FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Sophie Vorath for RenewEconomy:The Turnbull Coalition government has kicked off its informal re-election campaign by repeating its desire to build a massive coal fired power station in north Queensland, only this time it proposes to use climate funds to help pay for the project.In confirmation that little has changed in the switch from the Abbott to the Turnbull regimes, Queensland MP Ewan Jones became the latest member of the Coalition to outline the federal government’s plan for future energy innovation: more fossil fuels.On the same day as a compelling economic case for shifting Australia to 100 per cent renewable energy is published, and just days ahead of Australia signing the Paris climate agreement, Jones suggested that the government could use funds from Direct Action, as well as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the northern Australian infrastructure fund, to support development of a 1.2GW coal-fired generator in north Queensland.Ignore for a moment the fact that Australia already has a surplus of nearly 7,000MW of coal-fired capacity, and the carbon emissions impact of adding yet more, Jones argued that a coal-fired power station was critical to address unemployment issues around Townsville.Leaving aside the obvious contradiction of using federal government funds allocated to fight climate change and to finance renewable energy to build a coal plant to power a coal mine, it sounds like a great plan – just not one for this century.For a more 21st century approach to the problems of future energy supply in a world that is committed to curbing dangerous global warming, the Coalition need only take a look at the Institute for Sustainable Futures in Sydney report, released on Tuesday.The report, which was commissioned by GetUp and Solar Citizens, models a scenario where not just electricity, but also all transport and heat used by Australian industry, is transitioned to 100% renewable energy by 2050.The study found that making this shift would cost about $800 billion between now and 2050. And while that amounts to about $650 billion more than continuing with the status quo, this cost is more than cancelled out by removing the need for fossil fuels, and thus saving the economy up to $740 billion; a total saving of $90 billion over the period to 2050.In short, fuel cost savings would cover 110 per cent of the capital investment required to transition the economy.Separately, John Hewson, a former leader of the Liberal Party leader and an economist, said, “the Adani Carmichael mine is a massive mistake for this country” – both economically and from the point of view of climate change. The Indian energy minister this week repeated his intention to bring an end to coal imports into India“To contemplate opening a large new mine simply for the benefit of exporting that coal to India, it boggles my mind.”“Having said that I think there are some interesting projects around in North Queensland,” he added, pointing to a project in the region he had been working on for the last couple of years, which was helping the sugar cane industry diversify, by keeping the waste the gas from the sugar cane and using it to generate 100 per cent renewable electricity.“You can have a game changer in the sugar industry by a simple application of technology. I think that’s where a big future exists for northern Australia, is applying technology. And you can have a lot of renewable energy generated in the sugar industry all the way down the coast if you just apply that simple model.”“The model we have is you build a plant a mill that’s about a 100-year life, you pay back all the debt and equity under that model in 25 years and the family get to own it…for the next 75 years, pass it on to your family.“These are solutions that have got economic benefit, obviously jobs and growth, but equally very significant social benefits, and they keep families together, they keep the industry going, they rejuvenate a town like Townsville.”Coalition wants to build 1.2GW coal plant, using climate funds On the Blogs: Australian Government Proposes Funneling Clean Energy Funds Into Coal
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Business Insider:John Flannery is out as the head of General Electric after just more than a year at the top of the company. He will be replaced as chairman and CEO by H. Lawrence Culp Jr., who served as the CEO and president of Danaher Corporation from 2000 to 2014. Culp has been a GE board member since April. GE shares are up more than 13% on the news.GE said it would take a $23 billion goodwill charge for its power business. “GE expects to take a noncash goodwill impairment charge related to the GE Power business,” a company release said. “GE Power’s current goodwill balance is approximately $23 billion and the goodwill impairment charge is likely to constitute substantially all of this balance.”In its second-quarter earnings report, the company said profit from its power business dropped 58%, but it was able to match expectations with solid earnings growth in its aviation and healthcare businesses. Flannery said he expected the power business to “remain weak through 2020.”The conglomerate also warned that it would miss its 2018 earnings guidance. In July, the company reiterated it expected to see adjusted earnings of $1 to $1.07 a share. “While GE’s businesses other than Power are generally performing consistently with previous guidance, due to weaker performance in the GE Power business, the company will fall short of previously indicated guidance for free cash flow and EPS for 2018,” the release said.More: General Electric removes John Flannery as CEO, says it will take a $23 billion charge to its power business Problems at GE power unit prompt CEO shuffle, major impairment charge
