Month: December 2020 Page 1 of 7

Cloud Peak Backs Away From Self-Bonding Program

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Cloud Peak Energy Inc. reported it will move away from the controversial practice of self-bonding its coal mining reclamation liabilities.Cloud Peak President and CEO Colin Marshall said on an April 28 earnings call that the company is in discussion with surety providers to increase third-party bonding. The company has also submitted applications to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to reduce its self-bonding requirements.Federal mining laws require assurances that mine closure and reclamation costs will be covered. Regulations allow certain qualifying companies in some states to self-bond those obligations by assuring their own obligations based on their financial health.Full article ($): loud Peak moving away from self-bonding citing ‘regulatory uncertainties’ Cloud Peak Backs Away From Self-Bonding Programlast_img read more

On the Blogs: Texas Grid Operator Has Solar Replacing Coal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Katherine Tweed for the next 15 years, Texas expects to add somewhere between 14 and 27 gigawatts of solar capacity, according to a new long-term system assessment from the state’s grid operator, ERCOT.ERCOT is considering eight different scenarios, such as continued low natural-gas prices or extreme weather. Under all scenarios, solar makes up nearly all of the new capacity. In all of the scenarios, ERCOT assumes that changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional haze rule will go into effect. Those changes are expected to make the rule more stringent and impact power producers with emissions that affect air quality.As more solar energy comes on-line, coal will retire. About 5 gigawatts of coal are expected to go offline in the next five years because of the regional haze rule, according to ERCOT’s assessment. Even without the regional haze rule, some coal will retire anyway.Full Article: Solar Will Replace Nearly All Retiring Coal in Texas On the Blogs: Texas Grid Operator Has Solar Replacing Coallast_img read more

General Electric, Citing Shrinking Demand for Fossil-Fuel Generated Power, Announces 12,000 Layoffs

first_imgGeneral Electric, Citing Shrinking Demand for Fossil-Fuel Generated Power, Announces 12,000 Layoffs FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:General Electric Co is axing 12,000 jobs at its global power business, the struggling industrial conglomerate’s latest effort to shrink itself into a more focused company.The U.S. company launched the cuts to save $1 billion in 2018, saying it expected dwindling demand for fossil fuel power plants to continue.“Traditional power markets including gas and coal have softened,” GE said.Rumors of sweeping job cuts were confirmed by labor union sources on Wednesday, with staff in Switzerland and Germany among those badly hit.“This decision was painful but necessary for GE Power to respond to the disruption in the power market, which is driving significantly lower volumes in products and services,” said Russell Stokes, head of GE Power.“Power will remain a work in progress in 2018. We expect market challenges to continue, but this plan will position us for 2019 and beyond.”New GE Chief Executive John Flannery last month outlined plans to shrink GE’s sprawling empire of businesses built up by predecessors Jeff Immelt and Jack Welch, whose strategy was based on spreading risk across a broad range of industries.GE has previously said it would exit its lighting, transportation, industrial solutions and electrical grid businesses. It also plans to ditch its 62.5-percent stake in oilfield services company Baker Hughes (BHGE.N).In Thursday’s layoffs, nearly a third of the company’s 4,500-strong Swiss workforce could be cut, while 16 percent of staff in Germany are also likely to be axed.In Britain, around 1,100 position will be affected, the company said. Globally GE employed 295,000 people worldwide at the end of 2016, according to the company website.Demand for new thermal power plants dramatically dropped in all rich countries, GE said, while traditional utility customers have reduced their investments due to market deterioration and uncertainty about future climate policy measures.Hardly any new power station projects had been commissioned in Germany in recent years, GE said. Heightened Asian competition had also increased price pressures.GE rival Siemens is cutting about 6,900 jobs, or close to 2 percent of its global workforce, mainly at its power and gas division, which has been hit by the rapid growth of renewables.More: General Electric to cut 12,000 jobs in power business revamplast_img read more

Low demand, growing renewable generation forcing India’s coal plants offline

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享 of India’s power generation capacity using coal and nuclear power is being shut down because of lackluster demand, the Indian Express reports, adding that some of the shutdowns have been temporary, lasting just a few days, but other power plants have been closed for months.Some 65.13 GW in generation capacity has been shut down at one point or another, with the earlier shutdown made in July. There seems to be simply not enough demand for electricity, which is worrying as a lot of this demand comes from the industrial and commercial sectors.Now, demand is on the decline for India’s coal-powered generation plants as renewables encroach on their territory: coal-fired plants currently account for 63 percent of the country’s energy mix, down from 73 percent three years ago. The country has one of the most ambitious renewables programs in the world, which should result in India deriving 55 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.To date, the country has 83 GW in renewable generation capacity, with another 31 GW under construction, and a further 35 GW awaiting bidders. All this taken together and with hydropower capacity added, India could cross the 200-GW threshold by 2022, according to the government.Yet there are also seasonal factors at play. A longer monsoon season and an early arrival of winter have served to dampen electricity demand faster than usual. The longer monsoon period affected activity in India’s industrial centers, with some of them registering declines in demand for electricity rather than the usual increase for that time of the year.More: A huge red flag? India shutters power plants citing lack of demand Low demand, growing renewable generation forcing India’s coal plants offlinelast_img read more

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

first_imgShepherdstown is an under-the-radar arts enclave and outdoor utopia in the lower Shenandoah Valley. Situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, the small town offers a unique mix of past and progressive. Historic buildings with weathered charm dating back to the 18th century sit beside hip coffee shops and eclectic restaurants, enjoyed by Shepherd University students and city transplants like David Lillard, who moved 90 minutes west from Washington, D.C., 15 years ago and never looked back. Lillard, editor of the West Virginia Observer and an author of guidebooks including Exploring the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, found Shepherdstown while biking with his wife on the C&O Canal Towpath, which runs by town on its 184-mile route between D.C. and Cumberland, Md.“In some ways we got on our bikes and moved 70 miles upriver,” says Lillard.In addition to the river access and close proximity to the C&O, Shepherdstown is a recreation hub for Appalachian Trail hikers and explorers of the nearby Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and Antietam National Battlefield. After a day at play, you’ll find friendly locals and adventurous visitors grabbing a beer at Stonewall’s Pub or watching an independent film at the Opera House.“It’s an interesting blend of people who are into the arts and the outdoors,” Lillard adds. “This is a town where you’re always going to run into someone that you know, but I’ve been here for 15 years and I’m still regularly meeting people.”Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia. Originally called Mechlenburg, it was founded when the state was still part of Virginia. Illustration by Scott DuBar Lillard’s Outdoor Picks:Running Through HistoryAntietam National Battlefield might be the most scenic, safest road run in the East, with views of the Blue Ridge in the distance and battle monuments all around. Choose from an easy rolling circuit or a brutal climb from the creek to the observation tower.Hiking Above Harpers FerryThomas Jefferson said the view from the rocks above Harpers Ferry was worth a trip across the Atlantic. For the best views, head across the Potomac in Maryland for a short but strenuous hike up Maryland Heights.Skiing the Legacy LoopTwelve miles from Shepherdstown in Loudoun, Va., is the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. Nestled below the Appalachian Trail, its 10-mile trail system, especially the Legacy Loop, offers solitude and wildlife.Bike CampingWant a quick escape for a night under the stars? Peddle out of Shepherdstown and head upriver on the C&O Canal’s towpath. The first biker campsite is just a couple miles away. In the long days of summer, you can set up camp, ride into town for burgers and beers, then back out in time for dark.Easy PaddlingOne of Shepherdstown’s greatest assets is the Princess Street boat ramp. Within a few miles, there are two put-ins upstream and one downstream. Sure, you’re just outside town, but once you’re on the water, you’ll feel like you’re out in the wild.last_img read more

