Month: December 2020

Court Ruling in Limbo, States Carry on Toward EPA Clean Power Plan Goals

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Annalee Grant for SNL:Several power utilities have expressed relief that they will have more time to consider the future of generation resources while the Clean Power Plan is on hold, but for the most part planning for a lower carbon future will continue regardless of the Supreme Court’s recent stay of the rule.The Clean Power Plan established statewide carbon dioxide emission standards for existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units with the goal of cutting CO2 emissions 32% as measured from a 2005 baseline by 2030. The Supreme Court on Feb. 9 stayed the rule in an unprecedented decision that surprised many in the industry because a lower court has yet to rule on the merits of the underlying appeal. The carbon rule could be unenforceable for several more years as the earliest the high court is likely to hear the case, if it decides to do so at all, is in 2017.Many utilities have pledged to work with the states in which they operate, regardless of whether those states choose to comply with the rule’s requirements voluntarily. Others touted emissions reductions and a transition to cleaner, more efficient resources that is already underway in the power sector.Moody’s believes the stay will provide additional “breathing room” for coal-fired generators to consider retirement or refueling decisions, but a survey of several large utilities suggests that few, if any, retirement decisions will be reconsidered in light of the recent court action.According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, around 68 power plants so far are scheduled to retire between 2016 and 2019, but some are too small to be subject to the Clean Power Plan and many are closing for reasons other than the carbon rule.Full article ($): Utilities expect little change to coal fleet decisions with carbon rule on hold Court Ruling in Limbo, States Carry on Toward EPA Clean Power Plan Goalslast_img read more

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Banks at Risk in Loans to Coal Companies

first_imgBanks at Risk in Loans to Coal Companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Michael Slezak for The Guardian:An announcement today that ANZ is absorbing a bigger than expected loss as a result of lending to the mining industry is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as coal and other fossil fuels go into structural decline, according to some financial analysts.Related: Australian coalmines are one of riskiest investments in the world – reportANZ announced to the Australian stock exchange on Thursday that over the past month, conditions have changed such that expected costs associated with lending to the mining and resources sector would increase from a projected $800m to more than $900m .The bank said the change was caused by the “evolving position with a small number of Australian and multi-national resources-related exposures”.“While the overall credit environment remains broadly stable, we are continuing to see pockets of weakness associated with low commodity prices in the resources sector and in related industries,” said ANZ’s acting chief financial officer, Graham Hodges .The bank did not disclose which companies or loans caused the writedown, but Tim Buckley , a former Citibank analyst who is now with the anti-fossil fuel Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis , said there were two new developments that could be linked to the move.The first was the warning by coal giant Peabody Energy that it was on the brink of bankruptcy after finding itself unable to pay an interest payment of US$70m .Buckley said if ANZ had lent to Peabody – which would not be known unless the company filed for bankruptcy – that would have put a dent the bank’s balance sheet.And on Wednesday the Australian Financial Review reported the owners of a coal export facility in Queensland, WICET, was struggling with its loans because of falling coal prices, and may be seeking a debt-for-equity swap, where the company exchanges debt for a pre-determined amount of equity or stock. A report in the AFR said ANZ was set to lose money on a loan associated with WICET’s coal export facility.Full article: ANZ’s bad loans to miners are just ‘tip of the iceberg’, analysts saylast_img read more

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Norway, Seat of World’s Biggest Sovereign Wealth Fund, Urged to Modernize Its Investment Strategy, Including on Renewables

