MagazineJanuary 2011Best Year Ever: 101 Outdoor Resolutions

Best Year Ever: 101 Outdoor Resolutions

1. bathe like a polar bear
Wait until the dead of winter. Find a body of water. Strip and jump in. Here are two suggestions: Blowing Rock Polar Plunge (Jan. 29)or the Virginia Beach Polar Plunge (Feb. 4-5).

2. get muddy
5Ks are great, but why not run a 5K with mud pits, scaling walls, crawling tubes and a whole bunch of other obstacles straight out of Mad Max? Check out the St. Francis Mud Run in Greenville, S.C., on April 30, or the Tough Mudder at Wintergreen Resort on October 22.

3. ride the seven springs pipe
600 feet:
Length of the half pipe at Seven Springs last season (150-feet longer than normal)
18 feet: Height of the pipe walls
1: Ranking of the pipe and park in a poll of East Coast resorts by Transworld Snowboarding.

4. hike among the ancients
Stroll through the 400-year-old tulip poplars in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, N.C.

5. paddle a gauley marathon
Combine the Upper and Lower Gauley into a 28-mile nonstop whitewater adventure spread over two days with riverside camping. You’ll get more than 150 class III – V rapids along the way.

6. bike the shenandoah mountain 100
If you’re only going to ride in one mountain bike race your entire life, make it Shenandoah. For 12 years, this has been the quintessential endurance bike event in the South. The forest road climbs, technical singletrack descents, lively crowd, and ridiculously fast pros at the front of the pack make this a must.

7. join a group ride

8. fly like an eagle
You haven’t seen the Southern Appalachians until you’ve been hooked to a zipline 500 feet above the ground and soared for a mile from one tree to the next. The emerging canopy tours will truly change your perspective on the mountains we call home. Check out Flying Squirrel Canopy Tours at Wisp Resort in Maryland or Navitat Canopy Adventures in North Carolina.

9. jump off a bridge
Even if you don’t want to base jump off the 876-foot tall New River Gorge Bridge, spending the day watching hundreds of BASE jumpers leaping into the gorge is worthy of any adventure list. 80,000 spectators show up for this festival in October to witness the only legal BASE jumping in the country. Want to do more than watch? Check out the Bridge Day Highline, stretching for 600 feet over the gorge, and open to the public.

10. grab a slice at miguel’s
Yes, the pizza is good but you’re really here for the scene. Miguel’s Pizza and Rock Climbing Shop is almost as legendary as the Red River Gorge sandstone it compliments. Miguel Ventura opened an ice cream shop in Slade, Kentucky, in the mid-80s and slowly progressed to serving pizza to a decidedly dirtbag crowd. Camping in the back, pizza in the front.

11. grow your own vegetables

12. paddle the green river race
…or just watch. 2010 marked the 15th year of the Green Race, a time trial sprint down the class V Green River Narrows that attracts the best hair boaters in the country.

13. surf-camp on masonboro island
South of North Carolina’s Wrightsville Beach is an eight-mile-long barrier island that locals call “Mase.” Masonboro is 5,000 acres of uninhabited sand and marsh—accessible only by boat or board—that happens to have one of the best beach breaks in the Southeast and some stellar beach camping.

14-16. sean cobourn’s list
Sean Cobourn is a fixture on the Southern climbing scene, responsible for 200+ routes in his 35-year climbing career. He was also instrumental in securing the purchase of Laurel Knob and securing climber access to Rumbling Bald. Here are his outdoor resolutions for 2011:

50 in 50:
I have a pipe dream of putting up 50 new climbing routes in my 50th year. The most memorable one so far is a three pitch 5.9 face climb deep in the heart of Pisgah we named “Sons Of Ralph” to pay respect to the influential climber Ralph Fickel who died in an ice climbing accident last winter.

Pisgah Forest Hat Trick:
Climb one multi-pitch route at Looking Glass, John Rock and Cedar Rock, using foot travel or bikes for shuttle, in one day. Total hiking would be roughly seven or eight miles, and 600 feet of climbing.

Cashiers Valley Hat Trick: Climb full-length routes at Whitesides, Big Green and Laurel Knob in a day.  Extra points for biking between Whitesides and Panthertown.

