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Dec. 2021

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Roanoke Appalachian news

Maintaining a Good Thing

In a positive development, it seems more people are getting outdoors and engaging the wonderful resources found there. Besides the physical invigoration such activities as hiking, biking, kayaking and others do for our body, the mental revitalization ignited by exercising in an open wilderness area helps illuminate our bright eyes for life. Getting out on a hike has always been a great way to release stress from our daily lives but has also become more valuable with the added tension of pandemic living.

However, added outdoor traffic means added outdoor wear to our trails and such. This was reflected in recent discussions among Roanoke regional leaders and senator Tim Kaine. Funding has always been tight for Appalachian Trail upkeep and supporting amenities. One idea suggests finding ways to spread-out attendance at outdoor locations to help keep necessary staff and maintenance throughout the year. Many leaders agree that an initial federal endowment for AT maintenance would be good a first step.

Officials Stress Caution for Outdoor Fires

Outdoor fires and burning may be required or fun, but officials warn that such activities are serious and should be maintained with caution. As an example of a fire mishap, a shed was burned after an outdoor fire had failed to be extinguished properly. Even a small campfire used for cooking while backpacking should be well supervised during and after its use. Officials caution this to be true whether the region is in drought or not.

Building a secure fire while camping or backpacking is not only fun but downright essential. Doing so gets easier with experience though the basic procedure remains about the same. Finding a proper location is essential, avoiding steep slopes, congested locations or wet ones. Make sure there's proper containment of the fire using rocks or distance from any burnable object. Gather dry though not rotten wood for burning, and then make sure the fire is extinguished as best as can be afterwards.

Using basic fire-pit skills most often produces an enjoyable experience with added safety. Given the serious ramifications an uncontrolled fire might produce, it's suggested that those trying to it for the first time or somewhat unsure use an experienced guide or have experienced supervision.

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Blue Ridge Rock Festival Stumbles

It seems the Blue Ridge Rock Festival provided a great production of music for attendees though the logistics of attending and getting to the concert met with many complaints and stressful ordeals. Some were not able to camp near the festival where they were reserved and needed to walk over a mile to attend. Reports also indicate the route to be walked to the festival was dangerous with steep slopes and a concern in the dark. Venue transportation was nearly non-existent with massive traffic jams for others.

Other complaints included those about ADA compliance with virtually no amenities. Besides the lack of camping space and facilities, those that did faced a lack of running water, bathrooms and showers. Though many had difficulty staying near the festival and getting to it, it seems most were content with the musical elements of the event. Organizers of the event were latter apologetic, though they won't have to look hard to find areas needing improvement if they ever want similar festivals in the future.