FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Lynda V. Mapes for the Seattle Times:The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency reviewing permits for the deep water port project, agreed with the tribe Monday that it could not grant a permit for a project that would infringe on the Lummi Nation’s treaty-protected fishing rights.The developer, SSA Marine of Seattle, declared the decision “inconceivable” and political, rather than fact-based. But legal experts said far from outlandish, the decision followed federal obligation to protect tribal treaty rights and the habitat that makes those reserved rights meaningful.While SSA voiced shock at the decision, some industry analysts said it merely put a project that was never going to be economically viable out of its misery.“This is like cutting the head off a zombie; it stopped making economic sense years ago, and now it’s officially dead,” said Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at the Sightline Institute in Seattle. With coal prices in a long slide and no recovery in sight, the project had no financial future, Williams-Derry said.“They have no market for the coal,” agreed Tom Sanzillo, based in New York as the director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit think tank. Coal-export projects are “wasting a lot of investor capital and people’s time,” he said.Full article: Tribes prevail, kill proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point Kirk Johnson for the New York Times:The coal industry, shaken by dropping global demand and tighter air quality regulations, took another major hit on Monday when the United States Army Corps of Engineers said it would deny the permit for what could have been nation’s largest coal export terminal.The $665 million project, called the Gateway Pacific Terminal, was already hitting headwinds. The developer asked last month that the state environmental review on the project be delayed, citing “uncertainty and related costs.” And one of the largest potential suppliers of coal, Peabody Energy, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.But in the end, the decision came down to fish.The Lummi Nation of American Indians had said the terminal, about 90 miles north of Seattle, would threaten the tribe’s ancestral fishing rights, which are legally protected by treaties dating to the mid-1800s. Spills or maritime accidents, the tribe said, could permanently destroy fishing beds.In its decision, the corps agreed, saying the developer’s plan to extend docks across 144 acres over the water could have restricted access to the water by the tribe. That concern was enough to stop the terminal, corps officials said, without even considering potential environmental harm.A spokesman for the project called the corps’ decision “inconceivable.”Environmental concerns about energy transport through the Northwest — both coal and oil — have grown in recent years as projects like the Gateway Pacific Terminal were put forward. Municipal leaders in cities from Spokane to Seattle said trains carrying coal from mines in Montana and Wyoming, or oil from North Dakota, posed risks: air pollution caused by dust, traffic congestion caused by mile-long trains and the potential catastrophe of derailments in urban areas.But the economics of the market have spoken just as loudly.Arch Coal, which was part of a team backing a big coal-export terminal on the Columbia River, filed for bankruptcy in January. A liquefied natural gas project proposed in Oregon was shelved last month, as was a methanol refinery plant in Tacoma, near Seattle. Mr. Watters said in his statement that the Gateway Pacific developers were considering “all action alternatives.”Full article: U.S. Denies Permit for Coal Terminal in Washington State Army Corps Blocks Plan for Coal Terminal in Washington State
IEA Report: Renewables Will Supplant Coal in Alleviating Global Electricity Poverty FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Carbon Brief:Around the world, more than a billion people still lack access to electricity.This number is shrinking, down by one third since 2000, despite rising population levels, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) special report on energy access, published today.The report says that while coal has supplied nearly half of the progress from 2000 to date, its role is set to decline “dramatically.” This is because renewables are becoming cheaper and because the hardest-to-reach people are in remote, rural areas where off-grid solutions offer the lowest cost.The report shows the number of people without access to electricity will shrink by another third by 2030, with 60% of these gains supplied by renewables. Furthermore, if the world commits to providing universal access by 2030, then renewables would bridge 90% of the remaining gap, the IEA says.The rate of progress has been accelerating, the IEA says, rising from 62 million people gaining electricity access each year during 2000-2012 to 103 million during 2012-2015.Coal has been the main source of this new supply, generating 45% of the electricity used by people gaining access for the first time between 2000 and 2016.There has also been a growing role for renewable sources of electricity, the IEA notes, with particularly rapid growth in decentralized off-grid access From 2000-2012, renewables provided 28% of new access to electricity. This figure rose to 34% during 2012-2016.There are regional differences in the sources of new electricity connections. In India, for example, coal generated 75% of new supplies, against 20% for renewables. Sub-Saharan Africa has had the most rapid recent improvement in providing electricity access, rising from 9m new connections per year during 2000-2012 to 26m per year during 2012-2016. Most of this acceleration is due to renewables, responsible for 70% of new access since 2012, whereas coal has not supplied any new connections in this period.Looking ahead, the IEA says the number of people without access to electricity will fall to around 700 million by 2030, under its central scenario.Asia will reach close to 100% access to electricity by 2030 and India will meet its aim of universal access in the early 2020s. The vast majority of the 700 million still without electricity in 2030 will be in sub-Saharan Africa. Around the world, the share of new electricity access supplied by renewables will nearly double to 60%, up from 34% over the past five years. This pattern is even more extreme in India, where the share of new electricity from renewables will triple to 60%Coal’s role in providing electricity access “declines dramatically,” the IEA says, providing power to 16% of those who gain access over the next 14 years. This compares to 45% during 2000-2016.More: Renewables will give more people access to electricity than coal, says IEA
