People


Outdoor Legend

Sue Haywood (Canaan Valley, W. Va.)

Professional mountain biker Sue Haywood has been tearing up the trails with a fearless attitude and expert skill since she got her start in the mountains of West Virginia. Although she is retired from the World Cup circuit, Haywood still competes in some of the toughest East Coast races and against herself. Now, she’s passing on her knowledge to young bikers through clinics and private lessons, building confidence and community among the next generation of riders.

Finalists

John Grace (Asheville, N.C.)

Jimmy Holcomb (Nantahala Outdoor Center, N.C.)


Regional Athlete

Ben King (Charlottesville, Va.)

Since he turned pro in 2008, cyclist Ben King has racked up major wins at the Shenandoah 100, Tour of California, and U.S. National Road Race Championships. For the last two years, he has raced for the South African team Dimension Data and won his first two Grand Tour stages in the 2018 Vuelta a España.

Finalists

Aaron Saft (Asheville, N.C.)

Pat Keller (Chattanooga, Tenn.)


A.T. Thru Hiker

Landen “Frick” and Garrett “Frack” Napier at the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.they were readers’ favorite A.T. Thru-hikers.

Landen “Frick” & Garrett “Frack” Napier (W. Va.)
After two years of nursing school, twin brothers Landen and Garrett Napier, 21, decided to take a break from college and hike the Appalachian Trail.  They prepared for the journey by watching YouTube videos and reading blogs of those who went before them. Each brother considers the other his best friend, and both agreed there is no one else they would rather do this with. They shared a tent on the trail to help cut down on weight.

“Everybody was like how have you not killed each other yet?” said Landen Napier. “Our answer was always the same. We spent nine months in a womb together, our tent has much more room for activities.”

The twins dealt with what seemed like constant snow and rain in the spring to a sweltering heat wave when they reached New York.

“It was just like one extreme to another, like extreme snow, extreme rain, and then all of a sudden it was like 100 degrees,” Landen said. “We were literally crawling up the trail.”

While the brothers prepare and train to hike the Pacific Crest Trail next year, they are working on an ambulance together as EMTs and enjoying being back at home for a little bit.

“On the trail, we had to lead a little more of a minimalist lifestyle. We were only carrying the essentials on our backs,” said Garrett Napier. “Once we got off the A.T., it was nice to be able to go to the refrigerator and get a glass of water or having fresh fruit and not just eating ramen noodles. It just made us appreciate the little things at our house so much more. Like being able to shower or sleep in a real bed.”

Finalists

Daniel White (N.C.)

Allegra Torres (N.C.)


Fly Fishing Guide

Eugene Shuler (Fly Fishing the Smokies, N.C.)

From the time he was nine years old, Eugene Shuler knew he wanted to be a fly fishing guide like his father and grandfather before him. In 1999, he set off to establish his own outfitter in what is now the second largest fly fishing market. “Some folks may say I wasted 43 years of a life out there in the middle of a trout stream, but I sure had a lot of fun doing it,” Shuler said.

Finalists

Jessica Callihan (Project Healing Waters, Tenn.)
Brian Trow (Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, Va.)


Raft Guide

Patrick “Patty Cakes” Mannion (Wahoo’s Adventures, N.C.)

As a college student at Appalachian State, Patrick Mannion started working as a raft guide in the summers. “Nineteen years later, I somehow figured out a semi-nomadic seasonal existence,” he said. While many aspects of his job haven’t changed, Mannion still gets excited about what wild cards each day will bring, from the guests to the wildlife on each trip.

Finalists

Stacey Carroll (Cantrell Ultimate Rafting, W. Va.)
Nugget Parsons (Rivermen, W. Va.)


Environmentalist (TIE)

Lauren Bowman Clontz (Southwest Va.) 

Growing up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, Lauren Bowman Clontz says her childhood roaming the mountains led her to pursue a degree in wildlife science. She turned her interest into action, occupying a tree platform for two months to protest the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the extractive nature of fossil fuel production.

