An Appalachian Trail pioneer: first Hongkonger to hike the full length

The moment Tony Or Hang-tat stepped outside his tent, he absolutely understood why hikers hang food and rubbish in bags on high tree branches before retiring for the night. The big black bear looking his way must have weighed 300 pounds. This was in Pennsylvania, 13 weeks into an adventure of a lifetime: hiking the whole of the Appalachian Trail that stretches 2,190...

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Pinnacle Mountain Trail and Ridge Trail, Table Rock State Park, SC

This park sits right on the cliff’s edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment that drops down from the mountains in western North Carolina to the upcountry of South Carolina. The park is more than 3,000 acres of trails, lakes, cabins and camping. Pinnacle Mountain Trail is the most challenging within the park, with a climb that exceeds 2,300 feet. The lower section follows...

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New place to hike and rock climb: Wildcat Rock Trail opens in Hickory Nut Gorge

Some might call him the mountain whisperer. John Myers is that special kind of person who can look up at a mountain, listen to a mountain and know instinctively what it needs – to remain protected, wild and free. Myers, a landowner, conservationist and rock climber, has lived in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge for nearly 20 years with his wife, Jane Lawson. He has had the...

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Stargazers Rejoice: U.S. Gets Its First International Dark Sky Reserve

Pack your bags, astronomy lovers. Idaho is now home to the United States’ first International Dark Sky Reserve. The International Dark Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit that advocates against light pollution, designated an area covering more than 1,400 square miles as the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. The reserve includes the Sawtooth Range and other...

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Old Erie Canal Trail hosts seasonal fun

The Erie Canal in New York State is a 363-mile man-made waterway started in 1817 and finished in 1825 and celebrated the commencement of its bicentennial in 2017. The canal was built to allow mule and horse-drawn packet boats to haul materials on the east-west travel route between Buffalo and Albany. The original canal was enlarged three times and eventually re-aligned...

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The 26,000 tons of radioactive waste under Lake Powell

Beneath the murky green waters on the north end of Lake Powell, entombed within the tons of silt that have been carried down the Colorado River over the years, lies a 26,000-ton pile of un-remediated uranium mill tailings. It’s just one polonium-, bismuth-, thorium-, and radium-tainted reminder of the way the uranium industry, enabled by the federal government, ravaged...

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It’s not only trees — wildfires imperil water too

The Fourmile Canyon Fire, sparked by a backyard burn west of Boulder, Colorado, in 2010, caused $220 million in damage and destroyed 168 homes. It also scorched nearly a quarter of a watershed that supplies water to the nearby community of Pine Brook Hills. The problems didn’t end there: Long after the blaze was put out, intense rainstorms periodically washed sediment...

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Mountains to Sea Trail News Briefs

SIGNS Allen Poole, North Carolina’s Mountains to Sea Trail volunteer Task Force Leader on the Outer Banks, has been hard at work adding signs and blazes along the route there. On this stretch, it is challenging to know which beach access to use to come on and off the beach, so his work will be a big help to MST hikers. Meanwhile, the Trail Resource Manager Jim...

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7 Years Before Russia Hacked the Election, Someone Did the Same Thing to Climate Scientists

One Saturday morning in June, two days after the president had announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, Michael Mann was tweeting about Donald Trump. Mann, a Penn State professor who is one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, was thinking about the daily barrage of revelations surrounding Russia’s...

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Trump breaks with military leaders, removes climate change from list of national security threats

President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy removed all mentions of climate change as a national security threat, a decision in line with major steps taken by the administration over the past 11 months to downplay the perils of climate change. Two years ago, the Obama administration issued a strategy that identified climate change as “an urgent and growing...

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Peru’s colorful Rainbow Mountain is not for the faint-hearted

Some manage the ascent in three hours, others take longer. But once they are up, then they’re usually reluctant to come back down, thanks to the view of the surreal-looking mountain. Tourism at Mount Vinicunca has yet to take off. Travel agencies only discovered it around two years ago. The mountain isn’t even listed in the current “Lonely Planet” guidebook, although...

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North Cascades grizzly bear recovery work halted by Interior Department

Work on grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem has been halted even as the continental United States’ two largest grizzly populations near removal from Endangered Species Act protection. North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Wednesday that her staff had been asked to stop work on...

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Hiking Grand Tetons ‘a trip of a lifetime’

Beyond the crystal clear lakes, past the pastel blooms, up the rock-strewn trails and over the snow-blanketed hillsides lie the canyons and campsites of the Grand Tetons National Park. With each step up the mountain while sporting a 40-pound backpack, a new vista of rushing waters and plunging waterfalls dashes into view. Run-ins with deer, elk, moose and marmots are not...

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Creating new beaten paths

The first time Jessica Johnson explored the Mushroom Caves in Solana Beach she was trespassing. It was 2013, a few years after the 35-year-old elementary school art teacher first started documenting her passion for adventurous, sometimes dangerous hikes on her increasingly popular website Hidden San Diego. Walking along the path recently, Johnson recalled that initial...

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Arctic Temperatures Are Rising So Fast Computers Don’t Believe They’re Real

320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a weather station in America’s northernmost city of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, has been quietly collecting temperature data since the 1920s. Early this month, while preparing a report on U.S. climate, experts at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) noticed something odd: They were missing data from...

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Here’s a $17 billion blueprint for how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid

Called “Build Back Better,” the plan focuses on providing immediate relief while also making the island’s energy infrastructure more resilient to future storms. That means fortifying the electric transmission system and bulking up defenses at power plants and substations. The plan also envisions a Puerto Rico dotted with solar farms and wind turbines, linked by more than...

