Coal ash cleanup could cost Duke’s N.C. customers $5 billion

first_imgCoal ash cleanup could cost Duke’s N.C. customers $5 billion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:A string of decisions by North Carolina regulators means electricity consumers could be seeing a multibillion-dollar bill to clean up mountains of waste Duke Energy created by spending decades burning coal to produce power.State utilities regulators late last month decided that both North Carolina divisions of the country’s No. 2 power company could charge ratepayers the first $778 million chunk of a cleanup projected to cost about $5 billion.Cleanup became a priority after a major leak from a Duke Energy site in 2014 left coal ash coating 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the Dan River on the North Carolina-Virginia border. The waste byproduct contains toxic metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.The company pleaded guilty to federal environmental crimes in 2015 for its coal ash handling, and thus admitted “pervasive, system-wide shortcomings,” the North Carolina Utilities Commission said in its ruling last month.North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said he’s going to court to try stopping Duke Energy from passing along its costs to excavate some ash pits and cover others. Corporate mismanagement increased costs that shareholders should also be forced to bear, he said in an interview. Duke Energy said that it followed industry practices and applicable regulations.A decision by the state’s highest court isn’t likely before next year, when 3.4 million North Carolina power customers finally learn if they’re on the hook for a bill that’s been accumulating for decades.More: North Carolina consumers could see $5 billion coal-ash cleanup billlast_img read more

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Australian rooftop solar installations hit record level in February

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Australia’s rooftop solar market has shown no signs of slowing down so far in 2020, despite a start to the year marred by the coronavirus pandemic and an economic downturn that is hitting global energy markets as hard as any other.The latest data from leading Australian solar industry statistician SunWiz finds that while the registration of large-scale generation certificates for big solar projects heads in the opposite direction, registration for small-scale solar systems (0-100kW) – the vast majority of them for residential rooftop solar – remains on the up and up.SunWiz says steep growth in small-scale PV installations over the course of February has broken all previous records by notching up the highest monthly registered capacity of 218MW.On a state-by-state basis, the month also delivered records for Victoria (48MW), South Australia (24MW) and Western Australia (26.5MW), while New South Wales got back on track and registered 59MW, just shy of its own monthly record. Queensland also got back on track, adding a total of 53MW of solar systems between 0-100kW and is tracking ahead by 34 per cent compared to the last year.“The residential market showed exceptional growth, particularly in the 6-8 kW segment,” said SunWiz managing director Warwick Johnston in his monthly report, noting that the small commercial market had also shown “noticeable growth.”The small solar sector may not be immune to the troubles of the market, either – least of all coronavirus, which may yet hit PV panel supplies in Australia after the weeks of plant shutdowns in China in the first months of the year. But for now, the boom continues.[Sophie Vorrath]More: Rooftop solar unstoppable as market breaks “all previous records” in February Australian rooftop solar installations hit record level in Februarylast_img read more

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Dear Meredith, . . .