FirstEnergy Solutions shuts two coal units at Bruce Mansfield plant FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. has shut down nearly half of its coal capacity as the bankrupt power provider recently deactivated units 1 and 2 at its Bruce Mansfield coal plant in Beaver County, Pa.The retirement of 1,660 MW of coal capacity reduces the output of what was once the company’s largest coal plant to a single 830-MW unit. FirstEnergy Solutions, or FES, filed a deactivation notice with PJM Interconnection in November 2018 reflecting the Feb. 5 retirement of the plant’s oldest units.The deactivation comes earlier than originally anticipated. In late August 2018, FES said it notified PJM of its plans to shut down more than 4,000 MW of coal and oil capacity in Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2021 and 2022, including the 2,490-MW Bruce Mansfield coal plant, because of unfavorable market conditions.While the initial plan was to deactivate all three units at Bruce Mansfield in June 2021, an FES spokesman said the company revised the plan because “units 1 and 2 had been operating at extremely limited capacity since January 2018.” Unit 3 is still expected to operate until June 2021.Bruce Mansfield is directly owned and operated by FES subsidiary FirstEnergy Generation LLC.Murray Energy Corp. was the primary supplier of coal to the Mansfield power plant in 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Murray Energy’s Marshall County mine in West Virginia supplied the power plant.More ($): FirstEnergy Solutions shuts down nearly half of coal capacity
U.S. renewable sector investments topped $55 billion in 2019, a new record FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:The U.S. renewable energy industry doesn’t seem to take much notice of President Donald Trump’s views on green energy and climate change as investments surged to a record last year.New investments were buoyed by wind and solar companies rushing to qualify for federal tax credits being scaled back this year. A total of $55.5 billion were spent in the sector last year, an increase of 28%, second only to China and beating Europe, according to research by BloombergNEF.“It’s notable that in the third year of the Trump presidency, which has not been particularly supportive of renewables, U.S. clean energy investment set a new record by a country mile,” said Ethan Zindler, head of Americas for BNEF.Global money flowing into the industry totaled $282.2 billion last year, up 1% from 2018. Despite the modest rise in investment, falling costs of wind and solar power ensured a healthy increase in capacity to 180 gigawatts, an annual increase of 13%.China maintained its global dominance even as investments fell 8% to $83.4 billion, or the lowest since 2013. European renewable energy investments also slid, down 7% to $54.3 billion.Brazil, which also has a climate-skeptic President in Jair Bolsonaro, boosted investments by 74% to $6.5 billion.[Akshat Rathi, Jeremy Hodges]More: Even under Trump, U.S. renewable investment hit a record in 2019
Thanks to increased consumer awareness and demand, there are more “green” choices in furniture available than ever before. Pictured: A Savvy Rest organic crib mattress distributed by Furnature. Photo cred: Savvy RestEarthTalk®E – The Environmental MagazineDear EarthTalk: Are there certain brands or retail stores where sustainable furniture options can be had? And what should I look for when shopping for greener furniture? — W. Cary, Trenton, NJWhile we now opt often for greener cars, appliances, household cleaners and food to up the sustainability quotient of our lifestyles, the furniture we spend all day and night in close contact with is often far from eco-friendly. The vast majority of sofas, chairs, beds and other upholstered furniture we love to lounge on contain potentially carcinogenic formaldehyde and/or toxic flame retardants and stain resistors that have been linked to developmental and hormonal maladies. And much of the wood used in desks, chairs, tables and the like (as well as in the frames of upholstered furniture) comes from unsustainably harvested lumber which contributes to the deforestation of tropical rainforests.But today, thanks to increased consumer awareness and demand, there are more “green” choices in furniture available than ever before. A good place to start the search for that perfect couch or chair is the website of the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC), a non-profit formed in 2006 to help develop solid standards and certification processes within the home furnishings industry. The organization has become a leading information source and network of some 400 “green” furniture makers and related retailers, suppliers and designers as well as other non-profits. Consumers looking for greener furniture can browse SFC’s membership list which features contact information and website links accordingly. Buyers beware: Just because a furniture maker is listed with SFC doesn’t mean it eschews all chemicals or unsustainably harvested wood entirely, but only that it is making strides in that direction. Consumers should still be knowledgeable about which green features they are looking for and/or which kinds of materials to avoid.Of course, with something like furniture you really need to see and feel it in order to decide whether it will work in your space. Eco-conscious consumers making the rounds at local furniture stores should keep a few key questions in mind for salespersons. Does the piece in question contain formaldehyde, flame retardants or stain resistant sprays? Is the fabric used certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard program (GOTS, which mandates that at least 70 percent of fibers are derived from organic sources and do not contain chemical dyes or other additives)? Is the wood used certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as sustainably harvested? Does the piece contain any parts or pieces that come from bamboo or reclaimed wood or recycled metal or plastic? And is it easy to disassemble into reusable or recyclable parts if it needs to be replaced down the line?If the salesperson doesn’t know the answers, chances are the piece does not pass environmental muster. Limiting your search to brick-and-mortar and Internet-based retailers that specialize in green products is one way to reduce the amount of research and self-education needed, especially because salespersons in such stores are usually up-to-speed on the latest and greatest in sustainable furnishings. Some leading national furniture chains that carry a sizeable inventory of sustainable goods include Crate and Barrel, Room and Board and West Elm, but many more single store eco-friendly furniture stores exist across the country. Some leading online green furniture retailers include Eco-Friendly Modern Living, Furnature, InMod, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, SmartDeco, Southcone and Viesso.CONTACTS: SFC, www.sustainablefurnishings.org; FSC, www.fsc.org; GOTS, www.global-standard.org; Eco-Friendly Modern Living, www.eco-friendlymodernliving.com; Furnature, www.furnature.com; InMod, www.inmod.com; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, www.mgbwhome.com; SmartDeco, www.smartdecofurniture.com; Southcone, www.southcone.com; Viesso, www.viesso.com.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
Changing your perspective is both challenging and rejuvenating, as BRO Athlete Team runner Maria Bocanegra learns during the Mountain Junkies’ Explore Your Limits 5K.Goal setting can be a scary thing. The line between success and failure strives so hard to be black and white. At the end of the day you either did, or you did not. There are a lot of pretty and motivational sayings that implore us to focus on the journey or the process. There is immense value in this, and as a reflective individual I do find this effective and important. This type of focus is especially true with running since there are so many factors that go into any one race or training run. Some of these factors are easy to control, or at least they should be. For instance, last July 5th I ran a road 5K and suffered the consequences of one too many Parkway Get Bent IPAs during 4th of July festivities, and too few hours of sleep having traveled back from Costa Rica with two toddlers a mere 36 hours before the race. No, I couldn’t control the sweltering heat, but I could’ve controlled the head pounding and nausea. From what I could tell, I was not alone in this, though I doubt the top runners were suffering the same fate. I took the 4th place overall female, finished happily, quaffed some post race brews (it was a pub run), and chalked up my less-than-stellar time to the factors that I couldn’t control and also to the ones that I should have, but didn’t. The thing is, I went into that race with very few expectations besides having a fun date run with the husband.When I really focus and train, I have a harder time letting go of the end result in this way. As a competitive runner, when I have set goals, the journey or process can easily take a backseat to the outcome of the race, especially on race day. Suddenly, it is secondary, simply the thing that got me to the place I want to be. And if I don’t arrive across that finish line in the way I had planned, then it’s even harder for me to give the process and training its due respect.A high level of focus and training is renewed terrain for me at this point in my running career. My children are now (almost) 2 and 4, and my body finally feels back to normal in racing terms. I feel like my strength, speed, and possibility for a normal night’s sleep are at long last on the upswing (hallelujah). I raced and ran through both of my pregnancies, but the year or so post partum, each time was a long, uphill struggle to get back to equal footing with my pre-baby running self. I’ve been pumped about where I am with my post-baby fitness, and started the year off well with a 3rd place finish in a competitive trail 10K early in January. I love speed races, and after pouring over the past few years’ race results for the Mountain Junkies’ Explore Your Limits 5K (the next in the Mountain Junkies non-Ultra series), I set the goal of crushing that course and the competition. As a trail runner, I have the secret weapon of being a speedy 5K road racer, and a strong hill runner. 