Shorts: Blue Ridge Briefs

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A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences identified the nine most important areas of conservation based on their proportional concentration of endemic species. The Blue Ridge Mountains, which include the Cherokee, Nantahala, Pisgah, and Jefferson National Forests, topped the list, while the three-state-meeting area of Tennessee, Alabama, and north Georgia watersheds came in at number 4.

“Most funding goes to preserve iconic landscapes out West, but there is far more biodiversity and richness in ecosystems here,” said Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian director of The Wilderness Society.

Collegiate Mountain Biker Suspended for Doping / Banner Elk, N.C.

A cyclist for Lees-McRae College in the North Carolina High Country received a 12-month suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in May. Mountain biker Carter Luck voluntarily disclosed information that led to him being sanctioned for use of human growth hormone and testosterone. Luck raced throughout the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference’s full season last fall and won a championship in the dual slalom event. He also placed 31st at cross-country nationals. All of his competitive results since August 5, 2013 have been disqualified. In a statement issued by Lees-McRae, Luck said: “I am ashamed of my actions and will forever regret my poor choice. It is important to note that Lees-McRae College had absolutely no knowledge of my doping.”

The Bionic Woman on the A.T.

Niki Rellon has always been an adventurer—a triathlete, ski instructor, and former Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker. But in 2013 she was severely injured after a rappelling accident. She broke her spine and pelvis and so badly damaged her entire left foot that it required amputation.

Rellon has been determined not to allow the loss of her leg to slow her down. Diligent with rehab, she’s now attempting an Appalachian Trail thru-hike, currently heading north with the trail name “The Bionic Woman.” Rellon admits that she’s frequently in pain and frustrated that some days she only covers around seven miles, but she’s optimistic she’ll reach Katahdin by October.

Emu on the Interstate / Atlanta, Ga.

Metro Atlanta traffic can be a real bummer. This spring some drivers on I-20 west of the city were in a typical jam but surprised when they saw the cause—a big bird running across the highway lanes. While initially mistaken for an ostrich, it was actually an emu that ended up causing the traffic jam. The Australian native bird escaped the home of a private owner and wandered to the interstate. It eventually returned home unharmed.

BASE Jumper Dies After Lighting Parachute / Twin Falls, Idaho

A couple of tragic BASE jumping accidents made headlines in May. The outdoor community was rocked by the death of adventure legend Dean Potter in Yosemite National Park, but a stranger event took place in Idaho. On May 7, 73-year-old James E. Hickey and a partner jumped off the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls. As Hickey started to fall 500 feet towards the Snake River below, video footage shows him becoming engulfed in flames before plunging into the water. Hickey set his parachute on fire as part of a stunt with the intention of dropping it and deploying a second chute. Apparently Hickey had previously completed the stunt while skydiving, but unfortunately this attempt had a different outcome.

Running Doc Saves Second Life During Race / Philadelphia, Pa.

Dr. Paul Shore was at the right place at the right time, again. On May 3, Shore was running the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia when the pediatrician noticed a group of runners yelling for help and trying to assist another racer who had collapsed around mile three. A man stopped breathing and started to turn blue, so Shore, with the help of another bystander, administered CPR. Fortunately, the man started breathing again and was then taken into the care of arriving EMTs.

This wasn’t the first time Shore had helped a fallen runner. He also assisted someone who collapsed on the course of the Philadelphia Marathon in 2013.

Shore went on to finish the Broad Street Run in 1:44:42, about 20 minutes slower than the previous year, but his noble effort was obviously worth the extra time on the course.

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