FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享London South East:The World Bank said on Wednesday it would not support a planned 500-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Kosovo, the first major energy project in the Balkan country in more than two decades.Kosovo’s government had asked the Washington-based lender to provide it partial risk guarantees that would help unlock cheaper loans for the project.Asked by a Kosavar civil society representative during the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in Bali if the bank would still back the project, its President Jim Yong Kim said the lender has made “a very firm decision” not to go forward with it.“Because we are required with our bylaws to go with the lowest cost option and renewables have now come below the cost of coal…so without question we are not going to do that,” he said during the meeting, broadcast live on the World Bank’s website.It is unclear how the government will now proceed with the project which environmentalists say could lock Kosovo into a future powered by lignite. Kosovo signed a deal in 2017 with London-listed power generator ContourGlobal to build the plant at a cost of around 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion).With around 14 billion tonnes of proven lignite reserves, the fifth largest in the world, the country is struggling with power shortages and the new plant was designed to help it meet around half of the country’s power demand. More: World Bank pulls out of Kosovo coal power plant project World Bank says no to planned Kosovo coal plant
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Australia’s booming rooftop solar market is on track to add a record 2,000MW (2GW) of capacity in 2019, as electricity prices refuse to budge and state government rebates make solar self-generation more accessible than ever.A new report from Green Energy Markets says 480MW of small-scale rooftop solar capacity has already been installed in the first quarter of this year, confirming previous analysis that it eclipses the total from the same time last year by a massive 46 per cent, and delivering two-and-a-half times the Q1 average of the past four years.At this rate, says Green Energy Markets’ Tristan Edis, new additions of rooftop solar would, by 2022, deliver more than enough new generation capacity to replace Liddell Power Station – the New South Wales coal power plant that is due to retire by that date.At the large-scale end of the market, GEM’s Edis details a massive 8,123MW of projects under construction across the country at the end of March, including 4,592MW of wind farms and 3,471MW of large-scale solar.As at the end of March, renewables made up almost 20 per cent – 19.7% – of the electricity generated on Australia’s main grids, enough to power 9.5 million homes.More: Rooftop solar to add 2,000MW in 2019, another Liddell by 2022 Utility-scale and residential rooftop solar installations are booming in Australia
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Salt Lake Tribune:A proposed oil shale mine and ore-processing project in the Uinta Basin is under legal fire from several environmental groups that are seeking to invalidate a recent Bureau of Land Management decision to let the developer cut a 14-mile utility corridor across public land.In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court, the groups say the BLM’s environmental review should have considered the impacts to air, water, wildlife and climate from the massive strip mine proposed on private land by Enefit American Oil. “The BLM approved the rights of way to service Enefit’s proposed oil shale mine and processing facility based on an utterly inadequate analysis of potentially devastating air, water, climate and species impacts,” said Michael Toll, a staff attorney at Grand Canyon Trust. “Considering the rights of way are a public subsidy of an otherwise economically unfeasible oil shale development, the public has a right to know exactly how Enefit’s project will impact their health and environment.”Enefit previously has argued that the larger environmental analysis should not be required because its project could move forward without the proposed rights of way. The corridor would lessen the project’s impacts and further reviews will be required before mining begins, executives say.A subsidiary of a large state-run Estonian energy firm, Enefit hopes to develop a mine on 9,000 acres near the White River, along with a 320-acre processing plant that would “retort” ore known as kerogen. This rockbound hydrocarbon can be converted to crude if subjected to intense heat and pressure. As a result, this form of energy extraction uses large amounts of energy and water.The company hopes to produce up to 50,000 barrels a day, extracted from 28 million tons of ore mined each year for up to 30 years. It is seeking rights to nearly 11,000 acre-feet of water that would be needed to extract and process the ore. Spent ore would then be returned to the mine pit.More: Groups sue to reverse the feds’ approval of right of way needed for eastern Utah oil shale mining Environmentalists sue federal government over planned Utah oil shale development
