Navajo Generating Station purchase falls through

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Private equity company Middle River Power LLC is ending its bid to buy Navajo Generating Station, the biggest coal-fired power station west of the Mississippi River.The collapse of the deal deeply threatens the survival of the coal-fired power plant in Page, Ariz., which is slated to close at the end of 2019 unless a new buyer steps forward immediately.Middle River was “terminating its efforts with regard to the overall work” on buying the plant, spokesman Todd Fogarty told Bloomberg Environment Sept. 20. “Unfortunately, recent developments in California and Arizona will create additional challenges for baseload power plants, and it has not been possible to secure from counterparties commitments to purchase a sufficient amount of power generated from Navajo Generating Station to enable a workable operating paradigm,” the company said in an email to Bloomberg Environment.As such, Middle River Power and global investment firm Avenue Capital Group “have concluded that the steps required to facilitate our ownership and operation of the plant are no longer possible within the required timeframe and therefore we are terminating our efforts,” the company said.The plant has become a freighted political symbol, representing for some the Trump administration’s efforts to prop up the coal industry, and for others a dying business that can’t compete against cheaper natural gas and renewables.Another loser is Peabody Energy Corp., which owns the nearby Kayenta Mine. The mine supplies all the plant’s coal and has no other customers, because no rail spur connects the mine to the outside world.More: Private equity company ends bid to buy Navajo Generating Station Navajo Generating Station purchase falls throughlast_img read more

Wind, solar and battery storage linked in first-of-a-kind Oregon project

first_imgWind, solar and battery storage linked in first-of-a-kind Oregon project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Electrek:A new energy facility in eastern Oregon will be the first of its kind in the U.S., combining wind power, solar power, and battery storage on a large-scale.Portland General Electric and NextEra Energy Resources announced plans for the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility today. The new facility will combine 300 megawatts of wind generation, 50 MW of solar generation, and 30 MW/120 MWh of battery storage.NextEra plans to break ground this year. The wind component of the facility, powered by 120 turbines, is expected to be fully completed by December 2020. Construction of the solar and battery components is set for 2021.The Wheatridge facility marks a first for the country, but it will also top a number of lists in Oregon. It will be both the largest solar farm and largest battery storage facility in the state. It will also be one of the largest battery storage facilities in the U.S.PGE will own 100 MW of the wind project, while a NextEra subsidiary will own the rest of the project, selling its output to PGE under 30-year power purchase agreements. PGE expects to invest $160 million in the project. The announcement notes all parts of the project will qualify for federal tax credits.More: Oregon to get groundbreaking large-scale wind/solar/storage facilitylast_img read more

Vietnam likely to scale back coal plant construction program

first_imgVietnam likely to scale back coal plant construction program FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Vietnam may scale back a plan to boost coal’s role in its power generation as financial restrictions and local environmental concerns make it more difficult to build plants.The National Steering Committee for Power Development has recommended eliminating about 15 gigawatts of planned new coal plants by 2025 due to slow progress and the unwillingness of some regions to develop them, according to state-controlled news website VietnamPlus. The central government will have final say on the plan.The recommendation underscores how coal’s status as the cheapest and easiest option for developing countries to bring power to their people is being challenged on multiple fronts as richer nations shy away from the fuel. Global banks are refusing to lend, making it more difficult and costly to build plants burning the dirtiest fossil fuel, while costs are tumbling for competing renewable generation.Under the committee’s proposal, coal would provide about 37% of Vietnam’s electricity by 2025 instead of half as previously planned. Renewable power would help fill the gap, increasing to about a quarter of the country’s power from 13% in the existing version. The share for natural gas and major hydropower plants, which comprise most of the remaining capacity, would be left little changed.Vietnam is a flashpoint in the global debate about coal power. About 17 gigawatts of coal power is already under construction with another 29 gigawatts at various pre-construction phases, said Daine Loh, an analyst at Fitch Solutions. It has the fourth-largest pipeline of proposed plants, according to BloombergNEF, many of which have drawn financing in past years from lenders in Japan and other countries.Several banks in Japan, as well as South Korea and Singapore, last year joined lenders from Europe and the U.S. in limiting financing in the fuel because of concerns that climate change would mean the polluting projects would have to be shut before loans could be paid off. The departure of Asian lenders will likely be an inflection point in keeping new plants in places like Indonesia and Vietnam from being financed, BNEF analyst Allen Tom Abraham said in a Feb. 25 report. Private sector companies have proposed building about 20.3 gigawatts of coal plants in Vietnam through 2030, according to BNEF. Less than 8 gigawatts of that has reached financial close, and many of the remaining plants will never get financing, Abraham said.[Mai Ngoc Chau, Dan Murtaugh]More: Vietnam may back off from coal as plants get harder to buildlast_img read more

