Outdoor Expo in the Mountains – Abingdon, Virginia
Need a primer on all of the outdoor action in the Southwest Virginia Mountains? The Southwest Virginia Outdoor Expo is taking place on September 13-14 at Heartwood, a cultural center and artisan gallery in Abingdon. On the first day, local outdoor clubs and organizations will share information on the region’s best recreation spots for hiking, biking, paddling, and climbing. The expo will offer a chance to grab beta on favorite spots in the area, including the Mount Rogers Recreation Area, High Knob Recreation Area, the New and Clinch Rivers and the Appalachian Trail. Day two includes the opportunity for guided trips.

Scenic Trail Honors for North Carolina and Tennessee
Well-respected mountain biking website Singletracks.com recently polled its readers on the Top 5 Scenic Mountain Bike Trails in the Eastern USA, and the South was well represented on the recently unveiled list. Tennessee’s Raccoon Mountain, a fat-tire favorite for riders in Chattanooga, was ranked second, just ahead of North Carolina’s Dupont State Forest. The classic route at Tsali, also in western North Carolina, came in at number five. The most votes for top-ranked ride in the East went to the Piedmont Trail in Duluth, Minnesota. Last time we checked, Duluth was a few clicks away from the Atlantic, but hey, the people have spoken.

Follow the A.T. Bricks – Damascus, Va.
Damascus, Va., is known as Trail Town U.S.A. for a reason. The Appalachian Trail runs right through its small downtown. Officials in Damascus have decided to mark the trail’s route with commemorative bricks, which will replace sidewalks that currently hold a small portion of the famous footpath. To give A.T. enthusiasts a piece of trail lore and raise funds for both Damascus revitalization and trail upkeep, donors can purchase a limited number of bricks that will be engraved with names and dedications. In total, 2,180 bricks will be sold (to mark each trail mile) and proceeds will be split between the town, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club. Bricks can be purchased at appalachiantrail.org.

Apple to Build Third Solar Farm in North Carolina – Claremont, N.C.
In July, Apple announced plans to build a new solar farm in North Carolina, after the city of Claremont approved an agreement to annex land for the 100-acre, 17.5-megawatt operation. The farm will be used to power Apple’s data center in Maiden, N.C., and the project will create 75 jobs that the tech company has agreed to source locally, if possible. If all goes according to plan and the farm is completed in a projected five years, it would become Apple’s third solar farm in the state—all in Catawba County. One is already located at the Maiden facility, and last year the company also obtained rights to build a 20-megawatt farm in Conover.

New Record at Hardrock – Silverton, Colorado
In July, a new speed record was set at the infamous Hardrock Endurance Run. Ultrarunner Kilian Jornet completed the rugged 100.5-mile course that winds through Colorado’s San Juan Mountain range in an impressive 22:41:35. The time bested Kyle Skaggs’ previous course record (23:23) that was set in 2008. Hardrock is a relentless slog through the Rockies, featuring a total elevation change of 67,984 feet as it travels through some of the state’s most remote backcountry. The Hardrock record marks another impressive feat for Jornet, an endurance mountaineer currently in the midst of his “Summits of My Life” project—an effort to set speed records on some of the world’s most notable peaks.

Tube to Work – Boulder, Colo.
Creative commuting has reached a new level in Boulder. This summer, the city celebrated the 7th Annual Tube to Work Day, a slowly growing initiative to get locals to head to work via the cold waters of Boulder Creek. Approximately 40 people jointly took the plunge on July 15 and decided they didn’t mind getting a little wet on their way to work. Upon takeout, the alternative commuters were rewarded by the city with a free breakfast. As one participant told the Daily Camera: “It was the most Boulder thing ever.” Indeed.

Raining Ping Pong Balls – Blackfoot, Idaho
Imagine you’re driving along a highway in rural Eastern Idaho, scenic mountain views in the backdrop, when suddenly it starts raining ping pong balls. Fortunately, when this happened in early July, it wasn’t the Plague of Blackfoot. Instead, it was the error of a pilot, who was supposed to drop the balls from a plane on attendees at the Blackfoot Pride Days event, where they could’ve been redeemed for prizes. The pilot released the balls a little early and a nearby interstate received an unexpected plastic shower.