first_imgNorway, Seat of World’s Biggest Sovereign Wealth Fund, Urged to Modernize Its Investment Strategy, Including on Renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Jobs, taxes and schools will be top of Norwegian voters’ minds when they go to the polls on Sept. 11, but it’s what to do about the nearly $1-trillion sovereign wealth fund that may be the next parliament’s biggest challenge.The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, pooling Norway’s revenues from oil and gas production, has been managed for nearly two decades with a focus on avoiding risk and conflicts of interest.With prices of crude oil down by more than half in the past three years and returns below target, policymakers and critics agree the fund is due for an overhaul. For Norway, the difficulty is building a political consensus around what it should look like.“It is more an academic topic than a bread-and-butter issue for voters but … the coming months are absolutely crucial,” said Torstein Tvedt Solberg, an opposition Labour Party parliamentary candidate and its spokesman on the fund.Norway’s SWF has returned 3.79 percent per year on average since it opened in 1998. With the pot always growing – now at two-and-a-half times GDP – the fact that that’s short of the target four percent hasn’t been a big problem.Last year, however, the government had to make its first net withdrawal to supplement a state budget hit by the fall in oil prices and lower state revenues from oil and gas production, which accounted for half of Norway’s total exports in 2016. More net withdrawals are expected in the years ahead, economists say.Norway’s returns compare to 6.1 percent over the past 20 years at the world’s second-largest wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and 4.76 percent at the third-largest, China Investment Corporation, since it began in 2007.Unlike those funds, Oslo’s SWF is managed by a unit of the central bank that must turn to the government to secure a majority in parliament to make strategic changes, no easy feat given that minority governments are common in Norway.Critics say the process of consensus-building among so many disparate interest groups is agonisingly slow and possibly even fiscally irresponsible, however.“They (Norwegian politicians) do not want to take any risk that will end up in headlines. That is why the fund underperforms,” said Sony Kapoor, managing director of the Re-Define think tank and author of several studies on the fund.The new parliament’s first opportunity to make changes will come in the spring of 2018 when the finance ministry presents its next annual white paper to parliament.The two main issues on the table are whether to make the fund independent of the central bank, as a government-appointed commission recommended in June, and whether to allow the fund into new asset classes, including unlisted shares and unlisted infrastructure projects.The inclusion of unlisted infrastructure projects, in particular, is supported by the current fund managers.Investing in such projects — airports, roads, bridges or wind farms — has been a hot topic in recent months. The opinions of politicians are mixed, however, and not necessarily along party lines.Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at the U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the potential increase in returns is well worth the risk, and expressed frustration about the hesitation.“They seem to be walking away from a market that is a trillion dollar and that is growing exponentially in the coming years. This is not prudent,” said Sanzillo, who wrote a report on renewable energy infrastructure investment and the fund.More: Norway’s risk-averse wealth fund considers next moveslast_img read more

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Indiana utility plans to be coal-free by 2028

first_imgIndiana utility plans to be coal-free by 2028 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Northwest Indiana Times:NIPSCO sent its new strategy for electricity generation and transmission to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Wednesday, formally submitting a plan to retire its coal-fired R.M. Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield and the Michigan City coal plant.The utility intends to replace coal with renewable sources, including solar and wind. NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris said the decision to retire the four coal-fired generators at Schahfer by 2023 and one at Michigan City by 2028 was a result of the utility’s investigation of the most cost-effective, reliable and environmentally sustainable means to deliver power to its customers.Ultimately, the company expects the transition to renewable sources to save money — estimating total customer savings of $4 billion over 20 years. And, it will reduce its carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2028.“We see an opportunity to really invest in a balance of energy options and make energy more affordable and cleaner,” Sistovaris said. NIPSCO projects that, by 2023, 53 percent of its electricity will come from renewable sources, 24 percent from natural gas and 17 percent from coal. By 2028, renewable sources will constitute 65 percent of supply, with natural gas at 25 percent. The rest will come from purchases on the open market.More: NIPSCO submits blueprint for shift from coal to renewableslast_img read more

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Australian energy provider plans big switch from coal to renewables

first_imgAustralian energy provider plans big switch from coal to renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The Australian government-owned energy provider Snowy Hydro this month announced a major switch to renewables in a series of “game-changing deals.”The company said in a press release that it had signed eight wind and solar contracts, totaling 888 megawatts of peak power and around 2.8 terawatt-hours of energy a year, that would provider cheaper electricity to 500,000 households. The capacity is due to come online between now and 2020 and will replace the mainly coal-based energy that Snowy Hydro sources from Australia’s National Electricity Market to power pumped hydro storage and resell directly to customers at times of high demand.Snowy Hydro — which owns energy retailers Red Energy and Lumo Energy that serve more than 1 million customers — is one of the largest energy buyers on the National Electricity Market. It purchases around 3 terawatt-hours of electricity a year to supplement the 4 terawatt-hours produced from its own generating assets. “Just like households, we are exposed to high wholesale prices,” said the company.“The new renewable energy generation, ‘firmed’ by existing Snowy Hydro assets, is a game-changer and will push down future energy prices,” said Snowy Hydro in announcing the deal. “This will bring on significant new energy supply and therefore much-needed competition to the market, and will enable Snowy Hydro to pass on lower wholesale prices to our customers.”As a result of the switch from the National Electricity Market to renewable power, Snowy Hydro will offer energy to customers at a flat rate of less than AUD $70 (USD $51) per megawatt-hour, for up to 15 years starting in 2020. This compares to a first-quarter 2020 electricity price of AUD $98.50 (roughly USD $72) a megawatt-hour in New South Wales and AUD $108 (roughly USD $79) per megawatt-hour in Victoria, according to ASX energy market trading data cited by The Sydney Morning Herald.Snowy Hydro said the move to renewables was prompted by “rapid changes” in the National Electricity Market over the last 12 months, along with an ongoing drop in the price of renewable energy.More: Australia’s Snowy Hydro makes ‘game-changing’ leap from coal to renewableslast_img read more