Kelly Martin (Sierra Club, N.C.)

For years, Kelly Martin was a leader in Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign that has helped shutter more than 280 coal-fired power plants nationwide, including the Duke Energy coal plant in Asheville. Her successes led her to a new position as director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Initiative, which is working to push back against the construction of fracked gas pipelines and a dirty fossil fuel infrastructure that will lock the country into decades of climate-polluting more oil and gas production.

Finalists

Josh Kelly (MountainTrue, N.C.)

No one knows the forests of Southern Appalachia better than Josh Kelly, a native of Western North Carolina, world-class botanist, and public lands biologist for MountainTrue. Kelly surveyed nearly all of the old-growth forests of Western North Carolina and has trekked to the wildest and most remote spots in Southern Appalachia, noting rare and endangered species along the way. At MountainTrue, Kelly has spearheaded efforts to protect the most beautiful and biologically diverse places in the 1.1-million-acre Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest.

Ben Prater (Defenders of Wildlife (N.C.)

For over two decades, Ben Prater has been a leading voice of the wild. As the Southeast Program Director for Defenders of Wildlife, Prater has fought to protect the endangered red wolves of North Carolina—the last red wolves in the wild. He is also working to protect Florida panthers, manatees, freshwater mussels, whales, and hellbenders—the giant salamanders of Southern Appalachia.


Environmental Educator

Emily Satterwhite (Virginia Tech, Va.)

Dr. Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor of Appalachian studies at Virginia Tech, said she would not have described herself as an environmental educator.

“But, as an educator, I have been motivated by a commitment to fairness by a belief that all of us deserve security and dignity,” she said. “More and more right now, the biggest threats to security and dignity are the threats to land, water, biodiversity, and climate threats to functioning ecosystems.”

Knowing the history of fossil fuels in Appalachia, Satterwhite knew she had to do something when she learned the Mountain Valley Pipeline would be coming through her county. When opponents were unsuccessful fighting the decision through the legal and regulatory process, she started by supporting the tree sitters that went up to block construction.

“I felt like I needed to be a teacher in the sense of modeling for others… I think what it means to be a teacher is more urgent these days,” she said.

In June 2018, Satterwhite locked herself to an excavator at a pipeline construction site with handcuffs and pipe. For 14 hours, she sat chained to the equipment 20 feet in the air before police cut her free and brought her back down to the ground. Satterwhite said that while being a mother was certainly a part of her protest, she was fighting for the people who could not.

“My daughter has resources to cope with the climate devastation we’re experiencing,” she said. “I’m up here for the people who are vulnerable and suffering all over the world.”

Satterwhite was inspired by and learned a lot from the indigenous people at Standing Rock.

“A lot of what we’re fighting for right now seems very abstract and distant,” she said. “Climbing up on the excavator and stopping work that day was a way to take a concrete step in my own backyard. And I think we can feel overwhelmed if we keep waiting for someone else to save us.”

Finalists

Robert Dye (Brevard College, N.C.)

Patti Evans (Isaac Dickson Elementary, N.C.)


Physical Therapist

Wesley Miller (Asheville, N.C.)

At Anti-Fragile Physical Therapy, Wesley Miller works to diagnose the “why” behind each patient’s hurt, working to strengthen the body’s response to stress factors rather than just fixing the superficial injury. Miller goes running with patients, visits their office to look at their desk chair, and fits their bikes to help prevent future injuries and “improve their experience as a human, not just the pain in their knee.”

Finalists

Mike Piercy (Asheville, N.C.)

Lauren Tiger (Hiawasee, Ga.)


Sports Doctor

Mark Miller (Charlottesville, Va.)

Dr. Mark Miller can relate to many of his patients, having suffered a knee injury of his own in college. Miller, an orthopedic surgeon and head of sports medicine at the University of Virginia, primarily focuses on knee and shoulder injuries in athletes.

Finalists

Aaron Vaughn (Asheville, N.C.)

