Your daily outdoor news bulletin for July 15, the day Col. Zebulon Pike set out with his men on the Pike Expedition in 1806 to explore the southern Louisiana Territory and find the headwaters of the Red and Arkansas rivers. All they found was a big mountain, and future ultra-dangerous race track, which he named after himself:
Kayaker Shannon Christy Dies on Potomac
What was supposed to be a celebration of the Potomac River turned tragic over the weekend when one of the kayakers scheduled to participate died at Great Falls. Shannon Christy, 23, of Greenville, S.C. was warming up for the Potomac River Festival’s annual Great Falls Race on Thursday when she became pinned and drowned below “Subway,” one of the most dangerous sections of the falls. The race was cancelled and instead, kayakers and paddlers gathered for a memorial service at Great Falls Park before paddling out below the Class V+ falls to spread flowers on the water and reflect. Christy was a graduate of Western Carolina University, rafting guide, an experienced kayaker – she had even run that same falls earlier in the week – and worked for kayak and canoe manufacturer Confluence Watersports in Greenville, where she was also honored by kayaking colleagues.
Stranded Cyclist Turns Out to Be Famous
Let this be a lesson to you: next time you see a cyclist on the side of the road, you may want to pull over and lend them a hand because they could end up being a famous person. This is what happened to Emily Kraus over the weekend. On her way to a Dave Mathews Band show in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Kraus and her boyfriend pulled over to assist a biker who was stranded on the side of the road with a bike malfunction and no cell phone. That guy was Dave Mathews himself, out for a pre-show ride when disaster struck in the form of a popped tire. Kraus loaded up the bike on her car, and loaded Mathews in the back, and took both to the show. She was rewarded with backstage passes, front row seats, a mid-set shout out from the man himself, and dinner.
New Tennessee State Park at Rocky Fork
The history of Tennessee’s Rock Fork tract has been, well, rocky. The 10,000 acre section of land abuts both Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina and was long held under private ownership, much to the chagrin of conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts. The tract is like a mini Great Smoky Mountains National Park with rivers running cold and filled with native brook trout, endangered animals like salamanders (more species than in GSMNP), the Appalachian Trail and bold mountains with killer views around every corner. The land was acquired in 2009 by a group lead by the Conservation Fund in one of the largest and most significant land grabs in the Southeast, and now a portion of the site has been tapped to be Tennessee’s 55th State Park. At the beginning of July the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation officially acquired over 2,000 acres in the middle of Rocky Fork and plan to turn it into a low-impact facility with development limited to access roads, welcome center, picnic area, campground and trails. Oh, my, the trails. The A.T. will be rerouted, and the area will be developed for mixed use (hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian). Tennessee State Parks see 31 million visits a year, and produce $725 million a year in revenues related to services.