5Ks are few and far between in the trail running world, so this was my big chance to stand atop the tallest of the podium steps. It was also a strategic move since I assumed (correctly) that most of the other fast women in the field would be running the longer 10K. Muahahaha, victory would be mine without a doubt! Clearly I spent significant time and energy thinking about this goal and the hoped-for end result.And then…. life happened. I’ve noticed this more acutely as I’ve gotten older and had children. My husband has been traveling more for work, so my training has taken a hit as I’ve struggled to balance it with work and the kids (who will always be the top priority). Snow and ice buried my normal running routes (no gym and no treadmill), and even though I made it out 4-5 times per week, the miles were fewer and slower. Our youngest got the flu a couple days before the race, which meant little sleep for mommy and more stress. Then I felt the achiness of whatever virus he had working its way through my body the day before the race, though I tried to ignore it as best as possible. Fast forward to race day, and on top of all that, we are met with icy paths and 10 inches of crunchy snow on most of the course. The gun went off when temperatures were in the teens, and I tried to take off fast. I watched the young lady that would take first place pass me shortly after the start, and a part of me knew that I had lost the race already, in the first 400 meters. I was too cautious on the icy road that covered the first part of the race, and the effort required to race in those conditions (when my body was already screaming at me for dragging it out of bed into the cold to run when it was trying desperately to fend off the flu) was too much. Everyone struggled, and all the times were slow. I placed second, with the slowest 5K race time in my running history (undoubtedly true for most everyone on that course). Reading back over what I just wrote, a twinge of pride eases into my mind as I recount what I put myself through on this journey that is so familiar to those of us that hold dear the runner identity. But man, I’m not going to lie — it hurt to take that 2nd place trophy.I have found that goals, even unmet ones, can beget new goals. Simply saying those words proves that I am capable of the type of reflection that honors the process. Maybe, there is hope for me yet. A new goal for my next race is to not let the disappointment and challenges of this past race mentally defeat me. I’ll rest, spring will start showing it’s face, and I’ll run with guts next time. Most importantly, I’ll try harder to appreciate life happening in all of its forms. I will keep setting goals, and I will be okay with feeling disappointed when things don’t go as planned. It’s the only way we get better. And lest we forget the camaraderie that goes along with competition, my hat’s off to all of my fellow hardcore winter runners out there. You all make the process a lot more fun.– You can follow along Maria Bocanegra and the other B.R.O. Athlete Team members here.
Travis Book of the Infamous Stringdusters reflects on the first leg of our Bluegrass, Bikes & Beer Tour. Stay tuned for the next round of tour dates starting next Friday, May 13 at Oskar Blues Brewing in Brevard, North Carolina.Pale Fire Brewing, Harrisonburg, VA—4/237am departure from home in Brevard with almost 6 hours to drive. I had ample time to catch up on phone calls and have a listening party of one, road-trip style. I arrived in H’Burg under cloudy skies with rain threatening. I needed to install a new drivetrain on my singlespeed (once a year, every year), so I stopped in at Shenandoah Bike Company and dropped off the bike.They were concerned about the rain and trail conditions, but we waited it out and once the rain cleared and everything dried out a bit, 13 of us rode from the brewery to the Hillandale Trails. The rocks were greasy, the riding techy and fun. Returned to brewery by 6pm, parking lot shower, chicken salad sandwich… I played for a solid hour before turning things over to The Hot Seats who tore it up from note one.Attendance peaked during their set, raffle was really solid, happy winners, place started to empty out after the raffle ended, but got a late surge as the local crowd filled the tables. I played a few, joined The Hot Seats on Bass, then drank (excellent) beer and listened to Waylon Jennings with Tim, the owner, until well after midnight. Day 1 in the books.Devils Backbone Brewing, Nelson County, VA—4/24After rising early (kids schedule is hard to shake) I took the leisure route following the foothills highways before a quick detour on miles 1-14 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Setup went smoothly and the sky cleared and wind died down just as I took the stage. It being a