Possum Dark and Shivering Cold: A Close Call on Duncan Ridge

first_imgI drove home with the heater blowing full blast. After my clothes dried some more, I stopped at a convenience store pay phone and called Page. I started quaking again before I finished dropping the quarters into the slot. The same thing happened in the driveway at home. As soon as I opened the back-seat door to grab my gear, I immediately started quivering with the startling intensity of a flu-fevered chill. After nearly two hours of high heat, the reflex was still ready and waiting to pounce with the slightest provocation from the cold.Page had a well-heated home, a mug of hot chocolate, and a bowl of soup waiting for me. After a quick supper, I stripped out of my still-damp clothes and submerged myself in a tub of warm water. As my body relaxed, the long muscles running down the front of my thighs cramped repeatedly and painfully from hip to knee. Another first.Later that night, thoroughly thawed and cramp free, I remembered the compass I always carry in my daypack. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten about my compass. Map and compass, map and compass, I always carried a map and compass in my pack’s top pocket, but what good had it done when I was too addled to remember it. I lifted The Hiking Trails of North Georgia off the bookshelf and looked up what I had written about hypothermia:Wet clothes can lead to heat loss and increase your chances of hypothermia. Remember, wool retains its insulating qualities when it is wet; cotton does not… The first symptom is shivering. Continued shivering means continued seriousness. Shivering may be followed by slurred speech, impaired judgment, weakness, and loss of coordination. The final symptom is unconsciousness.The next morning I quickly came to two conclusions concerning the woefully wrong-headed and compulsive thinking of the afternoon before. Why hadn’t I made the obvious choice, the only rational and logical and no-brainer choice, and followed the blue-blazed path behind the brush piles down to Mulky Gap and the car? Most reroutes are relatively short and tie right back into the existing treadway. Even if there were a few deadfalls, the soon-to-be bypassed segment would have been exponentially better than stumbling headlong willy-nilly off the side of the mountain. So why hadn’t I followed the blocked-off path once I couldn’t find the reroute? I had looked at the map and made a blatantly bonehead decision, a decision hopelessly impaired by the loss of judgment and panic of hypothermia. The hindsight answer was easy: I had butted up against the bottom of the symptom list, the final one where you don’t make it home to a hug and hot chocolate.And once I had made the helter-skelter decision to plunge off the top of the peak like a crazed mountain goat, I repeatedly worried about striking FS 4 south of Mulky Gap. That, of course, was an unfounded fret. If I had swung a little more to the south than I did the day before, I would have run right into the trail and followed it down to the gap. And if I hadn’t come to or crossed a well-defined footpath, that, of course, meant a right turn onto the road would have led to the car. Duh.That morning hypothermia transformed from a CYA passage in my own guidebook—something as alien as a mid-day possum that might happen to someone else, some inexperienced rookie—to a real and relevant danger. I had learned an important lesson about hypothermia’s cold-weather conspirators, collective risk and human error, and its insidious MO. Hypothermia’s early stages are comparable to the beginning symptoms of drunkenness, in that your steadfast belief that you are still in control is the illusion, while the denied reality of impaired function is increasingly the fact.Hypothermia can turn you—anyone, everyone—into a stammering, stump-dumb, scatter-brained fool. It can make you clumsy and incoherent. Unconscious and dead. The invisible line between calculated risk and recklessness is a highly permeable membrane, slick as a sleet-covered root. Poor judgment is the most dangerous grizzly in the woods. Nature bats last and natural selection never sleeps; it doesn’t even catnap. It’s always out there—unwavering as gravity, silent as a meditating shadow, indifferent as time.In his book Natural Acts, David Quammen borrowed a detailed description of hypothermia to add factual data to his chapter A Deathly Chill. Here is some of that description borrowed again:…As that core temperature falls, the symptoms of hypothermia trauma develop in progressive stages. A physician and mountaineer named Ted Lathrop, in a pamphlet published by the Mazamus Climbing Club, has described those stages in detail.Dropping from a normal 98.6° down to 96° at the body core, the victim will show uncontrollable shivering and a distinct onset of clumsiness. From 95° down to 91° the shivering will continue, and now speech will become slurred, mental acuity will decrease, there may also be amnesia. During this stage often come those crucial mistakes in judgment that prevent a victim from taking certain obvious steps that could save him from death. Between 90° and 86° the shivering will be replaced with extreme muscular rigidity… The lowering sky wrapped the rising ridgeline in a dim and gauzy gray. The final grade to Rhodes Mountain rose through forested mist. On the backside of Rhodes, the hardwoods shaped themselves again as I followed the downgrade toward the next gap. The turbulent mix of the colliding air masses—Gulf of Mexico warm, Canadian cold—began to spawn small slanting raindrops as the track began its ascent to a low, unnamed knob. I stopped and thought about turning back, but a quick calculation of time and distance convinced me that I couldn’t catch Steve and Greg before they reached my car. Now I had no vehicle behind me and five peaks, over 6 miles, deteriorating weather, and a car with a good heater in front of me.I slung off my daypack and quickly donned my wool sweater. I looked inside the double lining of trash compactor bags for my poncho. I saw only one stuff sack: my rain jacket. I felt around for the other stuff sack in the bottom of the inner bag. Nothing. I pulled the two water-proof liners out of my pack. Nothing in the bottom of the pack, nothing between bag layers. Then I remembered. The week before I had removed my poncho from my daypack to prolong its life with seam sealer. I had hung it up to dry in the spare bedroom and forgotten to pack it in my hurry last night.I put on my rain jacket and stood there, mulling over what no poncho meant. It meant I was going to get wet below