Blue Ridge Briefs: Outdoor News from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

Worn Wear Tour Heads for Appalachia

If you’re lamenting the broken zipper on your favorite hiking pants this spring, fear not. Thanks to Patagonia’s Worn Wear Tour, you can fix your pants—for free—and even learn how to repair your own clothing, whether it’s the button of a jacket or the seam of a hat.

 The Tour takes place inside a solar-powered camper van which travels the country with Patagonia-employed sewing professionals aboard. The team works seven-hour days, fixing up to 100 garments a day for visitors, regardless of the item’s brand. Made from redwood salvaged from giant wine barrels and mounted on a ’91 Dodge Cummins, the mobile repair shop has stopped at retail stores, climbing gyms, and festivals. It’s a party of sorts, complete with live music, food trucks, and more. Staffers also offer tutorials on how to repair items, whether on your own clothes or on recycled Patagonia gear.

Instead of throwing away items, Patagonia wants consumers to reuse, recycle and rejoice in the process. The motto of the Worn Wear Tour is “Repair is a radical act.” Beginning February 16 at the College of Charleston, the Worn Wear Tour will travel on a 70-day tour this spring, stopping at five Southern colleges and universities.

 —Anna Katherine Clemmons

New Law Recognizes Economic Impact of Outdoor Recreation

In December, former President Barack Obama signed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016 with bipartisan support. Outdoor industry jobs like guiding, manufacturing gear, and outdoor retail will now count as part of gross domestic product. Outdoor recreation has generated 6.1 million jobs and annually accounts for $646 billion in consumer spending. Many industry mainstays are optimistic that the documented economic contributions will lead to sensible polices that conserve waterways and public lands where recreation takes place. “We know that preserving our natural treasures isn’t just good for the environment; it’s also a smart move for state and local economies,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire in a statement. “Policymakers need to see the full picture of the role that outdoor recreation plays in supporting jobs and economic growth, and craft policy accordingly.”

Red Wolf in the Crosshairs

An endangered red wolf was shot and killed on or around Dec. 19 and found Dec. 21 in Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). A reward of $16,500 is being offered for any information leading to an arrest.

Gunshot mortality is the leading cause of death for the endangered red wolf. “With fewer than 45 red wolves left in the wild, this loss is a huge blow to the species,” says Defender of Wildlife program director Ben Prater. “The poaching of any wild animal is intolerable, but the intentional killing of one of the world’s most endangered species is inexcusable.”

Lost Illinois Cat Found in Raleigh

A pet cat named Lazarus, who went missing from the small town of Fairfield, Ill. around Thanksgiving, was found 722 miles away in Raleigh, N.C., a month later. Lazarus was rescued by Annetta Hoggard, who took the cat to a veterinarian’s office, where it was discovered the far-from-home feline had a microchip. Hoggard contacted Lazarus’ owner, Roy Finley, who jumped in his car and drove to Raleigh to be reunited with his pet.

West Virginia Gets Big Bucks for Trail Projects

Late last year the Mountain State received $7 million for 54 trail projects through grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails programs. Notable efforts include construction of the eight-mile Cheat River Rail Trail, an extension of the Alum Cave Trail in Audra State Park, and $75,000 to develop the North Fork of the Blackwater Trail near Thomas. Some urban path projects also got a financial boost. Charleston received $100,000 towards development of the Virginia Street West Bike Trail, and the city of Bridgeport was given the biggest grant of the bunch, with $560,000 being awarded to build a bicycle-pedestrian path along Highway 58. 

Nine-Year-Old Boy Sets Half-Marathon Record

Too soon? Caleb Barnes’ parents asked this question before letting their nine-year-old boy line up to run the Cambridge Half Marathon in Massachusetts back in November. After a thumbs up from the family pediatrician, Caleb ran the race and finished in 1:34:44. As reported by Runner’s World, the time was good enough to give the young runner the record for nine-year-olds. “I love running because it’s fun and it makes me feel happy,” he told the magazine. As the son of two running parents, Caleb has been honing his stride since he was a toddler, finishing his first 5K at age 4. During his first half-marathon he beat his dad by five minutes.

96-Year-Old Man Sets 5K Record

96-year-old Bob McAdam from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, finished his local Turkey Day 5K in 48:19, a world record for the 95 and older age group. McAdam was encouraged to enter the race by his retirement home’s fitness instructor, Gina Muaau, who noticed he was regularly on the treadmill. The World War II POW and former basketball coach at the University of Illinois is legally blind, so Muaau offered to help. “She said, ‘I’ll be your eyes and run with you,’” McAdam told a local news station.

Places to Go, Things to See: