Your daily outdoor news bulletin for October 16, the day Reinhold Messner made a successful ascent of Lhotse  in 1986, making him the first person to climb all 14 of the 8,000m peaks:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Opens

With the government shut down in its 16th day, the states finally took matters into their own hands. No, we are not talking about Maryland and Virginia teaming up to force Congress to stay in D.C. until they figure it out, brother lock-in style (although that would be an awesome move), and we are not talking about a violent uprising. We are talking about the states ponying up the dough to keep National Parks open for short periods of time. This is a trend that started out West with Utah spending $1.67 million to keep their five parks open for 10 days. Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, and New York followed suit, and now Tennessee and North Carolina are getting into the national park funding game. Tennessee freed up $305,000 and North Carolina found $75,000 to keep Great Smoky Mountains National Park up and running…for five days. GSMNP opens today, and will remain open through Sunday. Past that, who knows what will happen.

It is not lost on this magazine, and others, that this move by the states comes on the same day that Republican lawmakers called National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis before a committee to berate him for closing parks and national monuments along the Mall in Washington, D.C. – the same monuments Republicans have used as a public relations pawn since this whole thing began. They accused him of…something…political motivation?..like it was his fault the government shut down and he wanted to close the parks. Yeah, that makes sense. But this is what we’ve come to expect from our elected leaders, who operate in a dimension removed from our own.

It is also not lost on the Citizen-Times and USA Today who call out U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from N.C.’s 11th District which borders the park, for pushing to delay the Affordable Care Act – the move that lead to the shutdown.

Big Falls Body Recovered

Rescue workers recovered the body of a man who died following a fall in Pisgah National Forest on Sunday. The victim, who was from the Asheville area but whose name has not been released, fell from rocks at Big Falls on the Thompson River around 5 pm. His female hiking companion hiked out of the woods and called 911, but it took her several hours. The retrieval required a technical rope rescue team as the terrain was rugged. This is a good reminder that waterfalls and rivers can be extremely slippery and dangerous. This may be an afterthought during the fall season, but falling into cold water makes it even more of a risk. Be safe out there.

In slightly happier news, a couple of lost hikers were found overnight Sunday and returned safely to civilization…where they were promptly arrested. Lost hikers Derek Vann Whitson and Jesse Daniel Mizell were located by rescue teams and led out of the woods early Monday morning and were charged with felony theft of ginseng. I guess getting lost in the woods doesn’t pay! BA-ZING.

Regional Winners at Great American Beer Fest

The Great American Beer Fest is held in Denver, CO and is one of the biggest beer festivals in the world. If you ever have the chance, and you can get your hands on a ticket, YOU MUST GO. Just make sure you pack your pretzel necklace and take the light-rail. It’s a total beer circus in a good way – trust me, I’ve been to it – but the main point is to crown the best beers and the best breweries in the U.S. Of course California brews took home the most titles, with Colorado coming in a close second (hometown bias?), but beers from the Blue Ridge region were very well represented. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • Imperial IPA (second most entered category) Bronze: Smartmouth Brewing Co., Norfolk, VA – Notch 9 Double IPA
  • Rye Beer Gold: SweetWater Brewing Co., Atlanta, GA – LowRyeDer
  • American-Style Brett Beer Gold: Wicked Week Brewing, Asheville, NC – Serenity
  • German-Style Marzen Gold: Lost Rhino Brewing, Asheburn, VA – Rhinofest
  • Belgian-Style Witbier Gold: Port City Brewing, Alexandria, VA – Optimal Wit
  • American-Style or International-Style Pilsener Silver: Devils Backbone Brewing, Roseland, VA – Gold Leaf Lager

Actually, Devils Backbone brought home a slew of awards in multiple categories, but they also took home one of the biggest prizes in the “competition.” They were awarded the Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year award.

You can see the full results here.