Alabama municipal utility moves forward with 100MW solar farm FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Montgomery Advertiser:In Montgomery County, 800 rural acres will soon be home to a massive 350,000-panel solar array. The project, a partnership between local utility company Alabama Municipal Electric Authority and Lightsource BP, will bring a large-scale, utility-sized solar development to the River Region. Utility leaders say several recent factors have made solar power a realistic energy source, and they expect others to follow suit shortly.“Our mission is to provide low-cost reliable electric power to our member cities at the lowest possible cost that we can,” said Fred Clark, president and chief executive of AMEA. “We search for economic resources and study those daily with a group of engineers that we have, both on staff as well as consultants that we reach out to.”That research yielded what AMEA believes to be a feasible and forward-thinking project in the solar field. The deal with Lightsource, a partnership itself under British Petroleum, will bring 100 megawatts of solar energy into AMEA’s “energy portfolio.”Everything will be built and maintained by Lightsource, with AMEA only buying the energy and selling it to different municipalities and utilities in areas like Opelika and Tuskegee. AMEA has 13 utility affiliates across the state, though none in Montgomery. The benefit for the county will be the over $5 million in property taxes to be collected over the lifetime of the project, which will go to Montgomery’s cash-strapped school system.Clark said AMEA may be jumping on the solar train earlier than some others — moving its percentage of energy generation by solar from 1 percent to 10 percent — but he expects others to join in the near future.More: Montgomery-based electric authority closes deal on 350K solar panel array
Cool summer could push U.S. coal consumption below 600 million tons—analysts FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Industry analysts told S&P Global Market Intelligence a projected cooler summer across much of the U.S. could challenge an already struggling coal industry by muting domestic utility demand for the commodity. Coupled with weakening European and Asian thermal coal pricing, a cooler summer resulting in lower energy demand could weigh on the U.S. coal sector, the analysts said.“Every year is important for this industry,” said B. Riley FBR analyst Lucas Pipes. “I think it’s probably fair to say that given the weakness in the seaborne market at this time, stronger domestic demand is maybe more important than let’s say last year because if the export market should continue to stay challenging at current pricing levels, clearly producers have to look more towards the domestic market to balance their sales books.”Todd Crawford, senior meteorologist for IBM Business’ The Weather Company, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that he projects there will be about 9.5% less energy demand on average across the country year over year. Crawford said heavy rain and flooding in the Midwest this spring will likely result in a cooler summer, noting that temperatures in the region and into the Northwest have remained two or three degrees below average in recent weeks. He added the Southeast may have a slightly warmer summer than normal but not a significant increase.“As we look through June, we don’t see a lot of heat through the major population centers, energy demand centers, of the eastern U.S.,” Crawford said. “If there’s any big heat going on in June, it’s going to be of the [Pacific] Northwest.”Andy Blumenfeld, head of Market Analytics at Doyle Trading Consultants LLC, said some power demand data is already reflecting the effect of cooler temperatures heading into the summer. Though the U.S. had strong energy demand this winter, it has declined significantly more recently. Blumenfeld said he thinks coal burn will decrease significantly this year compared with 2018, dropping by much as 40 million tons to less than 600 million tons, a record low over the last several decades.Blumenfeld added the potential for increased summer demand from the international market could help domestic producers, given the increased use of air conditioning in other nations outside the U.S., especially in Asia. “If we do see a spike in demand that certainly will help, so that’s possibly a good-news scenario that comes out of this,” he said, “but so far we’re not seeing it in the forward pricing to a great degree. There is some upward lift, but it’s still pretty low.”More ($): Cooler summer may limit domestic opportunities for struggling coal sector
Fossil Fuel Companies Are Grappling with Climate Change FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Time:A peculiar theme park in the Hague celebrates the history of the Netherlands through a series of miniature models. The Madurodam features little canals, old-fashioned windmills, tiny tulips and, amid it all, an homage to Royal Dutch Shell, the oil giant that is the biggest company in the country and, by revenue, the second largest publicly traded oil-and-gas company in the world. There’s a Shell drilling platform, a Shell gas station and a Shell natural-gas field, complete with a drilling rig. The display is at once odd–energy infrastructure in a children’s theme park–and entirely fitting: Shell has been, for decades, one of the most powerful players both in Dutch politics and on the global economic stage.But that could soon change. As concerns grow over the existential challenges posed by climate change, Shell must grapple with its own existential crisis: How should a company that generates most of its profits by serving the world’s enormous appetite for oil navigate a long-term future in which shifting political and economic tides threaten to make fossil fuels obsolete?Shell CEO Ben van Beurden has a bird’s-eye view of the situation from his corner office at the company’s global headquarters in the Hague. “We have to figure out what are the right bets to take in a world that is completely