first_imgClick here to subscribe to the Pharr Out BlogDear Meredith,You don’t know who I am, but you have deeply impacted my life. I wish we could have had the opportunity to meet; I think we would have been great friends.When I began to learn about you this winter, I was amazed at how much we have in common. Reading about your life and interests I felt like I was looking at a biography of my own life. We are the same age and we are both lucky enough to call the Southeast home. We both love animals, literature, wine, and spending time with our friends. You and I have both spent time volunteering with children and we both share a strong faith and value system. But most of all, I know that you love the outdoors – you feel free and safe in the outdoors – and so do I.That’s why I was ripped apart this January when reading accounts, first of your disappearance and then of your death on Blood Mountain, Georgia.How could something so tragic happen to someone so beautiful and full of life? You had your whole life in front of you and it was selfishly and carelessly ripped away. And one of the most unsettling details is that your future was lost in the wilderness – a place that you and I both look to for peace and restoration.I absolutely hate what happened to you. Every time I think of your fate, my stomach becomes queasy and my body tenses up. I have cried many times over your death, and I have cried for your grieving family.I am not alone in my sorrow. I know many who were deeply troubled by your fate and touched by all the contributions you were able to make during your 24 years of life. I have heard the stories of several individuals who no longer feel safe traveling in the woods because of the darkness you encountered. I, too, admit that for several weeks I didn’t feel safe running or walking in the forest. I spent more time looking over my shoulder than at the path ahead.On one particular hike, I was in a heightened state of paranoia when I finally concluded this isn’t what you would want. You wouldn’t want me to feel threatened in the woods, you wouldn’t want me to live in fear and you would never want to be the barrier that kept people from enjoying creation.Michael Hilton, in his sickened state, managed to instill fear and doubt in individuals throughout the country. But I know those aren’t the byproducts that you would want from your death. You would want laughter, love, and the courage to move forward in the woods and in life.This summer I am hiking the Appalachian Trail and I am doing it in your honor. You will be in my thoughts daily and I hope that you, your family and friends will accept this hike as a living memorial. I am hiking to celebrate the blessings you were through your life, and the legacy you left in your death. I am not just trying to complete the trail, but I am also attempting to set the women’s endurance record on the Appalachian Trail. I want women to know that they shouldn’t fear the woods. Rather, I want them to know that nature should be respected, protected, and enjoyed. I want women of all ages to know that they are capable of amazing accomplishments and that fear should not be something that holds them back. I want to blaze the trail with laughter, kindness, and a confidence that in the future I will encourage others to do the same.I sometimes feel that the loss of your life was similar to someone picking the most beautiful flowers in the forest just as they begin to bloom. I know that the beauty of that individual blossom will never again be replaced, but I hope that my endeavor is an attempt in reseeding. As a hiker you must have been familiar with the term “leave no trace” and with your blessing this summer, together we can work to “leave no evil” in a wilderness that we both call home.With Love and Admiration,Jennifer Pharrlast_img read more

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Toe to Toe

first_imgArmy Bans Toe-ShoesThe United States Army has officially banned the use of Vibram Five Fingers, and any other “toe-shoes.” Soldiers aren’t allowed to wear shoes with separate compartments for their toes while in uniform or conducting physical training in military formation because they “detract from a professional military image,” according to the recent modification in policy for the Improved Physical Fitness Uniform (IPFU).Vibram Sues Fila Over Toe-ShoeIn other toe-shoes news, Vibram USA is suing Fila USA for patent infringement after Fila released the Skele-Toes, a minimalist running shoe that looks similar to Vibram’s Five Fingers. Fila’s version has individual compartments for four toes, sandwiching the two smallest toes into the same pocket. According to a press release from Vibram USA’s president, Tony Post, “Vibram innovated the technology and earned the patents. With our success, copyists and counterfeiters have come out of the woodwork. We will continue to take aggressive action against all who infringe upon our intellectual property.”Adidas has also announced their foray into the niche market with the Adipure Trainer, which is a toe-shoe designed for the gym. No word yet if Adidas will also be the target of a Vibram patent-infringement suit.Coolest Shirts EverWicking shirts are so last year. Your next hiking shirt will likely have Xylitol, a corn-based sugar substitute (it’s the stuff in gum that makes your mouth cool) that turns your sweat into a coolant, lowering the body temperature it comes into contact with by three degrees. And yes, it actually works…up to a point. Here’s what we found with two different cooling shirts.Ex Officio Sol Cool TeeHow many bells and whistles can you put into a t-shirt? This is a wicking shirt with UPF 50+ sun protection, and it’s treated with Xylitol. You can feel the shirt begin to cool as soon as you start to sweat, and it gets downright chilly if there’s a breeze. It’s a welcome sensation on a hot day, but the Xylitol stopped working after the shirt got soaked with sweat, so consider this a nifty option for low-output activities like hiking or fishing, but trail running on a hot day proved too much for the technology.$34; exofficio.com Columbia Omni-Freeze ICE Solar Polar Half-ZipColumbia has also released a series of cooling garments using an undisclosed corn-based agent. We tested the Solar Polar Half-Zip in a variety of conditions, and found, like the Ex Officio version, the shirt began cooling immediately after getting moist, but stops once it gets overloaded with sweat. The technology shines on a hike. Take a break in the shade after climbing some elevation, and you’ll feel the ice, ice baby.$70; columbia.comlast_img read more

