Op-Ed: Wind Industry Lifts South Dakota

first_imgOp-Ed: Wind Industry Lifts South Dakota FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Watertown Public Opinion:There are few greater economic development opportunities in rural America right now than wind power. Across the country, wind farms are providing a stable source of new revenue for farmers and ranchers, without disturbing their existing operations. These projects inject private capital into rural communities and produce new, family-supporting jobs where they are needed most.This growth occurring in South Dakota is because our region’s electricity providers recognize the benefits that wind energy can have for their customers. Not only is wind a low-cost, reliable source of electricity, it provides a hedge against the volatility of other fuel costs, such as natural gas or coal. Local landowners are also benefiting. Existing S.D. wind projects pay millions annually in land lease payments to rural landowners and millions more to locals, which helps fund vital services, support road improvements, and keep a lid on property taxes. Best of all, as wind energy grows in the state, so too will the money flowing to rural communities. Nationwide, rural landowners receive over $245 million annually from existing wind farms.The benefits of South Dakota’s wind boom don’t end at the project site. The wind industry relies on domestic manufacturing and over 25,000 Americans work to manufacture components for wind turbines. The added income, additional revenue, and new jobs are not coming at the expense of taxpayers, as Johnson asserts. While all forms of domestic energy production receive some form of government incentive, the wind industry has historically received far less than other sources. In fact, less than 3 percent of all federal energy incentives from 1947 to 2015 have gone to wind energy. It’s also important to understand that the primary federal incentive for wind development, the Production Tax Credit, only pays for power produced and is working as intended by helping spur wind development and lower energy costs. Indeed, the value of this tax credit flows directly through to ratepayers. Moreover, the credit has succeeded in driving the innovation and growth needed to push the cost of wind power down 66 percent since 2009. As a result, the wind industry agreed to support a phasedown of the incentive at the end of 2015 and the PTC is now set to completely phase out by the end of 2019. More: Wind energy good for the state and the nationlast_img read more

U.K. Offshore Wind Energy Is Cheaper Now Than Nuclear

first_imgU.K. Offshore Wind Energy Is Cheaper Now Than Nuclear FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times:The economic case for renewable energy in the UK was given a strong boost on Monday as an auction to provide electricity from offshore wind farms showed sharp falls in subsidy costs.The cost of subsidies to the UK’s offshore wind farms in contracts awarded in the auctions dropped by more than 50 per cent and is now well below the price the government has guaranteed for energy from the planned Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.Three offshore wind projects have won contracts from the government in the latest auction for “less established technologies”, which was also open to schemes such as tidal but excluded solar and onshore wind. The price of electricity guaranteed to offshore wind developers has dropped to as low as £57.50 per megawatt hour — below even the most optimistic forecasts from analysts and a significant fall from the average £117.14/MWh awarded to offshore schemes in the last comparable subsidy auction in 2015. Analysts had expected developers to bid for subsidies in a range of £60-£75/MWh, reflecting a fall in construction costs as the offshore wind industry has matured.Developers such as Dong Energy of Denmark, which is behind one of the three successful schemes, are also installing larger, more powerful turbines. The results of the latest “contract for difference” auction published on Monday were welcomed by supporters of renewable energy, who argue offshore wind and similar technologies can become the foundation of the UK’s energy policy, as the government strives to meet carbon reduction targets. Hugh McNeal, chief executive of RenewableUK, a trade body, said: “We knew today’s results would be impressive, but these are astounding.”More: Renewable energy case boosted by sharp subsidy falllast_img read more