changing because of society’s concerns around climate change,” he says.Projections from energy companies show demand for oil could peak and fall in the coming decades; some outside analyses suggest demand for oil could plateau as soon as 2025. Markets are already jittery about the industry: energy was the worst-performing sector on the S&P 500 index in 2019. In 1980, the energy industry represented 28% of the index’s value, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). Last year, it represented less than 5%. The shift away from oil looms so large that Moody’s warned in 2018 that the energy transition represents “significant business and credit risk” for oil companies. The heads of the Banks of England and France said in an op-ed that any company that does not change strategically to the new energy reality “will fail to exist.” On Jan. 14, Larry Fink, founder and CEO of investment giant BlackRock, wrote in an open letter that “climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects.”As oil flirts with the prospect of decline, energy executives are at odds over what to do. Some firms, like ExxonMobil, are positioning themselves to squeeze the last lucrative years from the oil economy while arguing to shareholders that they will be able to sell all their oil. Shell and a handful of others are beginning to adapt.Under van Beurden’s leadership, Shell is charting a path that will allow it to continue to profit from oil and gas while simultaneously expanding its plastics business and diversifying into electrical power. By the 2030s, the 112-year-old fossil-fuel giant wants to become the world’s largest power company. As part of this strategy, Shell has worked to present itself as environmentally friendly. Last year, it committed to reduce its emissions by as much as 3% by 2021, and by around 50% by 2050, tying its executives’ compensation to the cuts.Analysts say it’s too early to tell whether Shell’s strategy to reduce reliance on oil will pay off for shareholders in the long run. Last year, Shell, while continuing to pay large dividends, bought back stock, helping maintain its share price. The maneuver kept the company’s stock valuation roughly level, but it’s hardly a workable long-term strategy. Across the sector, companies “have to figure out who they are in this changing market,” says Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the IEEFA. “They are not the profit center that they used to be, and they probably never will be.”The viability of sticking with oil, even as major world economies promise to move away, is uncertain. Both ExxonMobil and Chevron are staying the course, hoping to outlast their competitors. But Shell and others are moving to adapt. BP, for instance, has also invested in natural gas and power, while ConocoPhillips has prioritized “short-cycle project times” to help it stay economically competitive. Occidental has dropped money into a method of drilling that allows it to store CO2 in the ground, a bet that it can offset some of the regulatory costs of CO2 emissions within its own operations. And in December, the Spanish oil giant Repsol committed to being carbon-neutral by 2050 and wrote down many of its oil assets on the grounds that their value will diminish as oil fades.[Justin Worland]More: The Reason Fossil Fuel Companies Are Finally Reckoning With Climate Change
Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott – Brother WindAcoustic Syndicate – HeroesAndrea Tomasi – BirdflowerBig Sandy & His Fly Rite Boys – What A Dream It’s BeenBlair Crimmins & The Hookers – It’s All Over NowChris Eldridge & Julian Lage – For CritterChris Jones & The Night Drivers – Lonely Comes EasyDan Miraldi – Lovebomb!Deer Tick – The Dream’s In The DitchDrew Holcomb & The Neighbors – Good LightDrew Kennedy – Good CarpentryFinnders & Youngberg – DinerAustin Lucas – Alone In MemphisOdd Us – HomeOld Buck – Icy MountainPeter Cooper – Opening DayRon Block – IvySusanna & Ensemble Neon – Oh, I Am StuckThe Horse’s Ha – Dying TreeThe Sweetback Sisters – I Got A BulldogThe Whiskey Gentry – Dixie Watching any given month of Trail Mix coming together is always an interesting process. From time to time, a month will take on a certain flavor, tapping into a particular vibe. As the days of August dwindled and the final tracks of the September mix rolled in, that was certainly the case.This month’s Trail Mix is an Americana gem, with lots of bluegrass, old time, and singer/songwriter material that is really hard to beat.Right out of the gate we have a tune that, recently, I described as being a nearly perfect song. Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott have long been two of my favorite songwriters. Whenever they collaborate, goodness happens. We are lucky to have “Brother Wind,” an older O’Brien tune, in our opening slot. Scott and O’Brien included the tune on their recent release, Memories and Moments.Check out the great bluegrassy sounds of Chris Jones & The Night Drivers and Ron Block, who is typically out on the road with Allison Krauss & Union Station, and the good time old time feel of The Sweetback Sisters, Finnders & Youngerg, and Old Buck.Trail Mix is also really big on the new record from The Whiskey Gentry. “Dixie,” featured here this month, is a killer tune.Make sure to explore new material from Deer Tick, Peter Cooper, Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge, and much more on our free music download. Take a listen, spread the word, and get out and buy music from the artists. Catch them at a venue near you. And tune into the Trail Mix blog; we’ll be giving away some music and festival tickets this month.