17. run the priest, and three ridges and mauhar
“The five-mile climb on the Appalachian Trail up the Priest is just the warm-up for this 23-mile run. The real climb comes when you take the A.T. up Three Ridges. Then you hop onto the blue-blazed Mauhar Loop for more climbing before dropping back to your car off Route 56 near Montebello, Va. In 23 miles, you’ll climb 13,000 feet of elevation. But you get a lot of bang for your buck on this run. Awesome views, wicked climbs, hammer-worthy singletrack, and a post-run dip in the Tye River.”
—Sophie “Shining” Speidel, ultra-runner and training run mastermind for the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club

18. ski for days
Ski around the rim of the Sods, camp, and turn it into a real winter backcountry adventure.
—Chip Chase, owner of Whitegrass Touring Center in Canaan Valley, W.Va.

19. team up for adventure
Get a team together for your first adventure race. Rev3 offers a beginner-friendly sprint adventure race in Shenandoah River State Park on April 16. The Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race is a classic half-day challenge near the Toccoa River in North Georgia. For a full 24-hour adventure, Odyssey’s One-Day Adventure Race is the standard-bearer in the South, with biking, hiking, and paddling for 80 miles in central Virginia in July.

20. learn how to roll a kayak
Ninety percent of kayak is forward strokes, not rolling, but the roll is the threshold most people uphold. It’s all about getting comfortable on the water and underwater. Take a class or find a paddling buddy to teach you the basics in a swimming pool this winter.

21. overnight in linville
Camp at the bottom of Linville Gorge and take a night swim in the Babel Tower swimming hole.
—Chris Gallaway, kayaker and filmmaker

22. run naked
Streaking is one thing, but running 3.1 miles completely bare? That’s commitment. There are several nude 5Ks in the South, including the Fig Leaf 5K in Georgia and the B.A.R.E. Series in North Carolina.

23. spend a weekend in LeConte Lodge
Sitting at 6,360 feet high near the peak of Mount LeConte, the lodge is in the middle of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The cabins are rustic, the food is hearty and family style, and the views are tremendous. And the only way you can reach this lodge is by hiking.

24. camp at LEAF
The Lake Eden Arts Festival has become one of the foremost arts festivals in the country over the last 10 years. The setting is gorgeous, the performance lineup is eclectic, and the scene is strange yet surprisingly family friendly.

25. race your bike
“The 12 hours of Tsali, Big Frog 65, ORAMM, PMBAR, Double Dare…What, I have to pick one? I’ll go with the Big Frog 65 in Tennessee. The race has lots of sweet flowy singletrack. It was about six-plus hours of cross country racing, but the best part was hanging out with my best friends for the weekend.”
—Gabe Holguin, master frame builder of Smoke Bikes

26. go contra dancing
Dances are held Thursday evenings on the Warren Wilson campus in Western North Carolina. Or check out the beginner’s workshop and contra dance in Richmond, Va., at the Lewis Ginter Rec Center (2nd and 4th Saturday each month) and the big-time contra dance in Floyd, Va.’s Sun Music Hall (2nd Saturdays).

27. build a trail
“Join your local trail advocacy group and get involved in trail maintenance on your favorite trails. Land managers are relying more and more on volunteers to help take care of the trails they use. You will get to influence how the trails look and you’re likely to meet a few new friends.”
—Woody Keen, master trail builder, owner of Trail Dynamics

28. take it up a notch
(in 5 easy steps)
Step 1: Enter a race you don’t think you can finish.
Step 2: Tell everyone you know you’re going to finish the FILL IN BLANK race. The threat of public humiliation should keep you honest.
Step 3: Drop a couple hundred bucks on a coach who will outline a week-to-week training plan. Short on cash? Scour the internet for free training plans for similar races. You won’t get the detail and personal attention, but it’s better than nothing.
Step 4: Actually follow the training plan.
Step 5: Show up on race day trained, rested, and ready to rock.

29. practice peer pressure
Introduce one person to your favorite outdoor activity.

30. bike the triple crown of dirt
Mountain bike three of the most popular fat tire destinations in the East—Tsali Recreation Area, Dupont State Forest, and Pisgah National Forest—over three consecutive days.
—Joe Moerschbacher, professional adventure racer and guide

31. bushwhack

32. climb the nose of Looking Glass
A 5.8-romp up the 600-foot-long granite dome of Looking Glass Rock is the quintessential North Carolina trad route. Massive exposure and the signature “eyebrow” rock feature on a relatively easy grade make this a must.