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Up Close and Personal

first_imgThe contestants.In the old days (like two or three years ago), shooting video or still photos of yourself surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, or any other action sport involved more than a little trouble. Special mounts, wide lenses and wired or wireless shutter tripping devices were needed, and you had to figure out how to mount your camera without it getting smashed, dirty or wet.Then along came the first GoPro, a small, helmet-mountable, waterproof camera capable of shooting video and stills. Other manufacturers got in on the game, a floodgate of personal action sports imagery was opened, and you can now document every adventurous move you make.1. GoPro HERO2The camera: GoPro is the company that started it all. The HERO 2 is the third version of GoPro and their best to date. It shoots a variety of video frame rates at wide to medium angles. It also shoots 11MB stills and has the capacity to do bursts of ten frames a second. The camera is small and comes with a waterproof-shockproof housing and a variety of mounts for helmets, kayaks, and bikes.The verdict: I’ve been hooked on GoPros since the first model came out two and a half years ago. The HD version was a quantum leap with sharp, clear video and stills that are actually hi-res enough for publication. The Hero 2 is even better, and it even comes with a menu that a normal person can comprehend (unlike the previous model, which was very user un-friendly if you ever needed to change settings without a newspaper-sized instruction sheet handy). All the video modes look good and crisp, although maybe not quite as sharp as some of the other cameras. Low-light recording is improved as well as the still photo quality. This is the big guy on the block that all the others are trying to match up to. $2992. Contour Roam The camera: Bullet shaped, cool looking, easy to use, mountable, waterproof (up to one-meter submersion) without a special housing.The verdict: It’s good for shooting 1080 HD video with 170-degree coverage at a variety of frame rates. But it has no LCD screen, camera menu, or controls of any kind other than an on-off switch. It does have a laser leveler. To change modes, you have to hook up to a computer and run a program, which is practically insane. Try doing that in the field, on the fly. If you’re only interested in video and want to keep things simple, this might be the camera for you. It comes with a variety of mounts and uses Micro SD cards. $1993. Drift HD170 StealthThe camera: The Drift is similar in shape and size to the Contour and is the only camera with integrated LCD screen for both live monitoring and playback. It shoots 1080, 170-degree video, and stills.The verdict: It’s the sharpest video of the lot, although a bit oversaturated. The Drift has easy menu controls for switching between video and still modes and the built-in screen is small but handy for live viewing and composing. It has a rotating lens, which is pretty cool for level shots no matter what angle the camera is mounted. Still photos are decent, but not as good as the GoPro. It comes with a wireless remote for off-camera triggering. 1/4“ tripod thread is handy too. $1794. Swann Freestyle HDThe camera: This GoPro wannabe looks good out of the box with waterproof housing, wireless remote, detachable LCD screen and an array of Go Pro-like mounts. It shoots 1080 HD (130-degrees) and stills in a variety of resolutions and intervals.The verdict: Swann is a leading maker of security cameras, and the Freestyle HD is a first foray into the action sports market. The camera suffers from a bunch of problems, beginning with inferior optics. The menu controls won’t hold certain settings once powered off. And you need the LCD back to adjust the menu but it won’t fit in the housing. The stills are lousy, owing to a lens that’s not sharp from side to side. Plus the slightly larger housing is even more prone to fogging than the GoPro housing. This could be a good camera if it had a better lens and a re-engineered menu. I’d wait for the second version to see if the bugs get worked out. $279last_img read more