Your daily outdoor news bulletin for November 13, the day Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins broke his first backboard with the Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam Glass-Breaker-I-Am Jam in 1979:Table Rock Fire GrowingThe wildfire raging in North Carolina’s Linville Gorge Wilderness is growing, is expected to continue to grow, and is not contained. The Table Rock Fire was 15-acres in size on Tuesday afternoon, but quickly grew to 40 acres a few hours later. Last night the fire jumped from 40 acres to 100 acres and is zero percent contained as of mid morning. The fire is approximately a quarter-mile southwest of Table Rock Mountain and threatens the Outward Bound base camp area, but no other homes or structures. Nearly 40 U.S. Forest Service firefighters and others are working to clean existing roads, trails and fire lines to contain the blaze.In a bit of irony, this past January a proposed prescribed burn was debated for the Linville Gorge Wilderness, pitting the Gingercake Acres development – who opposed the burn – against the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission – who supported the burn. This debate sparked on of our own in the pages of our November issue. The fire is under investigation. The Forest Service is asking anyone who may have seen someone camping or was in the area of the Table Rock picnic area to call the Forest Service at828-652-2144.North Carolina Open for ShreddingNorth Carolina has gotten cold in the past few days, and with some flurries around, ski resorts in the western part of the state are ready to open their slopes, if they haven’t already. Sugar Mountain Ski Resort outside Banner Elk began blowing snow on Sunday and continue to do so, allowing them to open the upper and lower portions of Flying Mile. You can get a lift ticket for $30 for a full day and $25 for a half-day. Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley announced that they will open for skiing and snowboarding tomorrow, Thursday, November 14th.Both Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech Ski Mountain Resort report that they are blowing snow on their slopes and will open sometime in the next two weeks, weather permitting of course.Dog Climbs EverestWell, not to the summit. Rupee the rescue dog, saved from a dump site in India by South African Joanne Lefson, is the first official canine ever recorded at Everest Base Camp. That honor was supposed to belong to Lefson’s late dog Oscar, but Oscar was hit and killed by a car in California. Lefson found Rupee a couple months later and continued the journey.There is more to the story of course, and you can read it all and check out the very cool photo gallery at the Huffington Post.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINSGUYOT 6,621 FT. (TENN.)LE CONTE 6,593 FT.According to Kirk, you have to “really want to get to that peak,” because there’s no nearby trailhead. Kirk describes Mt. Le Conte as a “broad, gentle giant.” Reaching the top requires some bushwhacking, but it’s worth the effort.“It’s like an enchanted forest and a completely different biome up there,” he says. “It’s really high up and you’re walking on all these spruce needles. It’s just a really cool setting up there, kind of tucked away.”CHAPMAN 6,417 FT. (TENN.)CLINGMANS DOME 6,643 FT. (N.C.)COLLINS 6,188 FT. (N.C.)OLD BLACK 6,370 FT. (N.C.)LUFTEE KNOB 6,234 FT. (N.C.)KEPHART 6,217 FT. (TENN.)MARKS KNOB 6,169 FT. (N.C.)BIG CATALOOCHEE MOUNTAIN 6,155 FT. (N.C.)TRICORNER KNOB 6,120 FT.“The peaks that stand out to me as the most challenging were in the Tricorner shelter area,” Riddle says. “The shelter is 15 miles from vehicular access, so it’s necessary to hike in all of one’s supplies.” As much as she and the group wanted to call it a day when they arrived at the shelter in the afternoon, they pressed on and added Mt. Sequoyah, Mt. Chapman, and Marks Knob to the day’s list.SEQUOYAH 6,003 FT. (TENN.)GREAT BALSAM MOUNTAINS“I’m partial to some of the peaks along the Art Loeb trail, which is where I had my first ultra adventure in North Carolina,” Kirk says. “That trail goes over Black Balsam, Tennent, Shining Rock, all the way to Cold Mountain.”RICHLAND BALSAM 6,410 FT. (N.C.)BLACK BALSAM KNOB 6,214 FT.One of Riddle’s “favorite mountains anywhere,” Black Balsam Knob is near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The bald, grassy views of the Great Balsam Mountains remind her of being out West.HARDY 6,120 FT. (N.C.)REINHART KNOB 6,080 FT.Off the parkway across from the more touristy Richland Balsam Knob, “Reinhart Knob, is a bit of a forgotten mountain,” Kirk says. It may not particularly stand out, but he describes it as one of the steepest, most difficult climbs.SAM