German companies to pursue novel renewables to gas project

first_imgGerman companies to pursue novel renewables to gas project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:German power and gas network companies TenneT, Thyssengas and Gasunie Deutschland said they plan to build a 100 megawatt (MW) plant to turn renewable energy into gas for industrial use in the Ruhr region.The plant in Lower Saxony would be the biggest power-to-gas plant (ptg) in Germany and would be connected to the grid in phases from 2022, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday. They did not give the estimated investment.As Germany has set a target to nearly double the share of wind and solar power to 65 percent of electricity generation by 2030, grid operators are looking to develop ptg plants and other technologies. Ptg entails running wind or solar power through water to split it into oxygen and hydrogen, which can then be used as a transport fuel or fed into electricity grids.“The green power that is turned into gas will be transported to the industrial Ruhr region, but also supply hydrogen filling stations for mobility, and can be stored in underground caverns for industrial usage,” they said.German power transmission network Amprion and market-leading gas grid Open Grid Europe (OGE) said in the summer that they were also looking to build ptg plants with capacities of 50 to 100 MW.More: German network companies join up to build power-to-gas plantlast_img read more

Massive Hornsea One offshore wind project to generate first electricity this week

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:An offshore windfarm on the Yorkshire coast that will dwarf the world’s largest when completed is to supply its first power to the UK electricity grid this week. The Danish developer Ørsted, which will be installing the first of 174 turbines at Hornsea One, said it was ready to step up its plans and fill the gap left by failed nuclear power schemes.The size of the project takes the burgeoning offshore wind power sector to a new scale, on a par with conventional fossil fuel-fired power stations. Hornsea One will cover 407 sq km, five times the size of the nearby city of Hull. At 1.2GW of capacity it will power 1m homes, making it about twice as powerful as today’s biggest offshore windfarm once it is completed in the second half of this year.“The ability to generate clean electricity offshore at this scale is a globally significant milestone at a time when urgent action needs to be taken to tackle climate change,” said Matthew Wright, UK managing director of Ørsted, the world’s biggest offshore windfarm builder.The power station is only the first of four planned in the area, with a green light and subsidies already awarded to a second stage due for completion in the early 2020s.The first two phases will use 7MW turbines, which are taller than London’s Gherkin building.But the latter stages of the Hornsea development could use even more powerful, 10MW-plus turbines. Bigger turbines will capture more of the energy from the wind and should lower costs by reducing the number of foundations and the amount of cabling needed to put them into the water.Henrik Poulsen, Ørsted’s chief executive, said he was in close dialogue with major manufacturers to use the new generation of turbines, some of which are expected to approach the height of the Shard in London, the tallest building in the EU. The UK has a great wind resource and shallow enough seabed to exploit it, and could even “power most of Europe if it [the UK] went to the extreme with offshore”, he said.More: Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week Massive Hornsea One offshore wind project to generate first electricity this weeklast_img read more

Sending It

first_imgA nice launch pad, but the run out leaves something to be desired. I have a cut on the top of my head. It is about 2 inches long, not deep, and is emitting that dull throb typical of small head injuries. I did not get this tiny dinger from a bar fight or bear attack or endoing my bike. No, I got it from sending it.Allow me to explain. “Send it” is a ubiquitous term for going big on a given execution, mainly attributed to getting some sort of air, and doing it with style and grace. See this definition in the Urban Dictionary (the first one, not the second one). I love catching air, it is a minor obsession, and it doesn’t matter the context or the altitude or the amplitude; I’m just into it. From 30-foot cliffs and 50-foot booters, a rarity these days, to bunny hops and ollies, more frequent; I’m just stoked to get high. Wait, what?Back to the cut on my head. This enthusiasm for leaving the solid Earth for even the briefest of moments has manifested itself into a habit that gives me great pleasure, but has also left me injured, mangled and embarrassed on several occasions. This admittedly sophomoric and small-scale activity is “sending” the last few stairs.The stairs need not have any special characteristics other than they go down, elevating me above my intended landing zone. I need not be in any type of mood or attire to accomplish my goal. And I need not pay that close attention to my surroundings when I lock into the zone and launch. This is where my air gets me into trouble.The current dried blood on my scalp is from banging my noggin on the edge of the landing above in the stairwell of our BRO offices. I managed to stick the landing with only a minor wobble, but it got me thinking about this peculiar habit.A part of it is showing off, I guess, although I’ll never admit it. It’s also an instinct thing, and is really not limited to stairs, although they are definitely the most fun. This past weekend at a wedding, I was exiting the elevator into the lobby in full wedding attire when not 10 feet in front of me was a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign. What better time than to take two steps and leap over said sign, throwing in a mute grab? None is the appropriate answer. Well, except for the wet floor, but as I said, that’s the part that can get me into trouble.I’ve been doing this a long time, farther back than I can remember, but there are a few that stand out starkly from the rest. I once sent the last 10 stairs at the back of the Mangy Moose in Jackson, WY (the stairs by the stage, in the bar not the restaurant) in full winter gear and a pack stuffed with PBR in a mad claustrophobic dash for the exit. I stomped that landing and even got a couple cheers from the crowd…just before I shoved all of them on my way to the door.An example I’m less proud of happened following a Denver Boncos game at Mile High. Finding myself with a gap in the crowd as we filed out of the stadium, I grabbed both railings and attempted to swing myself, Olympic parallel bars style, over the final 7-8 stairs (little fuzzy on this one) to the landing below. Obviously, I misjudged it horribly and clipped the last step, sending me careening over the guardrail to the screams of onlookers, one of whom was my buddy’s mom who had gotten us the tickets. Came out of that one with only a bruised ego and a silent car ride home.Once I accidentally sent the last FLIGHT of stairs HEAD FIRST at my fraternity house after whiffing on a very aggressive high-five. I’ll thank the beer for getting me out of that one alive. I’ll also curse it for my inhibited motor skills and poor judgment at that particular moment: I never miss high-fives, no matter how aggressive. There are also many fine examples of stuck landings and epic bails from my enthusiastic Freestyle Walking days of yore, before parkour took over, gave it a less cool name, and ruined it for amateurs.As with anything, the difference between glory and disaster is pretty thin, especially when you push the envelope. Five-stair 180 onto a crowded concrete sidewalk? Not my finest moment, and one the scare on my hip won’t let me forget. Luckily, the big guy had a wild swing or I’d have another more prominent reminder. Some people!Essentially it comes down to execution. Can you hit the window, and more importantly, can you do it with style? Sometimes you do and sometimes you end up in a pile on the floor with people laughing at you. That’s life I guess, but I’m not going to let a couple scrapes and bruises keep me from doing it. It’s the little things that keep it spicy and keep you sane. I’ll keep sending it until the hard landings catch up with me, or until the next big dude who doesn’t like getting barrel-rolled by a guy in mid-flight, rocking a tuxedo, catches up with me. Whichever comes first.last_img read more