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East Meets West

first_imgWhy Appalachia Is Tops Among MountainsIf I had a penny for every time one of my friends out West said something like, “The Appalachians aren’t real mountains like we’ve got out here,” or “They should call the Blue Ridge Mountains the ‘Blue Hills,’” I’d have enough money to buy the Biltmore Estate (or at least a tiny but accurate scale model). My response is usually just to smile and shake my head. Not because I’m a non-confrontational wimp (though those are the words my wife likes to use), but because I know better.The folks out West are always quick to compare mountain sizes with ours to make up for their shortcomings. They feel inferior to, and jealous of, everything we’ve got going in the Blue Ridge, from the history to the mountain culture, food and drink, trails, scenery, and location. I laugh off the insults to our mountains here in the Southeast much the way Lance Armstrong must have laughed off insults to his cycling talents during his prime, or Ron Jeremy laughed off people who tried to diminish his well-endowed, um, acting ability during the peak of his celebrated film career.Don’t get me wrong, I love the mountains out West. The Rockies are a great place to visit. And without the Sierra Nevadas, the world wouldn’t have been blessed with Yosemite National Park or the Donner Party. But then again, I’ve got a strange soft spot in my heart for lots of overhyped things that lack substance, like teen vampire movies, and gelato.If you’re one of the people in the Blue Ridge who can’t take comfort in your superiority, though, rest easy. The next time your Western friends try to pick a fight, just show them this list. I like to call it: “The Indisputable Reasons Why Southern Appalachia Crushes the West.”Reason 1The hooch. Show me someone who says the folks who live in the hollows (that’s pronounced “hollers”) of the Sierra Nevadas or Rockies have invented a liquor that’s smoother going down–or will leave you blind quicker–than moonshine (a.k.a white lightning, mountain dew, skull cracker, the sweet spirits of cats a-fightin’), and I’ll show you a liar. Family recipes concocted in stills hidden in the woods date back generations. So while people in the mountains of California are sipping the local vintage of pink blush, we’ll keep drinking from our mason jars, thank you very much.Reason 2The Appalachian Trail. The granddad of all hiking trails. It begins here in the Southern Appalachians at Springer Mountain, Ga. The Pacific Crest Trail?  Please. It’s too extreme (another word for “not doable for normal, sane people”), like so much else about the Western mountains. The 2,185-mile A.T. is a possible dream for just about any healthy person who likes to hike. There’s a reason Benton MacKaye’s blueprints for the first national scenic trail ran from Georgia to Maine, and not California to Canada—and why Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk in the Woods” didn’t take him over Mount Whitney.Reason 3The paddling. Nothing beats the concentrated paddling thrills of the Gauley and New rivers. People out West may brag about the size of their Snake or Colorado—but again they’re overcompensating. The whitewater selection in the Southeast has no equal, boasting epic rivers like the Chattooga, Potomac, Shenandoah, Ocoee, Nantahala, Pigeon, and Chattooga, just to scratch the surface. Best of all, the organized paddling trips here usually last only a day or two in length, and are generally affordable. Out West, you’ve got to use a whole week’s vacation and spend the cost of a Hyundai to experience the thrills of the Grand Canyon.Reason 4The music. Bluegrass was born in the Blue Ridge. Need I say more? A fiddle and banjo (along with a mandolin, bass, and harmonica) make for a night of dancing and drinking (see “Hooch,” above) in the Southern Appalachians. In the West, the only people who could make those instruments sing right proper are visitors. On tour. From the Southern Appalachians. There are some exceptions, like Allison Krauss and Steve Martin–but he plays with the Steep Canyon Rangers, from Asheville and Brevard. All of the great original bluegrass gods, like Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers, came from these parts. And the North Carolina-born Avett Brothers partly carry on the tradition today. As for music born in the Western mountains, what is there? John Denver? Please.Reason 5The skiing. Skiing in the South: something so wrong never felt so right. I’ll concede consistent snow conditions to the West. And it’s true that no one from Colorado would ever fly east to ski in Tennessee. But that’s only part of the equation. The overlooked element in the South’s favor is location. More than one quarter of the U.S. population lives within a half-day’s drive of the 20 or so ski resorts in this region—from Snowshoe in West Virginia, to Massanutten in Virginia, and Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. As for the so-called icy slopes (I prefer the term “packed formerly frozen granular”) you may find here from time to time: it just makes you a much better skier, able to handle any kind of terrain. You’ve never heard someone say, “Oh, if you can master the fresh knee-deep powder of Tahoe, you can ski anywhere!”Reason 6The mountain biking. Yes, Moab is the best place to bike in the world. For a weekend. But the ultimate dream hometown for a mountain biker would have to be Asheville. Western North Carolina has more miles of mountain bike trails, and more trails, than you’ll find anywhere in the country. You’ve got your choice of epic rides in DuPont State Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Bent Creek Experimental Forest, and the Tsali Recreation Area. And those are just the spots that everyone knows about.Reason 7The people. All of the celebrities flock on their private jets to Aspen, Colorado, and Jackson, Wyoming, which is just fine with us. Let them keep driving up real estate prices to insanely high levels over there. For us, high cuisine means finding ways to use every single part of a pig. Our dressing up is the same as their dressing down. For us, a traffic jam means two cars stuck behind a pack of cyclists for a mile on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sure, our Mount Mitchell isn’t as tall as their Pikes Peak, our ski resorts have to offer rental gloves and parkas, and our whitewater canyons aren’t as Grand. But that’s just the way we like our outdoors served—and preferably with a mason jar of moonshine on the side.Be sure to comment and let us know your thoughts, East Coast or West Coast?If you don’t agree with us, maybe we can change your mind with the Georgia Weekend Getaway Contest. Enter today for your chance to win an amazing trip into the Appalachia, and experience all we have to offer!last_img read more

