In Blue Ridge Briefs we compile the latest beta from the Blue Ridge and beyond.
A.T. Book Views Trail Through Fiction
After Richard Judy hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 1973 he soon started writing an account of his adventure, only to put his book aspirations on hold indefinitely. Since then there have been a large number of nonfiction trail tales, most notably Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, so a few years ago when Judy revisited his project he decided to take a different approach. The result—THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story—is a novel that chronicles life on the trail. Released last year, the book’s story is told through the trail journals of a diverse group of thru-hikers, and while it is a fictional work, authenticity comes through as a result of Judy’s hiking experience (he section-hiked the A.T. to finish the full distance a second time). Proceeds from the book benefit the Appalachian Trail Museum in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pa.
Hiker Killed by Falling Tree
Harper’s Ferry, W.Va.
In March a man was killed on the Appalachian Trail after being hit by a falling tree. Jason Parish of Philadelphia, Pa., was hiking on the trail about six miles north of Harper’s Ferry on March 15 when the fatal accident occurred on a steep and rocky section near the Ed Garvey Shelter. Two hiking companions called 911, and before help arrived an off-duty park ranger performed CPR in an attempt to save the 36 year old. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Parish worked as an environmental engineer and, as a musician, was also a popular part of Philadelphia’s folk scene. Friends said he loved hiking in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, often heading into the woods for extended backpacking trips.
New 50K Treadmill Record Set
Michael Wardian is at it again. The Arlington-based national champion ultrarunner, who’s previously set some since-broken unconventional records like fastest time for running a marathon on a treadmill or while pushing a baby stroller, made quirky running history again back in March. According to a story on Runner’s World’s website, while on a destination race cruise organized by Spartan Races, Wardian decided to use his time on the boat to attempt the fastest 50K on a treadmill. On March 7, he finished the distance in what he thought was a world-record time of 3:06:24. That night, though, he learned that British runner Paul Navesey finished a treadmill 50K in 3:05:57 back in December. So what did Wardian do? He amazingly hopped right back on the treadmill on March 9, and set the record with a time of 3:03:56.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy Launches Thru-Hiker Registration System
Harper’s Ferry, W.Va.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has launched a voluntary online registration system for those attempting a thru-hike on the 2,189-mile trail. The nonprofit created the system as an attempt to prevent overcrowding on the trail, which will lighten impact on the land and give hikers a more solitary experience. The system (found at appalachiantrail.org) is not a substitute for any necessary permits.
19 Wolves Killed for Population Control in Idaho
In March, Idaho Fish and Game reveal that 19 wolves had been killed the previous month as part of a population control measure in the dense forests of the state’s Lolo elk zone near the Montana border. The action was taken to help reduce predation of the area’s dwindling elk population, which has dropped from 16,000 in 1989 to fewer than 1,000 today. The revival of wolf populations has become a contentious issue with many farm owners complaining about the killing of cattle on their properties and hunters protesting a loss of game.
But the Lolo Zone is very remote, not easily accessible for recreation like elk hunting. So conservationists, who believe rising wolf populations are helping restore natural habitats in wild areas, are wondering why they’re being controlled in this area. In the Twin Fall Times-News, Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife posed the question: “If it’s so remote that hunters can’t get in there, why would hunters care that wolves are killing elk in there?”
Farmer Saves Freezing Calf
Quick thinking from farmer Dean Gangwer saved a newborn calf’s life back in early March. Gangwer found the baby cow shivering and barely breathing in a snowbank, so he grabbed the calf and jumped into the closest source of warmth—his hot tub. While soaked in his clothes, the third-generation family farmer held the calf, which he named Leroy, in the warm water for an hour to raise his body temperature. After taking Leroy inside and wrapping him in electric blankets, Gangwer told a local news station the calf was back to normal and nursing within a day and a half.
95-Year-Old Sets Running Record
Charles Eugster didn’t start running until a year ago. That’s amazing, considering the 95-year-old man from Switzerland set a world record for running 200 meters in his age group at March’s British Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships. Although he’s new to running, Eugster has been active in other athletic endeavors in the latter part of his life. According to a story in Runner’s World, the retired dentist took up rowing in his 60s and won 36 World Masters gold medals. He also started lifting weights and wakeboarding in his 80s. His running record bests the previous mark set by American Orville Rogers by 2.4 seconds.