In a death-defying leap of adrenaline-fueled faith, Asheville pro-kayaker Pat Keller recently survived a purposeful plunge over 90-foot-high Linville Falls in Avery County.
In "Asheville Kayaker Makes Illegal Trip Down Linville Falls," The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the ride was likely the first-ever descent of the triple-tiered falls in a kayak.
Keller, 24, wasn't injured during his run down the falls, but faces possible legal pains in the run's wake. Tim Francis, the Blue Ridge Parkway Pisgah District ranger in charge of law enforcement in the Linville Falls area, told the paper that the kayak ride was against park regulations, an infraction that carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and six months in jail.
“You can't swim or have any vessel on that part of the river,” he said. “It creates a hazard, not only to the people in the kayak, but to the people below.”
Keller, however, didn't express any regrets. An extreme kayaker who has run 80-plus-foot waterfalls around the world – as well as WNC's Toxaway Falls and Looking Glass Falls – he called the ride down Linville the “completion of my own little triple crown.”
"Nobody got hurt, and I don't think anybody is ever going to run that waterfall again,” he continued.
Elk in Cataloochee and animals at the fair
In other, less perilous outdoors-related news, the CT also reported that "Great Smoky Mountains National Park May Ease Elk Monitoring in Cataloochee Valley." According to the paper, the elk population in the park has been on the rise and has been deemed viable by managers.
The park reintroduced 52 elk in 2001 and now has 135, with 25 calves born this year. Since their reintroduction, the elk have become a major tourist attraction. Studies show that in 2008, 148,000 people visited Cataloochee Valley, up from 65,400 when the elk arrived.
Over in Madison County, animals of a less wild sort have been making news. In "County Fair Under Way in Madison," the News-Record & Sentinel reported that the cattle and sheep shows, draft horse parade and pony rides were major draws at this weekend's Madison County Fair.
For those who missed it, the upcoming Mountain State Fair in Fletcher also promises to showcase all manner of interesting farm animals. Held at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, the fair runs Sept. 10 through 19.
Shuffleboard, stolen meat and sentencing
Last week, BlueRidgeNow reported on a different kind of notable event happening south of Asheville. In "National Shuffleboard Tourneys Coming to Town," the outlet revealed that Hendersonville's Whitmire Center will host three national shuffleboard tournaments from Sept. 2 through 6. According to the article, players from all over the country and even Canada will come to town for the events, which are very popular among the area's community of retirees.
Another top story in last week's BlueRidgeNow was "Couple lead police in chase through Hendersonville."
The article reported that Hendersonville police recently chased an SUV through neighborhood streets after a man and a woman fled The Fresh Market on Greenville Highway with $60 worth of stolen meat. The 15-minute chase ended when the driver of the black 1992 Isuzu Trooper took a sharp turn onto South Whitted Street from Hebron Road and lost control. A dozen police cars soon swooped down on the perpetrators, and officers arrested the alleged thieves, Tracy Marie Messe and Donald Gregory Rudisill.
In addition to finding the stolen meat in the vehicle, officers found a BB gun.
In other crime news, BlueRidgeNow also reported that the "Man with Gun at AVL During Obama Visit Stop Found Guilty." According to the article, the Ohio man arrested with a loaded handgun outside the Asheville Airport on April 25 as President Barack Obama was flying away was convicted of violating a gun ordinance. Joseph Sean McVey, 23, already served three days in jail and was sentenced to the time served.
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