the waist and cold. Wet was a given, how cold the wild card. I now had on all there was at hand: ball cap, cotton T-shirt, flannel shirt, wool sweater, rain jacket, lightweight and fast-drying khaki pants. The night before I had debated whether to wear my polypro longjohn top instead of the cotton T-shirt. Cotton had won because I could put three layers over it, and between poncho and rain jacket, I knew I wasn’t going to get wet anyway. The night before, in the warm house, the insulating long underwear seemed like hot and sweaty overkill.The cloud-dark sky clamped down lower and colder. I stopped to weigh my options, then started wheeling at a slightly faster pace. The cold rain fell harder and settled into the steady rhythm of a shower. Despite the cooling temperature, I still sweated inside my jacket on the upridge pulls. Although I was hiking steadily between stops, I wasn’t making good time or even average progress. Note taking had become an excruciatingly slow process. Each time, I took the notebook out of my jacket pocket, hunched over, forced the wet pages open to the place-holder pencil, wrote as fast as I could until the page was too sodden to accept lead, thumbed ahead to drier paper, wrote some more, skipped ahead.The rain popped on my jacket. The temperature continued to dip, down into the 40s now for sure. My breath billowed white smoke when I stopped to take notes on the harder uphills. The interiors of the monochromatic clouds—formless and flowing—darkened to charcoal gray. My pants were soaked from jacket bottom to boots. My wool sweater was becoming increasingly wet from rain water finding its way down and through my beat-up jacket. I would have been fine if only I had my poncho like on every other hike except this one. Yeah, and if frogs had pockets, they could carry pistols to shoot snakes with. And if your aunt had balls, she’d be your uncle.I rolled my measuring wheel east along the well-defined line of Duncan Ridge, following the lift and fall of named mountains and knobs through the dense gray void of liquid vapor. The ridge crowned over Gregory Knob at mile 5.8, over Payne Knob at mile 6.3. Well over half way now for sure—cold but still OK. The afternoon was now the deepest shade of gray I had ever hiked through: a dark dusk nearly the color of wet cement.As I stood writing notes on the way down from Payne, I held stock still and stared as a slow-moving mammal crossed straight over the top of the fold, left to right, no more than 30 feet in front of me. The primitive animal remained unperturbed; it scarcely picked up its pace after spotting me. It was a possum, its prehensile tail scaly and rat-naked, its fur a much lighter gray than the surrounding mist. A minute before, I would have bet the wet shirt off my back and the two twenties in my wallet that such a mid-day sighting of an active possum would have been out of the question, impossible.The dim-witted critter broke my tunnel-vision concentration. I stood there, cold and baffled, trying to process the rarity and portent of crossing paths with a possum on a Southern Appalachian ridgeline in early afternoon. The day had darkened enough to stimulate the nocturnal marsupial into diurnal activity, that much was certain.The appearance of the possum struck me as a reprimand and a warning—nature’s own foreshadowing as potent as any image a director could have plotted on the same cold-mountain movie set. The whole scene seemed incongruous. Neither of us should have been abroad in this weather at this time of day. I should have been home waiting for a sunny and dry day; the possum should have been denned up waiting for nightfall. Looking around, I now felt the full foreboding of being all alone and cold in the dark gray rain. Alone and cold in mist-bound mountains indifferent to human error—or beseeching prayer.I walked faster. My world turned inward to a small, tag-along circle of visibility, increasing cold, and growing worry. I began to shiver when I stopped to write notes. Sleet mixed with the rain, then switched to all sleet as I followed the narrow treadway up the northern flank of Parke Knob. The wind quartered in steady from what I guessed was the northwest. The breeze blew just hard enough to shoot the icy birdshot down at a slant that stung the left side of my face a bit. No big deal, but definitely another bad sign. The wind-slung ice lasted only fifteen to twenty minutes, but the emphatic sound of it ticking off my jacket, then crunching underfoot, drove home the certainty that I should not have pushed ahead without my poncho. Dumb move. I chanted a pep talk through chattering teeth: stay positive, keep moving, you’ll be OK, keep thinking, keep moving, you’ll be all right—my mantra crowding out increasingly uncomfortable thoughts. By the time I reached Fish Gap at mile 7.9, I had begun shivering violently every time I stopped. I guessed I had no more than 3 miles to go and, if necessary, I could stop wheeling and haul ass for the warmth and security of Steve’s car. I reached the topknot of the penultimate mountain, Clements, as the rain lessened to a thick, glasses-fogging mizzle. But as the rain subsided, the temperature began to drop even more as the cold front wedged through and the wind increased its evaporative cooling. Upper 30s at least, possibly mid-30s on the summits according to my bare-hand thermometers. My convulsive shaking continued for longer distances between stops.I quit taking notes. On my way up the last mountain, Akin, I slipped on a sleet-slick root and fell, thudding to the ground on my right-side hip, ribs, and shoulder. I lay on the thin layer of pellet ice a few moments, taking inventory of pain and moving parts. Other than the shock of its suddenness and having the breath knocked out of me, I was uninjured and soon scrambled to my feet. It was the first time I had ever fallen while holding a hiking stick in one hand and a measuring wheel in the other.The fall knocked out more than my breath. It knocked out the last of my denial too: I was more than just cold and wet—way more. I was already in the early stages of hypothermia and getting colder fast. My body and brain were sliding further down the list of increasingly serious symptoms. My movements were becoming uncoordinated; my thoughts were becoming sluggish and stuttering. I remembered what I had once read about hypothermia: that by the time you realize you’re in trouble, you’re really in trouble.Fear’s first clench grabbed my gut: natural selection’s greedy fingers come to say hello. All right…buck up…get with it…get moving…keep moving…keep going…watch your footing. Heat…heat