New EPA plan not likely to help Montana’s Colstrip coal plant

first_imgNew EPA plan not likely to help Montana’s Colstrip coal plant FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Montana Standard:President Donald Trump’s plan to replace Obama-era air pollution rules with coal-friendly policies got a mixed reception by Montana officials uncertain what the changes would mean for the Colstrip Power Plant.Republicans praised Trump’s plans to scrap former President Barrack Obama’s Clean Power Plan as good news for coal power. Though never carried out, the Obama rules called for dramatically cutting carbon dioxide, a major contributor to climate change.Montanans had expected the Obama rules to finish off Colstrip Power Plant and likely its host community of 2,300 as well, as the state cut carbon dioxide emissions 47 percent to comply with federal law.Colstrip has four generating units. The oldest two are scheduled for retirement no later than 2022 as part of a legal settlement with the Sierra Club and Montana Environmental Information Center over air pollution. Its newer units are offline for failing to clear federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS. The shutdown will be two months long next week. The Affordable Clean Energy Rule does not address MATS.Talen Energy, which operates Colstrip Power Plant and has significant ownership share, did not respond to a request for comment, which Lee Montana Newspapers made by phone and email Tuesday.The change from Obama’s coal pollution rules to Trump’s coal pollution rules isn’t likely to help Colstrip as it struggles with multiple challenges, said Seth Feaster, energy data analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “In terms of the big picture, it doesn’t really change the underlying pressures on the utilities, and particularly Colstrip, that are facing things like customer calls to divest in coal and restructure assets,” Feaster said. “It’s one thing to set policies that try to help, but it’s not a bailout and it’s not going to make power plants any younger.”More: Trump’s coal-friendly pollution rules get mixed reviews in Montana, may not save Colstriplast_img read more

Wood Mackenzie: Solar will soon ‘be cheaper than gas almost everywhere’

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The days of new gas-fired plants keeping up with utility solar will soon be over. But the rise of competitive renewables auctions means profits will be hard to come by, even in an expanding market.Solar will soon be able to out-compete gas-fired plants around the world. That doesn’t mean it will be any easier to make a living in the solar business.“By 2023, we think solar’s going to be cheaper than gas almost everywhere around the world,” Tom Heggarty, senior solar analyst for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said Tuesday at GTM Solar Summit in Phoenix.New gas plants remain competitive with new utility solar in a number of big markets today, from China to the U.K. to South Korea. But that will no longer be the case by the early 2020s, as equipment costs continue to fall and competitive auctions proliferate, Heggarty said.Yet for all that signifies, the news has not all been good for the global solar market recently.The annual market failed to crack the 100-gigawatt mark in 2018 as it was expected to do, due chiefly to a policy-induced slowdown in China. India, too, put up weaker-than-expected growth last year as 14 gigawatts of auctions were canceled or postponed, or awarded projects were annulled.But setbacks in any one market — even China — are becoming less important as the industry takes root around the world. China accounted for 35 percent of global solar installations through 2018, but that share will fall to 27 percent in the 2019 to 2024 period, WoodMac predicts.More: WoodMac: Solar plants cheaper than natural gas ‘just about everywhere’ by 2023 Wood Mackenzie: Solar will soon ‘be cheaper than gas almost everywhere’last_img read more

Love on the Rocks

first_imgI have an addiction that runs deep. It has taken over other parts of my life and made relationships virtually impossible. It’s not gambling or drinking or drugs.It’s the outdoors.Specifically, it’s hiking, backpacking, bicycling, bicycle camping, canoeing, canoe camping, sea kayaking, sea kayak camping, fishing, and rafting.You can see I have a problem.Even worse, my particular outdoor passions often require me to be gone for days, as opposed to, say, a tennis passion, where one leaves home, hits a little yellow ball around, and returns home later the same day.These outdoor obsessions can get in the way of a love story.I should know, being a man who has camped out over 3,000 nights since the mid-1980s. Guess what: I’m still not married.I graduated from college and became a backpacking bum, camping during the week and bartending on the weekends. It was great for maximizing my number of nights beneath the stars but terrible for my love life.Then there were the big trips. Yep, heading out for three weeks to Yellowstone is adventurous, but there’s a price to be paid. A buddy of mine’s wife, upon hearing he was taking off for Canada’s North woods, replied, “Well, I’m going shopping in Atlanta for a week,” depleting both my friend’s bank account and goodwill stockpile.Being gone during important events has other costs, too. Missing your girlfriend’s best friend’s wedding in order to catch the northern lights may seem logical to you and your outdoor buddies. But you weren’t there when it mattered. And being in absentia during untimely deaths and subsequent funerals leaves you simply a cad.It’s often my girlfriend’s friends that plant the first seeds of doubt. “Oh, is Johnny gone again? Johnny isn’t here for Valentine’s Day? Wasn’t he also gone during your parent’s anniversary party?”Soon, she stops defending my outdoor lifestyle and starts asking the tough questions. “Why aren’t you here when I need you most?” That’s a complicated question, especially when my response is, “The water on the Watauga was just right.”Then she’ll ask me to prove my love by curtailing or discontinuing my outdoor adventures. This setup is intended to make me choose between what I love and who I love. 1 2last_img read more

