Go OutsideNovember Quick Hits: News from around the Blue Ridge and Beyond

November Quick Hits: News from around the Blue Ridge and Beyond

Camper Sleepwalks Off Cliff
Slade, Kentucky
During a camping trip in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, a man took a dangerous tumble while sleepwalking. He fell 60 feet off a cliff and landed in a boulder garden. Friends of the unidentified Ohio man noticed he was missing from their campsite near Grey’s Arch Trail, so they called authorities for help. The camper is expected to make a full recovery despite suffering a head injury, dislocated shoulder, and fractured leg.

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike
A Family Affair
In late summer, a couple from Maine, along with their 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, became just the sixteenth family with young children to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Parents David and Emily Kallin took their children Nathan and Maddy down to Springer Mountain in March, and through the summer the family hiked 2,185 miles toward their home state, finishing the trail on August 31. The family finished the journey six weeks earlier than expected (just in time for the kids to get back to school) and along the way each member went through at least three pairs of hiking shoes. Their dog, Orion, also completed the hike.

Pipestem State Park Gets Creative
Pipestem, West virginia
Most state parks just have the basics: some trails, campsites, and picnic tables. But officials at Pipestem State Park have come up with some creative ways to attract new guests. In addition to a network of hiking trails and well-known cross-country skiing options in the winter, the 4,000-acre park in southern West Virginia now offers some unexpected activities like slacklining, the yard games gaga ball and Murbles, and even an off-road radio control race track. The park’s activities coordinator Kim Hawkins told the Charleston Gazette that she wants to provide unique recreation activities to lure more people outside. The effort has also included the addition of an 18-hole disc golf course, and plans are in the works for human-sized versions of the board games Sorry and Monopoly, which will find guests actually being the game pieces.

No Drones Over the A.T.
The National Park Service isn’t cool with drones flying over the Appalachian Trail. In late August, the NPS announced an interim rule that bans “launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft from or on Appalachian National Scenic Trail lands,” according to the Associated Press. Concerned that drones are disrupting visitors or park resources, the park service stated the ban is open-ended until permanent regulations can be developed. Park service officials said complaints have come from visitors about noises made by drones, which are often used to take photos or videos.

Beyond the Blue Ridge

Jetpack Running
Tempe, Arizona
Looking for a running boost? A student research team at Arizona State University just might have developed what you’re looking for. The 4MM (also known as 4 Minute Mile) is a wearable jetpack that was specifically created to make someone run faster. The pack prototype was designed as part of a school project in which students are tasked with meeting industry challenges. In this case, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was looking for a way to make soldiers more agile during combat situations. During recent prototype testing of the 4MM, a fit runner shed 18 seconds off his normal 5:20 mile time, down to 5:02.

Virtual Park Ranger
Kent, Ohio
If you’ve ever wished a park ranger was more accessible to give you trail directions or details on flora and fauna, you soon may have help at your fingertips. Researchers at Kent State University are creating a new mobile app that will offer a detailed guide to Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The school received a $952,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to make a new app with interactive features that offer visitors the ability to learn about “the history, habitats, geology and scientific features of the park.” While apps already exist offering basic national park information, the new Cuyahoga Valley app will reportedly be much more detailed, and if successful, the platform will be extended to other parks across the country.

Building BASE Jump
Miami, Florida
Miami recently approved plans to build a 1,000-foot observation tower in the middle of the city’s downtown area. With its uniquely shaped design, the new SkyRise Miami is intended to be an iconic architectural structure like Seattle’s Space Needle. In addition to a nightclub, movie theater, and other South Florida-style entertainment attractions, the new building will also offer some thrills for the adventurous. On the building’s website, an attraction called SkyRise Drop is listed as a free-fall experience that is inspired by BASE Jumping and sky diving, promising to be ”just like parachuting out of an airplane.”

Places to Go, Things to See:

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