Decked Out in Dresses

first_imgMaybe I’ve gone too far this time. A few years back, I wrote a column extolling the virtues of running skirts. I loved the freedom and the playful feeling that came with slipping out of shorts and into something…more comfortable. I received mixed responses from women and men alike, ranging from those who those who find it difficult to take seriously a lady trotting by in a flowery miniskirt to those who find skirts a liberating testament to their femininity.Regardless of your view on running skirts, it appears that they are here to stay. Over the past few years I’ve spotted them at competitive road races as well as low-key trail ultras. I’ve won a national championship wearing one and by now my drawer of running gear probably holds as many skirts as it does shorts. It’s not uncommon at all to see another skirt-wearer on the trail.Seeing how far we’ve come with running skirts, it’s not surprising that the next logical step would be the running dress. I had always thought of this as territory into which I would not venture. A skirt, okay – from a distance these look like shorts, and many have compression shorties underneath anyway. But a dress – is that taking this whole girlie thing just a bit too far? Will I be taken seriously if I show up for my next race or group run looking like I’m dressed for a cocktail party? Can I take myself seriously? Is this a step forward for women, or a step back? Having just read about Gloria Steinem’s visit to Asheville, I find myself wondering what she would wear.I finally decided to take the plunge the other day when I saw that a local outfitter had the cutest running dress on sale at a price I just couldn’t resist. As a bonus, it just happened to match my favorite pair of lightweight trail running shoes. Mark looked a little taken aback when I slipped on the outfit in preparation for a several-hour run across rugged terrain but was gracious enough not to comment. At first, I felt a little girlie, especially when we passed a group of seasoned-looking hikers who were no doubt wondering how long I’d make it in the woods, yet once I got moving I was sold. This frock was the most comfortable garment I’d ever worn on the trail. I felt light, free, fast and, okay, I’ll admit it – pretty.I know that appearance should be the furthest thing from my mind when I’m running, and for the most part, it is. Yet there is something appealing about being able to be both feminine and badass. Sure, I was muddy, sweaty and probably stinky, but I am still a girl. So from now on, I won’t feel ambivalent about having it both ways. Don’t view me as a sissy when you see me heading towards you on the trail, decked out in a flowery pink dress, and I won’t regard you as a wimp when I leave you in my dust.Now that you know what to wear, do one of these fun events!last_img read more