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Clips of the Week: March 15, 2013

first_imgWelcome to another edition of Clips of the Week! We’ve got some heady videos for you today from around the net, including trippy skiing, cringe-worthy riding, and slippery ice.1. Color Me ImpressedAmazing idea and cinematography from the Falquet brothers, Huck and Chuck. This one is a mind ‘sploder and doesn’t get old.2. Renan ReelShort clips from the reel of Camp 4 Collective partner and cinematographer Renan Ozturk. Gorgeous stuff from a one of the great talents out there today. Also has Devotchka on the soundtrack, so I can dig that. HD and full screen mode a must for this one.RENAN OZTURK // DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY // REEL 2013 from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.3. March of the PenguinsEven though it’s their native habitat, ice is still slippery. Even humans fall on the sidewalk sometimes.4. Crash Test DummiesGo Pro crash footage from three years of filming around the U.S.? Yes, please.5. Spring is in the AirFrom Smith Optics and Colorblind Media, comes some pretty bomber tarpon footage. Spring is in the air, can you feel it?Spring is in the Air from Colorblind Media on Vimeo.These videos were our favorite from this week, but I’m sure we missed some good ones. If you have a video you would like featured in Clips of the Week, please leave a comment below!last_img read more

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Daily Dirt: Beer City to Gear City, Snakeheads, and Fish Photos

first_imgYour outdoor news bulletin for June 12, the day Bryan Allen flew the human-powered Gossamer Albatross aircraft across the English Channel, proving that human-powered aircraft can, indeed, have silly names:Asheville, N.C.: Beer City to Gear City?That’s the goal of the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina, a newly formed organization of WNC gear manufacturers led by SylvanSport and Eagles Nest Outfitters, and they have a plan to do it. SylvanSport worked with Prestige Subaru of Asheville to convert their former Suzuki building into the Prestige Adventure Center, a showroom for local outdoor companies to display their wares and services. Over 30 outdoor companies have signed and the Adventure Center will be the exclusive downtown showroom for OGBWNC brands including Navitat, Bellyak, Outrider, USA, and more. Of course, SylvanSport and their GO tow-behind pop-up camper will take center stage as both the lead organizer and the largest physical piece of gear being showcased. Having such a large space will allow for more robust community events like live music, special presentations, and promotions. SylvanSport Director of Marketing and New Product Development: “The Prestige Adventure Center will be a lot like a community center. This will be a place where local outdoor gear builders, retailers like Diamond Brand, REI, and Black Dome, and adventure companies like NOC, Navitat, and others, can all get together, have their products on display, and help promote each other.” The Prestige Adventure Center is slated to open mid-July.Cool idea. Check out more details here.World Record Snakehead Caught…maybeA couple of fishing buddies may have set a world record over the weekend…and this ain’t no fish story (HA!). Caleb Newton held the rod while Phil Wilcox held the net as they landed the possible world recored Northern Snakehead out of Aquia Creek in Stafford, Virginia Saturday. The (ugly-as-sin) fish weighed in at 17.6 pounds, topping the previous record – caught in Japan in 2004 – by a couple of ounces. The northern snake head is, in a word, gross: they can live for days out of the water, can move on land, excrete mucus, smell terrible, have sharp teeth, are as hard to kill as the Terminator (T-850, not the T-1000) and are just plain ugly. They are also an invasive species, and if caught in Virginia are required by law to be, well, terminated. Newton has submitted paperwork to the International Fish Game Association and expects to hear back about the world record by August.Underwater Film Crew in Southern AppalachiansSpeaking of invasive species, a crew from the Oregon-based Freshwaters Illustrated spent last week in the waters of the Southern Appalachians taking photos and video of the underwater lives of the fish that reside there. Jeremy Monroe and David Herasimtschuk explored the underwater world of Abrams Creek, the Little River, the Conasauga River, and the Hiwassee River among others filming brook trout, mussels, hellbenders, chubs, and darters. Founded by Monroe in 2003, the purpose of Freshwaters Illustrated is to bring attention to the beauty and fragility of freshwater ecosystems through the U.S. through underwater still photography and video. They are currently working on a full-length film project focused on the rivers and conservation efforts in the Southeast.Get the full story, and some beautiful underwater photos, here.last_img read more

