U.K. pension funds given OK to divest potentially stranded fossil fuel investments FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Managers of the £1.5 trillion invested in Britain’s workplace pension schemes are to be given new powers to dump shares in oil, gas and coal companies in favor of long-term investment in green and “social impact” opportunities.Government proposals published on Monday are designed to give pension fund trustees more confidence to divest from environmentally damaging fossil fuels and put their cash in green alternatives if it meets their members’ wishes. Until now many pension trustees have been hamstrung by fiduciary duties that they feel requires them to seek the best returns irrespective of the threat of climate change.The new rules, though couched in opaque legalese, are a coded go-ahead for pension funds to sell shares in fossil fuel companies if they believe that they could turn into “stranded assets”. The term refers to companies’ coal, oil and gas deposits that may not ever be monetised as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy.In the paper published on Monday, Clarifying and Strengthening Trustees’ Investment Duties, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “Our proposed regulations are intended to reassure trustees that they can (and indeed should) take account of financially material risks, whether these stem from investee firms’ traditional financial reporting, or from broader risks covered in non-financial reporting or elsewhere.”But the DWP warned that the new rules do not give carte blanche for activist groups to bully pension funds into selling out of fossil fuels. “These proposals are not intended to give any support to activist groups for boycotts or divestment from certain assets,” the DWP paper said. “Trustees have primacy in investment decisions and, whilst they should not necessarily rule out the ability to take account of members’ views, they are never obliged to, and the prime focus is to deliver a return to members.”A growing number of UK and European insurance companies have started selling holdings in coal companies and refusing to insure their operations. More than £15 billion has been divested by insurers including Allianz, Aviva, Axa, Legal & General, Swiss Re and Zurich in the past two years, according to Unfriend Coal Network, a global coalition of NGOs and campaigners including 350.org and Greenpeace.More: UK pension funds get green light to dump fossil fuel investments
Northland Power, Shizen Energy team up, target Japan’s offshore wind market FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:Tokyo-based developer Shizen Energy and Canada’s Northland Power have inked an agreement to work together to develop “early stage” offshore wind projects off Chiba Prefecture, Japan. The 50:50 joint venture, Chiba Offshore Wind, will focus on developments with a capacity of around 600MW, according to the partners.“Taking action for the planet is our company’s foremost priority, and we hope to pass [it] onto the future generations,” said Masaya Hasegawa, Shizen Energy’s representative director. “We strongly believe that our partnership with Northland will allow us to put that vision into action and bring us a step closer to making a positive impact on the future.”Mike Crawley, Northland’s CEO, added: “With Shizen Energy’s strong track record of developing and constructing renewable projects in Japan, and Northland’s success developing, constructing and operating offshore wind farms globally, we view this agreement as an excellent opportunity to combine the strengths of the two companies to achieve something great.”Toronto-headquartered Northland has over 1.4GW of projects under construction and in advanced development, including in Asia, where it owns a 60% equity stake in Taiwan’s 1GW Hai Long offshore wind farm.Shizen Energy has been involved in the development of around 1GW of solar, on- and offshore wind, biomass and hydro power generation in Japan, with first forays recently being made into global markets including a PV development in Brazil in July and maiden wind and solar projects in Vietnam and Thailand.In July, the Japanese government unveiled an updated Energy Supply Plan targeting 10GW in on- and offshore wind capacity by 2030 as part of its ambition to have renewables reach a 22-24% share of the island nation’s electricity generation by this date.More: Shizen and Northland tie up for utility-scale Japanese offshore wind
Column: Coal imports down in major Asian markets, and coronavirus not the driving force FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Asia’s seaborne coal markets stumbled in February and it appears the coronavirus outbreak in China may dodge most of the blame, with the weakness concentrated in other major importers of the polluting fuel.South Korea’s imports of both thermal and coking coal were particularly hard hit, dropping to 6.9 million tonnes in February from 11.4 million in January and 9.4 million in February 2019, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv. That was the lowest monthly import figure for South Korea since Refinitiv started vessel-tracking in January 2015.South Korea’s weak coal demand was sparked by the country’s decision to close up to 15 coal-fired power