Stress Relief

first_img“Sleep in, sleep in…you can do it!” I tell myself while squeezing my eyes shut and trying not to awaken too many muscles.My girlfriends will be calling shortly to tell me what time I have to get up. There are no children, the dog has been barricaded back in the house after a 6:40 wakeup call, and it’s now 7:40. The new shower tile needs to be sealed if I want to shower tomorrow and the yoga books need reading. I wonder when today that I’ll once again attempt meditating, writing in my journal about it, and then there’s the daily yoga I‘m supposed to be doing to transform myself to higher spirituality and flexibility. My hamstring aches as I loll in the bed fighting angst.By 8:15 a.m. the phone rings from a riding buddy. She sounds chipper and asks if she’s wakened me. I can’t deny it, even though the words of denial are already forming against the guilty pleasure. I hear her children screaming in the background. She’s probably waited two hours to make this call.“I dreamed I was marrying Caroline,” I confess to her, and I am happy to be laughing first thing when I wake up. In fact, Caroline was in a fuchsia dress with a black lace Victorian collar when I was gratefully awoken. Not that I don’t love Caroline…but we really were getting married.“I can be ready in thirty minutes,” I foolishly tell her. I have not yet seen my bike. When I finally do see my bike, it’s within minutes of Laura pulling up ready to go, yet frazzled and with her young child who will be dropped off with a friend. I have breakfast in my belly and everything is packed in the truck, except my bike. I grab it off the hook as sand and dried mud drop off of it in clumps. The chain looks more like a chain stay because it is solid. The rear tire is flat. I brush it off with a wire brush and throw the lube into my bag. I change the tire and am determined to patch the old tube after locating its slow leak. However, it disappears across the yard while I’m putting on the new tube, the puppy leaving several more punctures. I return the wheel back to the dropouts and as the disk brake slips into the caliper, the brake pads drop out into the gravel. I say a few choice words. Laura looks like she’s had a rough morning. It’s almost 10.I dig the brake pads out of the gravel and see there is absolutely nothing left on them. I now begin tearing the house up looking for the brake pads I’ve been seeing laying around the house. It’s like the game Memory. I remember seeing them somewhere in the open, but have moved them several times. They are not together. I miraculously find them, and we head out. The babysitter is not only awesome to take care of all the kids for the day, but he also puts my brake pads in for me in half the time it would have taken me to cuss over it. Just as we are ready to take off, Laura’s son crashes his bike on the street. Hard. His helmet is cracked. It takes until 11 for us to calm both he and his mom down enough to determine she can still go for a ride. Doing a four-hour ride is no longer an option.On the way to Mills River, the sky gets darker. It begins to drizzle on the highway, the darkest part of the cloud hovering over Pilot Rock, where we are headed. Neither of us can believe it. We continue on, calling little Miss Chipper who has patiently waited for us all this time. We choose a shorter ride, lamenting over the rain. It’s too hot for rain jackets, which is both good and bad.Once we are riding in the woods, it’s as if our stresses have melted from our brains. There is nobody who needs us emergently. Our suffering is purely physical, but we don’t even notice, because that’s the easy kind. *See more from Bettina through her blog, Spinning My Wheels!last_img read more

Take a Turkey Trek

first_imgWith Thanksgiving coming up next week, it is now officially time to start the holiday season. While many in the retail world would have you believe the “Holidays” began prior to Halloween, the public consensus is Thanksgiving kicks it off and New Year’s Day closes it with either a vicious hangover or epic late night/sugar crash depending on your age. The weekend before Thanksgiving is the calm before the storm that is your family coming to town or you packing up the station wagon heading for unfamiliar table talk with relatives you haven’t spoken to since last Thanksgiving and who may or may not share your personal views of everything from politics to dark vs. white meat (dark is better).This weekend, take advantage of this lull by getting out on the trail and taking a nice, long hike. Not only will this be good for your body with the biggest calorie fest of the year on the horizon, but it will also have a therapeutic effect on your mind. Now, instead of heading outside to chop wood for a couple hours when cousin Carl shows up unexpectedly, you will have the mental fortitude to find him a seat at the kids’ table.There is no better place to get away and clear your mind like in a wilderness area and St. Mary’s Wilderness in George Washington & Jefferson National Forest is one of the best. Pack a lunch and take the Mine Bank Creek Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway to the St. Marys River Trail to the falls. Don’t forget to pack a fly or tenkara rod, as the river does contain some native brookies.View Larger Maplast_img read more

