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Climber Pleads Guilty to Killing Mentor at Maryland Crag

Back in December 2013 local D.C.-area climbing fixture Geoffrey Farrar died at age 69 after being found bleeding from his head below a cliff at the Carderock Recreation Area. Farrar was well known at the popular Maryland crag for mentoring young climbers like David DiPaolo, his steadfast climbing sidekick for many years. Farrar’s death was initially thought to be a climbing accident, but authorities had different suspicions, and the following month DiPaolo was arrested and charged with manslaughter for killing his friend with a claw hammer.

This past February, more than three years later, DiPaolo pleaded guilty to the crime, reaching an agreement that will likely get him 10 to 15 years in prison. DiPaolo has claimed that he acted in self defense after an altercation with Farrar. According to a story in The Washington Post, it was revealed in court documents that DiPaolo told police, “I’m sorry this happened. I didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t know it was going to happen.”

Big Attendance Increases at North Carolina State Parks

State parks in North Carolina are seeing more visitors than ever. The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation recently revealed that the state’s 39 parks hosted a record 17.3 million people in 2015. That’s a substantial increase from the 15.6 million visitors in 2014, as 30 parks, including many of the scenic favorites in western North Carolina saw attendance growth last year. Blue Ridge favorites getting a boost include Grandfather Mountain State Park in the North Carolina High Country, which had a 30-percent increase in visitors, and Gorges State Park, which had an even bigger increase of 48 percent.

Professor Writes Book on A.T. Life

Huntington, W.Va.

Avid hiker and sociology professor Kristi M. Fondren has written a new book on the Appalachian Trail. Sure, it’s been done, but Fondren, who teaches at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., offers a fresh perspective, taking an academic approach to analyzing the unique subculture that develops on the trail among thru-hikers. Walking on the Wild Side: Long Distance Hiking on the Appalachian Trail tells the stories of 46 men and women attempting long-distance A.T. hikes. In her research,  Fondren hiked close to 600 miles on the trail between Pennsylvania and North Carolina, split between the summers of 2005 and 2007, interviewing hikers along the way. Fondren took a sociological approach to her research, focusing on how the trail essentially becomes a community with its own identity.

New Bill Spares Dogs That Kill Chickens in Virginia

In mid-February,  Virginia’s House of Delegates approved a bill that would save dogs that kill chickens from execution. Current law states that dogs that kill chickens or livestock must be immediately killed or sent to another state. According to an AP report, rural lawmakers narrowed the bill to prevent it from including a reprieve for dogs that kill cows.

Run in Her Shoes at Mama’s Day 10K

Pregnant women in rural Tanzania often walk 10 kilometers or more to reach the nearest clinic. Runners in the Mama’s Day 10K will help support these women while traveling that same distance. The Mama’s Day 10K will be held May 7 on the greenways of Asheville’s Carrier Park. Proceeds benefit Mama Maisha, a nonprofit founded by local runners Jeff and Reta Graham to provide care and resources to at-risk women in Tanzania.

Beyond the Blue Ridge

Take the National Bike Challenge

Looking to get back in the saddle after a long winter off your bike? Consider taking the National Bike Challenge, a nationwide effort to get people pedaling that is being organized by the cycling advocacy group People for Bikes for the fifth straight year. The organization’s 2016 goal is to have 100,000 people ride a total of 75 million miles between May 1 and September 30. On the National Bike Challenge’s website,, you can easily sign up, track your miles, and see how you’re contributing to the overall goal.

New Half-Marathon Stroller Record Set in Texas

Katy, Texas

In early February, Calum Neff set a new record for running the fastest half marathon while pushing a stroller at the Katy Half Marathon in Katy, Texas, a western suburb of Houston. Not only was Neff’s time of 1:11:27 good enough to break the previous stroller record by more than a minute, it was also good enough to win the race. In a post-race interview with a local NBC station, Neff gave credit to his 11-month-old daughter Holly, who, for the most part didn’t mind the hour-plus-long ride. “During the race she was cooing, clapping, babbling, having an absolute blast,” Neff told KPRC2. “She got a little fussy around mile 11, and had that been in the first mile, I probably would’ve called off the run and tried to give her a bottle or something.”


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