plants between December and February in order to limit air pollution over winter. The bad news for coal exporters is that South Korea will extend the closure of coal-fired plants this month, with the Energy Ministry saying on March 1 that up to 28 plants will be idled this month.India’s coal imports also slipped in February, with Refinitiv data showing a total of 16.4 million tonnes of both thermal and coking coal arriving, down from 18.2 million in January.India, the world’s second-biggest coal importer behind China, is struggling with softer economic growth, which is curtailing electricity demand. In addition, some coastal power plants that rely on imported coal are struggling to sell electricity at prices high enough to make running the generators financially viable.A warmer-than-usual winter, ongoing economic struggles and low prices for spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) are the most likely reason for Japan’s lower coal imports. Refinitiv data showed the world’s third-largest coal importer brought in 13.3 million tonnes in February, down from January’s 16 million and 13.8 million in February 2019.[Clyde Russell]More: COLUMN-Seaborne coal’s struggles in Asia are more than just China coronavirus: Russell
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The 50MW Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in South Africa has set a new African benchmark for renewable energy, becoming the first renewable project on the African continent to complete a full week of continuous, round the clock operation.The Saudi Arabian-based renewable energy developer ACWA Power says that the Bokpoort CSP plant achieved the new continental benchmark of 13 days, or 312 hours of continuous operation on October 23.Round the clock operation was made possible by optimally managing 9.3-hours’ worth of thermal salt storage overnight, allowing the solar field to continue generation for 13 days.“We take utmost pride in this record-breaking effort that successfully delivered 312 hours of continuous operations, which translate to approximately 13GWh of energy supply to the grid at an energy load factor of 83%,” said Christo Spammer, Bokpoort CSP CEO. “This is remarkable for a renewable energy facility and is equivalent to about 20 hours of full load operations daily (with a 50MW turbine) akin to base-load technologies.”This new feat follows consistent monthly production records set by Bokpoort CSP since June 2020. The plant delivered the highest ever production for the months of August and September and has continued to deliver an excellent performance in October 2020, achieving an all-time highest daily record of 1028MWh earlier this month.”Located in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, 600-kilometres west of Johannesburg, the 50MW Bokpoort CSP Plant – which uses parabolic trough technology – was commissioned during the second bidding window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) and has been consistently setting records since operation began in 2016.[Joshua S Hill]More: South Africa solar thermal project breaks continental generation record South African solar-plus-storage facility sets mark for continuous power
Seven years ago, BRO editor-in-chief Will Harlan needed emergency surgery after a portion of his colon twisted shut upon itself. It was a close call, and the Asheville GI docs were essential in saving his life. Ever since, he has been running the Rear in Gear 5K, the annual race that the Asheville GI docs organize.For the sixth straight year, Harlan won the event. As he has aged, his times have slowed, but the 39-year-old runner hung on for one more year. He barely finished ahead of NOC Vice President and uber-athlete Jay Curwen.Best of all, says Harlan, was another runner gaining on him: his seven-year-old son River. He ran the hilly 5K —without once stopping to walk—in 32 minutes.Harlan says that the race itself is one of the most powerful and touching 5K events he’s ever run. The Rear in Gear 5K honors victims of colon cancer and celebrates survivors, some of whom speak at the awards ceremony afterward. Many runners and walkers on the course have names of loved ones fighting colon cancer printed on their shirts.“Compared to their suffering, my pain seems small,” says Harlan.The race benefits the Colon Cancer Coalition and helps to raise awareness about the importance of unpleasant but life-saving colon cancer screenings.Read the story and see the full results here.
Those who live in or around Harrisonburg, Virginia know that it is a town with a prominent and growing bike community. Many of the roads around the community are currently being expanded to include a bike route for students heading to class at James Madison University and for the thousands of bikers who are on their way to some of the best biking areas on the East Coast. One figure who has played a huge role in this ever-developing bike community is Kyle Lawrence.Kyle is currently the president of the Shenandoah Valley Bike Coalition (SVBC). Here, they strive to improve all types of cycling in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County by building trails, pushing the city to build bike lanes, and doing various bike community building events. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kyle and discuss everything from his favorite trails to favorite foods and compiled a list of 10 things you never knew about Kyle.He works at the SBC. No, not the SVBC where Kyle is president, but the Shenandoah Bike Company which has no connection to SVBC except for their love to ride. The Shenandoah Bike Company is one of the four Harrisonburg’s local bike shops. For ten years, Kyle has been doing “a little bit of everything” at the store.Kyle is an alum of James Madison University. About ten years ago, Kyle graduated with a degree in history. Historically, he had been working for the bike company for a few years so he saw fit to continue working there after graduation and live in the community.While a student, Kyle planned and put on four different mountain bike events. He immediately got involved with the JMU cycling club as a freshmen and was quickly plugged into community events through this club and the bike coalition. Kyle and the cycling club planned three mountain bike races at Massanutten as well as a hill climb to the top of Reddish Knob.Biking wasn’t always Kyle’s niche. Before joining the cycling club and having endless opportunities to ride at JMU, Kyle lived in Fairfax, Virginia where he rode bikes some, but really found his passion riding once he lived in Harrisonburg. “Not only is this a fantastic location to ride roads or trails, but the people in the community really make it great,” Kyle says.The northern territory of George Washington National Forest is his favorite place to ride. The Lee Ranger District lies at the northern most part of George Washington National Forest and has amazing trails for hiking and biking. Being so close to Harrisonburg and having amazing bike trails, Kyle finds this to be his favorite area to ride in all of Virginia.Besides biking, camping is Kyle’s favorite outdoor activity. Bike camping, car camping, backpacking, and any other forms of camping attracts Kyle. His favorite places to camp are at the top of Shenandoah Mountain which borders Virginia & West Virginia and at Fridley Gap which is a hike with ridge climbs, gentle streams, and a refreshing swimming hole.Kyle’s longest time riding a bike was 19 hours. This big loop took Kyle almost a full day to ride. When I asked him why he did it, he told me that it was because this trail was just begging to be ridden. The furthest Kyle has ever ridden was 190 miles of road biking that he successfully completed last week.He has found a dead body at the head of the trail. About to embark on a harmless trail ride, Kyle stopped breathless in his tracks when he saw a trash bag with two legs hanging out. Before going to find help and call the police, he got a little closer to see that it was a dead bear that someone had shaved all the hair off its legs and improperly disposed of.He eats. He eats A LOT. When you ride 190 miles in one day, your body burns calories faster than you have a chance to consume them. So Kyle has to eat a lot of food, even when he doesn’t want to. His favorite food is an egg and cheese sandwich with fresh avocado and pesto.After ten plus years in Harrisonburg, Kyle is still blown away by the town. Founded over 100 years ago, Harrisonburg has an abundance of roads and new ones are continuing to pop up. Kyle is grateful that he can grab breakfast and coffee downtown and ride a few miles out to be emerged into the rolling hills and green fields of the countryside. There are so many roads he has explored on his bike yet there are still so many more that he enthusiastically waits to explore. With plenty of roads, trails, and open space Harrisonburg is the perfect destination for road and mountain bikers who are looking for a beautiful country town with passionate bikers like Kyle Lawrence.
The Southeast is whitewater country. Here are the best rapids for every level of whitewater, from easy class I floats to class V hairboating adventures.Class IThe James River, Va. Eagle Rock to Horseshoe BendFor 343 miles, the James River sweeps across the state of Virginia, connecting the Allegheny Mountains with the Chesapeake Bay. It is a massive watershed, a vital source of drinking water, a habitat for key aquatic species, and an important source of recreation. The most well-known section of the James may be the park and play whitewater paradise through downtown Richmond, but in the mountains of Western Virginia, near the headwaters, the James is a remote, pristine paddling experience highlighted by unrivaled scenery and calm class I waters.The run starts at Eagle Rock, just south of where the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers converge to form the James, and extends for 13.5 miles through undeveloped farmland and private forested slopes. The mountains of George Washington National Forest are a constant backdrop and occasionally, sheer rock cliffs and steep mountain slopes rise directly from the river’s edges. It is the most remote section of the James, with no road access and very little signs of development along its entire length, and it’s the only section of the James to be classified as a “Virginia Scenic River.” A swift current and 25 class I rapids move you through water so clear you can see freshwater clams and crawfish on the rocky bottom.