is only…a mostly downhill…a mostly downhill mile away. OK…yeah…keep moving…keep moving.On top of Akin at close to mile 10.0, several piles of branches barricaded the continuing trail straight ahead. I stood there for a few moments, dumbstruck, trying to process what this meant. Then I got it: this stretch of the tread had been rerouted, or was in the process of being rerouted, for an indeterminate length. I backtracked and searched for the new blaze and reroute that had to be there. Nothing. I traced a couple of concentric circles through the mist-murk atop the mountain’s small crown. Nothing, no luck.I stood there, trying to think, my head shaking furiously, my teeth clicking like cartoon dentures, the warm outflow of my breath pulsing in quick white puffs. My shivering was now a brain-rattling seizure I couldn’t stop. My whole body screamed for relief. I had reached a tense and teetering edge, one where all control would start to slip away if I dropped any further down the symptom list.Time to go, time to get out of here. Get warm. That’s it. Get warm. Get off this mountain. Car. Car. Get to the damn car. Something. Anything. Get moving. Get going. Do it. Do it! Do it!!I unfolded my Chattahoochee National Forest map, but couldn’t hold it still enough to make out the details. I tried to chant my drill sergeant’s marching commands out loud—“rock steady, rock steady”—to calm myself, but all I managed was a series of gasping grunts, loud and panicked. I wadded the map to the area I needed, sat down, stretched it taut across my trembling knee and located Akin. I abruptly decided to bail, to jump off the north side of the mountain, then curl to the right and down as I lost what turned out to be 750 feet of elevation to the road. I was afraid I would strike the road in a place where it wouldn’t be obvious which way led to Mulky Gap, so I decided to intersect the road either at the car or to the north of it. No time for screwing up now.I dropped straight off the mountaintop. After a minute or two, I ran smack into slash from a clear-cut. I skirted the cut down and to the right from its upslope edge. Thrashing through the wet woods generated some heat but drenched my pants even more. I kept getting the spokes of my measuring wheel hung up in branches. It shouldn’t have been that difficult to hold the big orange wheel so it wouldn’t get snagged, but I couldn’t manage it. I bushwhacked through the forest down and down, below the view-obstructing clouds now, my movements increasingly clumsy, my route choices often slow and wrong. The synapses between the rest of my body and brain had grown gummy; neither focus nor force of will would make my body behave with customary coordination. I fell in semi-controlled slides, feet first on the wet or sleet-covered leaves.I kept slanting downslope and to the right through hardwoods and evergreen heath shrubs. The road had to be out there somewhere. I was confused by muddled and conflicting fears for a minute or two. I stopped to weigh the worrisome thoughts, but the racking shiver-seizures immediately shook me like a terrier shaking a ragdoll. I started down the pitch again, moving faster. But the faster I bushwhacked down the steep slant of the slope, the more likely I was to fall. And the more I fell, the more likely I was to become hurt or seriously injured. Injured?   An injury…Jesus Christ…that would be dicey. But a slower and more careful pace…that…that…that meant continued exposure to the cold…which might…could…freeze my ass beyond mindful function. The conflict was short lived. My mind was too numb to fear falling for long. Both mind and body became fixated on the same objective again: the car…the white car…the white car with its savior heater.I stumbled down and down, crashing through the low understory brush, in a single-minded rush, a barely controlled panic. I worked my way to a light gap opened by half a dozen wind-thrown oaks. Down and to the far left margin of the partial view sat Steve’s white Mitsubishi, not where I thought it would be but as welcome as a winning lottery ticket and only a few minutes away. I had angled too hard to the right; my trajectory would have led me to the road south of the gap and car. I patted my pocket to quell a “what-if” that had suddenly erupted through my good cheer. The car keys were still there.Changing tack, I slipped and stumbled and slid down the steep slope toward deliverance and Dahlonega. I tried to grip hiking stick and measuring wheel in my left hand so I could use my right to grab trees to keep from falling on the slush-slick leaves. I repeatedly dropped wheel or stick as I pin-balled from bole to bole, and fell in slow motion several times as I attempted to pick one of them up. My legs became even more uncooperative; they frequently failed to accomplish the bidding of my mind’s will in a timely manner. I told my feet to stop, hit the brakes, but they kept right on stepping instead. I told my feet to coordinate with my hand’s quick reach for branch or trunk holdfasts, but I tobogganed on my butt instead.My spastic hand clicked the key on surrounding metal before I managed to slide it into the car-door slot. Same with the ignition switch. I buried the heat lever into the red zone and drove off into the dusk. I met no other vehicles on the dirt-gravel road, which was good because I couldn’t steer Steve’s car in a straight line while my hands trembled against the wheel. I was drunk from the cold.My fits of full-body shakes slowly subsided to intermittent spasms, then gradually abated to quick shuddering gasps as I entered Dahlonega. The city lights were shining, and it was nearly dark when I made my first circuit around the square. I cruised slowly around and around, but couldn’t locate either my hiking buddies or my old Subaru. Finally, Steve jumped off the curb and flagged me down. He told me they had gone into a Laundromat to dry some of their wet clothes. They had seen me make four passes. Each of the last three times they had run closer and closer to the road, yelling and waving, sure I would see or hear them. “You looked right at us several times.”He told me to call Page, my wife to be, before I drove home. He had called her at least an hour earlier to find out if she had heard from me. “She’s really worried. I told her what happened; I told her about the rain, but I didn’t tell her how cold and dark it got. We were worried too; we thought you might have gotten lost in the fog or gotten in trouble because of the cold. Man, it was spooky dark up there; we were in the clouds until we descended way down off Wallalah. It must have been rough up there for so long. We waited for 15 or 20 minutes at the trailhead, but we knew that you knew you couldn’t catch us, so we left and came here. How was it?   