33. shoot an adventure film… that people want to watch
Whether I’m shooting a documentary or a 30-second short, it’s all about telling a story. Have a couple of possible story lines to pursue right out of the gate, but keep your mind open to serendipity. Chances are you’re going to run out of time and resources before you complete Endless Summer III. People have a short attention span anyway. Think under five minutes. You’re more likely to get a shorter project done and have more time to focus on quality.
—Andrew Kornylak, professional photographer and filmmaker

34. bike skyline drive
Some can do this 105 mile ride in one day, but the lodges and restaurants along this ribbon of ridgeline asphalt make this an attainable multi-day cruise. Day after day, you’ll pedal through the heart of Shenandoah National Park with spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley.

35. run an ultra
Terrapin Mountain 50K in late March is an ideal ultra for rookies: it’s a scenic loop trail course in George Washington National Forest with challenging but manageable climbs and outstanding race support, thanks to the top-notch organization of Clark Zealand, one of the country’s top ultra runners and race directors.

36. shuck an oyster
Preferably a fresh one at the Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival, a 38-year-long tradition on this barrier island off the coast of Virginia.

37. pedal the pinhoti
This long trail runs for 150 miles. About 100 of those miles are technical singletrack; the rest is comprised of paved road connections and breezy greenway trails. It’s one of the few long trails open to mountain bikers in the Southeast.

38-40. burnham’s list
Brian Burnham is an A.T. thru hiker and United States thru-biker.
Kite Surfing at Kite Point near Hatteras in the Outer Banks. On a good, windy day the sound provides a seemingly limitless area for perfect boarding.
Climbing at Central Endless at the New River Gorge. There are a ton of sport and trad routes in every skill range and climbing up the pristine sandstone with the trees and river below is unreal.
Section Hiking the A.T. from Carver’s Gap to 19E. I like to hike to Overmountain Shelter to have dinner, then night-hike to the top of Hump Mountain and camp. A long section of that trail is on balds so the views are incredible in every direction.

41. camp at 87
Paddle from the Fontana marina to site 87 on a stretch of dirt and trees in the middle of Lake Fontana, and you’ll have your own private island inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

42. get first tracks
Make the commitment to be the first person on the lift on a powder day, no matter what resort you call home, and be the first to carve “S’s” in the fresh powder. Want bonus points? Try to get the last turns on the mountain during the same day.

43. skinny dip

44. ski the pipeline
Off the back of Weiss Knob in Canaan Valley, an underground gas pipeline has formed the perfect grassy backcountry ski run. It drops almost 2,000 vertical feet, giving you the chance to hit steeps and trees broken up by the occasional bench-cut.

45. surf a river

46. see a grown man in a skirt throw a hammer
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in July is the premier gathering of Scottish clans in the U.S. The festival prides itself on showcasing traditional feats of strength, like the 22-pound hammer throw.

47. tame the snake
“Ride all three Snake Creek Gap Time Trials (34-mile race on the technical Pinhoti in North Georgia with installments in January, February, and March) and you can call it a year.”
—Lee Simril, pro adventure racer, endurance coach

48. change your commute
“Get to work some way other than your car. I’ve had paddling, biking and walking commutes in my life. Even if you drive within one mile of work and walk the last mile, it will make your day better.”
—Brenda Simril, pro adventure racer and Lee’s better half

49. fly a kite on max patch

50. thru-hike the art loeb
Are you tired of seeing magazines like this one list the 32-mile Art Loeb trail as one of the best footpaths in the South? Isn’t it time to see for yourself what all the hype is about?

51-54. forrester’s list
Joe Forrester is a climber, kayaker, and founder of the UVA Wilderness Medical Society. He paddled 4,000 miles in 2009 to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s.
Rock Climb on Old Rag. The granite of Old Rag is bulletproof and very grippy, almost a smaller, less crowded Joshua Tree of the East. Strawberry Jams is a spectacular 5.9 crack.
Paddle the James River, Va. It’s a historic trip with easy camping, beginner whitewater (until Richmond) and beautiful scenery.
Climb the Original Route on Whitesides, N.C. This climb has a moderate grade but it’s on one of the tallest cliffs in the Southeast.
Summit the South Peak of Seneca Rocks, W.Va. There are plenty of ways to do it, but you can’t say you’ve climbed in the South until that one gets checked off.

55. just do 26.2

56. ascend Wintergreen by bike
The Wintergreen Ascent is a 40-minute climb with an average 8 percent grade and brutal pitches over 13 percent thrown in. Racers come from all over for this time trial, and some stay an extra day to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway.