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Earth Talk: Protecting Private Land

first_imgDear EarthTalk: While working to protect public land from resource extraction and development seems to be the focus of many environmental groups, what is being done to preserve and protect private property—the majority of our land—across the country?– Jim Friedland, Bath, MEIndeed, private property makes up about 60 percent of the total land base across the United States. In 42 states there is more private land than public, and by a wide margin in most cases. (Only Alaska, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, Wyoming and California have more public land—that is, land owned by a federal, state, county or municipal government—than private.) Of course, all this private land isn’t just the parcels where our houses sit. It includes most commercial, industrial and agricultural lands as well.What we each do on our own private property may be our own business, but whether and how we take care of it does impact the public good and the health of ecosystems near and far. One way each of us can do our part is by cultivating native plants and landscaping around our homes and businesses to increase habitat for local wildlife. As development slowly but surely swallows up open space, every backyard counts. The National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF’s) Certified Wildlife Habitat program provides homeowners with information and inspiration to make their backyards part of the solution.Meanwhile, millions of Americans have used local land trusts to put conservation easements on their properties that preclude future development. The Washington, DC-based Land Trust Alliance serves as a clearinghouse for information on obtaining conservation easements and other private land protections through one of the 1,700 local land trusts across the country. And the Virginia-based Nature Conservancy has helped protect upwards of 15 million acres of private land across the U.S. by buying at-risk parcels, putting conservation easements on them and seeing that they are managed sustainably moving forward.As for conservation on working lands, the American Farmland Trust has helped thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country protect over five million acres of private agricultural and grazing land through conservation easements and other tools designed to limit the conversion to non-agricultural uses.There are also smaller regionally focused groups that work on private lands conservation. Stewardship Partners works with Washington state homeowners and businesses to restore fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, protect open space and “green up” the built environment while maintaining working landscapes of farms, forestland and livable communities. The group has helped hundreds of farms and vineyards across the state identify ways to restore otherwise unproductive lands for the betterment of local ecosystems, and is helping thousands of homeowners across the state install “rain gardens” that utilize rainfall to save water and reduce run-off pollution in and around the Seattle area.Another pioneering private lands conservation group, the Pacific Forest Trust, works with owners of private forestlands throughout California, Oregon and Washington to preserve working forests and keep sustainable forest practices alive and well in some of the country’s most productive timber forests. To date the group has helped conserve upwards of 50,000 acres of private forestland in the region through conservation easements and other means.For more information on the issue, click here.last_img read more