“After you launch, you won’t see any signs of civilization for miles,” says Dan Mays, owner of Twin River Outfitters. “You probably won’t see any other boaters. It’s such a remote section of the river, most people choose to paddle further downstream.”The topography is so dramatic and the paddling so unique, that the county of Botetourt is in the final stages of developing the run into the Upper James Blue Way. Also, keep an eye out for stone locks at the put in at Eagle Rock, which are remnants of dams built before the Civil War. The dams were going to serve George Washington’s massive canal system, but the railroad was developed making the canals obsolete.Major Rapids: None. Other than a couple gentle class II’s, the only rapids you’ll encounter are the class I ripples that define this section of river.Beware: You’re floating through private land the entire length of the trip, so there’s no camping. You’ll have to paddle the full 13 miles in a single day. Plan for about six hours.The Guide: Twin River Outfitters in Buchannan will guide you on day trips or rent you a boat and let you loose on your own. canoevirginia.com.More Classic Class I Rivers…South Fork of the Shenandoah, Va.The wide, calm South Fork carves sinuous “S” turns through the farmland of the Shenandoah Valley. In the distance, Shenandoah National Park stands to the east and the George Washington National Forest rises to the west. Numerous public access points and private campgrounds allow you to paddle for as long as you like.South Fork of the New River, N.C.America’s oldest river is a bit schizophrenic. In West Virginia, it’s a ribbon of class IV whitewater through a rocky gorge. But in North Carolina, it’s a wide, shallow, and placid river winding through undeveloped farmland, granite bluffs, and rolling mountains. A 26.5-mile section of the New is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, and a state park has been established along its length. The state park offers canoe access and primitive camping facilities, making it an ideal two-day stretch.Etowah River, Ga.A pristine nine-mile stretch of the Etowah flows through the primitive Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area, offering canoeists a short trip through a series of easy class I channels, drops, and shoals. Start at the new canoe launch at Etowah River Park off Highway 9 and paddle to Kelly Bridge Takeout ($3 takeout fee) for a superb introduction to whitewater.Class IINantahala River, N.C.Think of the Nantahala River in Western North Carolina as the “gateway” river. Thanks to the mild but thrilling rapids and variety of guide companies servicing the river, this class II run through the narrow Nantahala Gorge is often the first taste of whitewater for budding paddlers. It’s a perennial favorite for families looking for some adventure as well as new kayakers looking to hone their skills.“The whitewater isn’t very difficult, but it has a lot of variety,” says Andrew Holcombe, a professional kayaker who grew up on the Nantahala. “You can learn the basic roll in a lake, then move to the Nantahala to start developing all the other skills you need to kayak. It’s ideal.”The consistency of the whitewater also makes the Nantahala ideal for beginners. Almost every day of the year, thousands of gallons of water are released from Nantahala Lake, turning an 8.5-mile stretch of the Nantahala into an almost continuous class II whitewater run. The river is flanked by steep mountains stretching toward the sky as it winds through a narrow gorge inside the Nantahala National Forest. Easy access has turned the Nanty into a popular park and play river, so watch for experienced kayakers surfing the many wave trains and running laps on some of the more aggressive rapids that punctuate the run. The Nantahala’s accessibility, consistent river releases, and dependable but challenging whitewater has also turned it into a training ground for Olympic whitewater boaters. It’s the home river for the Nantahala Racing Club, arguably the premiere whitewater team in the country, and the site of nationally recognized competitions like the Glacier Breaker and the Bank of America Whitewater U.S. Open.Major Rapids: The barrage of class II water is bookended by two class III’s. Patton’s Run is a ledge leading into a series of waves that gives new rafters trouble just after the put in, and Nantahala Falls caps the run. The falls is a technical rapid that demands an “S” move as you navigate through fast wave trains and a decent drop through a narrow channel sandwiched by two massive boulders. Dozens of onlookers often loiter near the rapid hoping to see carnage.Beware: The Nantahala is one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the country, so expect crowds on summer weekends.The Guide: The Nantahala Outdoor Center has been guiding the Nantahala for 30 years. They’re also one of the premiere paddling schools in the country, taking newbie kayakers through the progression of flatwater to mastering Nantahala Falls. noc.com.More Classic Class II Rivers…Abrams Creek, Tenn.The nine-mile stretch known as lower Abrams Creek is packed with 20 class II rapids including some long wave trains and surprisingly sprite play spots. The river sits on the northwestern corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so it’s