Richmond, Va.

first_imgPopulation: 214,114Public lands: James River Park System, Pocahontas State Park, Richmond National Battlefield, Dutch Gap Conservation Area, Appomattox River Conservation AreaOutdoor Highlights: paddling the James, mountain biking the James River Park System, road biking Riverside Drivelast_img

The Gorilla That Eats Paddlers

first_imgPaddlers plunge down the narrows section of the Green River in the epic Green River Race each November.High noon. First Saturday in November.Those six words will raise the heart rate of any class V kayaker in the Southeast.  The Green River Narrows Race continues to be the most competitive and challenging paddling race in the country.I have competed in the past eight Green Races, and it never gets any less intimidating or intense. My relationship with this river began when I was 15, on my first run of the Green River Narrows. As I stepped out of my boat at the takeout that day, I knew that I had just achieved a milestone in my paddling career.I participated in my first Green Race a year later and started paddling and training with some of my kayaking idols, includng Tommy Hilleke and Andrew Holcombe. At one memorable run, I jumped into the starting gate in front of all of the superstars.  As I set my watch and prepared to take off, Tommy Hilleke, six-time winner of the Green Race, yelled at me, “I’m giving you ten seconds!”  There is nothing quite like the knowledge of one of the world’s best that close behind you to keep you motivated on a practice run.The river has a way of humbling anyone who becomes complacent with its power. A few years ago, I made the mistake of paddling the river for a timed race lap after a brutal Crossfit gym workout. My body was already spent, but my desire to train as hard as possible for the race prevailed.  As I approached the midway rapid, Go Left and Die, I realized that I had nothing left, but I kept paddling through the rapid. I entered the rapid’s first drop, misjudged my angle, and suddenly I was flailing off the cascade in completely the wrong place. I slammed into the rock, flipped, and entered the spin cycle that every kayaker dreads. Go Left is notorious for holding paddlers for severe beatings if they don’t stick the line, and this experience is exacerbated when you are lactic, exhausted, and your lungs are screaming.As I gasped for oxygen, I did barrel rolls, backflips, and cartwheels, desperately trying to escape the hole. As the beating intensified, I realized that it was time to surrender. I let go of my paddle while upside down in the maelstrom, pulled my sprayskirt, and swam out of my boat, deep into the chaos. Everything got dark around me, and I was slammed to the bottom of the river. I rounded a big boulder underwater, and finally popped up 40 feet downstream of the rapid, too weak to do anything but float. A friend pulled me to safety above the next rapid.We never found my boat that day. It stayed pinned underwater, and pieces of it were recovered downstream during the following weeks as the river pounded it to shreds. The three-mile hike out of the gorge that day was a lonely, demoralizing slog.  As fear and self-doubt overtook me, I didn’t know if I had it in me to jump back in and race three weeks later.Fortunately, the Green Race paddling community epitomizes camaraderie. As race day approached, my paddling friends rallied behind me and helped me to work through my reservations about bombing into that gorge once again, with 1,000 spectators watching. My next lap down the river was with paddling legend and two-time Green Race winner, Andrew Holcombe. Even though I was a fellow competitor, Andrew gladly shared some experimental race lines with me. Flying down the river close behind him enabled me to push the negative thoughts aside. I was making progress, but Go Left continued to haunt my consciousness.Even after hundreds of practice runs, race day is always full of queasy nervous energy. It doesn’t matter how smooth I was yesterday, or how I placed last year, or how bad my swim was. It is just me, a river, and a clock. One run per year is what I get. I start one minute behind the person in front of me, and one minute in front of the person behind me. That is my slot in which I put everything that I know and am capable of on the table. It is the perfect test of physical endurance, skill, and mental fortitude.I had been thinking about Go Left all morning, but I forced myself to visualize only good lines as the start timer counts down: 3…2…1…0. I heard my friends cheering as I took off from the starting line, but my focus was downstream.  Breath, heartbeat, whitewater. There was nothing else in the world. The energy and noise of the starting line was quickly replaced by the quiet of the river.It is often said that the Green Race is won in these easier early rapids and lost in the crux rapids downstream, Go Left and Die and Gorilla. The challenge is always balancing your fatigue with the fact that the most difficult race moves are at the end of the course. It is the ragged edge of control, and sometimes the best paddlers are the ones in the most danger, because they are putting every last energy reserve into their run.Whitewater is a funny thing, because confidence is absolutely mandatory. If you hesitate the slightest bit at a crucial time, a class V rapid will toss you off line. As I approached Go Left, I commited myself completely to the moment and set my angle for the main drop.Two powerful strokes, and my kayak slid across the face of the seven-foot cascade, around the hydraulic that beat the living daylights out of me, and out of the exit slot to safety.  Relief and adrenaline flooded my body.My reprieve was short-lived, however, as the toughest rapid of the Green Race, Gorilla, waited just downstream. I was gasping for air between the rapids.Despite my tunnel vision on the whitewater ahead, I caught a quick glimpse of the entire side of the gorge engulfed with spectators. The roar of the rapids was matched by the roar of the crowd.I charged into the 30-foot waterfall, experiencing complete lactic fatigue. But I also felt another powerful force of nature: the positive energy from my friends and family on the bank. As I flew off the launch pad of the beast, I embraced the clarity that only comes in such moments: the realization that we are all in this together, that we owe everything to everyone, and that shared experience is the only catalyst of a life worth living.I bounced safely out of the Gorilla’s grasp, and, as if on cue, the final four rapids were bathed in sunshine. Moments later, I was sitting on the finish line rock trying to catch my breath. After one of the more intense gut checks of my paddling career, I was elated to be finished and in a respectable fourth place position.Battling personal demons. Pushing self-imposed limits. Developing lifelong friends through shared experiences. These are things that we all strive for in life, and they happen every single year, to every single paddler who dares to paddle the Green River.Blue Ridge Outdoors: Green River narrows.last_img read more