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Kansas State University will save $200,000 annually with new wind power deal

first_imgKansas State University will save $200,000 annually with new wind power deal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享KSAL.com:Kansas State University is saving energy costs and becoming greener by using one of Kansas’ most abundant resources: wind. A new university agreement with Westar Energy will provide approximately 50 percent of the energy needs for the university’s main Manhattan campus from a wind farm in Nemaha County and save the university nearly $200,000 annually.The agreement is part of Westar Energy’s new Renewables Direct program, which provides large customers access to renewable energy at set long-term prices. The program involves the 300-megawatt Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center, which is a wind farm that will be built in Nemaha County and is estimated to be on line in 2020. Kansas State University is one of 14 Kansas organizations that will receive electricity from the wind farm.As part of a 20-year agreement, the wind farm will provide Kansas State University with 14 megawatts of power, which is approximately 50 percent of the current load of the university’s Manhattan campus, said Gary Weishaar, university manager of energy and controls. The anticipated savings for the university will be approximately $180,000 to $200,000 annually.The savings will come from a reduction in the retail energy cost adjustment, also known as fuel factor costs, Weishaar said. Under the Renewables Direct program, the price of electricity provided from Soldier Creek Wind Energy Center will be fixed for 20 years at 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour and replaces the fuel factor cost, which is currently 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. The university’s average annual consumption for the Manhattan campus for the last five years has been 113 million kilowatt-hours per year. The university also will receive renewable energy credits associated with the agreement.Westar Energy’s Renewables Direct program is designed to provide large customers a path toward their sustainability goals with Kansas’ abundant, affordable renewable energy. Participating customers are able to claim a portion of the energy generated by the wind farm as their own, retain all of the renewable attributes and lock in a portion of their electricity prices for 20 years. The program is structured to add projects in the future to keep up with the demand for renewable sources.More: Green energy: Wind will generate big savings at KSUlast_img read more

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Arkansas co-op announces plan to cut rates because of savings from solar power projects

first_imgArkansas co-op announces plan to cut rates because of savings from solar power projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Arkansas Business:The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association examined utility trends, heard from industry leaders and bestowed awards for energy efficiency and renewable innovations Tuesday in Little Rock. But the annual conference’s “mic-drop moment” came when an award winner announced that he’ll be seeking the state’s first utility-wide electricity rate decrease tied to savings from solar power.Mark Cayce, CEO of Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. of Camden, drew a standing ovation from the energy efficiency and solar crowd at Heifer International headquarters when he made the rate announcement after receiving the association’s initial Advanced Energy Pioneer Award.“I made some pretty bold statements in support of solar power when the Legislature was considering solar policy, predicting that solar could actually bring rates down,” Cayce told the gathered renewable energy entrepreneurs, contractors and utility representatives. “Today I can announce that after our most recent rate study, on Oct. 17 we’re going to be seeking a 4 and 1/2-percent rate decrease at Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp.”OECC, which serves about 7,000 members in south Arkansas and north Louisiana, was an early solar adopter as a partner with Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. in a 12-megawatt array to power defense plant operations in East Camden in 2016. At the time, the array was the state’s largest solar project. OECC later built its own community solar station outside its Camden headquarters, and partnered with Today’s Power Inc. on an array for Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden.Cayce has said that solar power saves the cooperative’s members by significantly reducing the amount of power the utility has to buy at premium prices during peak summer usage.“That was the mic-drop moment,” said Josh Davenport, CEO of Seal Solar Solutions of North Little Rock, describing Cayce’s rate-cut announcement. “We hear about cost-shifting from solar, but this is savings-shifting,” he said, referring to the common utility argument that solar adoption shifts infrastructure costs to utility customers who don’t have solar power. “This is the opposite,” Davenport said.More: At advanced energy event, solar power fuels a surprise rate-cut planlast_img read more

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HSBC backs out of planned 1,980MW coal plant in Vietnam

first_imgHSBC backs out of planned 1,980MW coal plant in Vietnam FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Eco-Business:One of the world’s largest finance groups, HSBC, has pulled out of a major coal project in Vietnam, marking the latest move by an international bank to go cold on funding the biggest source of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.HSBC was appointed financial adviser to the US$2 billion, 1,980-megawatt Vinh Tan 3 coal-fired power station in southeastern Vietnam in 2014, but the bank declared this week that it is not involved in the project.Vinh Tan 3 is a planned part of a huge coal power complex in the Vinh Tan, Bình Thuan province of Vietnam, which is projected to produce 12 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, and generate 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.The news emerged via a response from the bank to an opinion editorial headlined “HSBC lags as finance cleans up on Asian energy,” written for Asia Times by Munira Chowdhury, an analyst for Australia-based finance pressure group Market Forces, and published on Wednesday. The story was updated, with the footnote from Asia Times stating that HSBC had told the publication that it has “no involvement at all in the Vinh Tan 3 project – including as financial adviser, funding arranger or prospective lender.”Standard Chartered Bank, a major British rival of HSBC’s with a significant presence in Asia, announced in December that it had quit funding deals for a number of coal plants in Southeast Asia, which Eco-Business understands to be Vinh Tan 3, as well as Vung Ang 2 in Vietnam and Java 9 and 10 in Indonesia.StanChart’s announcement came six months after all three of Singapore’s and Southeast Asia’s largest banks said they would end funding for new coal development.[Robin Hicks]More: HSBC exits Vinh Tan 3 coal power project in Vietnamlast_img read more