Ultimate 100 Challenge #87: Speed Waterfalling

first_imgTwo BRO readers and longtime outdoor enthusiasts from Western North Carolina teamed up to complete  #87 of BRO’s Ultimate 100 Challenge….and they added a surprising and speedy twist.FootRx Asheville co-owner Scott Socha and MotionMap’s founder/waterfall tour guide Lydia Odell inaugurated Speed Waterfalling. The duo reached 23 waterfalls in a single day—all in Transylvania County.  The challenge included stops in Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, Gorges State Park, DuPont State Recreational Forest and a few private properties. From each parking area, Socha and Odell ran/hiked together while navigating trails, tough terrain, streams, rivers and rocks to bag waterfalls one by one.  The two kept record of each waterfall viewed, time viewed and mileage. Total hiking/running mileage for the day was 11.5 miles.Socha and Odell had discussed this idea for at least a year and were ready to set the bar for other outdoor/waterfall enthusiasts who want a new, interesting and different challenge.Overall the day was fantastic. To be able to spend the day enjoying what Transylvania County and surrounding areas have to offer is something everyone should take part in whenever possible.Socha and Odell were prepared with a full tank of gas, cooler of food, plenty of water, first-aid kit, maps, footrx apparel, extra running shoes, wool socks, rain gear and a little cash for a 5:00 pm pint of Dale’s Pale Ale at Oskar’s Blues Brewery in Pisgah Forest.Here is a list of falls they visited:Twin FallsMiddle FallsSlippery WitchConnestee FallsWhitewater FallsTriple FallsJohn’s JumpHigh FallsD.E.W. FallsHooker FallsRainbow FallsLong ShoalsLooking Glass FallsTurtleback FallsShower FallsSlick Rock FallsRaven Rocks FallsDaniel Ridge FallsFrench Broad FallsBird Rock FallsEastatoe FallsBatson FallsUpper Batson FallsWant to find out more? Contact Lydia Odell to learn more about logistics and planning for the Speed Waterfall adventure.last_img read more