I know you were wet and cold.”I wanted to tell him about the possum, the sleet, the first fall; about shaking out of my shoes, the blocked path, the bushwhack, and almost missing his car, but I was unable to utter the necessary sentences. All I could manage was a laconic, “Yeah, it was rough out there. I don’t think I’ll do anything that dumb again.”center_img North of Gainesville, the higher folds of the foothills ripple toward the upper Piedmont’s meeting with the mountains. North of Dahlonega, the clouds drifted low and unbroken, a solid ceiling of discouraging gray from horizon to horizon. Past Suches on Highway 60, the weather looked even worse. The sky was now a denser and darker gray. The clouds had become a thick matting, an opaque lid, sealing off and shutting out the sun.Two friends and I had met shortly after sunrise to begin our drive from Athens to the North Georgia mountains. I was on the clock, under pressure to complete a second edition of my trail guide. Steve and Greg had joined me for a day of ridgecrest hiking along the northern border of the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area.Steve parked his shuttle car on the pull-off shoulder of FS 4 at Mulky Gap. Then he joined Greg and me for the drive back down the dirt-gravel forest service road to 60, where we continued northwestward on the winding mountain highway to our starting-point trailhead beside Little Skeenah Creek.My goal for the day was to hike the first half of Section 2 of the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail. Despite its relatively low elevations, Section 2 was the most strenuous long stretch of trail in Georgia. Back in 1985, the route roller-coastered along its namesake ridgeline, climbing up and over nearly every peak before dropping to the next gap. Because of its length and difficulty, I had made the easy decision to split the section into two manageable segments for wheel measuring and note taking.The TV forecast—rain accompanied by colder temperatures likely—had seemed more abstract, less bothersome, the night before. A cold front was closing in on the mountains, but there was a chance it would arrive late enough for us to finish our hike dry, or wet us only for a mile or two at the tag end of our trek. But now the dark sky was working on our minds and moods. Our good-humored banter at the early morning rendezvous had turned glum. Our conversation became intermittent, then sagged into silence. We were three sons of World War Two fathers; no one wanted to be the first to pull the plug, to whimp out. We held our own counsel and followed our flagging momentum to Little Skeenah Creek.It was early April, transition season in Highland Dixie, when winter eddies back into spring’s flow: bipolar-weather time with meteorological swings from sunny and warm one day to snow in the highcountry the next. But I wasn’t particularly worried. Weather forecasters had cried wolf way too often; time and time again my days in the mountains had turned out better than predicted. I had begun to view forecasts as worst-case scenarios and started to ignore anything less than an 80 percent chance of an all-day rain with scattered tornadoes. I also had begun to view myself as a hardy and competent backcountry hiker, one who always carried map, compass, and matches, extra flannel shirt, rain jacket, and poncho.Across the bridged creek we began the meandering ascent to the first mountain—the one with the euphonious name of Wallalah—through red maple, American holly, and towering white pine straight as sunbeams. Spring’s annual resurrection had just begun its first blush down low along Little Skeenah. Christmas fern crosiers poked up pale green and fuzzy. Trout lily and Catesby’s trillium had punched small leaves up into the vernal light. The flowering dogwoods seeking the highway’s sun gap had yet to whiten the roadside woods. Their newly born-again leaves were still tiny points of pastel green.We ascended a ridgeline with mountain laurel under oaks and a few tall shortleaf pines. Ten minutes later, we flipped the calendar back a page as we climbed into the colder country of Southern Appalachian winter above the last trees with thickened buds. Back at our lowland homes, the greening forests and fields matched the month’s picture of a warm and resurgent spring. But up here, above spring’s quickening thrust, we walked through hardwoods winter-stripped and starkly skeletal against the somber gray sky. The thatch of their discarded leaves rasped underfoot. The temperature felt like low to mid-50s, not bad at all heading uphill with a pack on your back. We followed the blue blazes past our first good view of the day—a rock outcrop overlook open toward Toonowee Mountain across Highway 60 to the south. The higher peaks were already shrouded in mist, their summits sheared off and buried in cloud belly.The undercoating of the flat-bottomed clouds continued to grow thicker and darker. They were now as dark as the air-borne water bladders of thunderstorms and looked ready to burst. The three of us crossed Wallalah’s rocky crown and kept walking, descending to Section 2’s first prominent saddle. After a straight-up-the ridge grunt, we took our first sit-down break at mile 3.2 atop the nearly level summit of Licklog Mountain, at 3,470 feet a modest peak by Mountain South standards. On Licklog’s crown—1,455 feet higher than the trailhead, close to five degrees cooler from elevation gain alone—we could still look out and down from late winter to early spring.The cold front’s first volley gave a low whistling voice to the tuliptree and oak. Our climb sweat chilled in the wind. As we were standing up to start moving again, Greg—a contemplative botanist and reluctant long-distance hiker—announced that he wanted to turn back. Steve and I now had cover; neither of us would be the first to wimp out. The three of us fidgeted through an awkward silence. Normally good to go in most any kind of weather, Steve finally said he still felt weak from a bad cold and didn’t want to risk a relapse. Momentum and an unwillingness to lose a day of work made me want to forge ahead. Sensing my reluctance to turn back, Steve called my bluff and offered to swap car keys and wait for me at the courthouse in Dahlonega. Greg agreed. I accepted their gracious, guilt-induced offer, told them I would hike hard, then pushed my measuring wheel away into the late morning and worsening weather.last_img read more