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The Quintessential Road Trip Guide

first_imgRiders splash through the Bear Creek Trail in northern GeorgiaDAY 1—2  | 52 MILESBlue Ridge, Ga. / Ellijay, Ga.Where better to begin your Blue Ridge journey than the base of those cobalt majesties. Part southern charm, part urbanite sophistication, the town of Blue Ridge, Ga., is quaint and lively, traditional yet contemporary. Tucked in between the Cohutta Wilderness Area (the largest contiguous tract of wilderness in the East) and the Chattahoochee National Forest, Blue Ridge is just a short drive away from some of the state’s most rugged terrain.Start your day on a sweet note with a trip to Mercier Orchards (mercier-orchards.com), Georgia’s largest apple orchard. Consider stocking up on fried pies and fresh apple cider for your afternoon picnic on Lake Blue Ridge. Surf Blue Ridge can get you hooked up with a stand up paddleboard for the day ($40; four hours) and even offers free delivery to the Lake Blue Ridge parking lot to ease your logistical worries. For the avid angler, this lake offers more than stunning scenery—it’s one of the few bodies of water south of the Great Lakes where walleyes swim aplenty.As the sun sets over the mountains, wind down with a pint from Blue Ridge Brewery (blueridgebrewery.com). You won’t have to go far to check into your room at The Fernbrook Inn (rooms from $149), so stay out, catch some tunes at the pub, order another pint (or two), and let that Georgia magic do its work.The sweet and savory smells of French toast and sausage wafting under your door will be sure to have you up and at it early the next morning (assuming you didn’t close the brewery down). Eat a hearty breakfast at the inn. You’ll need all the calories you can get. And bike tubes. If you don’t have a spare, swing in at Cartecay Bike Shop as you pass through Ellijay, the “Mountain Bike Capital of Georgia.” If nothing else, Cartecay’s owner Mike Palmeri is a local legend and is sure to offer some entertaining conversation and a tip or two on where to ride.Don’t dawdle long, for the Pinhoti Trail awaits. Stretching for over 300 miles from Alabama to northern Georgia, the Pinhoti is quickly gaining a reputation among mountain bikers for technical terrain with an unparalleled wilderness feel. Roughly 140 miles of the trail wind through the northwestern corner of Georgia, and the fine folks at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way are more than happy to help you find the perfect ride.Be forewarned—you can ride, or run, from your cabin door (starting at $83 per night) or tent flap (sites from $10 per night) at Mulberry Gap, but don’t bank on a warm-up. Straight from the gate, you’ll be climbing up those steep mountain ridges that looked so idyllic and tranquil from the lake. If you’re trying to squeeze in more than one section of the Pinhoti (or simply want to spare your legs), the crew at Mulberry Gap will shuttle you to the top (rates from $15) so you can rip it downhill and be back in time for the family-style dinner that’s served every night in the barn. Ginni, the resident guest-mother and mastermind chef, will leave you so full on beef brisket and fresh salad, you’ll have to loosen the belt before you hop on a mini-bike for a round of mini-bike-Jenga. No, I’m not kidding. And yes, mini-bike-Jenga is real. As in, real hard.Like a LocalAndrew Gates, co-owner, Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-WayGO-TO RIDE: Mountaintown Creek Trail > Bear Creek Trail > Pinhoti 1 > Pinhoti 2PLACE TO CURE A SWEET TOOTH: Cantaberry Café (cantaberry.com) for pie or The Martyn House (themartynhouse.com) for cookiesFAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE BIKE: Kayaking down the Cartecay RiverYOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED NORTH GEORGIA LIKE A LOCAL IF: You can drift around the corners on a Forest Service road.DAY 3—4  | 114 MILESChattanooga, Tenn.After inhaling a plateful of Ginni’s pancakes, you’re ready to head north. Next stop, Chattanooga. The hour-and-a-half drive to Tennessee begins on GA-52, which snakes through the Chattahoochee National Forest and offers plenty of overlooks to break up the trip. So stop, smell the pine trees, soak in the views, snap a selfie. Then it’s onward to Nooga, a metropolis compared to that sweet southern pace you’ve been living in Georgia.Squeeze the last juice from your legs at Raccoon Mountain , a short 15-minute drive from downtown Chattown. Ride, run, or simply stroll along the 22-mile trail system. Mountain bikers should be prepared to work for their ride, as only four miles of the trails are considered beginner friendly. The remaining 18 miles of singletrack are speckled with four- to six-foot drops, tight switchbacks, and overall steep terrain. But when you see the sweeping views of the Tennessee River Valley below, you’ll know those gallons of Southeast sweat dripping down your back were worth it.And if the views didn’t drop your jaw, the southern fried goodness afterwards at Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken surely will. Baked beans and slaw, hush puppies and sweet tea, piles of chicken