It’s never Too Late

first_imgGetting into an adventure sport can be intimidating, especially as an adult, but these four later-in-lifers didn’t let that stop them from pursuing new horizons.It’s the final weekend of the 11th annual Michaux Mountain Bike School in south-central Pennsylvania. The parking lot at Camp Thompson is packed with trucks and vans and small RVs, racked up, stickered up, beat up. The hum of a coasting freehub weaves through the cars past a grid of one-room cabins.I unload my bike and follow the sound to a modest dining hall where a crowd of cyclists is already gathered. I find Gail Robillard among the brightly kitted posse. She’s straddling a red-orange 2014 Salsa El Mariachi, a look of concentration creasing the brow beneath her white bandana. When I introduce myself, she dramatically kneels over her handlebars.“I thought someone writing about adventuring later in life would be, you know, a little later in life!” she says. “You’re so young!”Full disclosure: I’m 27 years old. Gail, on the other hand, is 65. She has a point. I’m probably the least capable person when it comes to writing about the realities of learning an adventure sport later in life. I make some awkward quip about how the young would do well to learn from the wise and she gives me an eye roll before Zach Adams, the school director, launches into his pre-camp spiel.There are two camps running simultaneously this weekend: a one-day Fundamental Skills Camp and a three-day Advanced Maneuver Camp. Gail and I are signed up for the former. This will be Gail’s second year at Michaux, though she had to leave early last year after crashing and bruising her ribs.An accounting manager from Wilmington, Delaware, Gail has been a road cyclist for the past 14 years. Two years ago, at the behest of her local cycling club, she tried mountain biking and felt a thrill she hadn’t experienced since she rode horses back in her 20s.“Life is an adventure, and if I don’t take it, I’m gonna miss it,” she told me over the phone before Michaux. “Being 65 wakes you up to the fact that you don’t have all that much time to continue this adventure. The older I get, the crazier I may get, sure, but if I don’t use it, I’m going to lose it, so I better keep at it.”Whatever she may think about my age, Gail is in good company here at Michaux. As I look around at the camp attendees, cyclists my age—that is under 30—are in the minority. Most are middle aged or older men ranging the entire gamut of experience from beginner to shredder. Were it not for a 10-year-old boy, I would have been the youngest participant in my breakout group by a decade.The small turnout of twentysomethings is surprising, but not altogether unexpected. A 2011 study in Transportation Research found that over the past 20 years, nearly all of the cycling industry’s growth in the States has been among men ages 25-64. Mountain biking especially requires an equipment intensive investment up front, one that easily racks up to be a grand or more. Cyclists in their early 20s barely have the money to maintain their bikes, let alone drop a few hundred bucks on a multiday skills clinic.When it comes to spending power, Gen Xers and early Baby Boomers have the upper hand, yet the outdoor industry continues to exclude these age groups from its marketing. Though an increasing number of brands like Giant and The North Face are launching campaigns to address the gender gap, millennial remains the buzzword. Think about the latest advertisement you’ve seen for an outdoor brand. More likely than not, the featured faces are strong, beautiful, and above all, young.It’s no wonder, then, that adults, especially newcomers to a sport, feel a little ostracized from the industry. Where is there room for middle-aged beginner kayakers and retiree mountain bikers when our newsfeeds show the young and restless going bigger and being bolder? If you only associate rock climbing with Alex Honnold, the age-old adage, “I’m too old for that,” feels like a fair conclusion.Should you need confirmation, there is entirely too much research to back up that train of thought. Dozens of studies