Trump administration continues to work on bailout for coal, nuclear plants FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is helping the Trump administration identify “critical” coal and nuclear power plants, a key step in the White House’s contentious plan to keep those facilities online in the name of national security.Anthony Pugliese, FERC’s chief of staff, told an American Nuclear Society conference this week that the agency is helping the National Security Council as well as the departments of Defense and Energy determine which facilities should be deemed critical.“We are working with DOD and DOE and the National Security Council to identify the plants that we think would be absolutely critical to ensuring that not only our military bases but things like hospitals and other critical infrastructure is able to be maintained, regardless of what natural or man-made disasters might occur,” Pugliese said, according to an audio recording of the remarks shared with Bloomberg News.Donald Hoffman, the president of consultancy Excel Services Corp. and chairman of the conference, confirmed Pugliese’s comments.Pugliese’s remarks show the Trump administration is still developing plans to stem coal and nuclear power plant closures in the name of national security, despite criticism that the efforts would represent an unprecedented intrusion into U.S. power markets. The remarks also are raising eyebrows because they suggest FERC, an independent energy regulator, is working in tandem with the White House on the plan, stoking concerns the agency is being inappropriately politicized.Pugliese previously served as a member of the Trump administration’s transition team and as a senior White House adviser at the Department of Transportation. His remarks were earlier reported by E&E News.“It appears as though the commission is secretly working on a massive bailout program” which conflicts with FERC’s mandate to conduct its activity “in a transparent, docketed process,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at the watchdog group Public Citizen.The list is essential to the Trump administration’s developing plans to bolster money-losing coal and nuclear power plants at risk of closing in the face of competition from cheap natural gas. The administration is still honing possible interventions, including mandating electricity purchases and establishing a strategic reserve of critical power generators, in order to buy time for a two-year study of vulnerabilities in the American energy delivery system.More: U.S. Starts Picking Power-Plant Winners for Emergency Aid
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):With oil and gas drillers filing for bankruptcy at a rising clip in 2019, credit rating agencies say the number of companies in distress is marching higher and they are bracing for more credit downgrades and Chapter 11 filings this fall.Exploration and production companies, or E&Ps, are producing more oil and gas in North America than ever before and that production is causing credit worries — the increased demand from Mexico and LNG isn’t enough to sop up gobs of hydrocarbons finding their way to market.Investors as well as lenders appear worried about the sector, according to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. oil and gas analyst Neal Dingmann. Investors peppered companies with refinancing questions during presentations at The Oil and Gas Conference by EnerCom Inc. in Denver, Dingmann told his clients Aug. 14. “Investors not only questioned what [was the] potential cost of capital … but whether the market was even open to such transactions.”Chapter 11 filings this month by Halcón Resources Corp. and Sanchez Energy Corp. helped drive the number of oil and gas E&P bankruptcy filings to 26 so far in 2019, outpacing the 21 seen in all of 2018, law firm Haynes and Boone LLP said their mid-August Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor.For several of these producers, such as Halcón, the filings follow a previous trip through Chapter 11 during the 2015-2016 oil and gas downturn and marks a capitulation, the firm said. Many firms reorganized three years ago only to discover there were no potential buyers, Buddy Clark, co-chair of Haynes and Boone’s energy practice said. “They’ve been limping along,” Clark said. “The public markets have just shut down and there are no obvious exits. For these producers the game clock has run out of time to keep playing ‘kick the can’ with their creditors and other stakeholders,” the Haynes and Boone’s presentation said.S&P Global Ratings noted in early August that the number of speculative-grade companies’ borrowing at rates 10% or more above what Treasury bills pay continues to grow, indicating that riskier borrowers are paying more for money. According to S&P Global Ratings, 18.4% of less-than-investment grade borrowers are paying 10% or more for loans, while the average spread among speculative oil and gas borrowers has widened to 3.49% above the risk-free T-bill rate, from 2.31% in July 2018. Some borrowers may not be able to find a lender this fall, S&P warned. “A number of issuers with distressed issues will face refinancing risks in the short term if financing conditions do not improve, including Unit Corp., Denbury Resources Inc., California Resources Corp. and Pioneer Energy Services Corp.,” Ratings said in its note.More ($): As oil and gas bankruptcies rise, S&P warns of coming shale producer downgrades S&P: Economic pressure mounting for U.S. exploration and production companies
U.K. looks to produce green hydrogen with electricity from Hornsea 2 offshore wind project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:What will soon be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm – Orsted’s 1.4GW Hornsea 2 – will power green hydrogen production under a programme newly-awarded additional funding by the UK government.The Gigastack project, led by ITM Power, aims to deliver zero-carbon hydrogen via ‘stackable’ 5MW electrolysers produced in gigawatt-scale factories for large-scale generation.Gigastack was on Tuesday awarded £7.5m ($9.7m) by the UK government under the latest stage of its hydrogen innovation programme, with a view to enabling green hydrogen production from the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery in northeast England.Hornsea 2 is due online in the UK North Sea in 2022, when it will replace Orsted’s adjacent 1.2GW Hornsea 1 as the world’s largest operating offshore wind farm.Offshore wind is rapidly emerging as a key potential power source for bulk – and therefore more cost-effective – production of green hydrogen, which is increasingly seen as the ‘missing link’ in the energy transition thanks to its ability to penetrate hard-to-decarbonise areas such as heating and heavy industrial processes.Orsted is also involved in an offshore wind-to-hydrogen initiative in Denmark, and hydrogen production is envisaged as part of a huge ‘energy island’ hub in the Baltic.[Andrew Lee]More: World’s largest offshore wind farm to power green hydrogen under U.K. plan
