Winter warm ups

As the last of the leaves fall and our mountains turn gray, the animals are preparing their winter burrows for a little down time. Some humans too — or at least those in sync with the seasons — may also be getting ready for hibernations of sorts: dusting off movie collections, re-padding their recliners, stocking […]


What does it means to me, an outdoor enthusiast, to be "green"? A solitary walk in the woods gave me the opportunity to answer. For millennia, man has pondered the mysteries of the universe by journeying to such places as deserts and mountains, so in that spirit I began the short trek up Mount Pisgah, […]

Outdoors: Maized!

The last time I was lost in a cornfield, I earned a billion superficial skin nicks while running through the field's sharp-edged, leafy clutches. Though I'm now less prone to such boyhood misadventures, my 7-year-old daughter, Maeve, recently inspired me to take a fall corn-maze excursion in Western North Carolina. Where o' where to go? […]


Although I'm questioned regularly on the best events and trails in Western North Carolina, nobody ever asks which locals are worth meeting. Maybe they assume I'm a fan of the trail racers who routinely snap finish lines or those climbers who do their Spiderman thing on challenging rocks. Truth told, I'm most intrigued by the […]

Outdoors: All wet

Morning is an especially nice time for a summer mountain-bike ride at Bent Creek: The bugs aren't mobilizing yet, the thermometer hasn't hit 90 degrees, and you don't have to fret about afternoon storms. Hoping to avoid those terrible three, I recently confronted a gray, wet rag of a sky that seemed sure to let […]

Outdoors: Night strider

Around noon one June day, the urge for a night run hit me, and I dashed off an impromptu e-mail invite to the nearly 900 people on my "WNC adventure" list. Despite the short notice, I hoped a few fellow runners would meet me at the Hard Times Trailhead at Bent Creek. Arriving early, I […]

Outdoors: Trial by white water

Whenever someone asks whether I've kayaked before, I always reply, “Of course,” with a certain bravado. But as soon as that weak lie in a lion's suit springs from my lips, I have to suppress some embarrassing memories of flipping my kayak in the French Broad River's gentle waters (and even in a few still […]

Wild root wannabe

Not long ago, I checked my inbox and found an invitation from Wildroots—a sprouting of free-spirited earth lovers who do the best they can to live off the grid. The group was offering a wilderness camping-and-education excursion focused on wild edibles and medicines. Local experts Natalie Bogwalker and Frank Cook would be the guides. The […]

Outdoors: Where there’s smoke…

Before they had fire, humans were stranded in the cold and dark. Not a single match flashed. Stars and moonlight shone in the heavens, periodically blotted out by intermittent bits of nimbus sorcery. In the interim, only the phosphorescent squiggles and blinks of fireflies and other bioluminescent life forms were left to provide the caveman’s […]

Outdoors: Wrangling wild greens

Sunrise in these parts means it’s time for plant grabbing—and I don’t mean sitting in the garden picking tomatoes. Au contraire: The woodsy maverick travels into unknown thickets of thorny menace to hunt up his pot of grub. Without so much as an ounce of peanut-butter sandwich to stave off the hunger, these tough pickers […]

Would you like cysts with that?

In our technologically advanced nation, most of us take for granted an instant and copious stream of clean water from the moment we turn on our faucets. But in the backcountry, getting water—especially clean water—can present a host of challenges. Don’t drink the water?: Even a waterfall could be home to giardia or similar nasties. […]

Takin’ care of business

Everybody does it, some more than others, but it takes a certain nonchalance to do the doo in the woods. Heck, a lot of people shudder at the mere thought of having to make do with a funky public restroom. Photo By Christian Gilbert And though all of us have sometimes mimicked other animals’ behavior—flapping […]

Rough and ready

Who knows when a country drive or backwoods day hike might suddenly turn into a multi-day ordeal? It’s one of those scenarios that most of us never really think about before heading out into the woods. But if you walk on the wild side often enough, sooner or later you’re bound to get lost. And […]

The bike tube blues

Serious outdoors types don’t hesitate to over-pack with safety gear these days: Climbers use ropes strong enough to wrangle a mammoth, cyclists carry enough agua to water-board Poseidon, and who knows what hikers tote around in their packs. The horror: Writer Jonathan Poston’s simple problem became a major debacle. Don’t let it happen to you. […]

Secrets of their success

Last month, under the coaching expertise of Art Shuster, the Warren Wilson College mountain-bike team scored its fifth consecutive second-place team finish in Division II of the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships. The team was a close runner-up to Colorado School of Mines in the competition, held Oct. 26 to 28 at Lees-McRae […]

Trail running for complete idiots

Thousands of people find themselves wandering up and down our mountain paths, captivated by the gushing waterfalls, the rhododendron-canopied trails and the smell of woodsy detritus on the air. Then, without warning, their sacred bond with nature is broken by the galloping steps, the huffing and puffing, the funky ammonia bouquet left behind by a […]

Beyond PE

Back in 2001, Evergreen Charter School invited me to be its physical education teacher. The small, recently established school could barely afford its rent in a West Asheville office park. The loosely structured PE program leaned heavily on conventional games—Red Rover, etc.—for the elementary grades and mainstream sports such as football, basketball and soccer for […]

Up Chimney Rock

Early in his career, Santa Claus mustered the courage to wiggle his plump red self down a 25-foot tower of bricks and mortar and licking flames, managing to land a perfect, fireside 10. On belay: Climbing instructor Todd Mahle lends a hand to Maeve Poston as she scales Vista Rock. Courtesy Chimney Rock Park But […]

Row on, Asheville juniors

Asheville has long been in the spotlight as a top spot for such outdoor activities as trail-running, mountain-biking and kayaking. But whoever heard of rowing here? Shell game: Members of the Girls’ Junior Rowing Program gather with their coaches and racing shells. Photos Courtesy Asheville Rowing Club And no, this isn’t going out with grandpa […]

The down-low

Our mountains have long been considered a place of retreat, an escape from the pollution and scorching summer heat of the flatlands. But the world has arrived on our doorstep. Today, Western North Carolina is an internationally known hot spot for outdoor pursuits. Still, a handful of local magicians regularly perform a vanishing act, evading […]