Hickory Nut Falls Trail Now Open at Chimney Rock State ParkAfter being closed more than a year due to a massive rockslide, Hickory Nut Falls trail at Chimney Rock State Park, N.C., has reopened. State contractors and N.C. State Parks with the support of Chimney Rock Management cleared 300 metric tons of rock and other materials that crashed down and demolished a wooden walking bridge and covered part of the trail. The observation area at the base of the falls remains closed for repairs but guests are able to hike to the end of the trail to view the 404-foot falls (one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River).The Hickory Nut Falls Trail began as a Jeep trail, installed in 1963 to access the 404-foot waterfall at its end. Today, the ¾-mile trail boasts hardwood forests of oak, hickory, maple, beech, poplar, locust and basswood that harbor abundant plant life, which includes rare and endangered wildflowers as well as old favorites like Jack-in-the-pulpit and Solomon’s-seal. The 404-foot waterfall feeds from Fall Creek, which winds through the Hickory Nut Gorge. The trail and its falls were prominently featured in the 1992 blockbuster hit, The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day Lewis and Madeline Stowe, and have long been a favorite visiting spot for Park guests.Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a developing international outdoor attraction located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It has been recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic and popular travel destinations for more than 100 years. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com.Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Road Open North of Asheville From Milepost 376 to Milepost 355Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods announced that a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Milepost 376 at Ox Creek Road to Milepost 355 (near the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park) is open for travel. The popular stretch of motor road was closed for stabilization work on a failed slope north of Tanbark Ridge Tunnel at Milepost 374, the site of last summer’s well-known “crack.”The Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and Visitor Center, at Milepost 364, which had been closed during this repair project, will open May 9, 2014, along with the majority of other Parkway facilities reopening for the season on that date. The full schedule of 2014 seasonal openings and visitor services along the Blue Ridge Parkway is available at www.nps.gov/blri.The Blue Ridge Parkway, linking the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, is dedicated to enhancing the scenic and recreational qualities of the corridor — conserving its significant natural and cultural resources and promoting public enjoyment and appreciation of the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. Learn more about the Parkway at www.nps.gov/blri.Oskar Blues Adds Farm to Brevard HoldingsOskar Blues Brewery recently purchased a 145-acre farm about eight miles from its Brevard brewery — a location that will be part farm, part event space and part haven for mountain bikers. Colorado-based Oskar Blues opened its Brevard brewery two years ago as its East Coast beer-making operation.The farm, formerly known as Shoal Falls Farm, has been dubbed the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch, a reference to REEB Bicycles, the company’s line of hand-made mountain bikes (“reeb” is beer spelled backwards). It will likely be home to a bike park, as well as to Bike Farm, a mountain biking concierge service owned by Cashion Smith and Eva Surls. The two offers tours of local biking trails — recognized recently as some of the best mountain biking trails in the U.S.The farm may also be home to cattle that are fed spent grain from Oskar Blues’ brewing operation. The company has a similar operation in Colorado, called the Hops and Heifers Farm. Cows and pigs populate the farm, which also has acreage devoted to growing fresh hops.Bell Helmets Donating $100,000 to Build Bike TrailsEast Coast voting is live for the Bell Helmets $100,000 giveaway to build three Dream Trail Projects, chosen by popular vote from its website.Blue Ridge bikers will want to vote for Tennessee, Virginia or Georgia to beat out western New York! Visit the site to explore the projects and vote for your area.Sherpa Adventure Gear to Fund Children of Sherpas Killed in AvalancheSherpa Adventure Gear—through its Paldorje Education Fund—is directing donations to the education of children of the16 Sherpa guides killed by an avalanche on Mt Everest. All donations received by May 31, 2014 will be dedicated to the schooling of the ‘children of Everest.’ Tax-deductible donations can be sent to:Paldorje Education Fund – Children of Everest, c/o Sherpa Adventure Gear, 7857 South 180th Street, Kent, Washington 98032 USASherpa Adventure Gear CEO Tashi Sherpa was in Nepal at the time of the avalanche.In addition to donations, Sherpa Adventure Gear is setting aside 10 percent of May sales at its Kathmandu retail store toward this cause. Sales in May from Sherpa Adventure Gear’s products at Alpine Ascents International’s gear shop in Seattle will also benefit the program.World Cycling Alliance a Reality?Representatives of the European Cyclists’ Federation are now supporting an initiative to create a World Cycling Alliance (WCA) — a worldwide network of non-governmental organizations that will advocate for cycling before international institutions such as the United Nations, the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank.WCA will promote and support the worldwide exchange of knowledge, expertise and co-operation of cycling associations and organizations. “The World Cycling Alliance fills a gap in the promotion of cycling at the highest institutional level,” said ECF President Manfred Neun.ECF has been participating in top international forums such as the UN’s Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Program, UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum events and the International Transport Forum, linked to the OECD.All ECF members, which include organizations from India, Russia, Taiwan, Canada, Thailand and Australia, will be founding members of the Alliance. WCA will be governed by a Steering Board, which in its final form will comprise the elected president of the ECF and members from different continents. The first Steering Board will be presented in Velo-city Global 2014 in Adelaide, Australia, where the WCA network will be officially launched on May 30.Blue Ridge Outdoors Launches Top Adventure Schools BracketClick here to cast your vote for your favorite outdoor-adventure school in the region.
Several students said they believe new safety measures announced Tuesday by USC President C. L. Max Nikias are improvements to on-campus safety.The new policies come after four victims sustained gunshot wounds on Oct. 31 in an on-campus shooting. The incident occurred after a suspect, not affiliated with the university, got in an argument with Geno Hall, a former Crenshaw High football star, at a Halloween party promoted by LA Hype in association with the Black Student Assembly.The new security policies include banning outside event promoters and requiring university identification to enter campus between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The university also plans to increase surveillance and the number of security guards on the perimeter of campus.Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson said student groups were consulted and briefed before the changes were announced.Several student leaders said the new changes are likely to enhance on-campus security. Mikey Geragos, Undergraduate Student Government President, said banning promoters should give student groups more oversight of their events.“I think we are all in agreement of having party promoters on campus was probably not a good idea,” Geragos said. “When you get party promoters involved … there is always the risk they could advertise to people who they shouldn’t advertise to and you don’t have control of what’s being put out there.”Molly Russell, a senior majoring in public relations, said she supports the policy for checking IDs to enter campus at night, but is not convinced that banning promoters will solve any safety issues on campus.“The ID thing is huge. I think it’s a logical step that should have been taken years ago. This area is not very safe, and that’s always going to be a challenge,” Russell said. “But I don’t think the promoter thing will really help. USC is supposed to be integrated with the community, so I think it’s weird to go back on that by not allowing them to hold events.”According to Geragos, events will still be open to individuals in the community, but USC will be checking IDs at the door.“We wanted to make sure there was a good way to monitor [events] without excluding those guests,” Geragos said.The university expects all new policies to be fully implemented by Jan. 14, 2013 — the first day of the spring semester.Arya Roshanian, a sophomore majoring in vocal arts, doubts that the Dept. of Public Safety will be able to enforce the new safety measures during times when there is a high volume of students on campus.“I’m not sure how it’s going to work with crowds,” Roshanian said. “During finals week, so many people go to campus at night to study and everything. How will they handle it when a big hoard of people is trying to get on campus?”Nikias also said that the university will increase the amount of DPS officers stationed on campus and at campus and residence hall entrances. The banning of outside event promoters will extend to the Row.Student Affairs consulted the Inter-Fraternity Council before announcing the changes. IFC President Michael Madden noted that the ban on promoters does not apply to party planners.Madden said some fraternities have already started checking student IDs at the door -— a policy IFC hopes to make mandatory for all fraternities.“That’s an idea that has been discussed and will probably be implemented next spring,” Madden said. “We are still in the process of working out the logistics of it.”Some students, such as Sheun Alli, a junior majoring in business administration, said that staying safe is mainly up to the individual.“People just need to be careful,” Sheun said. “The school can do whatever they want, but we’re still in South Central.”