gorgeous day in the Blue Ridge, the beer garden at Devils Backbone was already filling out at 2pm. I played for about 80 minutes, sticking to mostly favorites of mine, the crowd filling out and filling all the beer garden benches by the time The Hot Seats took the stage. I grabbed a pint of Trail Angel Weiss (what else?) and caught up with old friends and new acquaintances.I used to live literally on the grounds of Devils Backbone; I personally laid out, hand cut, and maintained the 3 mile trail network we were riding that day, so it was, in many ways, a homecoming for me. After about an hour, I joined the Hot Seats and played some old-time rhythm guitar (my favorite) before raffling off the goods from our sponsors.The four of us rolled through a handful more tunes and our time was up. The early group rides had been well attended, but when I rolled out to lead the evening ride, it was just me. I welcomed the opportunity to revisit my trails in the evening light, alone, at my own pace without having to wrangle riders or shoot the breeze.It had been a labor of love, laying in those trails, and to see how CAMBC has picked up the maintenance torch, and how they’re being embraced and bedded-in by the local community made all of that work worthwhile. Post-ride I finished tear-down, grabbed another pint of Trail Angel and saddled up to the bar for a meal and some socializing with the bartenders. Eventually, Carey had to send me to bed before I fell asleep on the bar. It was only 10pm.Soaring Ridge Craft Brewery, Roanoke, VA—4/25Dawn came early and I had breakfast with some old friends overlooking the Rockfish River before jumping in the 4Runner to get a head start on the day. Last year at Soaring Ridge had been a barn-burner and I couldn’t wait to get down there.I listened through The Hot Seats record twice on the drive, picking out tunes I wanted to play with them that day, and gassed up in preparation for that evening’s quick exit post-show. The group ride was, again, the best attended this year.RIMBA has a really great thing going in Roanoke, with huge support for cycling. Despite our late start and cramped time-line, I squeezed in 9 miles before dashing back to Soaring Ridge, dumping a half-gallon of water over my head, putting on my shirt, pants, and boots, and taking the stage. Roanoke has always been a great place to play. I have a surprising number of fans there, and they were out in force. My set flew by and The Hot Seats took over, taking the packed house on an old-time/ragtime journey while I socialized, answered questions, and generally tried to fuel the stoke. By the time the raffle went down, the place was bursting at the seams, but due to a lack of food trucks (they bailed… and missed out on a banner day, I’m sure) as soon as the raffle ended, the bar started to empty out.No matter; the bar had sold a ton of beer (on a day they’d otherwise have not been open), we’d raised a bunch of money for RIMBA, and the music had been the best of the weekend. The Hot Seats and I ripped through another 30 minutes of old-time standards, then we said our goodbye’s. I picked up a couple 6 packs to go (no drinking before a late 4+ hour drive, so they insisted I try their beers on my own terms and it’s fantastic, by the way), and hit the road. The trip home was easy; Waylon Jennings and Bob Wills were the soundtrack, the 4Runner purred like a kitten, and I landed head down on my pillow at exactly 1am. Success. Can’t wait for North Carolina in May/June!Travis Book is bass player for the Infamous Stringdusters, an amazing solo artist, and one hell of a mountain biker. If you’re going to be in North Carolina this summer be sure to catch Book at one of the three remaining Bluegrass, Bikes & Beer tour stops listed below.
Inspired by the sailing trip I took with my four-year-old son, a solo parent of an almost five-year old and a five-month old wrote to me. She explained how she’s itching to go on an adventure and wants to plan something wild and unforgettable. Instead of feeling excited and empowered, she’s immobilized by overwhelming and self-defeating doubts.Sometimes perfectionism get the best of us, holding us back from participating in the life we most want to be living. The outdoor culture fetishizes big adventures, confusing longer, bigger, more beautiful trips with profound life-changing experiences. The two are not the same.These heavy expectations set the bar so high that it becomes impossible to imagine success, even in our dreams. If we can’t dream it, we won’t take the small actions that set our journeys into motion.There’s another way.Start small. More often than not my son balks at my grandiose plans on getting us outside. The more I have a vision of how I want things to go, the more he resists. He cries, sulks or lags behind.He has a way of reminding me that adventure can be simple.My son can’t pass a flower without stopping and taking a long inhale. Every night he looks up at the moon and points it out, looking at me to share in his delight. He can’t pass a puddle without splashing around, covering himself in mud.He’s asking for opportunities for wonder, wide-open time and space that allow him to explore his curiosity.Encourage your kids to smell flowers. Let our kids eat dirt and play