Man murdered on Appalachian Trail found solace from his PTSD in the outdoors

The man who was stabbed and killed on the Appalachian Trail last week has been identified as Oklahoma resident and Army veteran Ronald Sanchez. Sanchez served three tours of duty in Iraq and came away from his years of service suffering from depression and PTSD as well as back and knee injuries that made his outdoor pursuits even more difficult. In an effort to pull himself out of the darkness, Sanchez joined a cycling group and a dragon boat team and began showing horses. His biggest pursuit, however, was his hike on the Appalachian Trail. Sanchez’s sister, Brenda Sanchez, told CNN that her brother was especially proud of his hike. “To survive those deployments in Iraq and then to die like this is just devastating,” she said.

James Jordan, 30, was arrested and charged with one count of murder and one count of assault with the intent to murder. In addition to allegedly stabbing Sanchez, Jordan is also accused of attacking and stabbing a female hiker who played dead and managed to escape.

Local climbers ask Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to restore climbing access

Climbers in the Mid-Atlantic region are asking Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to lift its climbing closures which began in 2017 when the park withdrew access to all rock climbing and bouldering activities in the Virginia and West Virginia sections of the park. A year later in 2018, climbing locations in Maryland Heights, the only multi-pitch climbing in the state, were also deemed off-limits due to a landslide and construction vehicle traffic. Climbers point out, however, that the landslide is not located near climbing areas and the park never closed the Maryland Heights hiking trail to the public.

In the past three months, Mid Atlantic Climbers, a non-profit dedicated to preserving climbing access in the region, has collected more than five hundred signatures from the climbing community requesting restored climbing access in the park and asking that future climbing management decisions allow for public process.   

Asheville’s Urban/Suburban bear study shows bear movements throughout city

North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Urban/Suburban Bear Study has entered its second phase. The study began back in 2014 when researchers began catching bears within a 1-mile radius of the city, outfitting them with radio collars that fall off on their own over time, and tracking the bear’s movements with the hope of using the data to inform future bear management decisions. That data is now being analyzed and a full report is expected to be released this fall. In the meantime, the study is on to phase two. During the second phase researchers are looking for 1,000 people in both the Haw Creek and Town Mountain neighborhoods, which have the highest amount of bear activity in the city, to participate in their “Bear Wise” program and agree to the six BearWise principles which teach residents how to live in harmony with bears. Roughly 7,000-9,000 black bears live in WNC and another 11,000-13,000 live on the coast of North Carolina.