Your daily outdoor news bulletin for September 5, the day Arab terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, eventually killing 11 in cold blood:
Regional Paddlers Make Splash at ICF World Championships
The Nantahala Outdoor Center has been working hard since winning the bid in 2010, and now the ICF World Championships are in full swing. From all reports, the Championships are going great drawing competitors and fans from across the region, nation, and world to the NOC campus outside Bryson City, N.C. There is a – packed – grandstand for spectators, there is also a huge jumbotron to broadcast all the whitewater action on the Nantahala. The event is free to spectators so if you are in the area, head on down there and take advantage of the chance to see the best in the business tear up the local river.
As for competitors, WNC is represented by 17-year-old Rowan Stuart of Stecoah, who made it into the K1 junior women’s event finals on Sunday. Local paddler, and NOC employee, Chris Singletary finished just out of the semifinals in the men’s squirt boat competition. Dane Jackson, of the dominant Jackson Kayak clan out of Tennessee, placed first.
Overall, the competition has a distinctive international flavor with spectators waving flags of Germany, Japan, Ukraine, South Korea and many more. The Citizen-Times has a cool video featuring both Stuart and Singletary talking about their experience in the competition. The ICU World Championships run through the weekend.
Explore Park Plans
Sitting just outside Roanoke, Virginia, at milepost 115 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Explore Park has undergone a roller coaster of an existence. Since it’s opening in 1994, the 1,100-acre park has been home to a living history museum, Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, IMBA sanctioned mountain bike trails, nature trails, and a bunch of other stuff. Over the past several years, the park and its facilities have fallen into disrepair due to a lack of funding and organization. But now a change could be in the works for this park. A new agreement has been struck between the Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority and Roanoke County on a 99-year lease that, if approved, would add Explore Park to Roanoke County’s inventor of recreation facilities. Basically, Roanoke Parks and Rec would take over management, with the long term goal of turning Explore into a regional adventure park. There will be a bunch of meetings about the plan behind closed doors, but also for the public. You can learn where and when (spoiler – they are all in September), from our friends at roanokeoutside.com.
This would be a great thing for both Roanoke and the Park, as the facilities are great, and the mountain biking is spectacular.
Rails to Trails Politics
When I interviewed the Legend of the Creeper Trail, Lawrence Dye, last year I got a first hand look at the tension caused locally by the conversion of the Virginia Creeper railway into the rail trail it is today. Old photo albums from the initial construction phases of the plan show vandalism and destruction, particularly a fire set on one of the famous Virginia Creeper trestles by ornery land owners. This was in the 1970s, and they were still having trouble with landowners who didn’t want cyclist “riffraff” coming through on the trail in 2012. Who thought replacing huge, loud, smoky trains with cyclists would piss people off so much? Well, according to a column on MotherJones.com – an admittedly left leaning monthly rag, the issues go deeper than that. Though the article places the blame directly on Republicans – did I mention the left leaning? – it is an interesting read about the politics of the rails to trails program, and the history of the lawsuits brought against the federal government, the process of which appears to be sketchy at best. What was once a program that required zero federal dollars is now costing the U.S. government- and taxpayers – millions for no apparent reason.