and Mississippi mud pie. Styrofoam plates and checkered tablecloths never looked so good.But for the health-conscious road rambler, Flying Squirrel might be more on par with your dinner cravings. This state-of-the-art watering hole and restaurant located in the heart of the Southside offers locally sourced food at an affordable price. Should you catch yourself in town on a Sunday morning, you’ll definitely want to stop in. Where else can you enjoy live music over a plate of sweet potato hash and a beermosa? (Okay, forget the “health-conscious” thing.)Your lodging for the next two nights is just around the corner at The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel. Founded by the same team as Flying Squirrel, The Crash Pad is an upscale, LEED Platinum hostel (the only one of its kind) that offers guests everything from super bunks ($30 per night) to private rooms ($79 per night). The best part? The owners of the hostel are avid climbers and can point all you rock hounds in the right direction.014_FIXSweltering summers in the South make it downright necessary to be an early riser—you can sleep when you’re dead. Grab a bag of handmade croissants or oven-fresh cinnamon rolls from Niedlov’s Breadworks and put the pedal to the metal. Rock climbers can head to any one of the area’s crags like Foster Falls, a sport climbers’ haven, or Tennessee Wall, which provides trad lovers with everything from clean, 100-foot arêtes to bold face climbs. The Stone Fort, formerly known as Little Rock City, is the closest major bouldering area close to downtown Chattanooga and is the site for one of the now four Triple Crown Bouldering Series events in the fall.But if climbing’s not your thing, take a hike and cool down at Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls in Cloudland Canyon State Park. Though technically still in Georgia, this state park is just a half hour’s drive from Chattanooga and the sights are worth it. The out-and-back Waterfalls Trail packs a punch in just two miles, dropping over 400 feet to the waterfalls via a steep stairway system. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were waterfalls at the top of those stairs, too?And if the weather simply is not cooperating with your stay, Chattanooga’s got you covered, literally. But instead of catching a movie, surfing the web, or doing laps at the Tennessee Bouldering Authority, might I suggest a total change of pace? Embrace your inner child and head to The Jump Park for a day. You can toss yourself into foam pits, test your balance on slacklines, and jump yourself silly on over 50 connected trampolines. Just don’t eat too many cinnamon rolls before you go.Like a LocalJohn Ying, General Manager at The Crash Pad: An Uncommon HostelGO-TO CLIMB: Bouldering? Rocktown. Sport Climbing? Castle Rock. Trad? T-WallPLACE TO PARTY ON A TUESDAY: Flying Squirrel. Half priced wine night. Full disclosure: Crash Pad and Flying Squirrel are owned by the same guys.FAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE ROCK: First Free Sundays at the Hunter MuseumYOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED CHATTANOOGA LIKE A LOCAL IF: You march into the stadium with the Chattahooligans at a CFC game.DAY 5—6  | 426 MILESLinville Gorge / Boone, N.C.Hit the road before dawn as you make the long, five-hour haul from Chattanooga to the heart of western North Carolina. You can take a slightly shorter route up through Knoxville to your next destination, the Linville Gorge Wilderness, but if you prefer to avoid the mayhem and stress of interstate driving, head east on US-74 through scenic stretches of quiet Appalachian towns. As you curl through the Smokies, you’ll pass kayakers and rafters navigating the waters of the Ocoee and Nantahala Rivers, which run roadside for the first leg of your trip.IMG_6143_FIXWhen you pop out on I-40, you’re just a half hour from Asheville, a city famed for its exploding craft beer scene. You could stop and get tanked at any one of Beer City USA’s 40-plus breweries, but alas, the mountains are calling and you must go. Of course, there’s no harm in grabbing a half pour over lunch at Wicked Weed Brewing.Once safely sober, continue your voyage northeast to one of the most iconic destinations in North Carolina—Linville Falls. Park at the Linville Falls Visitor Center and follow the Linville Gorge Trail down to the river. This out-and-back hike is just shy of two miles round-trip, but the going is steep, so proceed with caution. Swimming is not permitted at the base of the falls, so no dips in the pool, no matter how tempting it may be.Should the beauty of the Linville Gorge enrapture you, there’s a campground just up the road to satisfy your wild hair. The Linville Falls Trailer Lodge & Campground  has a number of options for bunking up, from primitive tent sites ($20 per night) to log cabins (from $60 per night). This leaves the Linville Gorge within quick driving access so you can spend a full day exploring caves, off-trail bushwhacking, or trad climbing to your heart’s content.In the event that you decide to continue on down the road after your Linville Falls hike, the town of Boone, N.C., is roughly an hour