have proved that things like muscle mass and bone density decrease as you age, recovery time increases, and that learning in general is just “harder” once you’re an adult.MICHAUX MTB SCHOOLI’m going to eschew any sense of PC here and say, bullshit.That’s not to say the science isn’t sound, or that adults don’t have more obstacles when it comes to learning an adventure sport. Work, family, illness, tragedy. Life throws unexpected curveballs sometimes, and it can get more complicated the older we get, but that doesn’t mean age is what’s holding us back from learning a new adventure sport.In fact, recent research shows that older athletes, by necessity, train more efficiently and can outperform their younger counterparts specifically in endurance style sports. A study published in 2014 by PLOS ONE analyzed 1,212 ultrarunners and found that younger athletes had higher injury rates.The injuries were typically the result of overtraining and inexperience and sometimes led to those athletes giving up running later in life. That might explain why, in a study conducted a year earlier by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the average age of ultrarunners was 43. Of those 1,345 runners studied, the average age for running an ultra for the first time was 36, with ages 40 and 50+ following close behind.In the larger world of sports, professional athletes are staying in the game longer, too. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres took home three silver medals at the 2008 Games in Beijing. She was 41 at the time. Olympic cyclist Kristin Armstrong brought home gold at the 2016 Games in Rio on the eve of her 43rd birthday. That same year, ultrarunner Karl Meltzer set the record for the fastest supported attempt of the Appalachian Trail when he was 48 years young.And, if you need a non-professional for further proof, last year 82-year-old Dale Sanders became the oldest person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, proving that anyone, regardless of age or experience, can accomplish whatever they put their minds to.So if we have the role models, the stable bank accounts, the life experience to draw upon in challenging times, shouldn’t it stand to reason that the older we get, the more inclined we are to try new things, take risks, explore, dream, discover? Well, if you’re afraid of falling on your face, maybe not.STEVE AUGUSTINEThe Beginner’s MindSteve Augustine of Bryson City, N.C., had been a whitewater kayaker and instructor for nearly 20 years when he decided to pick up downhill skiing at the age of 35. Most of his kayaking buddies were already skiers, and pretty rippin’ ones at that, but as a native of Florida who then relocated to the Southeast, it was rain, not snow, that Augustine was more accustomed to.On a trip to Lake Tahoe one Thanksgiving, Augustine decided it was high time he hit the slopes. He spent most of the first day on the bunny runs with his ever-patient girlfriend at the time (and now wife) Laura Farrell, who is one of those multisport shredders.He took a few falls, mastered the pizza wedge, and at day’s end, he was starting to feel like the green runs were cake. The next time he went out, Augustine went for the blue, only to bail midway down the mountain and posthole his way back to the lodge.“The time it takes to learn sports like this is intensive,” he says. “You’re going to fail 15 more times before you get to that success. It’s tough to not just be really good at something when you are already good at one thing. As we get older, we get set in our ways and we forget the student mind, the beginner mind. It’s harder and harder to step outside of the comfort zone because you’ve done such a good job cultivating it. You have to trust the process and embrace the ebb and flow of learning.”To be clear, Steve’s story does not end with him sending double black diamonds, walking away with a World Cup title, and becoming skiing’s most celebrated underdog of all time (though if this is what you want, buddy, then DO IT TO IT). His story doesn’t end, period, because next winter, he’ll be right back out on the slopes, gaper gap and