as remote of a run as you’ll find in these parts. Combine it with the 10-mile upper Abrams, which has more class II-III water (portage around class V Abrams Falls) and you’ve got a two-day paddle with an overnight at Abrams Creek Campground.Lower Green, N.C.The Green may be known for its class V creeking (see Steep Creeks) but after the infamous Narrows, the Green mellows into a picturesque class II river. The six-mile stretch between Fishtop and Big Rock access areas is jam-packed with straightforward rapids, most of which are followed by slow pools–the ideal paddle and rest scenario for beginners.Middle Cartecay, Ga.This short but sweet 2.1 mile whitewater river used to be in the middle of nowhere. Today, it carves through prime vacation home real estate. Regardless, the Cartecay progresses naturally from flat water to consistent class II rapids, and ends with Blackberry Falls, a fun II+ slide that looks ferocious, but is fairly tame.Class IIIOcoee River, Tenn. See all those paddlers in funny looking boats doing flips and 360s in standing waves? They have the Ocoee to thank for their favorite pastime. Widely recognized as the birthplace of freestyle kayaking, the Ocoee River’s surfable waves spawned an entire niche of kayaking, characterized by high flying acrobatics and silky smooth moves on the water’s surface. For decades, playboaters have flocked to Ocoee’s playspots–rapids like Hell Hole and Flipper–during which time the river has hosted countless world class freestyle competitions.“Lots of small drops and ledges create hundreds of hydraulics, or holes, ideal for playboats,” says Joe Jacobi, the whitewater slalom Olympic gold medalist who teaches kayaking on the Ocoee. Not that the Ocoee is all hucks and cartwheels. River runners and raft rats love the Ocoee for its continuous class III whitewater, particularly the Middle Ocoee, which drops 260 feet in five miles and features 20 named rapids.“Fun surf waves and holes with large eddies make the river attractive for playboaters, but for paddlers in search of an interesting downriver run, there are literally scores of different lines and moves you can take through any given rapid,” Jacobi says.The Upper Ocoee is famous in its own right for hosting the whitewater slalom competitions during the ’96 Summer Olympics. The whitewater inside the Upper section is more tame than the Middle, but combining the two makes for a seamless full day river adventure. And you’ll be able to tell your friends you ran the Olympic whitewater course.The warm-water Ocoee runs through a rocky gorge inside the Cherokee National Forest. Steep, green mountain slopes rise from either side of the river, and a road follows the run, offering easy access for play boaters.Major Rapids: On the Middle Ocoee, Grumpy hits boaters just after they put in below the dam. It’s a long class IV with pushy waves, the occasionally eddy, a rock famous for pinning rafts, and a killer drop. Hell Hole is probably the most famous rapid on the river. Home to a number of freestyle competitions, including the World Rodeo Championships, Hell Hole is a massive wave that playboaters wait in line to surf. On the Upper Ocoee, Humungous is the largest rapid. It’s a long, massive wave train that was the highlight of the ’96 Olympic course.Beware: Watch out for “the doldrums,” a pocket of slow flatwater sandwiched between the Middle Ocoee’s otherwise constant whitewater.The Guide: A variety of guide services run the Upper and Middle Ocoee. Check out the Ocoee Adventure Center (ocoeeadventurecenter.com) or the Nantahala Outdoor Center (noc.com)More Classic Class III Rivers… Nolichucky River, Tenn.The eight-mile stretch of the Nolichucky leading into Erwin, Tenn. is rife with sporty class III playspots and the occasional III+-IV challenge (warning: Quartermile is a series of long drops that add up to a beastly class IV). Spend an hour surfing the wave at Jaws and boogie your way downriver through a deep, scenic gorge in Eastern Tennessee.Davidson River, N.C.The run actually starts with a class IV drop, but the rest of this 1.25-mile stretch of the Davidson is packed with class II and III goodies. There’s also a trail running alongside the river for easy bike or hike shuttles. The fun rapids and easy access make it an ideal “run and repeat” scenario.Big Pigeon, N.C.This 4.5-mile run has about a dozen class II-III+ drops, and it runs through a scenic gorge bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. The Big Pigeon is revered by intermediate playboaters and river runners alike for its scenery and fun but challenging rapids like Powerhouse and Lost Guide. Class IVCheoah River, N.C. Drive by the Cheoah on a day when there are no dam releases and the riverbed is dry, and you might not even notice that it’s there. But happen by this Western North Carolina gem when the water is turned on and rafters and kayakers are in the midst of their white knuckle descents, and you can’t help but stop and take notice. Compare all the rivers that cascade through the South, and the Cheoah stands out in a category all its own.“I rounded up the best raft guides to run the first test run,” says Bob Hathcock, a raft guide and kayak instructor who is largely responsible for turning the water back on in the Cheoah. “Guys that lead trips down rivers in Costa Rica, Europe, Africa, Nepal. After one run, they all had the same response: ‘holy s#!