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

Ranked teams meet as No. 25 Ohio State hosts No. 7 Maryland

first_img Associated Press Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNo. 7 Maryland (22-4, 12-3) vs. No. 25 Ohio State (17-9, 7-8)Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio; Sunday, 4 p.m. ESTBOTTOM LINE: Two ranked teams match up as No. 7 Maryland visits No. 25 Ohio State in a late season showdown. Maryland has three wins and zero losses against ranked opponents this season, while Ohio State has won three of its six games against ranked teams. Ranked teams meet as No. 25 Ohio State hosts No. 7 Maryland February 21, 2020center_img LEADING THE WAY: Kaleb Wesson has put up 13.9 points and 9.3 rebounds to lead the way for the Buckeyes. CJ Walker is also a top contributor, producing 7.7 points per game. The Terrapins have been led by Jalen Smith, who is averaging a double-double with 15.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.JUMPING FOR JALEN: Smith has connected on 38 percent of the 71 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 6 of 20 over his last five games. He’s also converted 75.4 percent of his free throws this season.STREAK STATS: Maryland has won its last four road games, scoring 74 points and allowing 67 points during those contests. Ohio State has won its last three home games, scoring an average of 69.3 points while giving up 59.ASSIST RATIOS: The Terrapins have recently created buckets via assists more often than the Buckeyes. Ohio State has an assist on 45 of 70 field goals (64.3 percent) over its previous three contests while Maryland has assists on 52 of 73 field goals (71.2 percent) during its past three games.DID YOU KNOW: Ohio State has made 8.7 3-pointers per game this season, which is tops among Big Ten teams.___ For more AP college basketball coverage: and was generated by Automated Insights,, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.comlast_img read more

Angels’ Andrew Heaney set for simulated game Monday

first_imgCLEVELAND — The Angels are planning to bring Andrew Heaney back without first having him go through the formality of pitching in a minor league game.That suits Heaney just fine.“I don’t necessarily believe in the whole game-speed thing,” Heaney said Saturday. “If you do a sim game, it’s in a big-league stadium against big-league hitters in front of nobody. If you do a minor league game, it’s to minor league hitters in a minor league stadium in front of nobody. So it’s not that much of a difference.”Heaney, who has been out since July 16 with shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to throw about 60 pitches over the equivalent of four innings in a simulated game Monday in Cincinnati. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros If that goes well, Heaney could return to the Angels rotation as soon as next weekend in Boston.Heaney is eager to get back on a mound and finish strong after what has been a forgettable season for him so far.In spring training, he tried to pitch through elbow discomfort for too long and ended up missing nearly two months of the season. Then he returned and posted a 5.09 ERA over nine starts before going on the injured list with a shoulder issue.The season got even worse for Heaney and his teammates about a month ago with the stunning death of Tyler Skaggs, whom Heaney called his best friend.“Obviously, it’s been a very (bad) season, a nightmare season for me and some other guys in general,” Heaney said. “When we came to spring training, this is not what we envisioned. But from a team standpoint, we’re still right there. Obviously we have not played well at all in the last week. I want to finish strong. I think everyone wants to finish strong.” Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter center_img MIDDLETON UPDATEKeynan Middleton, who had a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery a couple weeks ago, is getting closer to being ready to return to a mound, Manager Brad Ausmus said.“The report on him yesterday was extremely positive,” Ausmus said Saturday. “I can’t tell you when he’s going to be off the mound, but he has been throwing. Yesterday was probably his best day from a strength perspective.”Ausmus said Middleton would probably need a couple bullpen sessions and then he could resume his rehab assignment. Middleton had pitched in four minor league games, including one at Triple-A, before his setback.RAMIREZ DROPS APPEALNoé Ramírez plans to drop the appeal of his three-game suspension, Ausmus said. The suspension, which stemmed from Ramírez hitting Houston’s Jake Marisnick with a pitch, will begin as soon as Ramírez is ready to return to the active roster.Ramírez is on the injured list after he came down with a stomach virus. Ausmus said Ramírez lost weight while he was sick, and now he’s got his appetite back and he’s trying to regain his weight and strength.Related Articles Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros When Ramírez is activated, he’ll begin the suspension. The Angels will have to play with a 24-man roster for those three games.ALSOAndrelton Simmons was scratched from Saturday’s lineup with left foot soreness…Dustin Garneau, who was designated for assignment by the Angels earlier this week, was claimed on waivers by the Oakland A’s…On Friday night, Dillon Peters gave up three runs in 7 2/3 innings, the Angels longest outing by a pitcher this season, but he is still expected to pitch after an opener when he has his next turn Thursday in Boston. Ausmus said it’s likely they’ll still use the opener because the game is after an off day, and they’ll have all their relievers available.UP NEXTAngels (RHP Jaime Barría, 4-4, 6.28) at Indians (RHP Shane Bieber, 10-4, 3.30), 10:10 a.m., Fox Sports West Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone last_img read more

