1. Dropping From the Sky – Richmond, VA
A commercial film shoot for the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond narrowly avoided disaster when a parachutist got off course and ended up in a tree. The clever ad for the race depicts a man jogging down Monument gradually joined by more people, dressed more outrageously. It culminates with a parachutist dropping from the sky and joining the throng. While shooting, a last-minute gust of wind sent the stunt man into a tree where he landed eight feet above the ground before dropping to safety. The shot worked despite the mishap, but it’s unlikely he’ll be in next year’s commercial featuring a shark, catapult, flame thrower, and wrecking ball.
2. Caving Rescue – Renick, WV
Three college aged cavers were found uninjured by Search and Rescue teams in the Bone-Norman Cave system. The trio set out to camp overnight in the caves and traverse the 15-mile system by way of an eight-inch crawl space appropriately named “The Devil’s Pinch.” After camping, they were unable to find the exit or the entrance the next morning. Rescuers eventually found them hunkered down at their campsite. The amateur spelunkers were in the cave system a total of 48 hours, 5 minutes and emerged with 1,000 “Three guys walk into a West Virginia cave” jokes.
3. Technology Giveth, and Taketh Away – Mount Airy, MD
A hiker in Maryland was saved when he was able to flag down a rescue helicopter using the flashlight app on his iPhone. The catch? It seems a map application got him into the pickle to begin with. Christopher Tkacik was hiking with his dog, Boo, in Gambrill State Park. After crossing the same creek four times, he realized he was lost. He had been led astray by his “smart” phone app. With darkness closing in, he decided to call for help. Tkacik was able to dial police, who sent the chopper and dropped in two escorts for the hike out. The flashlight app enabled the rescuers to find him easily.
4. We’re Number 2! – Washington, DC
The Alliance for Biking and Walking released a report that ranks Washington, D.C. as the number two city in the U.S. for biking and walking (Boston topped the list). The report was based on how friendly cities are to pedestrians and cyclists; biking and walking fatalities; and American Community Survey data for its rankings. D.C. earned its lofty ranking because of its innovative bikesharing system, its culture of safety for cycling and pedestrians, and its high percentage of people who walk to work. This is certainly good news for a city with residents who hold the purse strings to nationwide transportation funds and have the power to impact the conversation on safety, health, and energy.
5. Long and Winding Roads – Waynesville, NC
Potholes and gravel riddle the roadways. Tractor trailers whiz by too close. And once-wide shoulders taper to nothing at all: riding a bicycle down some roads in Western North Carolina can be downright harrowing. But the Land-of-Sky Regional Council aims to change all that. Awarded a $250,000 grant, the organization plans to develop a regional bike plan that connects the seven westernmost counties in western N.C. with bike-friendly roads. The finished plan will include a list of recommendations for road improvements and bike lanes, as well as a map of roads deemed high-priority for their proximity to parks, schools, hospitals, grocery stores and employment centers. The Council welcomes input at public meetings and help with tasks such as bike counts this spring.
Beyond the Blue Ridge
Let my people go…surfing – Chicago, IL
A man in Chicago is in hot water after he was busted surfing in…Lake Michigan? Rex Flodstrom was catching a windswell when he was arrested at Oak Street beach, where surfing is illegal. Surf legend Kelly Slater leapt to his defense, but it was not enough as Flodstrom had his board confiscated and was held, in his wetsuit, for four hours.
Heating this place costs a fortune – Mt. Rainier, WA
A snowshoeing hiker lost in Mount Rainier National Park for two days was forced to burn socks and cash to stay warm before being rescued. Taking a page out of Sly Stallone’s book, Yong Chum Kim torched $1 and $5 bills to fend off freezing temps. Luckily his billfold was as large as his brain and lasted long enough for searchers to find him.
Wait for us! – Palm Springs, CA
When shutting down an aerial tram because of dangerous weather conditions, it’s probably a good idea to make sure everyone is off the top. Lesson learned at San Jacinto Mountain’s aerial tram. Over a dozen hikers were stranded in 100 mph winds for 16 hours when officials stopped the tram. By the time they realized it, conditions were too dangerous to get them off the mountain. The hikers and one park ranger sheltered in a utility shed until the weather calmed. The stranded were reimbursed, but the real storm will start when they try to divide the movie rights.