Beyond the Blue Ridge | Outdoors in the Big Easy

first_imgNOLA. The Big Easy. Home of the cities of the dead. Birthplace of Creole cuisine. New Orleans is known for being a lot of things, but a destination for outdoor recreation isn’t typically one of them. In the home of powdered sugar-draped friend dough, potent rum-filled hurricanes, late nights on Bourbon Street, and an all-around colorful nightlife, it’s easy to get caught up in the giant celebration that is NOLA. But if you look a little deeper, through the purple, green, and gold-colored veil that engulfs the city, you’ll find that New Orleans is a little slice of paradise for travelers looking for a balanced vacation filled with not only an indulgent and entertaining nightlife, but an active daytime, too.Walk/Run:Don’t bother renting a car if you’re staying in downtown New Orleans. The majority of the locations that you’ll want to visit inside of the city are within walking distance of each other, and if you happen to hit the city on a stormy day, an abundance of street cars will get you to where you want to go. But walking is one of the best ways to discover this vibrant place. Stroll through the French Quarter and admire the ornate historical architecture influenced by both the French and the Spanish, resulting in rows of beautiful buildings bearing stories upon stories from the past.If you’re up for some cardio after a long night out, start your morning with a run along the Mississippi River Trail, a paved path that hugs the river which is still filled with old-timey steamboats that provide a glimpse back in time. And don’t forget to pay your respects to the founding residents of New Orleans that reside in the city’s unique cemeteries. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is only about a ten minute walk from the French Quarter, and is said to be the final resting place of Marie Laveau, New Orleans’ famed Vodoo Queen, who you can learn all about on one of the cemetery’s required guided tours. A tour of this cemetery will run you $25 per person, but a short walk beyond the cemetery’s gates will take you to St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, which dates back to 1823 and is free to the public.NOLA3Bike:New Orleans now boasts over 100 miles of bike and pedestrian paths—thanks to the recent addition of the Lafitte Greenway—a 2.6 mile path that connects six different neighborhoods including the French Quarter, the Bayou St. John, and Mid-City. Bike rentals are abundant throughout NOLA, and although the maze of streets that make up the French Quarter and Bourbon Street areas are a cluster of cars, pedestrians, marching bands, and revelers, biking is one of the best ways to see the city and burn off the hearty helping of jambalaya and the boudin balls you dined on the night before. Renting bikes is also a great way to get beyond the downtown area and visit neighborhoods beyond walking distance of the French Quarter, like the Garden District. The Garden District is worth the visit even if only to grab a pint at NOLA Brewing—a craft brewery located along the Mississippi River that has increasingly been gaining national recognition since their inception in 2008.NOLA1The brewery offers up a pretty wide selection of craft beers, including several sour beers and a NOLA Crab Boil Blonde, which is made with seasoning used in crab boils and brewed in homage to the hurricane season which can often wipe out power in parts of the city, forcing New Orleanians to boil their drinking water for periods of time. For a guided biking tour of the city, check out Buzz Nola Bike Tours & Rentals which offers tours that tap into the historical, architectural, musical, and cultural components that make up the city. {Buzz Nola bike rentals start at $10 per hour. All Buzz Nola bike tours are $50 per person.} Kayak:Kayaking might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to things to do in New Orleans, but thanks to a few small kayaking tour companies in the city, it’s becoming a pretty popular way to tour a different side of New Orleans—all while getting in an excellent arm workout. Kayak-Iti-Yat is a family-run company that operates kayaking tours around New Orleans. Run by New Orleans natives, the tours are moving storybook of NOLA—a look into the past, modern day, and hopeful future of a city still on the mend. Three types of tours are offered and are based on experience level. Beginners can take the two-hour Big Easy Bayou Tour on the waters of the Bayou St. John, the city’s original shipping portage. The tour weaves in and along charming neighborhoods made up of elegant NOLA-style homes. {Big Easy Bayou Tour; $40 per person.} The Pontchartrain Paddle Tour is geared towards more active and experienced kayakers and includes a walk along the banks of Lake Pontchartrain. {Pontchartrain Paddle Tour; $65 per person.} The Bayou Bienvenue Tour is three-hour tour of Bayou Bienvenue, which has a rich ecosystem, plenty of plant-life, and occasional views of alligators. This tour offers a look at the challenges that the city still faces due to the loss of land and damage done at the hands of Hurricane Katrina. $5 from each Bayou Bienvenue Tour is donated to the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement. {The Bayou Beinvenue Tour; $70 per person.} This tour is also a great way to bypass the tourists traps and get a local’s scoop on the best dining and live music joints in New Orleans.last_img read more

Frankfort, Kentucky: The Perfect Town for a Foot Race

first_imgBeautiful topography on the running courses of Frankfort, provide a magnificent backdrop for a race.  Each year more and more races settle on Frankfort for their running event.  At the heart of downtown Frankfort, you will pass museums such as the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, the Old State Capitol, The Kentucky Military History Museum and Frankfort’s own City Museum.unnamedMany historic homes will also be found, including Liberty Hall, Orlando Brown House, and the formal gardens of the Liberty Hall Historic Site.   Furthermore, you will follow the wandering walk/bike path from the Ward Oates Amphitheatre to the far side of Buffalo Trace Distillery.  This stunning walk/bike path runs along the gorgeous Kentucky River as it flows right through the downtown area.KY6At this point, you have still not seen all there is to view as you race through our beautiful city.  On the other side of the Kentucky River you will run up the hill with the State Capitol as your focus!  Additionally, you will find more gorgeous historic homes, including the Governor’s Mansion.KY5From the Capitol side of the river you can easily see the steeples of historic churches and on Downtown side you see the dome of the Capitol.  Scenery not only provides a beautiful location, but the hills add an element of physical challenge.  Our race courses are beautiful enough to provide the motivation for the beginners and challenging enough for serious runners.  You will love what we show you as you race.[divider]related articles[/divider]last_img read more