%.’”For the better part of the last 50 years, the Cheoah between Santeetlah Dam and Calderwood Lake has been left dry, but thanks to an unprecedented effort between commercial interests and private boaters, a number of annual recreational releases were secured in 2005, putting 1000 cubic feet per second of water back into this forgotten river. For 15 days out of the year, the Cheoah becomes a “western style” river with almost continuous class IV whitewater.“In the Southeast, you have drop and pool rivers–a big rapid followed by a calm pool allowing you to rest,” Hathcock says. “But on the Cheoah, everything moves forward. You’ve got big splashy waves coming over the raft, drops sandwiched together back to back, and at one point, a mile of class IV rapids one right after the other. This is a big water river. There’s no place to stop, and there’s nothing else like that around here.”Major Rapids: The nine-mile section between the dam and Calderwood Lake has dozens of rapids, and the water is so fast, commercial guide companies usually run this stretch in about 2.5 hours. Wilma’s Ledge (IV) is a river-wide drop that plunges six feet, offering a variety of fun lines. The Land of Holes (IV) is a mile of continuous whitewater with almost no eddies. And the Falls (IV+) is another river-wide drop, but this measures 12 feet and features a fun slide on the river right side, or a vertical drop on river left.Beware: There really are very few places to rest on the Cheoah. Eddies are scarce, so you better know what you’re doing before you put in.The Guide: Not only does the NOC run trips on the Cheoah, its guides (Bob Hathcock included) were pivotal in securing the dam releases that boaters enjoy today. noc.com.More Classic Class IV…Cheat River, W.Va.This 9.5 miles through the Cheat Canyon is completely inaccessible, so bring your A-game. The Cheat used to be the quintessential whitewater rafting run. The New and Gauley have stolen some of the Cheat’s thunder, but the technical rapids inside the canyon are just as much fun as they were 30 years ago. Big waves, sticky holes, massive boulders, drops. Watch out for the formidable Coliseum, a class IV+ series of drops that seem to change shape with every heavy rain.Watauga River, N.C.A classic North Carolina creek that at one time was the benchmark run for boaters, the Watauga is a complex, technical river that winds through a steep and rocky gorge. The run is characterized by its boulder gardens and ledge drops, all of which require top notch boating skills. Keep an eye out for Hydro, a class V series of ledges that demand perfect lines, and Watauga Falls, a narrow 16-foot drop sandwiched between massive boulders.New River, W.Va. A prime 6.5-mile section of the New running through the heart of the gorge contains a high concentration of class III-IV rapids. Rafters love the “big water” character of the river; kayakers love the endless play opportunities presented by consistent, massive waves and holes.Class VGauley River, W.Va. What sets the Gauley River apart from other class V rivers? Volume, pure and simple. During the fall release season, one million gallons of water are released from Summersville Dam, turning 26 miles of the Gauley River into the epicenter of big water paddling on the East Coast. The Gauley drops 650 feet over the three stretches of river known as the Upper, Middle, and Lower. During that span there are 100 named rapids, 56 of them are class III or above. Paddle the world-renowned Upper Gauley, and you’ll run 10 miles of almost constant class IV-V whitewater through a remote canyon.“It’s impossible to be bored running the Upper,” says Brian Jennings, a pro kayaker with Riot Kayaks who grew up paddling the Gauley. “The downriver freestyle is phenomenal. Some rivers have good park and play waves, but the Gauley is constant freestyle potential. There’s always something to keep you entertained.”The quality, quantity, and variety of whitewater on the Upper Gauley makes it the premiere class V run in the Southeast. The river can be run year-round—at lower levels during the summer, it’s more of a class III-IV creeking experience—but boaters anticipate the fall releases, known as Gauley Season, months in advance.For the wildest ride, paddle the 10-mile Upper section. For a milder, class IV version of the river, head to the 11-mile Lower Gauley. For two days of whitewater bliss, paddle all 26 miles of the Gauley, stopping to camp along the river at night.Major Rapids: The Upper Gauley has the most dramatic rapids on the river, known as “The Big Five.” Insignificant (V) is a long series of ledges, large waves, and sticky holes. At Pillow Rock (IV+), the entire river gets pushed into a massive boulder, creating a huge pillow that acts like a siren to boaters. Lost Paddle (V) is a ridiculously long series of drops–the longest rapid on the Upper. Iron Ring (IV+) is a double drop where the river narrows to half its size. And Sweet’s Falls (IV), the last and easiest of the Big Five, is a wave train leading into a fun drop.Beware: The Gauley demands paddlers be on their game. You’re in a remote canyon with limited access, running both technical and big water