57-59. laird’s list
Laird Knight is a Mountain Bike Hall of Famer, creator of the 24-hour race format, and closet skate-skier.
Bike the Allegheny/C&O. Pedal from Pittsburgh to Cumberland to D.C. on the Allegheny/C&O trail.
Live like a “high-tech hobo.” With today’s camping technology, it’s possible to enjoy an extremely comfortable and extremely well-connected nomadic lifestyle with little overhead, once you have all the gear.
Ski-skate from Whitegrass to Davis. At ski-skating speeds, you could cover the 12-15 miles in short order. Several restaurants with super-yummy food await you for refueling in Davis.

60. bike 32 miles without pedaling
Okay, you’ll have to pedal a little if you ride the Virginia Creeper Trail from Whitetop Mountain to Damascus, Va. But the ride is pretty much all downhill.

61. catch a bluegrass show at the purple fiddle

62. run the peachtree road race
Sure, it’s hot and it’s crowded, but it wouldn’t be the world’s largest 10K race if it didn’t deliver a first-class experience from Buckhead to Piedmont Park.

63. fastpack jack
“In the heart of Georgia’s  Cohutta Wilderness is the 16-mile Jack’s River Trail, which requires over 40 wet-footed creek crossings.”
—Mike Cosentino, pro trail runner and author

64-65. find solitude near your car
“Drive the Cherohala Skyway and hike all the trails along it. Most are short but very scenic. If you want solitude, this is it. Or hike the Mountains to Sea Trail in the Linville Gorge from US 221 to NC 181. This takes you down to the Linville River, which you’ll cross without a bridge, then up to Shortoff Mountain and Table Rock Mountain.”
—Danny Bernstein, president of the Carolina Mountain Club and hiking book author

66. rendezvous at the New
Even if you’re not a climber, the Lycra fashion contest, Sumo wrestling, camping, and overall vibe at this massive climbing festival will keep you entertained for a weekend.

67. run in a red dress
Without a doubt, this annual hash is the biggest collection of women and men running through our nation’s capital in red party dresses and drinking beer. Actually, with 600 runners in 2010, the DC Red Dress Run is unofficially the biggest annual hash event in the South.

68. take a week off to hike the appalachian trail
We suggest the 60 miles of the A.T. running through the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, which offers some of the most splendid views below the Mason Dixon. Plus, guide services in nearby Damascus make it easy to catch a shuttle.

69. have a threesome
…a triathlon, that is. The Xterra Uwharrie near Albemarle, N.C. is a mini epic with a 1000-meter lake swim, 16-mile mountain bike ride, and 6-mile run. Longer than a sprint, but still doable.

70-74. downs’ list
Andrew Downs is trails resource manager for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy:
Camp on a Cypress Cathedral platform on the Roanoke River (N.C.) and then hit the Sunny Side oyster bar for a sinus-searing “Red Rooster.”
Visit a hidden gem of the piedmont. Paddle to a vineyard on the Haw River for glimpses of bald eagle and heron on class-II whitewater (, then catch a show at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, minutes away.
Bike around Cades Cove under a full moon.
Crank a back-flip at Upper Creek Falls (N.C.), one of my top 25 rope swings.
Get chainsaw-certified through the A.T.C. and clear a blowdown for a weary hiker.

75. get tropical at the snowy luau festival
Timberline Resort’s spring Polynesian fest from March 18 to 20 is a perfect way to cap off a ski season in style. The night-time torchlight parade, where skiers descend the mountain in unison carrying torches to form a fiery lava trail, is spectacular all on its own.

76. spelunk
The geographic quadrant formed by Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia (TAG) has the highest concentration of caves in the country, while the Virginias and Carolinas have their own fissures and caves. Join a club or hire a guide and go deep. Just make sure you follow protocol to avoid spreading White Nose Syndrome among bat populations.

77. trek the SB6K loop
Bagging the 40 peaks above 6,000 feet in elevation is impressive enough, but retiree Tom Sanders took it up a notch by adding 150 miles to the jaunt, creating a massive loop with the Mountains To Sea Trail and the Appalachian Trail to make a 460-mile ridgeline-hopping masterpiece. And Sanders hiked it all in less than a month.