Linville Gorge: A Sparkle of Rekindled Joy

first_imgReluctantly we returned to our tent which sparkled with mini LED lights strung across in a criss-crossed pattern across the interior. It truly felt magical, otherworldly in a sense. Isolated from the world we drifted off listening to the faint roar of the Linville River gliding along its course beneath a star-studded sky with the distant haunting echo of a lone train whistle punctuating the silence as it rumbled along to Tennessee through the NC mountains. Our final morning arrived. After a pancake breakfast, we disassembled our tent, loaded up our backpacks, and hauled everything down the mountain to our car. On our last trip down the mountain we paused to deviate from the trail eager to discover a nearby spring that Dad and his friends frequented to retrieve fresh water years ago. We were not disappointed as the gurgling water sprang forth from the earth, rippling across green moss and disappearing underneath smooth slick rock. We took a few photographs and then left, but not before pausing to photograph ourselves leaning against a massive boulder. The boulder was shrouded in a cloak of underbrush, lying in the shade of towering hardwoods. It stood there reserved, erect, and forlorn as if waiting for some lone hiker to rediscover it. In fact, three decades ago four young hikers perched upon it and gazed expectantly into the Canon camera that captured this moment that harkened to happy times that would forever be treasured both in memory and in heart. “This is what I remember” Dad said softly. “It’s the closest you can get to God – a place where you can talk about all your hopes, fears, and dreams,” Dad said. Thirty years changes many things. We grow older, families grow up, our priorities and responsibilities change. Even the landscape of childhood retreats we once remembered eventually become subject to the effects of time. Places appear vaguely familiar as the blending of the past and present combine to form a new creation. In the midst of all of the change, it is remarkable that certain qualities remain untouched by the passage of time: sunsets, intimate conversation, father-daughter moments sprinkled with laughter and good-natured humor, whispers of hopes, dreams and fears spoken in hushed tones as one admired the serene natural beauty of one’s quiet abode. These were the treasured moments that would be recalled three decades later. The “do you remember when” queries would only be just the beginning of a lifetime of fond reminiscing. The next morning was brisk, an icy remnant of the below freezing temperatures we experienced during the night. Fortunately, our insulated sleeping bags, combined with toasty hand warmers, warded off the chill, and we were no worse for the wear. After a warm breakfast of scrambled eggs and sizzling bacon we laced up our hiking boots and trudged up the trail to Table Rock, the Chimneys, and then crossed sharp rocky ledges seeking the elusive “amphitheater.” The name was given as a result of the land’s bowl-shaped terrain and was a frequent site of excursion by adventurous hikers. I suppose 30 years changes things a bit as we never discovered the site despite embarking on detours and meanderings from the main trail that led to nothing more than dense underbrush and precarious cliffs. Exhausted as we were, we remained in good spirits and settled down on a large slab of rock and hungrily munched on granola bars and gulped water from plastic water bottles stowed in our travel backpack. Looking across the distance, we spotted rock climbers only a short distance from us hauling equipment, gear, and colorful looped bundles of climbing rope. A thin slack line stretched between two boulders bobbed in the wind as a climber ever so slightly shifted his weight from the steady surface onto the swaying strip of nylon. Pure daredevils. Transfixed as we were of the spectacle we deemed it best to return to the trail, uneasily aware that any slight mishap could quickly result in grave injury or instant death. Now on this day, one of these hikers returned, but with someone new. Dad had brought his red flannel shirt, the same one he had worn in that original photograph. I put it on, posing near where he had once stood. We smiled into the camera, but we also smiled beyond that. We smiled at the memories we had made. We smiled at what had been, what was to be, and what was to become. We smiled at our hopes, fears, and dreams. We smiled at the place we had been closest to God. Afternoon faded into dusk. Taking advantage of the remaining light, Dad cooked a hearty dinner on the stove: fresh sizzling catfish fillets served with steaming rice and corn. As food is nourishment for the body so was nature the food for the soul. With hungry appetites satisfied we steeled ourselves away to the cliff only mere steps from our tent and planted our folding chairs on the rocky terrain that was only feet from a precarious thousand-foot descent to the valley below. The sun slipped behind the peaks of the mountain range, casting golden beams of light across the sky and enveloping the surrounding landscape in a sleepy haze of shadow. As we sat in silence while the wind murmured around us there was no question that we were spectators of nature’s brilliant showcase, and we had the best seats in town. The fall leaves of October were barely visible in the leaves of the hardwoods. Only a faint hue of golden brown and burnt auburn hinted at autumn’s arrival. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that the journey is the destination, and I believe this succinctly described our trip down the dusty off-beaten road riddled with potholes headed for our destination. Ginger Cake was certainly what seemed like an off-beaten road that weaved its way across rocky terrain towards the Table Rock picnic area on the east side of Linville Gorge. We carefully inched our way around bright orange road hazard signs placed beside freshly fallen trees and rocky eroded areas alarmingly close to the outer edge of the steep drop off that descended into a dense forest of trees. Every pothole sent our SUV into a series of unsettling jolts as we swayed back and forth, carefully maneuvering our way around the sharp curves while we breathed in crisp mountain air wisping through rolled down windows. Our camping equipment consisted of a large 4-person tent, a cot, sleeping bags, a folding cooking table, tarps, 2 backpacks, water bottles, a cooler, a stove, a lantern, hand warmers, and LED lights among extra emergency provisions. To say we brought too much would be an understatement. Half of our supplies were never used and instead remained in the car, but Dad, who is always prepared for the worst and knows the ins and outs of outdoor survival, assured me that we were prepared, and I had no reason not to believe otherwise. center_img That faraway gaze sprinkled with a sparkle of rekindled joy in his eyes was becoming more familiar these days as he reflected and reminisced of past memories – memories of a simpler time when laughter, friendship, and comradery was never in short supply, especially when in the presence of those whom did life together – a family in a sense. That family consisted of Dad and his close friends whom he would take to his favorite camping spot – Linville Gorge. We eventually reached our campsite and took advantage of the remaining daylight to fix shrimp and grits on the stove. Any low country restaurant would have undoubtedly charged a premium for the pink jumbo shrimp swimming in a sea of creamy cheese gritty goodness simmering on the stove. Who said one had to sacrifice Southern cooking for rugged living? We had taken camping to a whole new level. Life is a challenge and journey of its own, and sometimes a brief respite for the soul is the best medicine to assuage the burdens and cares of life and breathe in the fullness and vitality inherent in nature. Linville Gorge was a place of special memories that spanned over three decades, and now those memories were beginning to resurface in Dad’s own mind as he recognized the familiar gentle nudge to return to where those memories were born. As he gazed at old pictures of him and his friends perched on a large slab of granite rock or sitting in a circle huddled around a toasty fire bundled in hoodies and smudged hiking boots, the fond sentimental memories returned, evoking the sense of nostalgia that was heightened by tangible reminders of old photographs, capturing the timeless sense of carefree spirits spent with lifelong friends. Nature has a peculiar way of realigning our priorities, allowing us to appreciate the small moments made special by the company of those dearest to us and gently reminding us to slow down and instead relish the present moment. What better way to reflect on my own life and unknown future as a soon-to-be college graduate than in a safe haven like Linville Gorge – a rugged refuge where one could silently marvel at the beauty of the stark landscape carved with the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains punctuating the outline of the horizon, silent spectators of the roaring Linville River winding its serpentine path through the canyon over a thousand feet below. Here was an oasis where I could lazily watch the sun slip past the mountains at dusk as brilliant rays of sunshine mixed with golden clouds created an ethereal masterpiece of unmatched beauty. Yes – I think I could contemplate life and all its mysteries here. The mountains were calling and I must go. I would only be made better all the more by doing so. I will spare detailing our ascent to our campsite which was approximately a quarter of a mile from the parking lot. However, I don’t deny that we were the subject of humorous conversation as hikers curiously glanced at our bulging backpacks and perspiring brows, knowing full well what we were reluctant to admit: we had simply brought too much stuff. After multiple trips to and from our car and campsite with the last trip seemingly longer than the first, we were finally settled. What was once a secluded nook tucked secretly away in a nest of pine trees was now a semi-exposed area surrounded by hardwoods. To our left rose the bald outcropping of Table Rock towering above the mountains, the distant echo of hikers and rock climbers audible a quarter of a mile away. Directly behind our tent lay the gem of Linville Gorge. A small narrow path delicately weaved past rhododendron, mountain laurel, and isolated pine shrubs growing in shallow crevices. The path gradually widened, revealing an expansive view of the Blue Ridge Mountains blanketed in a sea of faint gold and auburn tinged trees nestled below a cloudless blue sky. In the days to come, many hikers would accidently arrive at our campsite after mistakenly assuming the path to our secret oasis led to Table Rock. We became accustomed to the bewildered looks of hikers stumbling upon what appeared a dead end, but we easily persuaded them to gaze upon one of the finest views of Linville Gorge. No one left disappointed. Dusk slowly enveloped the mountains in a dim purple blue haze and we lazily drank in the cool night air and sipped hot chocolate made milky white by melted marshmallows. Anyone who has ever hiked a full day knows the feeling of a good kind of tired. The achy muscles are not immediately felt until the following day and only the feeling of pure bliss made palpable in the company of others remains. We sat in silence reflecting on our adventures, internally knowing but hesitant to admit that tomorrow would find us entering reality. Like everything in life, all good things must come to an end. If only we could linger here indefinitely, savoring every moment, breathing in the seductive magic of captivating rugged beauty. last_img read more

A.T. Entrepreneurs

first_img JOE VALESKO, FOUNDER OF ZPACKS AND A.T. THRU-HIKER Joe Valesko and Zpacks Researchers at Stanford recently published a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology entitled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking.” Authors Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz relied on four different experiments to test their hypothesis, and their results indicated that walking contributed to a 60 percent boost in creativity among the 200 test subjects. After spending time in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., Georganna and Logan Seamon knew they wanted to move back to the mountains. Because they didn’t have a specific location in mind, they decided to do what Georganna called “town-shopping.” The couple set out on a northbound thru-hike in 2009 to explore the mountain towns in the Appalachians, not knowing where they would land after their hike. Famous thinkers throughout history have touted the benefits walking can have on our ability to think creatively, from Aristotle and the Peripatetics (literally, “one who walks about”) to Henry David Thoreau. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche even went so far as to say that “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking,” and while many other influential minds have subscribed to this wisdom, it’s only in the last few decades that science has started to catch up. Georganna and Logan Seamon and Mountain Crossings An Appalachian Trail thru-hike is an incubator for several business pioneers in Southern Appalachia They didn’t end up far from the trail. In fact, the trail goes directly through Mountain Crossings, the outfitter where they started working in Blairsville, Ga. After three years on staff, the pair made an offer to buy the business. The owner hadn’t planned on selling, but he acquiesced because he felt like the Seamons were a good fit. Starting a business is a long road, but that’s why the AT is an ideal incubator. In many ways, the ups and downs of this 2,200-mile journey make Y Combinator look like a walk in the park. Ultimately, however, it’s the whole of the experience — both immense triumphs and exhausting struggles — that prepares these and other entrepreneurs for life after the trail. Eddie Hinnant and the Packa After years working full-time as a software engineer and building gear in his apartment on nights and weekends, Valesko went all-in on Zpacks in 2010. The late nights in the shop kept coming, but he approached his business with the persistence of a distance hiker: “A thru-hike takes months, and no one is forcing you to keep going. You’re your own boss. To hike the A.T.’s entire length you have to be a motivated self-starter, and these qualities translated well to starting and running a small business.” Evans Prater emerged from his thru-hike with a mantra: “Everything you carry should be light.” Although it might have started as a reference to the pounds in his pack, it evolved into an acknowledgement of the power of positivity. In the final weeks of his hike he was more than ready to be finished, but as he looks back he feels that seeing things through to the conclusion at Mt. Katahdin was invaluable. “I don’t think I would’ve been mentally equipped to run a business without that experience.” LIGHTHEART GEAR FOUNDER JUDY GROSS. Every year, Georganna and Logan see about 4,000 thru-hikers come through their store in a three-month window. With so many experienced thru-hikers on staff, they’re able to offer a free “pack shakedown” to help hikers lighten their load whenever possible. If they’ve learned anything, it’s that you can’t judge a book by its cover. “People will surprise the hell out of you,” she says.  Chris Cage and GreenBelly All that preparation meant he became very familiar with the backpacking market. Since he knew he didn’t want to go back to accounting, he kept his mind open to new ideas, and one came to him about two-thirds of the way through the trail. Distance hikers burn massive amounts of energy every day, and Cage noticed that the bars and snacks available to hikers were underperforming. Instead of heavily processed, 200-calorie bars for weightlifters, he decided to produce 600-calorie, all-natural bars that served as robust hiking meals. Judy Gross and LightHeart Gearcenter_img Joe Valesko first heard about the A.T. in the 90s. Although he wouldn’t undertake his thru-hike for years, he recalls that he immediately felt the allure of a continuous hiking trip. When the time came, he wasn’t impressed with the available equipment, so he found himself designing his own ultralight backpacking gear. He picked up the trail name “Lightweight Joe” during his 2004 trek, and other impressed hikers encouraged him to start selling his backpacks. In 2006, halfway through the A.T,. Judy Gross was fed up with her tent. The design weighed almost five pounds, and to make lugging it around even worse, she was spending almost every night in trailside shelters. A fall that tore her rotator cuff eventually forced her back to civilization, but on her last night she saw the holy grail of shelters — a man sharing her camp set up a tent that was half the weight of hers, and with twice the space. While he could prepare all he wanted for the A.T., starting his own venture was another matter. “I would’ve guessed I was well-equipped to start a business, but there’s no sugarcoating it. In hindsight, I was as green and clueless as they come.” He persisted, and after a year of product development, market research, and website creation, GreenBelly raised $19,000 on Kickstarter in March of 2015. By July