RWE targeting renewables, hydrogen for future growth opportunities FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):It still owns one of Europe’s largest coal power fleets and ranks among the continent’s biggest carbon emitters, but on RWE AG’s half-year earnings call, the focus was squarely on renewable energy. Through its green power unit, RWE Renewables GmbH, the company is chasing more capacity development and portfolio acquisitions across technologies, CFO Markus Krebber told analysts and journalists Aug. 13.With a planned acquisition from Nordex SE, RWE will add 2.7 GW of onshore wind and solar assets to its growing renewables development pipeline. The deal comprises largely French capacity, at 1.9 GW, as well as projects in Spain, Sweden and Poland.RWE is targeting 13 GW of renewables by 2022, increasing its footprint from 8.7 GW in 2019. A large slice of that growth in Europe and the U.S. will come from offshore wind — a market in which the company wants to be the global number two, behind Ørsted A/S.In Krebber’s eyes, investable renewables pipelines are set to become harder to come by as market interest in green power grows, driven in part by deep-pocketed fossil fuel players like BP PLC, which recently committed to a 50-GW capacity target for renewables by 2030. Capital deployment and capacity targets in the renewables space will exceed the number of available projects in the coming years, Krebber said. This is despite growing demand for clean power and green hydrogen — the latter being underpinned by a 40-GW electrolysis target for 2030 set by the European Commission — but the increasing competition is not concerning, he added: “Rather, it’s a confirmation of our chosen strategy.”Policy frameworks for European and German hydrogen development have buoyed RWE’s own plans for the segment, which include both the supply of renewables for green hydrogen production and logistical and storage projects for the fuel, which could be coupled with existing gas infrastructure and trading expertise, Krebber said.“Hydrogen is the great hope for the decarbonization of the industrial sector. It has enormous potential for the energy transition, and for RWE as well,” the CFO said. In June, the company announced plans to supply steel maker Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG with green hydrogen for its furnaces, pending regulatory support on pipeline investments.[Camilla Naschert]More ($): Largely spared by pandemic, RWE zooms in on renewables, hydrogen ambitions
The Last Bison’s Free Range FolkIn “Switzerland,” the lead single from The Last Bison’s new Inheritance EP, front man and main songwriter Ben Hardesty sings, “We tried to sleep up in the banks of snow, but soon discovered it was far too cold. So we then retreated into town, to find a place where there was level ground.”It sounds like part of a tale ripped from an epic war tome, but it’s more likely an experience from a post-high school backpacking trip abroad. Still, the aesthetic is intentional. Hardesty grew up in Chesapeake, Va., a rural town just inland from the coast, where he was homeschooled and given the freedom to study what really interested him. He cites a six-month obsession with the Civil War as particularly influential in his vivid songs.“I had the opportunity to study the things I really cared about,” he says. “I’ve always had a love for that era, and that informs my songwriting. That makes it come off as representative of a time gone by.”Although Hardesty grew up digging the rootsy sounds of Allison Krauss and John Prine, a year living in the UK after high school also turned him on to classical music. Now the influences collide in his seven-piece band’s self-described mountaintop chamber music. It’s a sound where perky banjo plucks and mandolin fills are underscored by the sweet melancholy of patient cello runs and deep marching percussion. Hardesty leads the troops, donning a general’s beard, with emotional vocals that fluctuate between husky howls and high-pitched falsetto.Still in his early 20s, Hardesty has been writing songs since his homeschooling days, often inspired by the marsh woodlands of the Great Dismal Swamp near his home and trips to nearby colonial Williamsburg. When he returned to Virginia from England he decided to get serious about his craft and started working out songs with his father and sister, both members of The Last Bison, at home in their living room. They added longtime friend Andrew Benfante on a 75-year-old pump organ and his brother Jay on percussion. The group is rounded out by classically trained string players Teresa Totheroh on violin and Amos Housworth on cello.With seven members, the band’s sound comes to life with a theatrical vibrancy. While Hardesty sings and pounds away at his acoustic guitar, the rest of the group creates pastoral aural journeys with swirling strings and colossal bursts of emotion—often equally appropriate for a rock club or a symphony hall.“I bring full songs to the band, like a canvas to paint on,” Hardesty adds. “Then we work through the structure and embellish a song together.”Though based in Chesapeake, the band built a reputation through coffee shop gigs and house shows in nearby Norfolk. After a local band showcase at The Norva, a large theater that houses national acts, the venue’s booking agent sent the band’s independently released first album, Quill, to a DJ at a local alternative rock station. The station put one of the band’s tunes in rotation, and soon, record label reps took notice. The band inked a deal with Universal Republic and released the EP last fall with a full-length album to follow in March. The band’s sound has earned comparisons to predecessors in the neo-folk explosion like Mumford and Sons and the Decemberists. The group has also already landed some choice gigs in the Americana world, including an opening slot for the Avett Brothers at an amphitheater near their hometown and a tour with Langhorne Slim. While Hardesty says the comparisons are flattering, he stresses his band isn’t trying to imitate what’s currently popular.“There’s a rising trend in folk music,” he says. “The key is to be authentic and make the music that comes from you. We’re not trying to contrive anything.” •Jim James Goes SoloMy Morning Jacket front man Jim James will release a debut solo album on February 5. While James previously released a short EP of George Harrison covers under the name Yim Yames, this will mark his first proper full length under his own name. Regions of Light and Sound of God was both produced and engineered by James, who also handled all instruments on the album’s nine tracks. According to a release, sounds will range from old-school R&B to island folk, while a preview track, “Know Til Now” has a futuristic soul groove with similarities to Jacket’s work on Z and Evil Urges. No word yet on whether a supporting tour will follow.
Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear behemoth, continues to urge you to not buy their stuff. Their latest effort is aimed directly at the post-Thanksgiving shopping madness and is billed as the “antidote to Black Friday.” Their new short film, Worn Wear – the above is just a short trailer for the 30 minute long movie, which is linked at the end – highlights the “stories we wear” and explores how our used gear can drum up memories, feelings, and emotions that other things can’t. I find this to be very true. I can relate the story of how I got any piece of outdoor gear I own and what adventures I had in it. The film takes a look at some of the most used, abused, and worn pieces of Patagonia clothing and how it is still being used 10, 20, and 30 years later.Learn more about Worn Wear here.I encourage you to watch the entire film, and practice restraint this holiday season. If not, enjoy the Black Friday stampede video below.
There’s nothing that quite compares to hitting the open road. It’s exhilarating, liberating, intoxicating. You never know what’s around the corner, what hole-in-the-wall shop or hidden gem you may discover. Even if you’re just out for the day, breaking the 9-to-5 routine for a scenic drive might be enough to recharge your batteries and get you inspired to go outside and play.If you’ve already used up your vacation time at work, taking a weeklong trip might not necessarily be feasible. Never fear! You can easily accomplish a week’s worth of adventure and travel over a three-day weekend. Climber, paddler, foodie, beachgoer, whatever your calling, we have a road trip that will let you experience some of the best of the region in 400 miles or less. So pack the car, crank the tunes, and put the pedal to the metal. It’s time for a road trip.ISLAND HOPPIN’Savannah, Ga. to Charleston, S.C.(208 miles)Driver: Erin LarsenHails from: Fayetteville, W.Va.Rocks out to: Pandora—Macklemore and Lucinda WilliamsAlways brings: friends, swimsuit, sarong, and boardMunches hard on: fresh bread, sharp cheddar cheese, apples, hummus, carrotsDay 1: Savannah and Tybee Island, Ga.Your day begins in the city of Savannah, a historical town where country-fried hospitality and a touch of Greek Revival sophistication adorn every street corner. Check into The Marshall House (marshallhouse.com; rooms from $152.10), the oldest hotel in Savannah. Once you’re settled in, head downtown and grab a bite at Paula Deen’s restaurant, Lady and Sons (ladyandsons.com). The culinary must-haves there include artery-clogging classics like fried green tomatoes and chicken pot pie. Splurge a little; you’ll need that greasy energy later.Head east on US-80 until you arrive at Tybee Island. With five miles of sandy-white beaches and plenty of piers, lighthouses, and waves, plan on spending all of day one out in the sun. Hit up East Coast Paddleboarding for a rental SUP (eastcoastpaddleboarding.com; $40) and try to catch some surf at the Pier or paddle out to the Cockspur Lighthouse near the mouth of the Savannah River.Day 2: Beaufort and Hunting Island, S.C.Before leaving town, stand beneath the Majestic Oak off LaRoche Avenue near the heart of Savannah, said to be one of Georgia’s oldest and largest live oaks. An hour’s drive north puts you in yet another charming waterfront town, Beaufort, S.C. The setting for a number of Hollywood flicks like Forrest Gump and Forces of Nature, Beaufort is known for its quaint southern vibe. Continue through town on the Sea Island Parkway until you get to Barefoot Bubba’s Surf Shop where you can rent a bike for your next adventure: pedaling the 8-mile trail on Hunting Island State Park.Situated on a 5,000-acre barrier island just 16 miles east of Beaufort, Hunting Island’s marshy beaches and maritime forest were used for the Vietnam jungle scenes in Forrest Gump and Rules of Engagement. This multipurpose trail weaves through the five different ecosystems that span the state park and flourish year-round with wildlife. Finish your ride by cruising over to Hunting Island Lighthouse. Pay $2 to enter the historic structure and climb its 167 steps; you’ll sweat for the view, but it’s worth it.Nab a spot at the campground on Hunting Island (huntingisland.com; $17) before swinging back up the parkway for dinner. Order a shrimp burger ($4.25) at The Shrimp Shack on St. Helena Island and finish the evening with a sunset stroll back on Hunting Island’s marsh boardwalk.Day 3: Charleston and Folly Beach, S.C.On your way off the island in the morning, stop by Blackstone’s Café (blackstonescafe.com) for breakfast. Pancakes, French toast, shrimp omelets. Accept it: vacations are meant for such indulgence.Pass through the city of Charleston to your final island getaway, Folly Beach, S.C., the “Edge of America.” Grab a SUP, kayak, surf board, whatever your craft of choice, and get to exploring. Marshes line sections of beach for a calmer float while The Washout provides some of the best swells on the South Carolina coast. Paddle hard for lunch at The ‘Wich Doctor, a gourmet pizza and sandwich shop on the island. Brussels sprouts pizzas, chicken and waffle sandwiches, need I go further?Round out the island experience and get your Namaste on with Charleston SUP Safaris (charlestonsupsafaris.com). Either rent a board ($35) and do your own yoga practice or get a crew of four together for a private lesson ($30/person). Stay the night at the James Island County Park campground (ccprc.com; $25), catch the sunrise in the morning, and say aloha to those sweet days of salty paradise…for now.TRAILS of TRI-CITIESERWIN, TENN. to DAMASCUS, VA.