BITES, BEERS AND BALLOONS, SAVOR OCTOBER IN MOUNTAINEER COUNTRY

first_imgYour lip smacking adventure starts with West Virginia’s Statewide Farm to Table Dinner on Oct. 3 at the Erickson Alumni Center on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. This celebration includes Appalachian recipes with home-cooked local meat and produce, accompanied by beer and wine cultivated in the Mountain State. A side dish of bluegrass is served by local band 18 Strings. The bonus: WVU’s homecoming is October 4-6, so there is plenty going on! The painted mountains of autumn that surround Mountaineer Countryare rivaled on Oct. 24-27 with the return of hot air balloons during the UniversityToyota Balloons Over Morgantown. Five spectacular launches are planned over thecourse of the weekend, beginning with “Night Glow” on Thursday evening atMorgantown Mall. The magnificent colors of the balloons are illuminated afterdark and make a sensational display. The remaining morning and evening massascensions will take place at the Morgantown Municipal Airport. All events areweather permitting. Thefollowing day, High Ground Brewing in Terra Alta, W.Va. marks Oktoberfest with Bar-B-QedBeast in the beer garden. A full German menu, three German style beers on tap,including a Kölsch, a Märzen and aHefeweizen . . . and, of course, an Oompah Band. More information at https://www.tourmorgantown.com/events/oktoberfest/. The culinary feast continues on Oct. 6 with a colorful show of autumn leaves and decadent evening feast at the West Virginia Botanic Garden in Morgantown. Award-winning chef Anne Hart of Provence Market Cafe in Bridgeport, W.Va. prepares an intimate dinner that promises to be unforgettable. Anne was recently named one of the 50 top women chefs in USA Today! Travel to Reedsville, just 12 miles from Morgantown for the cozy monthly dinner at Modern Homestead. Owners Lucas Tatham, a West Virginia native, and Trellis Smith, a transplant from New Orleans, prepare meals based on new and classic cookbooks sold in their gift shop. The Oct. 12 menu features slow braised tomato based sauce with beef, pork and lamb ragu served over pasta, followed by a pear cake with whipped cream. Plan on staying the night at the 1930s guest house (newlyrenovated and comfortably furnished by Tatham and Smith as well) because Oct.13 is the WV Chestnut Festival, honoring the great American chestnut trees thatonce held a prominent position in the eastern hardwood forests. The smell ofroasting chestnuts waft through the quaint town of Rowlesburg, host of thecelebration.center_img Venture off the beaten path of foodie tours and sink your teethinto the taste of Appalachia! October is hosting a number of ways to devouryour way through Mountaineer Country. Once the balloons have taken to the skies, there are beer tastings on the horizon. The first, Oct. 25, is Drafts on Deckers, an evening of craft beer sampling in the renovated basement of Morgantown Brewing Company. It’s all for a good cause, proceeds benefit Friends of Deckers Creek, a dedicated group of individuals working to restore the 64-mile watershed that meanders through two counties and draws kayakers, rock climbers and wildlife. Mountaineer Country is centrally located in the mid-Atlantic, just2-1/2 hours from the Metro DC market or a short flight on Southern Airways fromBaltimore Washington International (BWI) or Pittsburgh International Airport(PIT) to Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW). Daily flights from Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Chicago O’HareInternational Airport (ORD) arrive in North Central West Virginia Airport(CKB). Roasted chestnuts at street vendor Whether you nibble, chew or ravage your way through MountaineerCountry, the accommodations are plentiful, ranging from rustic cabins–completewith hot tub and breakfast basket–to boutique hotels situated in the heart ofdowntown Morgantown. Discounted rates are available at MountaineerDeals.com. For help planning your weekend getaway, contact the Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-458-7373 or visit tourmorgantown.com.last_img read more