away. Thanks in part to the local university, there’s a youthful, energetic vibe about Boone that makes for an active outdoors scene and an eclectic art community in the heart of Appalachia. Check in at the Lovill House Inn (rooms from $139) for a homey stay conveniently located off the Blue Ridge Parkway and less than a mile from Old Town. Fuel up at Proper for homemade southern food done right. There’s a different special every day, like meatloaf or pulled pork, but even vegetarians will find a bowlful of Proper’s mac n’ cheese filling and delicious.Grab your walking stick as you head out the door the next morning—Grandfather Mountain and Elk Knob are two of North Carolina’s newest state parks and both provide impeccably well-maintained trails leading to spectacular views of the North Carolina High Country. The Profile Trail on Grandfather Mountain traces the “profile” of the old man for whom the state park is named. Hikers can expect to see lush hardwood forests and unique rock features along the three miles to the summit. The hike to Elk Knob is not quite as steep and slightly shorter at 3.8 miles round-trip, so be sure to make time to soak in its panoramic views.Mountain bikers and trail runners seeking an adrenaline fix can head over to Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park to peruse the park’s eight miles of technical trails. Rocky Knob also has four skills areas and a pump track so you can fine-tune your technique before your next ride.At the end of the day, Appalachian Mountain Brewery is certain to have a beverage to quench your thirst — IPAs, stouts, ales, even its very own cider. You can feel good about what you drink, too. For every pint you purchase, the brewery donates to a non-profit organization through the Pints for Non-Profits Program.Like a LocalChelsea Zacher and Thea Young, Footsloggers staffGO-TO HIKE: Gragg Prong FallsPLACE TO SPEND A RAINY DAY: Bald Guy BrewFAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE TRAIL: First Fridays Art Crawl YOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED BOONE LIKE A LOCAL IF: You’ve been caught unprepared by the weather.DAY 7—8  | 768 MILESStaunton, Va. / Harrisonburg, Va.You’ll have to say “adieu” to that high country paradise in between forkfuls of your locally sourced breakfast from Melanie’s Food Fantasy (melaniesfoodfantasy.com). There’s about a four-hour drive ahead of you through most of the state of Virginia, but don’t worry—you’ll have a chance to stretch those legs upon arriving at Saint Mary’s Wilderness. The roughly 10-mile hike through fern forests and alongside the Saint Mary’s River make this wilderness trek a cool way to spend a summer day. The cherry on top is the waterfall located about five miles from the car. It’s a popular place to take a dip and the base is deep enough for a jump from the rocks above, if you dare.After the hike, continue north toward Staunton, a town where art and agriculture are seamlessly intertwined. Share an exquisitely cooked southern meal at The Shack, an unassuming brick building where visitors can indulge in warm butter lettuce salad and maple quail. The cozy, one-room atmosphere immediately turns strangers to family, as the 26 non-matching chairs available are seated around seven communal-style tables.Shack up for the night at The Storefront, a private two-floor space that’s part B&B, part townhouse. Located in the heart of Staunton’s historic district, you’ll be within walking distance to a number of stores and restaurants, but with all the amenities of your own home, including a full kitchen, you may never want to leave.At this point in your travels, if you haven’t let the road be your guide, it’s time to do so. And not just any road, mind you. The Blue Ridge Parkway. This 469-mile ribbon of pavement traverses the Blue Ridge from just outside of Cherokee, N.C., all the way up to the parkway’s northern terminus at Rockfish Gap, just 20 minutes outside of Staunton. It is arguably one of the best Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday) drives you can take, but if your eyes are growing weary, you can park at any number of trailheads and just start hiking.The Appalachian Trail crosses the parkway a number of times, making it easy to hop on the white blaze and walk until your legs scream. But for a hike with a view, try Humpback Rocks at milepost 5.8. The hike is only one mile one way, but don’t be fooled—that’s one mile straight uphill. There are benches along the way and the trail is wide and mostly gravel, so take your time and savor the burn. Once you see the 360-degree views of the surrounding Shenandoah Valley, you’ll be glad you persevered.Spend the remainder of your afternoon exploring Harrisonburg, Va., just 45 minutes up Interstate-81. If pastimes like window shopping and people watching are not your cup of tea, grab your rod and head to the pristine waters of Mossy Creek, just a few minutes from where you’ll be staying at the Old Massanutten Lodge (rooms from $140). You’ll need a license to fish at this classic limestone creek, in addition to a signed landowner permission card, so unless you happen to frequent the area regularly, consider