Trail Mix: Trampled By Turtles Visits the Blue Ridge with New Material

first_imgWinter isolation is nothing new for the members of Trampled By Turtles, but recording sessions for the innovative string band’s new album, Wild Animals, were beset with an additional challenges beyond the hard work of crafting new songs. While holed up last January in their home state of Minnesota at Pachyderm Studio—the place where Nirvana made In Utero—members of the quintet started passing around the flu.Despite fighting contagious illness, the group managed to craft the most sonically stimulating album in its decade-long run.“I think the fever brought something out in the playing,” says banjo player Dave Caroll, who was one of the flu-stricken. “Sometimes when you’re sick, you’re in a different state of mind, and good things can come out of that.”Trampled By Turtles formed in the small North Country city of Duluth back in 2003 and, like most independent bands, earned its audience with relentless road slogging. While armed like a back-porch bluegrass outfit, the band’s sound is hardly traditional. The group is in fact best known for pouncing on its strings with reckless abandon, riling up crowds with a punk ethos on acoustic instruments. But juxtaposing the foot-stomping rowdiness are introspective quiet songs, delivered through rustic aching vocals by band frontman and main songwriter Dave Simonett.On Wild Animals, the band leans on mellow material, crafting an effort that mixes experimental folk with primal pop instincts. Lead single “Are You Behind the Shining Star?” (performed by the band on the Late Show with David Letterman in July) shines with a sweet hook and vintage Wall of Sound glaze, but deep within Simonett’s lyrics is an emotional isolation in tune with the late Townes Van Zandt.The theme runs through the group’s latest and seventh studio release, as Simonett, who relocated from Duluth to Minneapolis, grapples with missing the more remote setting of his former home. “Solitary time in a nearly untouched landscape is my version of church, so I think there is a bit of loss of religion in a lot of my work these days,” Simonett said in a release about the new album. “I’ve always been a little obsessed with our struggle to stay connected to our simple animal side, the part of our nature that lived off the earth, hunted live game, worshipped trees and mountains.”The sentiment is felt right away in the opening title track, which flows with an ethereal, cinematic shiver. The mood can be attributed to producer Alan Sparhawk. Best known as a member of longstanding indie rock outfit Low, Sparhawk helped push the Trampled members beyond the conventions of their strings.Fresh off a sellout of Colorado’s venerable Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the group is heading to the South this month with stops at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn., on September 7 and the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Va., on September 9.In planning set lists, Caroll says the band is careful to mix in the new material with more aggressive old favorites.“The slow songs can allow us to explore our instruments a little bit more,” he says. “There’s not as much going on, so subtle elements can go a long way. But we’ve learned how to gauge a crowd and know when they’re looking to get rowdy.”last_img read more

Trail Mix – Lael Neale

first_imgNow based in Los Angeles, Virginia native Lael Neale released her debut album last month.Lael Neale’s current home couldn’t be more disparate than the home of her youth.Raised just outside Charlottesville, in the heart of Albemarle County horse country, Lael has since made the move to Los Angeles, from which she released her debut record, I’ll Be Your Man, last month.As Los Angeles is to Charlottesville, so to is this record a study in contrast. Prone to writing with an air of melancholy, Lael has penned a record that seeps and introspective sadness, with stories of lost love and fractured friendships. Despite painting what appears to be a sky gloomy and gray, Lael does mix in the occasional ray of sunshine, proving that the subject matter in her songcraft can move deftly between despair and hope.I recently caught up with Lael to chat about the new record, poetry, and what she misses most about her Virginia home.BRO – I know you are into poetry. What’s the last poem that made you cry?LN – Just a few days ago, my mom gave be a book of poetry by Peggy Freydberg, who was 90 when she started writing poems and didn’t publish them until she was 106. I was only halfway through the first one with tears already welling up. She is so simple and true and direct and unexpected. Some of the lines just catch you at the the throat. It’s also such a beautiful story. We can be beginners at any age.BRO – Who is your favorite poet? And if you could invite him over for dinner, what would you cook?LN – Favorites are always changing. For the past year, it has been Rumi. I would want to feed him some simple but symbolic foods. Homemade bread, wine, figs, and maybe artichokes. Those sound like foods Rumi would eat in his courtyard, surrounded by tapestries and water fountains and small birds in wooden cages.BRO – You were raised in Virginia but now call Los Angeles home. What’s the one thing you miss most about Virginia?LN – Early August afternoon thunderstorms.BRO – We are featuring “Born in the Summer” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?LN – “Born in the Summer” isn’t as lyrically dense as some of my songs, but it’s no less heavy. I wanted it to reflect the angst of being a teenager. Childhood’s death is kind of traumatic and we don’t really acknowledge it as a culture, so kids move into being adults really fast, absorbing a lot of the darker side of the world that was kept hidden from them as children. It’s also an exciting time, wanting to live up to something, but not really knowing what it is yet.BRO – So much of your music seems so sad. What is one thing that makes you happy?LN – A long walk and a really great cup of coffee.Tonight, if you happen to be out in California, you can catch Lael Neale in Palm Springs at the Ace Hotel. There are more dates on the horizon, but they are hush hush. For more information on on those upcoming dates, or how you can get a copy of her brand new record, please point your browser towards her website.Also, be sure to check out “Born in the Summer” on this month’s Trail Mix.Photo by Piper Ferguson.last_img read more