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The Art of Falling Down

first_imgI’ve been skiing every day for a week straight now, and I don’t need a calendar to remind me.There’s a new bruise (or five) each morning, a slight limp to my walk, an increased frequency in groans that escape me every time I shift positions. Places hurt on my body that I didn’t know could hurt, like behind my ears, the arch of my foot, my armpits, between my eyebrows… Part of me feels like I’ve spent every evening in the gym lifting weights. The other part of me is convinced an invisible gnome beats me in my sleep before tying me to the tracks so a train can plow me over.While this past week of skiing (and my few remaining days left in Tucker County) may not result in my sudden unveiling as the best skier in the world, I know for a fact that I tried damn hard to get there.This hasn’t been some downhill shred fest, mind you. Oh no. I’m in the heart of uphill-skier-landia, where cross-country skis and telemark outfitting dominate the trails. I know what it means now to “earn your turns” and I know why a friend once told me, “once you tele, you never turn back.” There is such a freedom in freeing the heel (yes, I’m going to whip out every tele-cliché in the book) that, upon donning a pair of alpine skis last week at Timberline Four Seasons Resort, going downhill and riding a lift all day just felt wrong.Learning how to cross-country ski has been no easy task, and I’m still a long ways from droppin’ knees with anything resembling grace. The learning curve, however, has been a steady uphill climb, like that of the hilly terrain I fumble up every afternoon, and I find the skinny skis and skating motion come a little less awkwardly each time I go out (the pizza wedge, however, will never not be awkward).So for any newb skiers out there like myself, don’t get frustrated (ha!) and take solace in knowing that everyone sucked at some point…your time is just now. And if that doesn’t comfort you (which, I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t), here are a few lessons I’ve picked up every time I had to physically pick myself up. Because after all — the art of skiing is really the art of falling down._MG_4770Ski with people who are way better than you,and make sure you stay behind them. This allows you to mimic their body motions but also not feel as self-conscious about how often you’re falling.Ski with people who are only marginally better than you.These people are usually overly supportive and regularly remind you how well you’re doing. Ski with these types of people after big skis with way better skiers — that way you can tell yourself you don’t suck “that bad” even though you and everyone else knows the truth…you suck pretty bad.Ski even when your body doesn’t want you to.It may hurt, it may yelp, it may keep you up at night because you can’t lay on your side, but getting better is all about time on the skis.Ski when it’s good, suck it up and ski when it’s not.When you’re only in a certain place for so long, you take advantage of icy days and pow days alike. No pickiness allowed.Ski at night.Aside from being a freaking cool experience, doing any activity at night increases your awareness and forces you to listen to your body and adapt to the terrain. Plus, no one can really see you when you wipe out. And you also kinda start to feel superhuman with your heightened night vision. Yeah. That’s right.Ski with someone who always carries a flask.These people are generally more fun than raging-alcoholic and a little liquor on the tummy helps you loosen up and go with the flow. And if not, it at least helps you think you’re doing better than you are. It’s all about the attitude, people.Ski as if you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.If you don’t fool your friends you might fool yourself.Ski solo.My mother will likely disapprove of this one, but skiing by yourself forces you to do better. You might be a little more cautious with your speed or what trail you take, but when you’re flyin’ solo, that self-sufficiency-survival mode kicks in and the “don’t f*ck up” mantra becomes less of an option and more of a rule. Who else is going to get you down that mountain?Ski like nobody’s watching.Because let’s face it, people are watching you. Especially if you’re bombing down the slope at White Grass, there are most certainly people in the cafe with their noses pressed to the windows commentating on the skiers sliding down the mountain. I know. I’ve been one of those people. You’re going to be a spectacle anyway, a gliding yard sale. Who cares? Just ski. It’s about having f-u-n in the end anyway, right?Ski really hard stuff first.That way everything else seems like cake and you feel like a pro. Ego boosters. Take ’em when you can.Ski fast, wreck big, and pop up like nothing ever happened.The faster you stand back up, the less likely anyone is to know you fell in the first place. Or if they did see your wipeout, the more they’ll admire your ability to shake it off. You can always nurse your body in the hot tub later. So, oh yeah. One more thing.Find a hot tub.Even if you have to go out after midnight and poach a vacant rental cabin’s hot tub, if you take none of the aforementioned advice, at least do this one.###Big thanks to everyone in Tucker County for being so patient, kind, and hospitable. Check out some of these pics from the past week of big skis and big wipeouts (for me, at least)._MG_4764 _MG_4784 _MG_4756 _MG_4755 _MG_4751 _MG_4703 _MG_4705 _MG_4719 _MG_4729-2 _MG_4730 _MG_4680-2 _MG_4674 _MG_4673 _MG_4669 _MG_4650 _MG_4600 _MG_4619 _MG_4621 _MG_4633 _MG_4647 _MG_4596 _MG_4577 _MG_4567 _MG_4535 _MG_4526 _MG_4422 _MG_4446 _MG_4463 _MG_4497last_img read more

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