going with Mossy Creek Fly Fishing under the guidance of the outfitter’s Orvis endorsed instructors. Even experienced anglers stand to learn  something from these local experts.IMG_3725_FIXSize up your Virginian experience with a farm-to-table pizza made from scratch at Bella Luna Woodfired Pizza  and a pint of The Great Outdoors Virginia Pale Ale from Brothers Craft Brewing located right in Harrisonburg.Like a LocalKyle Lawrence, A little bit of everything, Shenandoah Bicycle CompanyGO-TO RIDE: the Burg > Kaylor’s Ridge > Fridley GapPLACE TO DANCE YOUR ASS OFF:  The Golden Pony (goldenponyva.com)FAVORITE ACTIVITY OFF THE MOUNTAIN: Eating delicious local veggie foods from the downtown farmers market and Friendly City Food Co-Op.YOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED HARRISONBURG LIKE A LOCAL IF: You end up at the Little Grill for breakfast then return for Mexi Nite dinner all in the same dayDAY 9—10  | 852 MILESCharles Town, W.Va / Harpers Ferry, W.Va.Road trips can no doubt induce exhaustive efforts to see and do as much as possible in the short spell of vacation time you’re granted. It’s called a “Fear of Missing Out,” or FOMO. Though FOMO can be harnessed for motivation, it can also contribute to what I call the “burn out phase,” where the idea of sitting in your hotel room and watching cable all day sounds more appealing than getting sunburnt and asking for directions.Fortunately, the relaxed vibe of Harpers Ferry can rejuvenate your traveler’s spirit. Just a stone’s throw over the Virginia line at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry is as charismatic as it is historic. Stroll along the picturesque cobblestone streets and tour the museums in town, or head to the hills immediately upon arrival.The Chesapeake & Ohio (or C&O as it is mostly referred to) Canal Towpath connects Washington, D.C., to Pennsylvania via an old trail nearly 185 miles in length. The 10-plus miles heading upstream out of Harpers Ferry are like riding back in time. Bring your bike and see how far you can go or rent a ride from River & Trail Outfitters (from $21). The folks at the outfitter also offer guided services as well as shuttles along the C&O.Of course, should you prefer to travel by two feet instead of two wheels, Harpers Ferry also serves as the headquarters for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the not-quite, unofficial halfway point on the Appalachian Trail. You can head north on the A.T. right out of town and reach a short side trail in about a mile that leads to striking views of Weverton Cliffs. Keep on walking to Maine if the blaze speaks to you, but otherwise it’s probably time to find a place to hole up for the night.Lodging options range from any one of the historic bed and breakfasts like the Laurel Lodge (laurellodge.com; rooms from $135) to dirt-cheap (as in free) camping along the A.T. If you’re not wanting to work for your campsite, the Harpers Ferry Campground (sites from $29) is tucked right into the folds of the Potomac and offers front door access to tomorrow’s adventure: rafting.That’s right. Get ready to go big. Cool off on your last day in the wild and wonderful state with a little dose of West Virginia whitewater. River Riders offers a number of options for getting on the river, whether it’s in a guided raft or your very own inflatable kayak. The Potomac’s mild class I-III rapids are the perfect place to play and learn the basics of paddling.Should you get frustrated because your duckie doesn’t want to stay in a straight line, or because you fell out of the raft five times, there’s nothing a little West Virginia hooch can’t fix. Stop in at the Bloomery SweetShine, the only distillery around, for a little post-paddle “artisanal blend of vice and virtue” in nearby Charles Town, W.Va. You probably worked up quite an appetite on the water, too. Cure that with a trip to Dish and scarf down a locally sourced, grass-fed burger or black bean burger, maybe a scoop or three of ice cream back in Harpers Ferry at Scoops, and call it a day. Your last adventures start in the morning.Like a LocalAlexis Knott, Sales and Service Director at River RidersGO-TO HIKE: The Stone Fort Trail in Maryland HeightsPLACE TO STARGAZE: The Maryland Heights overlookFAVORITE ACTIVITY OUT OF THE WOODS: Skipper’s for ice cream and The Anvil Restaurant for dinnerYOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED HARPERS FERRY LIKE A LOCAL IF: You can say you’ve stood in three states and two rivers at the same time.DAY 11—12  | 910 MILESGettysburg, Penn. / Michaux State ForestMichaux offers more than 90,000 acres of big trees and vast views, frigid waters teeming with trout, and over 60 miles of technical, rocky trails just begging to be explored. Whether by horseback, by foot, or by wheel, Michaux State Forest could quite literally be heaven on Earth. Of the 60 miles available to hikers, 37 of those are designated multi-purpose trails that allow mountain bikes, and for even the most experienced of riders, Michaux is sure to provide a challenge. In conjunction with the 130 miles of maintained gravel roads that weave throughout the forest, the possibilities for loops and levels