(122 miles)Driver: Jenny NicholsHails from: Bristol, Va.Rocks out to: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Hot Buttered Run, Hackensaw Boys, Railroad Earth, Trampled By Turtles, and local favorite Folk SoulAlways brings: Salomon Mantra Sense 2 shoes, Salomon Agile 12 hydration pack, a sense of adventure, and a little flexibilityMunches hard on: wasabi peas, peanut butter-filled pretzels, and Kombucha Day 1: Damascus, Va. and Buzzard RockThey don’t call it Trail Town, U.S.A. for nothing. As the hub for over five different trail systems ranging from foot-traffic only to multipurpose, Damascus, Va., is the perfect place to begin your trail vacation. For a scenic yet challenging run or day hike, try out the DAM8, the local trail running community’s go-to loop. This 8-mile loop starts and ends at Sundog Outfitter and follows parts of the Iron Mountain Trail and Virginia Creeper Trail for 2000’ of elevation change.After you’ve worked up that appetite, roll into the Blue Blaze Cafe (blueblazecafe.com) for the best cheesesteak subs south of Philly (for our veggie lovers, try the shiitake/crimini version of the sub). If you’re still itching to get out on the trail, head up Route 58 to Buzzard Rock and hike the easy two-mile out-and-back trail to catch the sunset. Grab a campsite along the Virginia Creeper Trail on your way back into Damascus or try one of the many bed and breakfasts in town for lodging. Finish the night off with a Beaver Rage brewski from The Damascus Brewery (thedamascusbrewery.com).Day 2: Bristol, Tenn. and Steele Creek ParkConsider staying another night in Damascus as your destination on day 2 is just a 30-minute drive to the border town of Bristol, Va./Tenn. Although largely an urban hub of country music and Nascar, Bristol’s 2,200+-acre Steele Creek Park is a perfect way to get out on the trails while still being able to experience the culture of town. Link the park’s trails for a 7-10 mile trail run around the lake, past cascading waters, and through densely wooded forest.Afterwards step back in time at the Burger Bar (burgerbarbristol.com) in downtown Bristol, rumored to be the place where Hank Williams enjoyed his last meal. The signature item is the Burger Bar’s thick burger (vegetarian options available) stacked high with everything from fried eggs to Tabasco onion straws, but the breakfast and milkshakes here are also brag-worthy. It’s easy to catch music in Bristol any night of the week during the summertime, but be sure to visit the newly opened Holston River Brewing Company (holstonriverbrewing.com), which is scheduled to have some awesome live music this year.Day 3: Erwin, Tenn. and the Nolichucky GorgeTucked amid some of the tallest peaks in the East is the town of Erwin, Tenn., a sleepy little place with a seasonal whitewater boom. It’s here, at Erwin’s Nolichucky Gorge Campground (nolichuckycampground.com; $3), where you will park your car and arrange a shuttle with campground staff to be dropped off at Iron Mountain Gap on the Appalachian Trail. The route is 18 miles south along the A.T. back to the campground, so choose your adventure. For an epic trail run, tackle it in a day, but for a casual overnighter, stop before you reach the halfway point near Beauty Spot and pitch a tent at Deep Gap.Regardless of how you choose to approach the trail, expect grassy balds with 360° views of the surrounding Unaka and Bald Mountain ranges as well as the nearby Nolichucky Gorge. When you’ve made it back to the campground, head into Johnson City, Tenn., for brick oven pizza at Scratch (scratchbrickoven.com). Build your own or “trust” the experts and let the chefs decide! Post up for the night at Cardens Bluff Campground, which overlooks Watauga Lake and the surrounding Cherokee National Forest (wataugalakeinfo.com).TWO-WHEELED TOURSHARRISONBURG, VA. to STATE COLLEGE, PENN.(272 miles)Driver: Chase LyneHails from: Charlottesville, Va.Rocks out to: The Infamous Stringdusters, The Steel Wheels, The Builders and The Butchers, BeckAlways brings: Two tubes, pump, water, and a bike toolMunches hard on: PB&J, Snickers, gummy worms, ProBars, nutsDay 1: Harrisonburg, Va. and George Washington National ForestGear up for your biking vacation by hitting the primo singletrack in and around Harrisonburg, Va. Combine the Narrowback Mountain (12.5 miles) and Lookout Mountain (13.1 miles) loops for a full-on day of riding. Hair-raising descents, swoopy trail, and incredible rockwork have earned these trails a lot of respect among the mountain biking community. If you’re looking to do some road biking instead, tackle Reddish Knob, one of Virginia’s highest peaks. The climb is brutal but the spectacular views at the summit are well worth the sweating and swearing.For lodging grab a campsite or rent out the lodge at Stokesville Campground (stokesvillelodge.com). If you’re looking to explore more of the city, head into Harrisonburg to the Stonewall Jackson Inn (stonewalljacksoninn.com; rooms from $149) for a less primitive, more convenient option. Catch some tunes and grab a meal at Clementine Cafe (clementinecafe.com) before retiring for the evening.Day 2: Davis, W.Va. and Canaan ValleyWest Virginia’s Canaan Valley is home to some of the best singletrack in the East. Each year, the valley hosts a mountain bike festival at the end of June, so be sure to put that on your calendar for next year. Use Camp 70 to connect two classic rides in Canaan ¬– Moon Rocks and Hoodoo Rocks – both of which offer killer views, fun descents, and a smattering of technical rock gardens. Be on the lookout for wild blueberries in the area and blooming rhododendron!For post-ride relaxation, kick your feet up at Sirianni’s Pizza Cafe (facebook.com/thesiriannispizzacafe) for a slice (or two, or five) of gourmet pizza and a pitcher of local beer from Mountain State Brewing (mountainstatebrewing.com). Reserve a cabin, room, or campsite at nearby Blackwater Falls State Park (blackwaterfalls.com; rooms from $85, campsites from $20).Day 3: State College, Penn., and Rothrock State ForestOne of the stages for the annual Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic, Rothrock State Forest is a 90,000-acre forest in central Pennsylvania and is home to the country’s oldest and largest grove of hemlock trees. Anyone familiar with the Keystone State’s trails knows the defining feature of the systems here: rocks. That being said, the trails in and around State College afford more than just technical rock gardens. Check out Tussey Ridge for some epic ridge riding and stunning views.A short jaunt from the state forest is the town of State College where you will be posting up for the night. Try renting one of the privately owned cabins operated under Happy Valley Retreats (happyvalleyretreats.com; cabins from $125). Otto’s Pub and Brewery (ottospubandbrewery.com) is known for its excellent craft beer and locally sourced entrees. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself; you rode hard for this.CRUSHING CRAGSSTEELE, ALA. to BREVARD, N.C.(380 miles)Driver: Jonathan DullHails from: Elon, N.C.Rocks out to: The Doors, Freddie King, The Black Keys, Creedence Clearwater RevivalAlways brings: Rope, Misty Mountain Harness, chalk bag, RAB pullover, helmetMunches hard on: Homemade jerky, chocolate-covered espresso beans, BLT from Foscoe Deli, GUDay 1: Steele, Ala., and Horse Pens 40Sloper central. That’s what you can expect when you head south to The Heart of Dixie where some of the best sandstone bouldering in the world exists. Horse Pens 40 (horsepens40.tripod.com), privately owned and operated by the Shultz family, sits on 40 acres of pristine land where you can find some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the world (we’re talking hundreds of millions of years here). Steeped in history, Horse Pens 40 sits picturesquely atop Alabama’s third highest mountain, Chandler Mountain, and has over 250 bouldering problems of every degree of difficulty. Some classic routes include The Stranger (V2), Bumboy (V3), and Hammerhead (V5).It’s only $15 to pitch a tent for the night, so claim a site and head into town. You can grab some grub in the nearby city of Gadsden at Flip Side Cafe (flipsidecafe.com), a family-operated restaurant that serves every meal and specializes in gourmet sandwiches for under $5.Day 2: Knoxville, Tenn., and Obed Wild & Scenic RiverLocated just an hour outside of Knoxville, the Obed Wild & Scenic River is a popular climbing destination for both bouldering enthusiasts and sport climbers alike. With everything from solution pockets and crack systems to gigantic ledges and tiered roofs, climbing in the Obed is perfect for both novice and experienced climbers looking for a challenge. Check out classic climbs like Jungle Jane (5.12a) at the Tieranny Wall, where many of the Obed’s first bolted routes were established. For some easier and more shaded options, head to South Clear Creek and hop on routes like Fat Lady Sings (5.9+) and Pet Sematary (5.11a).Make your way into the city at the end of the day and crash at the Knoxville Hostel (hostelhandbook.com; $18) for the night. There are plenty of pubs, breweries, and restaurants for every budget, but definitely check out Smoky Mountain Brewery (smoky-mtn-brewery.com) and Saw Works Brewing Company (sawworksbrewing.com) during your night on the town.Day 3: Brevard, N.C., and Looking GlassYour final climbing destination highlights one of the most iconic trad spots in the Southeast: Looking Glass Rock. Rising 600 feet above the center of Pisgah National Forest, Looking Glass is an impressive granite dome that affords climbers a plethora of single- and multi-pitch trad routes as well as aid routes on the North Face for advanced climbers. To get a taste of Looking Glass, climb up Rat’s Ass, a 300-foot route with three pitches. Wear long sleeves and/or lots of sunscreen as Looking Glass is extremely exposed and hot during the summertime.You can camp for free in the national forest, but if you’re looking for a cool shower after your climb, head to Davidson River Campground (visitnc.com) where showers are included with your campsite. The campground will put you close to the town of Brevard where you can head to Pescado’s Burritos (pescadosburritos.net) for quality (and a large quantity of) Mexican food.KEEP CALM and PADDLE ONFAYETTEVILLE, W.VA. to FRIENDSVILLE, MD.(178 miles)Day 1: Fayetteville, W.Va., and Summersville LakeWhile rafting the New and Gauley Rivers are typically the main attraction in Fayetteville, stand up paddleboarding at Summersville Lake is gaining popularity among climbers, boaters, and out-of-towners alike. It’s the perfect way to experience the area if you’ve already rafted the New and Gauley, if it’s too hot to climb, or if the adrenaline-pumping whitewater just isn’t your thing. Rafting companies like ACE (aceraft.com) and Adventures on the Gorge (adventuresonthegorge.com) offer guided SUP adventures to Summersville Lake starting at $79. Expect towering rock cliffs, knowledgeable guides, and a mellow afternoon out on the water.Lodging at each of the companies ranges from primitive campsites to luxury cabins, and if you haven’t had your fill of paddleboarding come day’s end, check out the numerous options available for the next best thing: yoga SUP. Grab a gourmet sandwich or burger at the Secret Sandwich Society (secretsandwichsociety.com) and top it off with a brew from Bridge Brew Works (bridgebrewworks.com) for the ultimate Fayetteville experience. Day 2: Ohiopyle, Penn., and Cheat River CanyonHead all the way up through the mountains of