BRO Athletes: Chris Hipgrave’s 2016 Paddlesport Picks

first_imgIt’s that time of year when the outdoor industry rolls out the cool new products that we’ll all be lusting over in 2016. Here’s the six coolest paddlesports products that I’m looking forwards to getting my hands on.DAGGER NOMADDagger – “We wanted to keep the stability, the predictability, the forgiveness of the Nomad 8.5, and update it with modern creek boat features. We updated the hull profile for improved speed and maneuverability. An increase in volume helps the boat stay on top of the water, and also to gives more knee and foot room. Up front, we added rocker to keep the bow on the surface over holes. In back, we reshaped the stern for better resurfacing and to carry more speed away from drops and holes.“DG_14_15_Nomad_85_Blue_TopCH – “With some big shoes to fill, the new Nomad creeker hits all the marks for me. Having paddled the prototypes, I can tell you that I haven’t been more excited about a creek boat in many many years. Displacement hulls may not be for everyone, but if you do, this boat will set new levels of confidence and fun. Bring on creek season!”FIVE TEN EDDYFive Ten – “Eddy, our solution for water sports. The sleek profile is designed to fit into small play boats and our grippy Stealth Phantom rubber won’t scuff you kayak, SUP or deck. Features rear drainage ports and hydrophobic synthetic mesh upper.”fiveteneddyCH – “Legendary Five Ten Stealth rubber on a super low profile, self draining, quick drying water shoe with a hint of Euro styling. What’s not to like.”KOKATAT MAXIMUS CENTURIONCH – “My favorite type V rescue PFD just got a refresh with these updated 2016 colors. They are sure to make you stand out in the crowd while still more than satisfying your safety requirements. This is one standout rescue PFD.”Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 1.28.13 PMPYRANHA OCTANE 175Pyranha – “Enter the Octane; at a length of 17’ 6” and a super narrow beam of 20.8” … the Octane will be a whole heap of fun for those looking to keep up their fitness in the off season, explore the coastal waves or break into the competitive racing scene.”Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 1.25.01 PMCH – “The entry barrier for surfski has dropped massively this year with the Pyranha Octane 175 now joining the Epic V7 as affordable and accessible plastic surf skis. In partnership with Think, the design looks to be as friendly but authentic as its Epic competitor.WERNER ODACHIWerner – “Specialized for racing and making this thing as light as it is, their engineers worked super hard to maintain the bomber strength you all trust. This is for when you know your lines and you are hammering down river, fast forward.”Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 1.25.58 PMCH – “About time! Many of the top performers in the whitewater scene are using blades from competing companies with the aggressive forward positioned blade, (which came from whitewater slalom). The Odachi blends Werner’s legendary build quality with a high performance blade for high performance paddlers. In the next few months we will see this paddle take multiple podium top spots at the Fall creek racing circuit.”WRSI ELBOW PADSCH – “I’ve struggled to find good elbow pads for years and have never found the balance of protection, freedom of motion and the ability of these pads to stay in place when they need to. The new WRSI pads are the most promising ones if tried so far.”Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 1.26.54 PMlast_img read more