KNOB 6,040 FT. (N.C.)GRASSY COVE TOP 6,040 FT. (N.C.)TENNENT MOUNTAIN 6,040 FT. (N.C.)COLD MOUNTAIN 6,030 FT. (N.C.)SHINING ROCK 6,000 FT.Affectionately known to hikers as the crown jewel of Appalachia, Shining Rock is one of Riddle’s favorites for its breathtaking snowy white quartz formations at the top.CHESTNUT BALD 6,000 FT. (N.C.)PLOTT BALSAMSWATERROCK KNOB 6,292 FT. (N.C.)LYN LOWRY 6,240 FT. (N.C.)PLOTT BALSAM MOUNTAIN 6,088 FT. (N.C.)YELLOW FACE 6,032 FT. (N.C.)ROAN-UNAKA MOUNTAINSROAN HIGH KNOB 6,285 FT. (N.C.)ROAN HIGH BLUFF 6,267 FT. (N.C.)GRASSY RIDGE BALD 6,160 FT. (N.C.)GREAT CRAGGY MOUNTAINSCRAGGY DOME 6,080 FT. (N.C.) The rain was relentless, the overgrown briers showed no mercy on their legs, it was dark when they started and when they finished. And after 16 hours on the trail they were met with a bear prowling around the shelter. The bear came sniffing around again, even after being tranquilized by a park ranger.“That first day was the scariest,” says Anne Riddle.Understatement? It was day one of six in the summer of 2009, when long-distance runners Anne Riddle, Rebekah Trittipoe and Jenny Anderson (collectively known as The Cats) took off to set the women’s record for scaling all 40 of the Southern Appalachian’s 6,000-foot peaks in one continuous effort, a challenge known as the South Beyond 6,000 (SB6K).According to Vance Mann, a volunteer administrator of the Carolina Mountain Club, which sponsors the program, the guidelines of the SB6K don’t include a time limit. In fact, he says most participating hikers take anywhere from six months to two years to complete the challenge, and there’s no trophy for knocking it out any faster than the next guy. There is, however, a certificate and a patch, which Mann, a 75-year-old hiking enthusiast who’s been involved with the club for a decade, mails to anyone who completes the SB6K.But you know those ultra-runners—why walk a trail when they could run it?Team EffortTheir first day began around 2am in the Clingmans Dome parking lot and ended about 50 miles, eight peaks, and 16 hours later. Between the water-logged shoes, the blisters, the unwelcome campsite guest, the nonstop rain, and the overwhelming fatigue, there were certainly moments when Riddle considered quitting.“There are times when you’re just like, oh my god, this sucks, why did I sign up to do this,” she says. “But there were times when it was really fun. Time’s just flying, you feel like you’ve got tons of energy and it’s just a beautiful day.”Riddle joined her high school cross-country team as a freshman, after concluding that contact sports requiring hand-eye coordination weren’t her forte. (She still identifies as a clumsy athlete, citing the seemingly endless bumps and bruises she acquired during those six days.) She continued logging miles during and after college, but it wasn’t until her 30s, when she owned a running shop, that she considered tip-toeing into the ultra world. A woman entered the store looking for a watch that counted up to 100 miles. Bewildered, Riddle asked why, and the woman’s answer was simple: she ran 100 miles at a time.“I was looking at her, this elementary school teacher, and she seemed like a normal person,” Riddle recalls, noting that she and the customer had similar body types. “I thought, OK, well if she can do it, maybe I can do it.”The more ultra-runners Riddle surrounded herself with, the more respect she developed for the sport. It’s a slippery slope, though, from that first 50K race to a six-day challenge covering 300 miles.“Before I had ever met any ultra-runners I thought these people must be crazy, they must be like Olympians, another species,” she says. “But I started meeting people who do more and more crazy long, hard things, and I realized they’re just normal people who happen to set a goal and work really hard to do it.”Riddle’s list of running accolades is a long and impressive one, but the SB6K was a different beast. For starters, the choice to run with two other women was deliberate. A starting line, a designated course, and a couple hundred fellow runners don’t come with the SB6K like a traditional race, and Riddle preferred the idea of tackling the challenge with a like-minded cohort, for both safety and camaraderie.The trio agreed to stick together and only be as fast as the slowest person, and even when someone pulled ahead or fell behind, Riddle says they were generally within about 100 meters of each other. And every time they reached a peak, The Cats paused as a group to (briefly) enjoy it together.