in the mud. Help them climb trees. Splash your kids. Tickle them with the blades of grass. Pull your kids onto your lap and point to the moon and just stare.Let curiosity be your guide for adventuring with kids outdoors. Everywhere you look, you’ll find beauty and wonder. Not a day will be boring because of that.By spending more time outside on a daily basis, you’ll attract a community interested in raising their kids outdoors too. Time outdoors will lead to small adventures. Your kids will slowly get comfortable and will let you know when they are ready to push further into the wilderness. Your skills will grow together.Don’t wait to be ready for a big adventure to come together. Take the leap and get outside today. Be present for whatever nature comes your way. It might be a butterfly or a spider web or a raindrop. Let it energize and inspire you.More from Mountain Mama:
In early December of 2015, Tom Gathman—a.k.a. The Real Hiking Viking—set out to accomplish a feat that, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, only a handful of daring hikers have ever managed: An unsupported, solo thru-hike of all 2,180 miles of the A.T., from north to south, in the depths of winter. Gathman faced treacherous snowfalls, sub-zero temperatures, and icy river crossings.“I didn’t really have any legitimate winter hiking experience—at least to that magnitude,” he laughs. “I mean, sure, when I thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail the year before, I got caught in an unexpected snowfall. But while that required an ice-axe, micro-spikes, snowshoes, and so on, it wasn’t the dead of winter. I knew that, with the A.T. thing, conditions would be much gnarlier, and longer-lasting.”Despite the experiential deficit, Gathman was confident in his ability to push his body to the limits of its physical capacity. By the time he committed to the hike, he’d already managed to log around 10,000 miles of trail—including thru-hikes of the Arizona Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. And all of those miles had been logged in the span of less than three years. Aside from a few months laying over here and there, Gathman had essentially been living on the trail since 2013.After serving as a Marine scout sniper and completing two tours in Iraq (2007–2009), at the age of 29, Gathman retired from the military. Returning to civilian life in 2012, he was asked to participate in a program for new veterans, called the Warrior’s Hike. In the spirit of the first documented thru-hiker to walk the A.T., World War II veteran Earl Shaffer, the idea was that a group of veterans could get funding, take to the woods as a team, and, with the guidance of an experienced mentor, spend some months walking off the war.“For me, that first hike was, both metaphorically and literally, the beginning of a new trail,” says Gathman. “It brought me a new perspective, ushered me into a new environment of sorts. When I summited Katahdin, I just wanted to continue the journey—that adventure, that lifestyle, that mentality, that dream. I wanted to surround myself with the goodness the trail provides, that overwhelming sense of wholesomeness, of fullness.”After that initial journey, he went on to lead a second Warrior’s Hike along the CDT, tackled various state trails, and attempted a solo thru-hike of the Pacific Coast Trail (an effort ultimately thwarted by wildfires). Regarding the miles collectively, Gathman identified a kind of unifying emotional experience that kept him coming back for more.“You know, it’s that feeling where you suddenly know without a doubt you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be and doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing,” he says. “For me, it’s akin to a religious experience. I liken being on the trail to glimpsing a view that only God could have made, for you and you alone. The perfect sight for that specific moment in time.”In late-October of 2015, upon finding himself attending a friend’s very posh and comfortable wedding in North Carolina, Gathman got a little antsy. Fresh off his grueling, interrupted attempt of the PCT, despite intentions to use the wedding as an excuse to give his body some much-needed rest, the call of the trail was overwhelming. He craved the isolation, the quietude, the action.“When I first got the idea for the winter hike, I thought, ‘This is crazy,’ and that’s because it was a little crazy,” he says. “But the more I thought about it, the more I began to get excited. Like, really excited. I guess that deep-down drive most thru-hikers have was kicking in, that thing that renders us hopeless against the call for adventure and challenge… In a very tangible way, I was homesick. I wanted to get back out on my own, out in the wild with just myself and the mountains and the weather and the water and the trees.”With little time to spare, Gathman sought advice and gear tips from other, experienced winter thru-hikers, like Trauma, who completed a winter PCT thru-hike in 2015, as well as Swami, whom Gathman claims has logged more miles of hiking worldwide than anyone he knows of. Armed with the gurus’ wisdom and a gutful of gumption, he set out for Katahdin and the subsequent 100 Mile Wilderness.However, while mentally understanding the nature of a winter-hike was one thing, actually experiencing the beast was quite another. Within the first few days, Gathman realized how hard this thing he’d gotten himself into was really going to be. The gap between this and his prior efforts out west was immense.