all, continuing to improve with every face-plant and clean run alike.His commitment to “the beginner’s mind” is the key ingredient to learning a sport later in life. There will undoubtedly be frustrating moments, and in those dark and dreary depths of newb despair, it’s easy to write off the necessity of continued effort when your friends look so casual carving lines or clearing gaps. But natural talent alone never got anyone anywhere without being in lockstep with ol’ fashioned hard work.Fox Mountain Guides co-owner Cristin Knowlton will be the first to tell you that in the way of natural climbing talent, the universe gave her zilch.“I was not athletic at all,” she says of her former life as a part-time legal consultant living in Florida. “I didn’t run, I didn’t play sports growing up, I have no coordination, I have bad balance, like, everything was working against me. I had no inclination to start climbing.”When her son expressed an interest in joining a local climbing gym, Knowlton and her husband decided maybe they should give it a go, too. That summer they hired a guide with Fox Mountain Guides (FMG) and once a year for many years, they made the pilgrimage to climb real rock in North Carolina.That was 10 years ago, when Knowlton was 36. In the past decade, she’s climbed all over the world, from Chamonix to Joshua Tree, both on her own and as a client of FMG. About five years ago she received her single pitch instructor certification and went in with lead FMG guide Karsten Delap to purchase the guiding company that had so drastically changed her life.She says the fundamental lesson for her was to be okay with taking her climbing one step at a time. Too often her friends and even clients envision the most extreme version of climbing when they’re first starting out, and that can contribute a lot of anxiety and misguided apprehensions about the sport. In reality, any adventure sport can be beginner friendly, whether that’s paddling class I and II whitewater or sticking to the green trails at the bike park. It’s all a matter of challenge by choice.“There is this perception that [climbing] is some dangerous crazy sport but if I can do it, anyone can do it,” she says. “I never had this ultimate goal where I was like, ‘I want to climb the Matterhorn.’ It just evolved, in a check-the-box kinda way, and then I eventually did climb the Matterhorn. I would have never expected my middle-aged self to be fitter than I was when I was 22.”HUNTER BANKS FLY FISHINGLearning to FallLike Knowlton, Margarita Martinez was probably the last person anyone expected (herself included) to become a climber, namely because she had a debilitating fear of heights. Nothing a little friendly peer pressure can’t fix.At the encouragement of her friends, Martinez, then 34 years old, tried climbing indoors at a gym in Oxford, Ohio. She didn’t get much further than 12 feet off the ground, but as a former dancer, Martinez appreciated the intricacies of balance and concentration that climbing demanded. She was hooked.She was also extremely humbled, especially after her first outdoor climbing trip six weeks later, when she could only dream of getting as far as 12 feet off the ground. She started going to the gym to focus on strength training and dedicated a lot of her climbing gym time to improving footwork. Still, progress was painfully slow.“I couldn’t even do a single pull up when I started climbing,” says Martinez. “After three months of trying negatives, I still could not do one. I was in tears. I thought this is just not going to happen. But you just have to tell yourself it will happen. Your body is a machine. It will do whatever it needs to do with the appropriate amount of work. It’s a matter of whether you’re going to put in the work or give up and I wasn’t going to give up.”Five months after her first time in the climbing gym, Martinez finally got that pull-up. A little over a year after that, she led her first 5.12a. Martinez now lives in the Red River Gorge full-time, and at age 60, she’s showing no signs of slowing down, even with erosive arthritis in both of her hands.For Martinez, climbing is quite simply fun. She’s not in it to be the best, though much like Cristin Knowlton, she’s intrigued with how far she can take her climbing. This summer, she plans to project a 5.14a in Utah’s Maple Canyon.More than anything, climbing has provided a playing field for Martinez to conquer her fear of heights head on. She never rushed her progression and listened to her body. For most of that first year of climbing, she thought she would be a top rope climber forever. As backwards as it sounds, it took Martinez learning how to fall to make her want to lead.