After cancellation of Asheville Marathon and Half, runners make the best of it

first_imgJust a week before the Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate was scheduled to take place, more than 2,500 runners received the news that the event was canceled due to COVID-19. “To say we were disappointed we had to cancel is an understatement,” race representatives said in a press release. “With runners coming from nearly all 50 states, we knew our participants had made many personal sacrifices and trained on average 4-6 months for these endurance events.”  Race Director Daphne Kirkwood also got in on the action, running her first half marathon after being diagnosed with lymphoma nearly two years ago. “I ran in solidarity today with all the virtual runners participating in the Asheville Marathon,” Kirkwood said. “Today I celebrate with all of you, we are in this together. Running will help us through this tough time we are all in. Keep running. Keep hope. Keep believing. Keep loving.” Photo from Getty Images “The trails at Biltmore may have been more inviting but what the heck, adaptability is the key,” said Bruce Nelson of Arkansas, who participated in the virtual race.  “I had fun exploring all the New York tourist spots I usually avoid,” said Shirley Mei, who ran her race in New York City. Mei also used her run as a chance to fundraise for cancer research with Team in Training. “The miles are meaningful, but the funds raised mean even more,” she said.  Determined to make the most of it anyway, the marathon decided to go virtual. Four hundred and fifteen runners joined the online event, running their full or half marathons on their own at home. “We received photos from an almost empty New York City, snowy trails from Arkansas, and chalk-covered sidewalks from children who cheered on their mom’s and dad’s,” race representatives said. last_img read more

Big Cocaine Seizure Made Off Guatemala’s Pacific Coast

first_imgBy Dialogo December 07, 2009 The Guatemalan navy and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration detained 12 people who were transporting 2,000 kilos (about 2.2 tons) of cocaine aboard four speedboats off Guatemala’s Pacific coast, officials said. A Guatemalan army spokesman told reporters that the joint operation was carried out in the country’s territorial waters, some 80 nautical miles off the coast of the southern province of Escuintla. Because it was an operation led by the DEA and the case is still under investigation, the identities and nationalities of the suspects were not revealed. According to local media, the drug smugglers departed from South America and had Mexico as their final destination. On Oct. 21, the DEA, with the support of the Guatemalan navy, captured a semi-submersible vessel in which three Colombians and two Mexicans were transporting five tons of cocaine. That shipment was seized off Guatemala’s Pacific coast and was the biggest cocaine haul ever confiscated in that country’s territory. About 11 tons of cocaine have been seized this year in Guatemala, according to official figures. Separately, Guatemalan security forces seized a shipment of 82,899 tablets of pseudoephedrine – the key ingredient in methamphetamine – that had been shipped from Bangladesh. The pseudoephedrine, whose importation and sale has been banned in Guatemala since February, was found at a warehouse near La Aurora international airport. The shipment of the drug had been hidden in a shipment of women’s clothing that had recently arrived in Guatemala from the Asian country, the National Police’s press office said.last_img read more

Aggressive Response, Stockpiles Should Help Contain Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak

first_imgBy Dialogo November 11, 2010 Hello. They are Argentine troops in the photo not Uruguayan…Greetings! As the number of confirmed cholera cases and deaths in Haiti continue to climb, so do concerns about the spread of the disease in the capital. U.S. officials say Haiti is well positioned to contain the outbreak. U.S. State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley says the Haitian government has established 16 treatment centers in Port-au-Prince, which he said are effectively helping the government evaluate the ongoing cholera outbreak and the fallout from Hurricane Tomas. As of Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 9th), Haiti’s health ministry said more than 580 people had died of cholera-related complications and more than 9,000 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak appeared in late October. Also Tuesday, the first cholera-related fatality in Port-au-Prince was confirmed, weeks after the outbreak first appeared north of the capital. Crowley told reporters in Washington that Haitian officials had prepared for the possibility that the disease might spread in Port-au-Prince. “Obviously, the Haitian government in establishing these treatment centers fully anticipates, as I think there were some earlier reports of, an increase in cholera cases in and around the capital,” said P.J. Crowley. The head of Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population, Gabriel Timothee, said the government considers the cholera outbreak to be a national security issue. And Crowley said he believes the Haitian government’s aggressive response, in cooperation with the help of international partners, should help to contain the disease. The U.S Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is among the agencies that pre-positioned supplies such as hygiene kits, water containers and blankets, in advance of Hurricane Tomas, which dumped rain on Haiti last week. Health officials fear, though, that the rains and flooding from Tomas will help the disease to spread. Cholera is caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water, and symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. As in previous outbreaks, Crowley said officials expect to see the mortality rate, relative to the number of cholera cases, decline.last_img read more