rapids.The Guide: The Gauley helps support an entire raft guide industry in West Virginia. Check out the North American River Runners for guided trips and kayak lessons from pros. narr.com.More Classic Class V…Green River Narrows, N.C. Arguably the most famous creek run in the country, the Green River drops suddenly and drastically as it passes through a skinny, rocky canyon inside the Green River Gamelands. The Green is one of the few class V rivers with creek-boating characteristics that benefits from regular dam releases. As a result, this remote run has become a training ground for some of the best boaters in the country. Within the three-mile Narrows section, the Green is packed with almost continuous class IV-V+ boulder gardens, ledges, and drops.Tallulah River, Ga. Boaters worked for years to secure recreational releases from the Tallulah Falls Dam, which pumps water into the short, but sweet stretch of the Tallulah that runs through Tallulah Gorge State Park. The gorge run is 2.5 miles with seven class IV+ to V+ rapids as well as a host of water in the class IV range. Access is difficult because of the steep stone gorge walls, and there’s a lake paddle at the end of the run, but behemoth rapids like Oceana and Bridal Veil are worth the effort.Upper Youghiogheny, Md. For about ten miles, the Yough drops roughly 115 feet per mile, creating 20 major rapids (14 class IV, 6 class V) in a series of nonstop boulder drops, slides, rock gardens, and vertical falls. As a bonus, the run is designated Wild and Scenic by the state of Maryland, meaning you won’t see a house or power line along the entire stretch of the river. •Classic CreeksRussell Fork, Va.: This sub-four-mile run is on every creek-boater’s to-do list. The pool and drop creek runs through a 1,600 foot tall gorge and is known for its pushy, technical rapids that leave no room for error. Boaters converge on the river every year for the Lord of the Fork Challenge, one of the preeminent creek boating races in the country.Wilson Creek, N.C.: The Wilson Creek Gorge is a scenic two-mile creek run packed with class III-IV+ water. The High Country creek is a staple for Southern boaters progressing through the stages of steep creeking. They love the gorge for its scenic beauty as well as its challenging character, which is defined by rapids like Ten Foot Falls and Triple Drop.Tellico Creek, Tenn: The Upper Tellico is often a boater’s first true creeking experience. It’s a short, gorgeous run full of class III-IV ledges that can be easily shuttled and is often run numerous times in one day. The two-mile section is highlighted by 15-foot Baby Falls.Classic Urban WhitewaterJames River, Richmond: Arguably the best natural urban whitewater in the country, the Lower James offers 2.5 miles of class II-IV whitewater literally in downtown Richmond. The skyline serves as the backdrop as local boaters enjoy “happy hour” paddling sessions on the massive wave that defines Hollywood and the five-foot drop known as Lulu.Chattahoochee, Atlanta: The Chattahoochee skirts the edge of downtown Atlanta, giving Metro residents a bit of green space in the midst of the suburbs. The ‘Hooch also provides beginner boaters with some consistent class II ledges ideal for sharpening their surfing skills. More advanced boaters use the flat water and slalom gaits in the metro stretch of the ‘Hooch for attainment workouts.Potomac River, Md.: The Great Falls section of the Potomac drops 50 feet in just one-tenth of a mile, creating an almost schizophrenic stretch of class V+ vertical waterfalls just a few miles outside of downtown D.C. The Great Falls can only be run by the most able boaters in the region, but the section of the Potomac just below the Falls offers manageable class IV water through the scenic and stony Mather Gorge.Remote Wilderness RiversChattooga River, Ga.: The Chattooga divides Georgia and South Carolina, the Sumter National Forest on paddler’s left, the Chattahoochee National Forest on paddler’s right. In between lies a free-flowing, federally designated Wild and Scenic river with a plethora of class IV-V drop and pool whitewater. It’s one of the few rivers with such high-grade wilderness quality that you can raft with a commercial guide, but don’t expect crowds and bumper boats. Paddle times are staggered so you won’t see any other raft group the entire length of your trip.Linville River, N.C.: There’s remote, and then there’s the 17-mile stretch of the Linville River that passes through a 1,000-foot deep gorge tucked inside the Linville Wilderness Area. Canyon walls rise from the river’s banks, boulders choke the water, and if you want to cut your trip short, you’ve got a 1,000-vertical-foot hike in front of you. Tons of class V creeking sits between Linville Falls and Lake James, including several miles of non-stop whitewater.Toccoa River, Tenn.: Before the Ocoee River gets trapped by a series of dams in Tennesee, it runs wild in the mountains of North Georgia. There, it’s known as the Toccoa, a pristine, shallow creek that runs alternately through the Chattahoochee National Forest and scenic farmland. The Toccoa River Canoe Trail encompasses 14 miles of the river which features mellow class II rapids, including a remote five-mile stretch through the Cohutta Wilderness.