“There are a lot more try hard days then send days in climbing, but that limited success is so great because you work so hard. I did not want to die thinking that I was always afraid of heights. I wanted to live, to be able to get through the fear, whether I climbed or not didn’t even matter.”After eight hours of skills progression and sessioning, the one-day Fundamental Skills Camp at Michaux is coming to a close. Gail is gathered under a pavilion with her breakout group, munching on watermelon in the late afternoon shade.She tells me she walked some of the trail sections and that dismounting the bike mid-climb still made her uneasy, but all in all, she feels confident that her handling skills are improving.“I don’t think at this point in time with my mountain biking that I’ve put enough time into it to say this sport is not for me, so I get up, I dust myself off, and I start over again, and that’s okay.”As I load up my bike, I catch snippets of a conversation between two of the Fundamental Skills riders who are also packing up a few cars down. They’re talking about a local kid in Pennsylvania who sends the pro line on a bike park jump like he was born huckin’ gaps.“I get so annoyed with these guys who look at him and go, ‘It must be nice to be so naturally talented,’” says the oldest of the two. “I know that that kid has a season pass to the bike park and he’s there every week practicing that line over and over. He’s wrecked on that jump hundreds of times, but they don’t see that.”Gail is gone by the time I make my way back to the pavilion—it’s a good three-hour drive back to her home in Delaware—but a few days later, I get an email from her: “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I hope your weekend felt as accomplished as mine did. I will definitely (God willing) go back to Michaux next year. Til then, ride on. Gail.”OUTDOORS 101Whether you prefer one-on-one instruction or the support of a group setting, here are 10 of our favorite beginner adventure crash courses for adults!Cove Creek Canyon CanyoneeringPura Vida Adventurespvadventures.comCourse length: 3-5 hoursLocation: Cove Creek Canyon, North CarolinaIntro to Outdoor Rock ClimbingFox Mountain Guidesfoxmountainguides.comCourse length: 2 DaysLocation: North CarolinaGym to CragSeneca Rocks Climbing Schoolclimbseneca.comCourse length: 2-3 daysLocation: Seneca Rocks, West VirginiaFly Fishing SchoolHunter Banks Fly Fishinghunterbanks.comCourse length: half-day and full-day optionsLocation: Asheville, North CarolinaIntroduction to Whitewater KayakingNantahala Outdoor Centernoc.comCourse length: full-day to five-day optionsLocation: Bryson City, North Carolina; Atlanta, GeorgiaFundamentals for River RunnersH2O Dreamsh2odreams.comCourse length: 1 dayLocation: Saluda, North CarolinaMountains to Sea: A SUP Adventure for WomenMind Body Paddlemindbodypaddle.comCourse length: TBDLocation: Asheville, North Carolina; Charleston, South CarolinaSkill Builder CampMichaux MTB Schoolmichauxmtbschool.comCourse length: 3 daysLocation: Gardners, PennsylvaniaFundamental Mountain Bike Skills – Women’s OnlyNinja Mountain Bike Performancesandiegomountainbikeskills.comCourse length: 1 dayLocation: Roanoke, Virginia; Stokesville, Virginia; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Brevard, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, GeorgiaWomen’s Backpacking Trip on the Appalachian TrailBlue Ridge Hiking Companyblueridgehikingco.comCourse length: 3 daysLocation: Hot Springs, North Carolinalast_img read more

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