Old Enemy, New Strategy

first_img The Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley, known by its Spanish acronym VRAE, is a remote region in the center of Peru characterized by rugged mountainous terrain and densely forested jungles. Home to nearly a third of the country’s coca crops, the VRAE region is also the focal point for a counterinsurgency war being fought by the Peruvian Armed Forces against the Shining Path. Once a politically motivated terrorist organization, the Shining Path has resurfaced as a narcoterrorist group splintered into two relatively independent factions. One group is in the Upper Huallaga Valley, and the other, larger group, is in the VRAE. Formed in the 1970s by philosophy professor Abimael Guzmán, the Shining Path was a Maoist guerrilla group bent on overthrowing the Peruvian government. For more than two decades, the terrorist group waged a bloody war against the government, carrying out bombings and assassinations that killed more than 30,000 Peruvians, according to official accounts. Whether it was in the countryside of central and southern Peru where the rebels were strongest, or in the capital of Lima itself, the Shining Path assassinated citizens, including government officials, business owners and even peasants, without impunity. With the insurgency in the Huallaga Valley reduced by security forces to a few remnants, the military is concentrating on the VRAE region by deploying close to 5,000 military personnel. In 2008, the Armed Forces established the VRAE Special Command, made up of members of the Peruvian Army, Marine Corps and Air Force. This new command gave the Armed Forces a heavy presence in the region in addition to increased resources and logistics. Since that time, Peruvian forces have had success in capturing numerous terrorist members, recovering ungoverned areas that were under Shining Path influence, destroying several cocaine labs, and rescuing women and children who were being used as foot soldiers. These results have not come without losses, however, with about 60 police and Military officers killed in the past three years, including five Soldiers who died in an ambush on the eve of President Ollanta Humala’s election and two more who were killed just days before his inauguration in July 2011. In decline The terrorist group began its decline in 1992, when Guzmán and other political leaders were captured and imprisoned by security forces. By 2002, analysts estimated that the group had no more than 200 members, down from an estimated 5,000 at the height of its insurgency. With no ideological leadership, the group became more militant and turned to drug trafficking, resembling the Colombian guerrilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2010 report, Peru has surpassed neighboring Colombia in becoming the world’s top producer of coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine production. The Peruvian government believes that the Shining Path receives about $15 million annually from drug profits to stay armed and maintain its clandestine network. “They lost their way, and now they’re simply an organization which survives [on drug trafficking], fighting with the police and the military, but with no chance of winning or gaining any sort of political control,” said General Carlos Morán, the former head of the counterdrugs directorate of the Peruvian National Police. Eliminating the enemy Sir, did you know that the first image is from a Colombian command, not a Peruvian command! A new strategy Recognizing the need for a new counterinsurgency strategy, the Peruvian Military has introduced two more battalions to reinforce the two already in place, with one battalion designed to focus specifically on counterintelligence. “We’re paying much more attention to the problem of drug trafficking. We’re conducting operations against drug trafficking in integrated operations with the police where this had not normally been done in the past,” said Lieutenant General Leonel Cabrera Pino, former VRAE commander and current commander of the Central Region, including Lima. “We can win again. We won the war against Shining Path in the 1980s and 1990s, and we’re going to win it again.” Upon his inauguration, President Humala, a former Army lieutenant colonel who was deployed in the Upper Huallaga Valley, instructed Minister of Defense Daniel Mora Zevallos to provide the VRAE Command with all the necessary resources to defeat the Shining Path once and for all. Some of those resources are already being implemented with the Army’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which transmit the locations of Shining Path members in real time to the nearest patrol unit. “I believe that we have to press a bit harder in the fight, because if we give them breathing room, they’ll start to expand again,” added Lt. Gen. Cabrera Pino. Fostering security solutions Oscar Picón Alcalde/Center For Hemispheric Defense Studies Alumni Association Peruvian security forces battle crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the most challenging of environments, such as the Apurímac and Ene Rivers Valley. To explore these intense regional issues in a multinational form, the Peruvian Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies Alumni Association hosted the Second Hemispheric Security and Defense Conference in Lima on November 7-8, 2011. American, British, Colombian, Israeli, Mexican and Peruvian experts discussed narcotrafficking trends, anti-terrorism strategies, organized crime issues and security-related technology, among other topics. Participants included members of the Peruvian Armed Forces, Peruvian National Police, government ministries, military schools and others linked to the defense sector. The conference helped generate alternative solutions to security and defense issues. More than 250 military and civilian participants showed that an open forum, where topics are presented and debated, worked well for the group, and the format will be proposed to become standard. By Dialogo January 01, 2012last_img read more

Brazil Fighting Organized Crime on the Border

first_img The Brazilian Government launched Operation Ágata 5 on its southern borders in August 2012, deploying 9,000 troops from the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines to combat transborder and organized crime while increasing state presence in these regions. The Navy sent 30 ships into the rivers, lakes and seas bordering Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. The Air Force provided Black Hawk and Pantera helicopters, as well as F5 and Super Tucano aircraft for air surveillance. Marines from the state of Rio Grande do Sul were called on for the entire operation. “It is a border operation whose objective is, above all, to repress crime,” said Minister of Defense Celso Amorim. General Carlos Bolivar Goellner, southern military commander, said patrolling the areas between the cities of Foz do Iguaçu, in the state of Paraná, and Corumbá, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, was critical because these areas have the most drug trafficking and smuggling of goods. With Federal Police and other interagency support, the total force participating in Operation Ágata 5 surpassed 10,000 personnel during 30 days. Sources: www.ultimoinstante.com.br, www.sondabrasil.com.br By Dialogo October 01, 2012last_img read more