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MAY 2022

Roanoke Appalachian news

Total Lunar Eclipse

This May, all nighttime sky observers (eastern US) will be gifted with a most special event: A Total Lunar Eclipse! We've all heard about or seen a lunar eclipse, but this one is special. It will not happen in the dead of winter or so late at night that one must set and alarm clock, but no, this will begin to occur at prime time, just a few hours after evening! If you can stay up until midnight you'll have seen the most impressive segment.

On May 16th, let's hope your viewing area is free of clouds and/or rain the first half of the night. You will see the incredible transition of the moon beginning around 9:30 eastern time. The real visible changes start around 10:30 when the moon seems to be getting "eaten away" on one side. About an hour later the moon will be dark and red, a most unusual and rare sight. Look east; don't miss it! Here's a photo taken by Don Defreeze from a previous eclipse.

McAfee Knob Road Improvements

Many of those that live in the Roanoke region know of the Appalachian Trail section that leads to McAfee Knob. Many hike the the scenic trail to reach the iconic view at the knob, but unlike most other popular ascents, this one boasts an adjacent fire-road which can hasten hiking 2/3rds of the way to the top. Not only that, it also serves as an access road to emergency vehicles for help or rescue. With the high volume of hiking traffic in this area, the road has served as a vital asset in many respects.

However, the fire road is unpaved and travels over rough terrain at times. It had become eroded in some areas and pinched by vegetation in others. Over the winter, the road was closed and improvements made. Happily, it is now open and all those that want to use it to quicken hiking pace to the knob are welcome. It is also comforting to know that it is there to aid those vehicles essential to a rapid response in case of trouble.

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Missing Link Finally Resolved

Many of those that don't have the time, resources or physical ability to take part in hiking the Appalachians can often use the Roanoke River Greenway for recreation. It was initially designed to run over 21 miles of scenic valley settings along the Roanoke River from Salem to Roanoke County. Much of it has been completed but lacked the development of one key section to make the trail seamless. That section, or link has now broken ground for completion. Once done, walkers or bicyclers can travel from nearly one end of the valley to the other while accompanied by the beautiful Roanoke River!

The Greenway is a valuable asset and more than a park. The most interesting aspect is its continuity. You may enter at a parking entrance, walk and instead of reaching an edge, a perimeter, it just keeps on going, seeming endless, as the surrounding landscape changes and evolves along the river. The trail is built to be aesthetically pleasing with different plants and trees and also sculptures along a vibrant river where you can fish or even kayak. You can plan to travel and enjoy the Greenway's route all day and never pass the same scene. It's that long!