Kroos to miss San Marino, Italy matches

first_imgFRANKFURT, Germany (AP):Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos will miss Germany’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against San Marino and the friendly against Italy because of a foot injury.The German federation says Kroos has a hairline fraction in his right foot and will be unable to practise for 10 days.Germany plays San Marino on Friday and meets Italy on Tuesday in Milan. The Germans lead their group after winning their first three matches.The team is seeking to win the group and gain a direct berth in the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia, where it hopes to defend its title.last_img read more

Restaurateur remanded on narco-trafficking charge

first_imgPrince Lamaison, owner of the popular vegetarian restaurant ISUNS, was remanded to prison by Magistrate Leron Daly after he appeared before her to answer a charge detailing that on April 5, 2018, at Lot 57 Robb Street, Bourda, he had in his possession 836 grams of cannabis for the purpose of trafficking.The 44-year-old businessman denied the charge.The Prosecution is contending that when Police ranks, acting on information received, swooped down on the restaurant, Lamaison locked himself in a room. The room was subsequently searched by the ranks, and a black plastic bag containing the prohibited substance was found. Under caution the defendant allegedly told the ranks, “Officer, is me own”.Police prosecutor Sanj Singh objected to bail being granted by citing the serious nature of the offence.The prosecution’s submissions were upheld, and the restaurateur was remanded to prison. The case will continue on April 27.last_img read more

Cofer Records a Personal Best At The Drake Relays

first_imgStory Links Thursday Results (PDF) Thursday Results (HTML) center_img DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake University junior Reed Fischer (Minnetonka, Minn.) closed the annual Distance Carnival with a near record breaking performance on Thursday evening at the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee.Fischer finished third in the men’s 5,000 meters in 14:00.28, just three one-hundreths of a second shy of the Drake school record.”I was feeling good and when the pacer stepped off. I tried to make a race of it and was heartbreakingly close to a school record,” Fischer said. “It’s still a regional qualifying time so I feel good about that. That was probably the fastest I’ve closed in a 5k before.”Fischer ran his last lap in 1:02.83 as he chased down the leaders, but could not catch a pair Texas Tech Red Raiders down the stretch with Drake fans cheering him on. “You come out here and you know you’re going to have two-thirds of the stadium cheering for you in the Relays atmosphere,” Fischer said. “It’s awesome having that support from the Des Moines community.”TTU’s Evans Tuitoek won the race in 13:58.56 followed by his teammate, Benard Keter in 13:58.80.Drake’s Griffin Jaworski (Winter Park, Fla.) also competed in the event, finishing in 14:37.25 and 19th place. Minutes earlier in the women’s 5,000 meters, Bailee Cofer (Overland Park, Kan.) turned in another personal best with a time of 17:07.75 to finish in 18th place. Cassie Aerts (David City, Neb.) was 21st in 17:15.45.The Bulldogs continue action at Drake Stadium on Friday with a full day of competition.Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more