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The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

What if we lose tree species we know, love, and need? It has happened before. “Look at what happened to the American chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Thomas Holmes. “Look at what’s happening right now to hemlock, redbay, and ash trees.” All three species, as well as many more, are threatened by non-native insects or pathogens. Non-native insects,...

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The Best Microadventure In Every State

“A microadventure,” says Alastair Humphreys, a former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and founder of a global movement, “is an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.” Sounds good, right? More importantly, it sounds do-able. Microadventures, Humphreys argues, should fit in the 5:00 pm to...

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Everything You Know About Hiking in Colombia is Wrong

For decades, Colombia’s wild areas were a no-go zone because of guerilla fighters and narcos, who occupied and fortified rural areas across the country. To venture beyond the city limits was to risk being kidnapped and held for ransom, a lucrative scheme the outlaws called miracle fishing. Beginning around 2000, the government started negotiating peace deals with...

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Major financial institutions rebuke the Trump agenda, announce big steps away from fossil fuels

Two major financial institutions — one public, one private — announced that they would be significantly paring down their investment in fossil fuel projects, signaling a shift in the way financial institutions assess the risks associated with fossil fuels and climate change. During the One Planet Summit taking place in Paris, France this week, the World Bank announced...

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U.S. national parks are drastically reducing free days in 2018

Visitors to the America’s national parks will have far fewer free admission days to choose from in 2018. National parks in the U.S. will sharply drop the number of days they allow visitors to get in for free, a move that was criticized by opponents of the parks’ plan to raise entrance costs at other times of the year. After waiving fees 16 days in 2016 and 10...

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8 things to know about the winter solstice

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night,” quipped Steve Martin — and indeed, even a day with less sunshine can feel a bit dark. Our world depends on the light radiating from that big star we traipse around, and when it’s in short supply, we feel it. But if you count yourself among those who don’t love waking up before the sun rises and getting off work...

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Make Sure You Are Drinking Clean Water

Cases such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, demonstrate how tenuous our access to safe, clean drinking water can actually be—no matter where we live. In fact, thousands of potential contaminants can make their way into our drinking water, and the infrastructure across the U.S. can’t always keep up with water purification needs. That’s a tough pill to swallow,...

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Playing in the Snow at Roan – A Photo Essay

There was a major snowstorm over the Great Smoky Mountains on December 8-9, 2017, particularly on the Western North Carolina side. Seeing Roan Highlands covered in a blanket of snow has always been a goal of mine ever since the first time I walked the Appalachian Trail across Round, Jane, and Grassy Ridge balds. With that in mind, I set out for the Highlands on the...

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A Trail Runner’s Paean to Bears Ears

Ultrarunner Bryon Powell spends nine days exploring the monument under siege The sun is still hidden below Owl Canyon’s south rim, and the cool October-night air lingers in the canyon bottom. I exit a hairpin bend and find myself facing a canyon wall. Dead ahead of me is a bright speck in the midst of broad shadow, the telltale sign of a rock window. “Nevills Arch?” I...

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A Captivating Look at the “Big Four” North American Deserts

Ah, the desert: the “land of little rain”, the house of haboob and flash flood, the thirsty wilderness, the barren void wandered by nomads, exiles, spiritual seekers, bandits, prospectors, and UFO hunters—plus sidewinders, scorpions, tarantulas, and vultures, of course. Taken collectively, the deserts of North America are still overshadowed sizewise by the Sahara—at 3.6...

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Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Patrick Scott walks 380 miles for work. It’s not every day, but that’s how many miles curve, dip and roll through the Pisgah National Forest. If laid end to end, those trails would stretch from Asheville, NC to Montgomery, Alabama, and Scott, the forest’s Pisgah District trail program manager, must oversee them all. The undertaking is daunting not just for the miles, but...

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It’s Fast Approaching Time for First Day Hikes

What better way to kick off the New Year than by getting a jump start burning off those extra holiday calories in the great outdoors? On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with...

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Natural Bridge and Raven Rock Trails, Keowee Toxaway State Park, South Carolina

Another of the fun and exciting South Carolina state parks that line the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, Keowee Toxaway offers two hiking trails that take visitors over a natural bridge and through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, land once traveled by Cherokee Indians. Much of the trail follows the shore of Lake Keowee through the healthy oak/hickory forest...

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Interior Department’s return to the ‘Robber Baron’ years

In 1921, President Warren G. Harding, R, at the behest of the oil barons who financed his election, appointed Albert Bacon Fall to be his secretary of the Interior. Fall had vowed not only to transfer all public lands to private interests, but also to abolish the Interior Department altogether. As a Cabinet member, he set out to dismantle the conservation ethos that...

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Utah Parks Set Attendance Records Once Again

With a month to spare, Zion National Park has set a new record for visitation this year, heightening concerns about overcrowding just as park managers consider a controversial fee hike and requiring visitors to go through an online reservation system. The park had counted 4,365,946 visitors through the end of November, representing nearly a 5 percent increase over last...

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In Staten Island, hiking the wild path of Richmond Creek

Stretching over five miles from its furthest tributaries in the Staten Island Greenbelt to its mouth in Fresh Kills, Richmond Creek flows through many layers of hidden history. Its waters pass by toxic landfills and old mill remnants, a historic town museum, a manmade mountain of rubble, a vast Boy Scout camp, and an abandoned tuberculosis hospital. Along its entire...

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