of the same year the company had officially launched. Thanks to a healthy appetite for its products, the business was sustainable almost immediately, and it’s more than doubled in growth every year since. To say Valesko is motivated is an understatement. Three years after his A.T. thru-hike, he took on the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Two years later, he earned the long-distance “triple crown” by completing the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail. Away from the trail, she inquired about the tent on a Yahoo group for hikers (this was 2006, after all). A woman sent her a similar model with a broken zipper, and it didn’t take long before Gross was designing her own tents based off improvements to this homemade prototype. Hinnant had the necessary rain gear, but his journey was frequently brought to a halt when rain appeared. He was forced to stop and don his jacket and pack cover for even short spring showers and then remove them to prevent excess perspiration when weather passed over. For thru-hikers who spend all day walking, unnecessary stops can add up and impede progress. After completing his thru-hike in July of 2000, Hinnant mulled over the problem for a few months and came up with the Packa. The design is an elegantly simple combination of jacket and pack cover that allows a hiker to put on and take off the jacket without having to stop and remove their pack. To Prater, sustainable manufacturing is a critical part of his business. He goes to great lengths (and considerable expense) to source environmentally friendly soybean inks, and all of Mount Inspiration’s apparel is made out of recycled or organic materials. To broaden the company’s impact, 5 percent of profits are donated to causes that advance environmental protections. She started looking around for a program to help her draw her creations and stumbled across Google Sketchup, a free CAD program that would become the jumping off point for her new designs. In 2009, she sold her first tents at the Franklin Trail Days hiker festival. As word spread, she leased a building to begin producing LightHeart Gear at scale. Prater joked that he was driven to finish so he could get a 2185.3 tattoo on his calf (the precise mileage of the A.T. at the time), but sheer obstinacy is really what kept him going. He admitted that “I can’t set a goal for myself and not follow through with it,” and follow through he has. His company, Mount Inspiration, began as a single sticker with the phrase he coined. He sold them to local Asheville gift shops 10 at a time, and customers couldn’t get enough. Now, the business produces t-shirts, hoodies, hats, stickers, leggings, and more, all sporting funny or inspirational lines like “May the forest be with you,” “Be humble,” and “Hike more. Worry less.” Evans Prater and Mount Inspiration The A.T. was Eddie Hinnant’s first backpacking trip, which is a heck of a way to start. He was no stranger to camping, but he left the trail’s southern terminus blissfully ignorant of some of the unique challenges he would face along the way. In particular, he was unaware that the southern portion of the A.T. meanders through a temperate rainforest, and he would have been shocked to learn that many of the trail’s peaks are drenched in more than 100 inches of rain each year. Chris Cage had a promising career as an accountant at a Fortune 500 company, but after two years he realized cubicle life wasn’t for him. Weekend trips as a Boy Scout in Georgia had introduced him to the A.T., and after a year of unemployed traveling, he decided to undertake his thru-hike. He credited completing the trail to preparation: “I’m an analytical kind of guy, and I think the research I did beforehand was critical because it helped set my expectations. I knew going in that it wouldn’t be a beautiful nature walk — there would be tough times.” Now, the owners of Mountain Crossings are opening their second outfitter. Black Balsam Outdoors is located on Main Street in downtown Sylva, and this time they’re starting from the ground up. Building a business isn’t easy, but Georganna stands by the same wisdom that got them from Georgia to Maine: “If you feel like quitting, wait three days. Chances are, something’s gonna change.” In December of 2018, LightHeart moved into a new factory with three times the square footage. The additional space allows the company to produce more ultralight gear, and they also sew for a few other small companies that want to keep production here in America instead of sending it overseas. In addition to tents, Gross is a pioneer of pockets, and her new line of functional women’s hiking apparel aims to meet a need that has frustrated her for years. After filing a patent, Hinnant began prototyping Packas and shopping the idea around. A few major gear companies including Big Agnes expressed interest. While they never acted on it, Hinnant said the generous mentorship of Bill Gamber, founder of Big Agnes, was instrumental in helping him establish manufacturing in a reputable overseas factory used by the world’s biggest gear companies. Sales of the Packa have increased 25 percent in each of the last five years, and Hinnant, a natural inventor, has other patents pending for his latest designs. If you combine these findings with the numerous studies detailing the creative benefits of time spent in nature, then it stands to reason that the Appalachian Trail is one of the finest entrepreneurial incubators in the country. These five hikers and their companies are living proof, and they represent just a handful of the many businesses born on the trail.last_img read more