West Virginia, past the Monongahela National Forest to the small town of Albright. It is here that you will tackle your next river adventure: rafting the Cheat River Canyon. The Cheat River is the largest free-flowing class IV-V river on the East and runs for three months during the spring and early summer. It is home to a number of rare and endangered species such as the Indiana bat and the three-toothed snail (which, believe it or not, only has one tooth). Check in with the Wilderness Voyageurs outpost there and get geared up to hit the water (wilderness-voyageurs.com; trips from $75).After crashing through the rapids with your guide, continue an hour north to Ohiopyle, Penn., where you can stay for the night and refuel for the last day. Grab a room at Wilderness Voyageur’s Trillium Lodge (trillium-lodge.com) or pitch a tent at Kentuck Campground (dcnr.state.pa.us), just a short drive away from Fallingwater, one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s greatest feats. Whether you’re a vegan or a paleo, everyone can find something to pig out on at The Firefly Grill (thefireflygrill.com) in downtown Ohiopyle before retiring for the evening.Day 3: Friendsville, Md., and the Youghiogheny RiverYou’ll be reconnecting with Wilderness Voyageurs again this morning, but this time at their third outpost in Friendsville, Md., a quick half-hour drive north. Rafting down the Upper Youghiogheny (Yough) River is your mission for the day, and with 11 miles of continuous class III+ whitewater zooming through the mountains of western Maryland, it’s bound to be a memorable ride. The Upper Yough is on a dam release schedule from the middle of May until the beginning of October, so check the schedule before planning your trip.After you’ve spent most of your day basking in the sun and dodging boulder-strewn class IV-V rapids in your raft, head over to The Riverside Hotel (riversidehotel.us; rooms from $69) for dinner and a pillow to rest your head. The hotel overlooks the takeout of the Upper Yough and the front porch there is the best place to unwind after an adrenaline-packed three days on the water. The meals at The Riverside Hotel are all homemade, vegetarian, and organic. For just $12, you can get unlimited soup, bread, salad, drink, and a dessert.ADVENTURE SAMPLERBREAKS, VA. to SLADE, KY.(116 miles)Day 1: Breaks, Va., and the Pine Mountain TrailThe 4,600-acre Breaks Interstate Park is located in the westernmost corner of Virginia where the state meets the eastern Kentucky border. From climbing to mountain biking, hiking, and paddling, Breaks Interstate Park is an epicenter of outdoor adventure. For your first escapade, hike out from the park to tackle the 13-mile Birch Knob section of the Pine Mountain Trail. This ridgeline hike affords amazing views of the surrounding Virginia and Kentucky mountains and arrives at Birch Knob, the highest point along the trail. A water source and shelter are available at the summit, making for a logistically easy out-and-back overnighter. Grab a campsite at the park (breakspark.com; sites from $15) if you’d rather just do part of the trail as a day hike. Day 2: Corbin, Ky., and the Cumberland RiverCool down on day two with a class III paddle down the Cumberland River, one of the few free-flowing rivers in Kentucky that runs year-round. Put in below Cumberland Falls, a gorgeous 68-foot waterfall that spans 125 feet across the river and is often referred to as the “Niagara of the South” or “Little Niagara.” Sheltwoee Trace Outfitters (ky-rafting.com; trips from $70) offers guided rafting trips as well as inflatable duckies that you can rent and paddle down on your own. Once you’re off the river, check out The Root Beer Stand in nearby Corbin and treat yourself to a dangerously delicious cheeseburger and root beer float.Day 3: Slade, Ky., and the Red River GorgeGo big on your last day in the Bluegrass State by climbing at the Red River Gorge, one of the premier climbing destinations in the East. With over 1,100 different routes spread throughout a variety of national forest and privately owned land, there is an endless array of climbing available at the Red. Mostly sport with some trad walls and a few bouldering areas, some of the classic beginner climbs in the area include Bedtime for Bonzo (5.6), Plate Tectonics (5.9+), and Creature Feature (5.9).Pull hard all day or until your fingers are raw, and then head to Miguel’s Pizza (miguelspizza.com) to stuff your face and crash for the night. Miguel’s has long been heralded as the unofficial headquarters for the Red, a place where rail-thin climbers can choose from 45 different toppings and create their own motherload pizza. With cheap campsites starting at $2 per night and a climbing shop located right in the pizza parlor, it’s no wonder that this sleepy little building becomes a climbing hub when the weather cools down. •
I am 49. For the greater part of my life, I was fit. I averaged about 5-6 mile runs four days per week, taught tons of boot camp-style classes at various gyms and did a ton of core. But at 38, I tore my Posterior Cruciate Ligament and started a PhD program. These two events interrupted my exercise regimen, to say the least, and I basically quit doing everything besides an occasional hike. I gained weight, lost muscle and lived for pumpkin bread and cappuccino. What motivated me to sign on with BRO for the fitness challenge was when a dear friend and avid runner was diagnosed with cancer and unable to work out because chemotherapy made her so sick. I decided I could do anything if she could endure cancer, and I signed up for a month at Hard Exercise Works (HEW) in Asheville, North Carolina.Old, out of shape, and addicted to Netflix marathons, I thought for