identify the exact place where the mines are buried. Just like during the narcotics detection course, they know that once their objective is detected, they must warn their trainer of the find through a passive sign. This is done simply by sitting close to the objective. “It’s difficult for a dog to make a mistake,” assures Sgt. Viveros, sitting next to Zeus, his German shepherd specialized in search and rescue. Regardless of each dog’s specialty, or of the place where they develop their specialties, it is clear to all Colombian professionals dedicated to working with dogs that this duty has made them more human. I WANTED TO CONGRATULATE YOU ON WHAT YOU DO WITH THESE ANIMALS. YOU MANAGE TO CONVERT THEM INTO OTHER HEROES AS YOU ARE. I WANTED TO ASK THE FOLLOWING: I DONATED A DOG TO A CANINE CENTER. I WANT TO KNOW IF AT LEAST SOME DAY I WILL KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT HIM. I WANT TO BE CALM BY KNOWING HE IS OK. CAN THEY SEND ME PICTURES OF HIS PROGRESS? I KNOW I TOOK THE BEST DECISION, BUT CAN I SEE THE DOG AGAIN? OR AT SOME POINT THEY CAN GIVE ME PERMISSION TO ONLY VISIT HIM? THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR THE ANSWER YOU CAN PROVIDE ME. Sasha served the Colombian National Army for most of her life; she was one more soldier fighting on the frontlines against the South American country’s terrorist groups. She was trained in explosive and anti-personnel mine detection since the beginning of her military career. Becoming an expert specialist in this area, Sasha served in approximately 3,000 missions during six years of service, in which she detected more than 100 anti-personnel mines, saving innumerable human lives. During Operation Sodoma, the military operation executed by the Colombian Army in September 2010, from which the death of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader aka “Mono Jojoy” was produced, Sasha detected eight anti-personnel mines close to the guerrilla leader’s shelter. But the terrorists launched a grenade very close to her, resulting in her untimely death caused by the explosive range. Sasha was the institution’s only casualty during Operation Sodoma. Sasha was a 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, trained by the Colombian Army since her first year of life, and she represented half of her team –a human guide coupled by a dog for life in the Army’s K-9 operations. Her human counterpart, who did not reveal his name during an interview in honor of the black Lab by local television program Vamos Colombia, remembered Sasha as being “a sweet, playful and very smart puppy who was completely devoted to her job.” The Colombian Army’s K-9 Department currently has close to 3,500 active dogs, like Sasha, in 13 training centers distributed throughout the country’s main cities. The units fall under the Directorate of Military Engineers, which has been responsible for training and pairing up teams to confront challenges imposed by rivals as well as by nature since 1997. The dogs are specifically trained in one of five specialties, including: mine and narcotics detection, search and rescue, installation security and agility. Each dog is assigned to a human counterpart for life, and together they make up the teams that only end when one of the team members dies. “He is like a brother in the patrol. He is another soldier,” agree many of the non commissioned officers (NCOs) and soldiers that have trained in the different specialties. The training is carried out in five phases of operational and terrain adaptation, each of them necessary to make the teams fully capable in each specialized field. These begin as games as soon as the dogs reach one year of age. The phases include: By Dialogo January 27, 2012
TIJUANA, Mexico — Authorities found an underground tunnel filled with arms, drugs and a light aircraft allegedly belonging to one of the country’s powerful cartels. The plane, discovered in a tunnel in the Baja California state near the U.S. border, was a light aircraft manufactured in Austria and in poor condition, Daniel de la Rosa, secretary of security for the state, told reporters late April 9. He said the plane was adapted to be able to fire grenades and was used “to transport drugs and arms for the Sinaloa cartel,” run by Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. The operation, in which one man was detained, was carried out April 9 after police received an anonymous tip-off about an underground facility the size of a basketball court. Inside, police found guns, a grenade and launcher, 32 kilos of marijuana, 900 grams of a synthetic drug known as “ice,” more than 700 rounds of ammunition and body armor. Guzmán, with a fortune estimated at US$1 billion by Forbes magazine, is one of the world’s most wanted men, with Mexico offering a reward of US$2.4 million for his capture. [AFP, 10/04/2012; Univision.com, 10/04/2012] By Dialogo April 11, 2012