Tucked deep in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, the town of Galax seems like a long way from everywhere.To get there, one must court long, winding country roads that pass over and around some of the most beautiful mountains in all of the Appalachians.For generations, settlers of hearty stock have called these highlands that once represented the western frontier home. And it was in towns like Galax, where the Scotch, Irish, and German pioneers settled along the trail ever westward, that traditional old time music was born.24 year old Dori Freeman lives in Galax and comes from a long line of musicians, which isn’t unusual in the Galax area, as for 81 years the town has been home to the Old Fiddlers’ Convention, arguably the longest running gathering of old time musicians in the world.Blessed with a striking voice, Freeman cannot be pigeonholed by the traditional sounds of her upbringing. Sure, old country and old time form the wellspring of her sound, but Freeman’s music is also laced with influences from contemporary songwriters.Freeman is celebrating the release of her debut record, one that has already caught the attention of writers from both NPR and the New York Times. Big things are most certainly on the horizon for this small town girl.I recently caught up with Dori to chat about the new record, small towns, and that beautiful Wayne Henderson guitar she plays.BRO – You hail from the Galax area. Is it true that everyone there can play the fiddle?DF – Hah! Yes, it is. Every newborn is sent with a fiddle upon leaving hospital. No, not everyone here enjoys or plays traditional music, but a good number of us proudly do.BRO – To “make it” in the music world, there is always the temptation to head to a big city like Nashville. You are perfectly content to remain in Galax and branch out from there. Why is that?DF – I like to do things differently, and while a lot of people successfully take the big city route, that isn’t for me. I’m so influenced by my roots here and want to draw more attention to this part of the country. I may move one day, but not likely to a big city. I grew up in a small, rural town, and I would like my daughter to have a similar experience. Plus, I love the mountains so much and always miss them when I’m away.BRO – What’s your earliest musical memory?DF – Listening to my dad play at fiddler’s conventions and art festivals as a toddler.BRO – We are featuring “Ain’t Nobody,” a wonderful a cappella piece, on this month’s Trail Mix. What do you think it is about an a cappella song that people find so compelling?DF – Well, we’re so used to hearing a voice accompanied by instruments, so hearing an a cappella song where the voice is the instrument can be really striking. I think we forget the voice’s strength and power as an instrument.BRO – Suffice it to say that I am green with envy over your Henderson guitar. Could you put in a good word with Wayne for me? Maybe get me to the top of the list?DF – Hah! I will be sure to pass the word along. It’d help if you could bring a couple lemon meringue pies and a rare shotgun by the guitar shop.Dori – and her beautiful Henderson guitar – will be celebrating the release of her new record on Friday at the Rex Theater in Galax. After that, she heads out to Missouri for the Folk Alliance conference before hitting some more local dates in Roanoke, Floyd, and Knoxville in March and April.For more information on Dori Freeman, her new record, and when she might take to a stage near you, point your browser here.[divider]Read more Trail Mix[/divider]
I’ve run into the subject of depression quite a bit recently.Coincidentally and through no deliberate search of my own, I have come face-to-face with what seems to be a significant cultural shift in our alternative sports community… we are suddenly opening up, showing vulnerability, and reaching out to others for help. That is so incredibly awesome!I have encountered this subject so much in personal conversations and media over the past month that I feel compelled to share some of the puzzle pieces. Maybe this information can spur a butterfly effect that could change or save a life…This commentary by Simon Sinek sets the stage… while a bit hard on millenials, it demonstrates our generation’s vulnerabilities towards depression. These include operating in a highly filtered social media existence, having a degree of convenience and instant gratification to many aspects of life, and not always realizing that we must first climb the mountain in order to reach the summit (love that analogy). Check it out regardless of which generation you belong to… Rob is a member of our Southeast whitewater kayaking community, and his willingness to address a very personal and difficult subject is admirable and powerful. I believe he is absolutely correct about people being afraid to speak up because we don’t want to be a downer, and we think it clashes with optimism and a positive attitude. But here’s the thing… if you’ve ever heard of Asch’s conformity experiments, and the “single dissenter” psychological phenomenon, it only takes one person to stand up to give others hope and a voice. Wellness: The Dark RideThis article from Mountain Life Magazine digs deeper into the intricate relationships of these threads. The topic of sadness and hardship being taboo is revisited, as is the critical role of peer validation. One new piece to the puzzle is the effect that elevation can have on brain chemistry. When considered together, a fragile house of cards begins to emerge. But what is also evident is that silence and fear are giving way to support and love. As the article points out, there are 350 million other people on Earth dealing with something similar!Note- The title of this blog was borrowed from a meaningful quote by Greg McDonnell within this Mountain Life piece.Searching for SeroRenowned adventure photographer John Rathwell and his partner Tracy Guenard put this project together to tell compelling stories about life and joy in the outdoors. Sero is short for serotonin, the chemical believed to contribute to a feeling of happiness, and the Searching for Sero mission is to shine light on mental wellness and suicide prevention. Rolling Stone / Dave MirraThis piece of journalism is a powerful and sobering convergence of every factor in this discussion, with one additional component: head injuries. As it turns out, every one of these depression risk factors is exacerbated by a condition discovered in pro football players around 2000. CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions and depression, and even mild concussions can increase the risk of depression and suicide. The article focuses on legendary BMX rider Dave Mirra, who tragically took his own life in 2016. That event put the extreme sports community on its heels, and sparked a lot of research into the relationship between brain trauma and depression.These conversations and articles have had a significant effect on me. I am a millennial who enjoys extreme sports and playing at altitude, and I have hit my head more times than I care to admit. Like it or not, I have signed up for a life of extreme highs and sometimes dramatic lows. Is this information reason enough to quit the sports that I love and live life in a bubble? Hell no!But I do know that I will pay closer attention to depression in my own life and in those of my friends. “The stoke” will live on, and hopefully we will be able to take care of ourselves and each other in a more informed way… Good lines.
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