“Doing an adventure like that really kind of tests your relationship skills and ability to compromise and negotiate and that sort of thing,” she says. “When you’re by yourself you can go at your own pace and you don’t have all those personalities to take into account, but it is nice having people there to encourage you. At moments when I was feeling low, maybe someone else was feeling really good, and vice-versa along the way.”This was Riddle’s first multi-day, overnight running excursion, and essential to the group’s success was their crew. A small band of supporters followed along in a vehicle, meeting them at shelters and in parking lots with sleeping bags, hot food and dry clothes. Friends also popped in on occasion to run a couple (or a couple dozen) miles with them, and Riddle fondly recalls the day some pals hand-delivered giant Starbucks frappuccinos. And one morning, fellow runners greeted them with coffee, chocolate-chip pancakes, and breakfast burritos, a meal that Riddle describes as “the most heavenly.”A couple years later, Riddle paid it forward by meeting Matt Kirk out on the trail during his own SB6K journey, equipped with breakfast burritos.Going SoloFor Matt Kirk, the SB6K was a pipe dream for years. Kirk was a young, mountain-loving college kid who had just discovered trail running when he received an email from speed demon Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer in 2002. Kirk immediately recognized Keizer as the guy who had set a record on Colorado’s 14,000-footers (also known as 14ers) in 2000, and Keizer had come across a rudimentary web page that Kirk had set up to document his own experience on North Carolina’s sixers.“He thought I was an expert on these mountains,” Kirk laughs. “Of course I wasn’t, but I guess you can fake anything on the internet these days.”He may not have considered himself an expert 15 years ago, but that would be a tough argument to make now. He talked with Keizer about the sixers, and the seed was planted.“It became a little project,” Kirk says. “He wanted to just pick them off, not in any speedy fashion, but to collect experiences.”Famous last words. Keizer, whose goal was to string all 40 peaks (15 of which have no designated trails) together in one continuous footpath, slapped the final summit marker after four days, 23 hours, and 28 minutes. Seven years later, Kirk shattered that record, knocking out all 40 peaks in four days, 14 hours and 38 minutes.Because so many of the mountains are quite literally off the beaten path and the 40 peaks aren’t conveniently arranged in a straight line, it’s difficult to pinpoint specific mileage for the SB6K. Kirk picked the brains of everyone who came before him and spent many a weekend with his wife, exploring on and off the trails, tracking GPS points and bushwhacking his way through rhododendron and briers to the top of the less obviously accessible mountains.Between the weekend excursions (which Kirk says were just as much fun as the timed trial, if not more so) and combing through the trail notes that Keizer and The Cats had graciously shared with him, Kirk plotted out a time-efficient route that shaved what he estimated to be about 50 miles off the originals.Kirk ran solo for most of the four-and-a-half days, but he’s the first to point out that he didn’t do it alone.“The thing that made this stand out as a success really had less to do with my athletic ability and all to do with the great support and phenomenal weather we had,” he says.Kirk’s dad met him at the end of each long day in a Volkswagen bus circa 1970s loaded down with gear and a kitchen for morning omelets, plus Kirk’s wife and friends made appearances along the way. With the exception of some misty, uncomfortable conditions during his connection from Mt. Mitchell to Celo Knob, Kirk says he couldn’t have asked for better weather.“It was nice and chilly in the mornings, enough to get you going, really clear with low humidity, just incredible views,” he says. “The morale from being out in that kind of environment day in and day out just really kept spirits pretty high.”He didn’t exactly allow himself to take it all in, though. Upon scaling a peak he was more likely to inhale a protein bar, retie his shoes, take a deep breath, and head back down than he was to sit back and enjoy the panoramic views.