78. ski laps in the highlands
A dedicated high-speed quad, 1003 feet of vertical drop, bumps, steeps, powder…and it’s all designed for expert skiers at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia. You haven’t skied blacks until you’ve run Cliffhanger from top to bottom without resting.

79. race pisgah… for 5 days straight
In just two years, the Pisgah Stage Race has become the premier multi-day mountain bike competition in the South, pulling the biggest pros and most hardened amateurs from our region.

80. catch the old fort mountain music
Since 1986, every Friday at 7pm, musicians have gathered in the Rockett Building in downtown Old Fort, N.C. Sodas are a quarter.

81. double down
Ski in the morning; bike in the afternoon.

82-84. hill’s list
Adam Hill is an adventure running mastermind who organizes informal ultra runs across the Southeast.
Hang glide or run like a kid off a giant sand dune at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Run/hike the 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail through the Smokies
Rock hop down a river to find a remote swimming location that just maybe no one else has been to?

85. plan and execute an adventure climb
“Big Lost Cove is a proposed wilderness area near Boone with 600-foot cliffs. Nobody really climbs there much because it takes about an hour to walk in, and the rock is mostly slabs, moss pads and tree ledges. There are climbs on it up to three pitches in length though, and one in particular is one of the most stunning climbs I have ever done in North Carolina.”
—Mike Grimm is owner of Misty Mountain Threadworks and writer of excellent climbing guidebooks

86. swim the suck
This organized 10-mile open swim was held for the first time in the Tennessee River Gorge outside of Chattanooga last October. Thirty-three volunteers paced 21 swimmers in 71-degree water. Swimmers fed every

30 minutes for up to five hours while in the water.

87-92. molloy’s list
Johnny Molloy is one of the most celebrated and prolific guidebook writers in the country.
Spend at least 30 nights in Shenandoah National Park’s backcountry.
Paddle the entire Choctawhatchee River from south central Alabama to the Florida coast.
Take a hike in every federally designated wilderness in North Carolina.
Spend at least 185 nights out camping from the Ozarks to West Virginia to Florida.
Paddle 100 miles through the Everglades from Flamingo to Everglades City, reload, then go 100 miles back from Everglades City to Flamingo.
Backpack the 20-mile Neusiok Trail in coastal North Carolina’s Croatan National Forest.

93. pedal west virginia’s worst roads
The Hilly Billy Roubaix is a Southern take on a European road cycling tradition. The 70-mile bike race covers 60 percent paved roads, 38 percent gravel roads, and two percent completely trashed roads through Monongalia County in northern West Virginia. Do: bring extra tubes. Don’t: bring your road bike.

94. run the RAGNAR relay
“Get half a dozen friends, a van, and take turns running legs on this 182-mile race from Cumberland, Md. to D.C. in September. It’s a completely different running experience than your typical race.”
—Steve Magness, pro runner and coach

95. camp on assateague
“Spend the night on Assateague Island National Seashore and admire the park’s ponies. Enjoy a quiet and romantic evening under the stars while listening to the waves crash on the shore.”
—Randy Motz, author and hiker

96. climb a continuous vertical mile in a day by trail
“The concept is to gain over 5,280 feet in a single day by trail, climbing just one mountain. The best candidate in our region is Mount LeConte (elevation 6,593’) from Gatlinburg (elevation 1,289’). This hike begins at traffic light #5 in Gatlinburg and finishes at the summit of Mount LeConte gaining 5,302 feet. You start on the sidewalk, pick up the Twin Creek Trail, then Cherokee Orchard Road to Rainbow Falls Trail— 10.7 miles one way.”
—Peter J. Barr, hiker and author

97. learn to hang glide
“…or just take a tandem flight at Highland Aerosports in Ridgely, Md.”
—Skip Brown, photographer and adventurer

98. run the chattanooga mountains stage race
“Three consecutive days of trail running. It’s the perfect adventure for any glutton for punishment.”
—Josh Wheeler, elite ultrarunner

99. learn how to rail slide

100. run the loudest 5K
“The Runway 5K in Charlotte takes place on the runway of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. You run the entire course next to the planes. And the course is flat, so it’s perfect PR territory.”
—Bryan Weinstein, Charlotte runner

101. take the perfect sunset photo
Where’s the perfect sunset? Head to one of our many historic lookout towers, like Virginia’s High Knob in the George Washington National Forest. Towers typically offer 360-degree mountain views. •

Watch video clips from these 101 adventures at

Places to Go, Things to See: