Some of the top outdoor news stories for May 2019.

8.8 

Percent of drop in visitors on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2018 from the previous year. The decline means the Parkway is no longer the most visited national park in the country. That title now belongs to Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. The drop rwas likely the result of heavy rainfall last year and weather-related closures in January, April, September, and December of 2018. 

Mom fights off cougar

A Canadian woman credited her mom instinct with fighting off a cougar that attacked her seven year old son in March. Lockhart jumped on top of the animal and attempting to pry its mouth off of her son’s body. The cougar released its grip and ran off.

Say Hi to the Omelette Guy

An all-you-can-eat breakfast awaits hungry Appalachian Trail thru-hikers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. That’s where you’ll find Carl Spring, better known on the A.T. as “The Omelette Guy.” At first, Spring brought candy bars and sodas out to the trail, but he soon realized it would be better for the hikers and cheaper for himself if he served hearty egg scrambles and omelettes. Now, Spring’s trailside tent has become a sought-after stop on the A.T. He serves approximately 1,400 hikers meals every season. 

Autopsy: HypOThermia

Sue Clements, who went missing on a trail near Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountain National Park last fall died of hypothermia, her autopsy reveals. Clements was returning on a hike to Andrews Bald when she got lost and failed to meet her daughter in the trailhead parking lot.

Kentucky Sinkhole

A giant sinkhole, nearly the size of a football field was found on the property of the Louisville Zoo in early March. No cause was identified and fortunately no humans or animals were injured by the big ditch that measured approximately 50 yards by 85 yards and about 50-feet deep, according to officials. The day before, a 3.4 earthquake was reported in neighboring state Tennessee, but correlation could not be confirmed. 

Delaware 5K Fights Addiction

At the Delaware-based Attack Addiction 5K, more than 800 doses of the overdose antidote Naracan were made available to the public. 

SELFIE EPIDEMIC

At least 259 people died between 2011 and 2017 while attempting to take selfies. The average age of those who died was 23 and that nearly 73 percent were male. Recent high profile selfie deaths include an Indian couple that fell 800 feet while posing for a photo in Yosemite National Park and an Israeli teen who plunged to his death in Yosemite taking a photo of himself while hanging off a rock.

The Triple Crown at 71

71-year-old Mike Fagan is attempting to complete the Triple Crown of Hiking in one year. The goal includes hiking every mile of the Appalachian (2,189 miles), Pacific Crest (2,654 miles), and Continental Divide (3,100 miles) Trails, totaling 7,700 miles. Fagan spends much of his time promoting wellness to increase longevity; he owns a health food store in Billings, Montana, and he also hosts a local radio show called “Let’s Stay Healthy.” He’s using the Triple Crown hike to inspire others to stay active as they age. Fagan started his northbound journey on the A.T. in February. Follow his progress via GPS at Gold Canyon Heart and Home (gchh.org). 

“Nobody has ever made this movie.”

—Eddie Mensore, writer and director of the feature film Mine 9 to the Associated Press. Mensore, a native of New Martinsville, W.Va., made the fictional film about nine miners trapped in an Appalachian mine after a methane explosion, but he was inspired by mining tragedies in his home state and across Appalachia. Part of the movie, starring Kevin Sizemore, was filmed at an actual mine in Buchanan County, Va. 

Stop Rocky Fork’s $23 million Road to Nowhere

Outdoor News: May 2019

Rocky Fork State Park is Tennessee’s wildest state park. Located near the Tennessee-North Carolina border just south of Erwin, the park was created to provide a wild, primitive mountain experience. But last November, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation presented plans for a steep 24-foot-wide, two-lane, paved road that would extend to a proposed RV campground. 

The accompanying photo shows the approximate route of the proposed road, now estimated by TDOT to be a $23 million project, designed so as to be able to accommodate RVs and 4,000 to 8,000 vehicles per day. The road would require extensive use of retaining walls and permanently damage one of the most pristine watersheds remaining in Appalachia. Learn more at RockyForkJournal.com and the Rocky Fork Almanac on Facebook.   —Frances Figart