Jay Jansen (Asheville, N.C.)


Bike Mechanic

Ben Wyse (Wyse Cycles, Va.)

Pulling his mobile shop behind him, mechanic Ben Wyse can meet you where you are.

“If someone rode their bike to work every day, they show up at their workplace and while they’re at work I fix their bike,” he said. “When they come out, it’s ready for them to ride home.”

Heading into his tenth year of owning his own business, Wyse makes house calls, sets up on Eastern Mennonite University’s campus every Wednesday, and takes appointments in his shop. Within the last year, he has started spending a portion of his Monday doing volunteer bike mechanic work in a community space for people who might otherwise not be able to afford his services.

“One of the things that is so beautiful about the bicycle is that it’s a really fun tool for reaction and it’s a really useful tool for transportation,” Wyse said. “And it’s a useful tool to respond to the environmental crisis that we’re facing as a community.”

Finalists

Randy Collete (The Hub, N.C.)

Adam Ritter (Bluestone Bike and Run, Va.)


Coach

coach Andrea dvorak leads the miller school albemarle’s cycling team on a training ride on the blue ridge parkway.

Andrea Dvorak (Albemarle, Va.)

Since retiring from the professional cycling circuit, Andrea Dvorak has learned that coaching is about more than the training.

“Yes, the training is very important, but especially with these younger athletes, teenagers, it’s important to keep a good balance…making sure they’re still being high school kids, going to prom, things like that,” she said.

Dvorak works as a coach for the Miller School of Albemarle’s internationally recognized cycling team and the director for the Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League. She also coaches private riders, including Eddie Anderson, a UVA student racing with the U23 national team in Europe this summer.

“I feel their anxiety, I feel their nerves because I was there,” Dvorak said. “I was literally at that race, very nervous, just as they are now. I knew what helped me, and I do my best to do that for them. I’m just so happy I can help a younger generation.”

Finalists

Bill Baldwin (Pisgah, N.C.)

Collin Izzard (Brevard, N.C.)


Brewmaster/Distiller/Winemaker

Graham Norris (Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, N.C.)
While in the seminary, Graham Norris started brewing beer at home as a way to take his mind off of his studies. When he heard about plans to open the first brewery in his hometown of Franklin, he took samples of his brews to the people in charge. Within a year of opening, Norris was promoted to head brewer of Lazy Hiker, an establishment with an outdoor focus and passion for beer.

Finalists

Christine Riggleman (Silverback Distillery, Va.)
Cory McCagh (1812 Brewery, Md.)


Food Personality

Neil Ravenna (Everett Hotel Bistro, N.C.)

When the owners of the Everett Hotel gave Neil Ravenna a blank slate to redesign the restaurant, he added a Southern component to the menu. “As long as I’ve been in the South, food is a thread that is woven through every portion of life, whether it’s a birth, death, celebration, food gets thrown in there somewhere,” he said. The menu changes frequently, depending on the season and the chef’s mood.

Finalists

Bill Whipple (Buncombe Fruit and Nut Club, N.C.)

Ali Casparian (Bounty & Soul, N.C.)


Photographer/Videographer

Molly Wolff (Scarbro, W. Va.)

Photographer Molly Wolff does a little bit of everything, from weddings and family portraits to breathtaking scenes of West Virginia’s beauty, focusing on active and authentic adventure lifestyle. Her Instagram, @mollywolffphotography, is a fun mix of landscapes, surfers on the Gauley, and adventures with her family

molly wolf was readers’ favorite blue ridge photogapher / photo by molly wolf

Finalists

Steve Yocom (Western N.C.)

Madison Hye (Cherokee, N.C.)


Best Regional Instagram Account

@blueridgemtnguides

From rad photos of climbers scaling rocks and ice to information on gear and techniques, Blue Ridge Mountain Guide’s Instagram account showcases some of the best outdoor adventure this region has to offer.

Finalists

@appalachiantrail 

@flyfishingthesmokies