Outdoors: A standup sport

For most folks, surfing evokes images of sandy beaches, early mornings and long, peeling waves. But while forecasting technology has improved, those predictions are still pretty unreliable. In summer, East Coast swells are few and far between, and if one does materialize, chances are Atlantic beaches’ unruly winds will make even a good swell turn […]

One foot in front of the other: 1,000 indelible hikes

A door opened that midwinter day, and we stepped through it into a new life full of wonders I never thought I'd see. I've gazed upon the immense tumble of Whitewater Falls, cascading 400 feet down a mountainside in Nantahala National Forest; stumbled upon pink lady’s slippers scattered like fairy lanterns along the trails around Carl Sandburg's mountain home …

Outdoors: 1,000 hikes

My continuing hiking adventure began with a flash of inspiration on an icy morning. "You know, I could do 1,000 different day hikes and write them down; all the ones we've already done would count toward the goal. I could put them in a book: It would be something for the family," I said to […]


Nearly every time I’m out for a trail run, I come upon something that makes me think back to one of the interviews I’ve done for Mountain Xpress with some of the many local wild-skills experts. These days, I can’t seem to go more than a mile without stooping down to get a whiff of […]

Awareness, fairness and open eyes

Summer is prime bike-riding season, and with more people using bicycles to get around town, there will inevitably be more incidents involving motorists and cyclists. It’s my hope that education can reduce the number of such negative interactions. Bike protectors: New bike lanes have cropped up all over Asheville, giving cyclists like Zach Morrison a […]

Outdoors: The view from above

“Slipped the surly bonds of earth … and touched the face of God.” Have basket, will travel: Each balloon ride begins with a series of steps, from safety lessons to filling the 180,000-cubic-foot “envelope.” Photos by Jerry Nelson These words from an old poem — made famous by President Ronald Reagan during a eulogy for […]

Outdoors: Outstandin­g

Too many natural wonders, not enough time. That's how I felt when I read the list of winners in Land for Tomorrow's "Natural Wonders" contest. Land for Tomorrow is a diverse partnership of North Carolina organizations and entities committed to protecting critical land, drinking water and historic places. These groups include local governments such as […]


Over the past few years, visitors to Rumbling Bald, a popular climbing and bouldering area in the Hickory Nut Gorge near Asheville, have witnessed some major changes. In 2005, the state of North Carolina purchased the land as part of one of North Carolina's newest state parks, Chimney Rock State Park. Last year, the state […]

Outdoors: Charity on wheels

Your car may express your personality, but your license plate can tell the world what cause you support. North Carolina offers more than 100 specialty plates for you to choose from. For an extra $30 a year, you can support and help promote one of several popular outdoor destinations. The organization in question receives $20 […]


The tradition began 30 years ago. Norman Blair, fresh out of college, began meeting with a few other elite runners for a weekly track workout. Over the years, the group has met at tracks all over Asheville, including those at Christ School, Asheville School, T.C. Roberson High School and Asheville High School. Nowadays, anywhere from […]

Outdoors: High-flying forest

"Are you ready?" asks the Navitat Canopy Adventures tour guide. Standing on a wooden platform 50 feet off the ground, surrounded by a lush verdant canopy, I nod, and a thrilling ride directly through the heart of the forest begins. Going down? Abby Burt (below) zipping through the forest on a Navitat Canopy Tour, which […]

And money left over for marshmallo­ws

Depending on the level of amenities on offer — flush toilets, say, instead of stinky latrines; a hanky-sized puddle of chlorine that passes for a pool; proximity to numerous overpriced music festivals — some regional campgrounds have become distressingly expensive. Inexpensive gateway to recreation:  The rugged Southern Appalachians provide plenty of options for back-country camping, […]


Step into the Davidson River with a fly rod, waders and a net and you're bound to meet some beautiful fish. Not too complicated: First comes practice casting and other maneuvers, the author (right) learned on a trip with fishing guide J.E.B. Hall. Fly-fishing guide J.E.B. Hall of Davidson River Outfitters in Brevard just might […]

Yo-yo hiker

Imagine hiking almost 1,000 miles. You get to the end, take in the views … and then turn around and hike back. That's pretty much what Scot "Taba" Ward did last year on North Carolina's Mountains-to-Sea Trail, which runs through Asheville on its way from Clingman's Dome in the Smokies to the Outer Banks. En […]


Walk with a naturalist The North Carolina Arboretum will offer "Walk with a Naturalist" programs each Tuesday and Saturday at 1 p.m. beginning Saturday, April 1, and continuing through early summer. Nature walk: Guided walks at the N.C. Arboretum offer a chance to view and learn about such forest sights as this cinnamon fern. Photo […]

Outdoors: Full bloom

They come from across the Southeast, the Midwest and as far away as Colorado and Alaska to the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. This year, more than 1,000 "pilgrims" will gather in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for five days of wildflower and birding walks, talks on medicinal plants and green living, and several […]