Pisgah Inn employee pleads guilty to killing co-worker while hiking

A Pisgah Inn employee who killed his co-worker while out for a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway in July 2018 has pled guilty to first-degree murder charges and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death. 

Derek Shawn Pendergraft, 22, who worked at the Pisgah Inn, murdered his co-worker Sara Ellis while committing aggravated sexual abuse. According to Pendergraft’s plea agreement, he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. A sentencing date has not yet been set. Pendergraft remains in federal custody. 

Shenandoah 500 mile club creates patch for hikers

Hikers that complete all of the park’s trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have one, and now Shenandoah National Park hikers that accomplish the same fete have one too: a special patch that illustrates their completion of all 500 miles of the park’s trails. The patch is the brainchild of Lauralee Bliss, a long-distance hiker who founded the Shenandoah 500 Mile Club in 2014. 

Hikers who reach their goal of walking all of the park’s trails can earn the badge, but the experience is about so much more than logging miles, says Bliss. “It’s not about getting a patch, it’s about so much more,” Bliss told Fredricksburg.com. “Make it a journey, not a destination. This is a way to discover all the secrets of the Shenandoah through this program. [The patch] is not the goal of it, it’s actually just to learn, commune and to seek the good in yourself and others while you’re doing it.” 

Single-use plastic has been banned on the Nepali side of Mount Everest

Beginning in January 2020, single-use plastics will be banned from the world’s tallest mountain. The announcement comes after Nepalese officials removed 11 tons of garbage from Mount Everest in May. The ban covers plastics less than 0.03 millimeters thick, including chip and food bags, wrappers, and plastic bottles containing anything other than water. Trekkers and climbers will not be allowed to bring banned items to the mountain and shops along the way will be forbidden to sell them.

Punishment for breaking the new rule has not yet been determined, but the Nepalese government is working with the Nepal Mountaineering Association, airlines and trekking companies to enforce the rule, The Himalayan Times reports.