“Those trails were practically sidewalks compared to the shit-storm of ruggedness I’d thrown myself into,” says Gathman. “The contrast between those earlier trips and hitting the Maine woods in December was so drastic as to be almost unfathomable. Multiply that by sub-freezing weather, knee-deep snow, un-tempered winds, and pounds upon pounds of extra gear, and the shock factor went through the roof. The holes in my planning became rapidly apparent.”As such, Gathman’s opening act—the 100 Mile Wilderness—turned out to be something of a prep-hike for the rest of the trail.“Now that’s planning,” he says, laughing. “Take the most remote, and one of the most rugged stretches on the entire trail and make that your test run. Pretty ideal.”Being thrown into the tribulations headlong would ultimately prove worthwhile. Averaging between 15 – 20 miles a day, after five intensive months, in late-April, Gathman summited Springer Mountain.“For most of the journey I was either in motion or about to get in my sleeping bag—those were the two ways I existed in that world,” he says. “I didn’t think about Georgia, not even the next state. I literally thought about nothing but the next stretch of trail and the next resupply point… If I went out there expecting my days to be like walking on rainbows and dancing in sunshine, I wouldn’t have made it. It was rugged, treacherous, and freezing. I had to fully accept those conditions and approach the thing one numbed footfall after the next.”In the end, despite early mishaps like slipping on ice, falling down a 100-foot slope and tearing cartilage in his knee, or slipping waist-deep into a half-frozen river and, after scrambling to make a fire, just barely escaping life-threatening hypothermia and frostbite, or going two days without food due to hideous weather conditions, Gathman says the adventure was worth it.“There’s just something about setting and accomplishing goals every day and physically exerting myself,” he says. “It works for me on such a fundamental level that I’m at peace with it. It’s a simple way of living and it’s a pure way of living… I don’t anticipate stopping anytime soon.”
I asked one of my neighbors how his summer was going and he gave me a funny look. “Is it summer?” he asked. He doesn’t have any kids, so he spends all of his free time riding bikes and playing disc golf. Summer is just a continuation of his life from the other nine months out of the year. Maybe it’s a little warmer, but his life doesn’t change with the seasons. It’s still full of bike rides and rounds of disc golf, just like fall, winter and spring. The thing about when you have kids, on the other hand, is that you live intensely by the seasons. Summer is a three-month break where you try to cram in an ass-load of outdoor adventure to make up for the nine months that you’re tied to a school schedule and weekends full of soccer games. As with all aspects of parenting, it’s both a blessing and a curse. Like most parents, I enter each summer full of hope and ideas about backyard campouts, backpacking trips, epic bike rides…In my mind, the summer break will be a three-month-long version of summer camp where the whole family will have daily adventures and our kids will learn practical wilderness skills and life lessons. Each day will end with S’mores and a fireside chat about those life lessons. Fade to black. In reality, there’s a lot of Netflix binging and sleeping late. We do our best, but every year, summer seems to just slip by. While my kids did eat S’mores several times over the last few months, I’m not sure that they learned any life lessons. We had plenty of bike rides, but would I call any of them epic? I tried a backyard campout one night, but as we were settling down in the tent, my daughter asked, “why don’t we just sleep inside? In our own beds?” It’s tough to argue with that logic. In a mad dash to rectify our ill-spent summer, I took the last couple of weeks to systematically knock out summerish adventures. Diving from a dock into a cold mountain lake? Check. Surfing at the beach? Check. Epic bike ride filled with swimming holes and ice cream? Check. Maybe the greatest accomplishment of the summer was finding a new river to tube which comes complete with a rope swing. It was a beauty of a swing; based on the condition of the rope, I’m estimating it was hung maybe 30 years ago, but obsessively maintained by locals who have reinforced the original rope with frayed pieces of other ropes. Watching my son work up the courage to launch off of this dangling lawsuit into a (sort of) deep, cold pool was definitely the crowning accomplishment of the summer. And it’s all he’s talked about since. Every once in a while, he’ll casually drop a hint that he wants to go back to the rope swing. “Remember that river? Where we tubed? With the rope on the tree?” He’ll ask while eating his chocolate chip waffles, or shooting baskets, or building Legos. “We should do that more often.” It’s tough to argue with that logic.