sure I was out of my league when I entered the gym. The only thing I knew about the place was that my daughter had trained at HEW religiously before attending plebe summer at the United States Naval Academy to prepare for military-style workouts, and she LOVED it! I started the class the day after Memorial Day weekend. I was terrified on Day 1. Steps, kettle bells, jump ropes, weight balls and rowing machines lined the walls, visible signs of what was in store! Along with a pre-workout waiver I was asked to submit a food diary of what I had consumed the previous three days. As it was a holiday, I was horrified as I documented the disgusting things I put in my mouth over the weekend. The staff reviewed the information and offered some nutrition counseling after the workout that was well received, despite my utter horror that someone actually knew how unhealthy I could be! When Kelly asked to take my measurements—a great way to gage the impact of the program—I refused since I had engaged in extremely unhealthy holiday celebrations. She was so forgiving and accommodating and offered to take measurements later. This relieved my anxiety and ramped up my enthusiasm for the workout.MY FIRST CLASSThe HEW workout facility is bright, open and clean. Part of the warm up takes place outside on a marked asphalt course behind the building marked at 100, 200, 300 and 400 meters. The gym is split into two levels to accommodate large classes. There are typically four circuits set up so that everyone is able to do a station without having to wait. It looks like a traditional gym but with tons of light and mirrors across the walls. During my first class there were over 20 people in attendance. It was an evenly split between males and females. Most were in their 20s-40s and ranged from super fit to beginners. There were two men over the age of 60. The class lasted about one hour and was set up as four circuits that included sit-ups, kettle bell swings (various weights are set up to accommodate the different levels of fitness), barbell dead lifts to curls (various weights again), and squats with one arm held straight overhead with a weight.There was a huge timer set to accommodate 30-second cycles where eight reps of each exercise were expected. After each circuit, the class went outside for 400-meter sprints. The sprint was very difficult for me.At the end we stretched. During the workout, numerous people encouraged me with chants of “you got this” and “great job” that made the experience much more enjoyable. The best part of the class was the timer on the wall that beeped when the circuit set was over. It allowed me a few seconds of rest before the next set began.The most unique aspect of the fitness program was the lack of monotony and the speedy nature of the workout. It was over in what seemed like a few seconds!My friend Chakara Dickerson was in the class. She had attended HEW for six weeks and lost over 2 inches in her waist. She also completed the MURPH challenge over Memorial Day Weekend. This is a HEW annual event where the individual runs 2 miles, does 100 pull ups, 200 sit-ups and some other terribly hard things. She completed it and felt amazing! The instructor was terrific! Arnauldo Alvarez, the owner of HEW, met with me prior to class and explained what I would be doing. During the class, he talked to individuals, checked on form, encouraged the stragglers and really motivated the class to reach its potential. He was helpful as I struggled to do all of the circuits and often yelled, “great job, Mary.”His assistants were exceptional as they walked about checking on form and bolstering enthusiasm by turning up the music and engaging with clients. Luke Kimlinger and Jesse Redinger assisted with the class, demonstrated proper form and checked to make sure participants used correct technique, consumed plenty of water, and had a great time. “You want to push yourself but not push past yourself, meaning you want to be the best version of yourself,” states Redinger, who has worked at HEW for the past four years. “The coaches are here when you’re not quite sure on form or technique. The support of the coaches will give you that extra confidence that you need to kind of tackle things that you typically wouldn’t.” According to Redinger, the most rewarding part of her job is empowering people through fitness and watching individuals transform with the support of the HEW community. HEW holds events where members meet for trivia nights at local bars and other social gatherings. It is a community where members support and encourage each other to reach their potential. HEW offers ten classes per day during the week, two classes on Saturday, and is closed on Sunday, so there is really never an excuse not to go. It is a weighted/cardio mix that is managed by an instructor who constantly switches up the circuits, so you really feel like you have accomplished something without being too exhausted at the end of the workout. The pre-workout nutrition counseling and measurement review was extremely helpful as I moved forward into this month-long fitness program.Anyone who is interested in building strength while gaining a huge community of fellow fitness friends and cardio will love HEW. It is not easy and there are no shortcuts, but the instructors are engaged and encouraging.Never will you do the same workout twice. Modifications are demonstrated and encouraged, especially for beginners. Everyone’s level of fitness at HEW is different in every class. No matter your fitness level, the group encourages each other, and the instructors support and assist you the entire time. What I have learned is that I am not as out of shape as I thought and that community definitely matters.