“Which I don’t recommend to people,” he says. “It’s not the best way to do it, but I knew I was following in the footsteps of someone I had a lot of respect for and their time was not going to be easy to beat.”The Southern Summits“When I did the challenge, I had lived and trained in Western North Carolina for 16 years,” Riddle says. “But through this process I experiencedtrails I had never before visited.” They may be record-holders, but Riddle and Kirk are more than happy to share their secrets so fellow trail runners and hikers can follow in their footsteps. If you’re thinking about exploring the 40 peaks (in a continuous race with the clock or otherwise), this may be a good place to start.BLACK MOUNTAINS“The Black Mountains are fun, as you can knock out seven of them in seven miles, mostly along the Black Mountain Crest Trail,” Riddle says. “It’s steep and techincal, but with amazing views.”MITCHELL—6,684 FT. YANCEY COUNTY, N.C.As the tallest point east of the Mississippi and the inspiration for one of the country’s first state parks, Mt. Mitchell is a popular destination for North Carolinians and travelers alike. it’s easily accessible from a vehicle so it can “feel pretty touristy,” Riddle says, but that just gives the experience even more variety, especially in comparison to the remote peaks.CRAIG 6,647 FT. (N.C.)BALSAM CONE 6,600 FT. (N.C.)CATTAIL PEAK 6,600 FT. (N.C.)GIBBES 6,520 FT. (N.C.)HALLBACK 6,329 FT. (N.C.)CELO KNOB 6,327 FT. (N.C.)BLACKSTOCK KNOB 6,320 FT. (N.C.)WINTER STAR MOUNTAIN 6,203 FT. (N.C.)GIBBS MOUNTAIN 6,200 FT. (N.C.)
Yesterday was World Photography Day. We missed it. I missed it, but for a good reason.It was Sunday, I was off, and I was taking photos.These days, every day is a holiday. There is a pancake day, cat day, and I can only assume a Zucchini day, (There is. I just Googled it and it was 12 days ago). Ridiculous, I know, but it furthers my point. There is a day for everything.I’m sitting at the local watering hole, enjoying an adult soda around the corner from our Asheville office. The summer showers have prolonged my bike ride home, and there is no better way to wait out a storm. As I finish this fine craft beverage, I’m scrolling through the BRO Instagram account, mindlessly digesting the hashtag #blueridgeoutdoors. At this moment there are 18,416 photos tagged. Almost twenty thousand photos with that tag alone are floating in space, in this one app, from this region. Soon there will be a paper on a new thumb-related medical condition caused by the indefinite scrolling of pictures on our mobile devices. Either that or our thumbs are only getting stronger. My sincerest of apologies to the thumbless “grammers” out there. I’m sure your index fingers, pinkies, and/or nubs will succumb to the same ailment. I digress.After a dozen or so double-taps, I wonder, “Hmmm, when is Photography Day?” It was yesterday. Dammit. A picture is worth a thousand words, an old but true saying. Pictures of these mountains are worth over 400 million years. A story forged by the elements and time, every snap of a shutter writes a new chapter. The jaw-dropping views that make you question your existence. Deafening waterfalls that drown out thunder. Creatures that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. You capture light, convert it into pixels, and continue to tell the story of this magical place. I’m always met with, “It would be an honor!” or, “Oh my goodness, of course!” It’s an incredibly humbling experience to chat with you all, to work with you, and to share your hard earned captures with our audience. You hike for miles, wake up before sunrise, and stay past sunset to capture our region in so many unique and beautiful ways. From convenient overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the bowels of wilderness areas, you tell the story of these mountains in a way words can’t describe. How did I miss this? Photography is a quintessential part of what we do, what we share. Without the support of photographers across the region, our Instagram Feed would be pretty, well…shitty. Our magazine would be boring to say the least. The amount of love and support we receive from the outdoor community, photographers in particular, is astronomical. As the digital content editor for this fine publication, I’m constantly reaching out to you, the photographer, asking permission to share your work. World Photography Day is a day where photographers are encouraged to share one photo of their world with the world. Whether landscapes, action shots, or even selfies, its purpose is to help showcase the endless possibilities of photography. Endless they are. The cause has helped raise money for charitable foundations and inspired countless photographers across the globe. If you ask me, there is no better place in the world to take a photo than the Blue Ridge Mountains. So This is a thanks to you, wandering photographer. Thank you for capturing these mountains, everything, and everyone that call them home.Next year, this post will be one day sooner.Side Note: National Nature Photo day was back on June 15. I missed that too. It’s probably time to look into one of those calendar apps.Justin Forrest is an outdoor writer, fly fishing addict, and co-founder of Narrative North—based in Asheville, N.C. He posts pictures of cats and fishing on Instagram sometimes.