of difficulty are endless.As you make your way to the northernmost stretches of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, cruise over to Gettysburg Bicycle to get all of your gear and beta needs. Michaux State Forest has a core group of riders who maintain a blog, Mountain Bikers of Michaux, and regularly hold group rides that are open to novice and experienced riders alike. Due to the occasional unmarked trail and wilderness feel of the forest, first-timers should consider trying to arrange a guided ride, either through the community or by tagging along on a shop ride Thursday nights at 6 p.m.But perhaps you’re not a singletrack ripper. Roll up your pant legs and go creek walkin’ down the East Branch of the Conococheague Creek or either branch of Antietam Creek. Both of these streams are well stocked with trout and the gettin’s good, even if you’re not an angler.For your last night on the road, take the rainfly off the tent, heck maybe even do away with the tent altogether, and lie out cowboy-style under the twinkling night sky—you have plenty of memories to keep you pondering and stargazing well into the wee hours of the morning. Though Michaux State Forest requires a permit for camping, it’s free and easy to acquire from the visitor’s center. Primitive campsites are sprinkled throughout the forest but a few established ones with bathrooms are located with easy access to your car.Rise in plenty of time to catch the sunrise an hour and a half away atop Blue Mountain at Waggoner’s Gap. Located at the edge of the Tuscarora State Forest, this 125-acre parcel of land is owned by the Audubon Society. Expert bird watchers frequent the summit here for its spectacular hawk sightings. Make sure to bring a thermos of French press and some nutrition bars for the dawn patrol, but don’t worry about needing too much energy for the hike—the parking lot is just a 500-yard stroll from the overlook. So. No excuses.After satisfying your sunrise-hawk-watching fix, hit the state forest’s namesake, the Tuscarora Trail. Pennsylvania is revered for its rocky terrain, and this trail certainly keeps in jive with the reputation. Running for over 250 miles from Virginia through Maryland and up into Pennsylvania, the Tuscarora Trail was created as an alternative route for the Appalachian Trail yet has always remained an independent footpath. This six-mile section is known as one of the rockiest chunks of the Tuscarora, so wear sturdy shoes.You’ll head south for six miles from the Waggoner’s Gap parking lot to Flat Rock at the southern end of the state forest. A blanket of Pennsylvania countryside wraps around the Flat Rock overlook, giving visitors a 180-degree view of the Cumberland Valley and all of its charm. Hike on for a longer day, or head back for a roughly 13-mile out-and-back trip. This section also makes for a moderately intense trail run if your legs still have any life left in them.Let your taste buds wander beyond the Blue Ridge at any one of Carlisle’s worldly restaurants. You can of course get your traditional plate of mac n’ cheese and barbecue at Redd’s Smokehouse BBQ but why not explore Belgian cuisine at Café Bruges or drink your weight in sangria at the Spanish and Moroccan tapas restaurant Andalusia? There’s a lot to celebrate, and who knows—maybe your culinary instincts inspire your next road trip. So kick back and order another round. You’ll need some liquid courage for your last adventure: the half-gallon challenge.The challenge, if you can call it that, is seemingly simple. It’s just you and a half-gallon of Hershey’s ice cream from the Pine Grove Furnace General Store. As you suffer through bite after bite of chocolate Moose Tracks on an already full stomach, think about that sweet moment of success when you down the entire container and join the elite “Half Gallon Club.”Sure, about 99% of the club is made up of past or present A.T. thru-hikers, but it’s okay. You worked hard for it.Like a LocalJes Stith, Owner of Gettysburg BicycleGO-TO RIDE: Teaberry > Three Stooges > Rattlesnake Run Road > Old Forge > Trucker > Rothrock Road > Tumbling RunBEST WAY TO MAKE HISTORY COOL: Take your bike and ride around the Gettysburg BattlefieldFAVORITE ACTIVITY WHEN IT’S TOO HOT TO RIDE:  Catch some tunes at The Garryowen Irish Pub (garryowenirishpub.net)YOU KNOW YOU’VE EXPERIENCED GETTYSBURG  LIKE A LOCAL IF: You eat tacos at TaniasEXPERIENCE HARRISONBURG in this month’s BRO-TV episode at BlueRidgeOutdoors.com/bro-tvlast_img read more

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Ultimate Summer Gear Giveaway

first_imgRules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on July  31, 2016 – date subject to change. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before July 31, 6:00 PM EST 2016 – date and time subject to change. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received. Sign up for your chance to win this complete summer gear package from our friends at ELIE, Mountain Khakis, Native Eyewear, Tenkara USA, and Chaco! The winner will be drawn on Monday, August 1st. Good luck!This contest is complete.last_img read more

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