GEAR UP: Top Picks for Great Gear

first_imgThis year’s hottest products are here and just in time for the holidays. Get in gear! Gosun Solar Phone Charger Don’t let your phone freeze on the mountain this winter. PHOOZY protects your phone from the cold and extends your battery life up to three times. Ditch the single-use hand warmers and get a PHOOZY Thermal Capsule. ColdProof, SnowProof, DropProof. Use code BRO-15 at checkout for 15 percent off!  Pisgah National Forest boasts forested trails and rushing waterfalls. Climb Looking Glass Rock by trail or with rope and clip from the granite base, navigate swift white waters on the Nantahala, or camp amidst the hardwood forest canopy, all while wearing Landmark’s luxurious 50/50 cotton/polyester, unisex tee. Leki Copper S Glove Watershed Animas Backpack PHOOZY ICEMULECOOLERS.COM Sweet Protection Switcher Helmet Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum Landmark’s Pisgah National Forest Tee The SkyLoft lifts your hammock experience to new levels with an open, airy design using lightweight aluminum spreader bars. Its dual functionality is the key to the SkyLoft’s overall appeal. Using a toggle system, you can switch into “Relax” mode or “Sleep” mode to fit your personal relaxation style – both day and night. The Animas is our most popular backpack style. It offers enough room for a couple of days worth of gear, along with the convenience of removable backpack straps. Perfect for tackle boxes along with extra clothing on a fishing trip, or enough gear for two days on the river.  EAGLESNESTOUTFITTERSINC.COM Ultimate portability. Ultimate ice retention. Ultimate ease of use. No wonder the ICEMULE BOSS™ is the ultimate cooler. Premium, multi-day ice retention paired with a best-in-class suspension system lets you go the distance and rest assured knowing you’ve got the best backpack cooler ever made. Fact. MOUNTAINHOUSE.COM Want to get your hands on some of this gear? Enter to win the GIVEAWAY!  The Interstellar features Sweet Protection’s proprietary RIG™ lens technology. These revolutionary lenses enhance contrast in low light conditions. Loaded with more technology and features like the ExcenterLock lens change system, sculpted toric double lenses with GORE® Protective Vents, carbon-reinforced frames, and an oversized comfort strap, these goggles are the new standard.  SWEETPROTECTION.COMcenter_img Sweet Protection Interstellar Goggles DRYBAGS.COM SWEETPROTECTION.COM Eno Skyloft Hammock Because it’s always more fun when you’re warm. Find the perfect layer for your activity, from high-aerobic mid-layers to freezing-temp-mega puffs at bigagnes.com. All our gear is designed and tested in our hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Everything we make comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. PHOOZY.COM “Handsome” full Goatskin leather glove in the Comfort Fit design with functional work glove styling provide the all day skier with a glove that looks as good as it performs.  GOSUN.CO Our SolarFlex 10 is perfect for charging your devices using nothing but sunshine. It’s simple, just connect any device and place in the sun. Under full sun, this will charge about at fast as a typical wall outlet charger. Icemule Boss THELANDMARKPROJECT.COM Big Agnes Men’s Shovelhead & Women’s Tiago Mountain House Fusilli Pasta “This is the first two-person tent we’ve tested that sneaks in below 2 pounds and doesn’t come with a host of caveats…” – Backpacker Magazine Learn more about this backpacking game changer at bigagnes.com  The Switcher helmet is a groundbreaking and versatile all-mountain helmet. It has 22 active adjustable vents. The Advanced Hybrid construction with MIPS provides low weight and reinforcement in critical areas. The performance interior with a magnetic chin buckle makes it easy to fasten. The Switcher is the new standard in helmet technology.   Enjoy an authentic Italian-stye meal anywhere adventure takes you! Our new entree is a spun fusilli pasta in a rustic tomato sauce made with fire-roasted veggies, garlic, basil and Italian-style fennel sausage. Just add hot water and in minutes you’ll enjoy Fusilli Pasta wherever adventure takes you. BIGAGNES.COM LEKI.COM/US BIGAGNES.COMlast_img read more

Colombian Navy Destroys Two Cocaine Labs Belonging To FARC

first_imgBy Dialogo February 04, 2010 Two cocaine labs were destroyed in a jungle area in Nariño and Cauca provinces, and five suspected Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas were captured, the navy said. The first lab was located in a hard-to-reach area within the boundaries of Guapi, a city in Cauca, and had the capacity to produce three tons of cocaine a month. “It was equipped with six wooden structures, utilized to provide shelter for 40 people, as well as a processing, drying and packaging complex,” the navy said in a statement. Two people were arrested at the illegal drug lab and materials used to produce cocaine were destroyed. The second lab was found in Nariño, which is on the border with Ecuador, and five people were arrested at the site, including Luis Dainover Hurtado, the No. 4 commander of the FARC’s 29th Front, the navy said. Hurtado was in charge of the FARC unit’s finances. The FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964, has an estimated 8,000 to 17,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation. President Alvaro Uribe’s administration has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations. The FARC, whose leader is Alfonso Cano, has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years. On July 2, 2008, the Colombian army rescued former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, U.S. military contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 other Colombian police officers and soldiers. The FARC had been trying to trade the 15 captives, along with 25 other “exchangeables,” for hundreds of jailed guerrillas. The rebels’ most valuable bargaining chip was Betancourt, a dual Colombian-French citizen the FARC seized in February 2002 whose plight became a cause celebre in Europe. The guerrilla group is believed to still be holding some 700 hostages. FARC founder Manuel Marulanda, who was known as “Sureshot,” died on March 26, 2008. Three weeks earlier, Colombian forces staged a cross-border raid into Ecuador, killing FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes and setting off a regional diplomatic crisis. Ivan Rios, a high-level FARC commander, was killed that same month by one of his own men, who cut off the guerrilla leader’s hand and presented it to army troops, along with identification documents, as proof that the rebel chief was dead. A succession of governments have battled Colombia’s leftist insurgent groups since the mid-1960s. The origin of Colombia’s civil strife dates back to 1948, when the assassination of popular politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan sparked a 10-year-long civil war known as “La Violencia.” About six years after that conflict ended with a power-sharing pact between Colombia’s two main parties, a government offensive against peasant self-defense groups led Marulanda, who was pursued by death squads during La Violencia, to form the FARC. In 1999, then-President Andres Pastrana allowed the creation of a Switzerland-sized “neutral” zone in the jungles of southern Colombia for peace talks with the FARC. After several years of fitful and ultimately fruitless negotiations, Pastrana ordered the armed forces to retake the region in early 2002. But while the arrangement lasted, the FARC enjoyed free rein within the zone. The FARC is on both the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARC’s main means of financing its operations.last_img read more