Give the Piedmont a Chance

first_imgTwenty-eight years and I don’t think I’ve ever missed a Fall in the mountains – until now. The suburbs of Atlanta where I grew up never felt like home, but I still remember being instantly embraced by the mountains on family travels. When I was a little over a year old, my parents carried me up Mt. LeConte, swaddled against the misty cold in a trash-bag poncho. We spent weekends in our cabin in Toccoa, GA, nestled in a soft pine forest interspersed with tall poplars and beech trees.During high school my dad and I traveled from Atlanta to Wesser, NC, on Friday afternoons so we could launch into the icy waters of the Nantahala and feel the crisp breezes that sweep through the gorge in early Fall. Needless to say, moving to Asheville a decade ago was more like coming home than leaving it.In August of this year I loaded up my belongings and drove away from my rented bungalow, my roommate for the past four years, a street full of friends, my nephew who came into the world just a few months before, my job and my mountains. I’m pursuing an MPH at UNC Chapel Hill, so leaving my job felt like a natural progression. The telephone, email and even Facebook help me stay in touch with friends and family. But you can’t call the mountains. I’ve scrolled back through my photo reel, read my old poetry, and meditated with their image in my mind, but still my heart aches for them. Their support and unwavering presence has always inspired me to seek that sort of peace in myself.Maybe it was an effort to be strong like the mountains, probably it was just self-protection, but I decided I needed to stay in the triangle over fall-break. I would never miss the woods in October, so a girlfriend and I decided to make our Piedmont backpacking dreams a reality.Recruitment was our first challenge. In Asheville if you say to a room full of people, “Who wants to go camping?!” almost everyone jumps up and starts stuffing their packs with wool socks and coconut date bars. We didn’t find the same sort of enthusiasm among our classmates, but we did find one more for the trip, a friend who just moved to Carrboro (Chapel Hill’s hippie neighbor) from the Bay Area.To do our research we used a book called Trails of the Triangle, written by Allen de Hart in 1997, that I bought used at The Bookshop on Franklin Street. Because the resource is nearly two decades old, we weren’t sure if our chosen route would still be accessible, but in fact Raven Rock State Park is doing just fine, with a beautiful visitor center and some of the best maintained trails and campsites I’ve ever seen.Raven Rock State Park came to be in 1969 when a bill was passed preserving it as a recreational area. The 4,684 acre park is located about an hour Southeast of Chapel Hill in Harnett County, reachable by a beautiful drive over Jordan Lake. In my search for more details about whose feet had walked the land before, I found that the area was inhabited by many Native American tribes at different times including the Coharie, Waccamaw Siouan and Tuscarora.ravenrockI talked to Vin Steponaitis, Director of UNC’s Research Laboratories of Archaeology, to get more clarity about the history of Native American tribes in the area. He explained that there is not just one answer to which tribe occupied the land that is now Raven Rock, but that there is archaeological evidence of human inhabitants in the Central Piedmont dating back 13,000 years. Native people of the Piedmont began to encounter European settlers in the mid-1600’s, which meant, like in other areas, that their lives and cultures would soon be trampled and their homelands taken over. In our reasons to be grateful for land preservation, I think we should add that in light of injustices like these, protecting the land honors the spirit of the peoples it was taken from.The lands of the Piedmont are swampier and more primeval feeling than Appalachia. Flocks of Great Blue Herons abound, swooping low with their s-curve necks outstretched, fishing. The leaves on the trees are big swarthy things, vibrant green and proudly fanning out or curling into parchment-like rolls. For my friends and I, entering this new ecosystem was a way to let go. We were shaking off the stress of leaving the familiar and starting something new. In the forest we shed our ‘real’ life labels and used trail names: one friend had already earned the title of ‘Hush Puppy,’ one would become ‘Mountain Rope,’ and I, for reasons that are still not clear, became ‘Mountain Lion.’Our home for a night was a space we reserved ahead of time in canoe camp, a managed campground where canoeists can paddle up to shore and rest their heads. The sites are accessible by foot or river, so we backpacked in about two miles to find that our spot came equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, lantern hook, and one shared pit toilet. It was pretty luxurious; something between backcountry and car-camping.While I was setting up the cooking station and pulling ingredients for ‘snobby S’mores’ out of my backpack (Ritz Crackers, dark chocolate hazelnut butter, and vegan marshmallows (who knew that most marshmallows aren’t vegan?!) I heard a double-scream from the tangled woods behind me. My friends were staring transfixed into the branches and vines, eyes-wide, giggling nervously. A bug, I thought, they were scared of a bug. I jogged their way but right before I reached them, Hush Puppy yelled, “Stop!”Mountain Rope added, “Watch OUT!!!” Suddenly I heard myself scream, a shrill sound against the frog chirps and gentle flutt-flutt of the river. A Marbled Orbweaver, with neon green and orange-pink stripes on her fat body, hung suspended on her web inches from my face. She looked like an elephant on a tight rope wearing a watermelon cocktail dress. We watched as she worked with thick, stake-like legs, to enrobe the unlucky larvae that had landed in her sticky trap. In seconds she’d bundled it up like a pig in a blanket. We backed away, trying not to think about the gruesome world hidden under curled leaves.We made it through the night, all worries erased by darkness and the warmth of a campfire. The morning dawned through the netted skylight of my two-woman tent. Although canoe camp has six sites we had no neighbors and enjoyed a peaceful breakfast before packing up. We didn’t see anyone else until later in the day after descending the long smooth-railed stairway to the base of Raven Rock cliffs. Down below, parents who had chosen to value exploration over a clean car watched as their giggling children played on the mud-covered rocks. Our own parents must have made that choice years before, because soon enough we’d found a mess of our own.Like any good person with Type 1 diabetes, I was having a snack when the misadventure began. It seems like on any hike or backpacking trip there is at least one episode of rock scrambling; it’s practically inevitable.  Mountain Rope made it happen for us when she decided to get a better view up the river and across the bank. Hush Puppy decided to follow but like I said, I was munching on an apple and didn’t have two hands available for climbing, so I just watched it all unfold.After some knee-scraping and sliding, both women made it down to the flat rock for a heron’s eye view of the muddy Cape Fear River. At this point I realized their chances of getting back up were looking even less favorable than their descent, so I stuffed the rest of my fuji in my pack and tried to figure out how to help.  Mountain Rope was already stuck mid-climb, no foot holds accessible, no low hanging roots to grab on to.I shimmied out a few feet where the bank began to get steeper and held onto a thick root. I stretched out my arm to her but her fingers barely reached within a foot of mine. We decided she would push off the tiny ledge of rock that held her and make a lunge for my hand. I readied myself for the impact while imagining us both tumbling into the water below. Suddenly her footing gave way. “OHH!” she half-grumbled, half-screamed, as she slid, albeit quite gracefully, into a shallow eddy below. Hush Puppy watched from the rock.Mountain Rope was not to be deterred. Instantly she shouted, “It’s ok! They’re Gore-Tex!” A true woman thinks not about her knees but about her boots. From her new angle on the rock she was able to quickly scramble up to a better handhold and heave her way to the viney roots above where I was still perched uselessly.Now it was Hush Puppy’s turn. Mountain Rope had definitely found a better route, but she also has a pretty significant height advantage over Hush Puppy. Long story short, Hush Puppy was never going to make the lunge up.After a brief silence, Mountain Rope (who incidentally was not named up until this moment), said to Hush Puppy matter-of-factly, “How about I lower myself down and you can use my leg like a rope!” And then without a moment’s hesitation, she did. There’s no doubt that someone is a true friend after they’ve offered to be your human rope.Back at the car, after another gourmet yet slightly weird lunch, Hush Puppy remarked on how much fun she’d had, especially the part where she got to climb up Mountain Rope’s leg to safety. It seems to be always like that, although we try to avoid so-called ‘mishaps,’ they become the placeholders for our best memories. There were plenty of other uplifting sights and sounds from our hours in the woods: the Great-Horned Owl who sang us to sleep, the two families exploring with their kids, the soft earth of the curving trails, but the poster image in my mind is that moment of support.I got back home tired and satisfied. The Raven Rock overlook had provided a little bit of the elevation I’ve been missing. Morning sunshine cascading through the vines and the gentle sounds of life splashing in the river had helped me connect with the land.  Unplugging and communing with friends and forest for even one night always strengthens my foundation. The Blue Ridge Mountains are part of my heart, but getting to know the woods of the Piedmont helped me to feel grounded here. I’m already flipping through Trails of the Triangle again and plotting our next route.last_img read more