Outdoor Journal

He’s glad you asked: On June 1, 2007, A.J. Rowell will set out from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on an eight-month bicycle trip that will place him squarely – 10,000 miles, three Canadian provinces, 22 national parks, 13 states, and innumerable blown tubes later – in his hometown of Cullowhee. Rowell has pledged to raise at least $25,000 from his trip, which he’ll distribute to several charities, including UMCOR, the humanitarian aid agency of the United Methodist Church, the international sustainability group HEIFER International, Teach for America, the Conservation Fund and the United Fund of Jackson County. Rowell plans to post updates at his Web site, www.whyiride.org. Check it.

Silent nights, snowy nights: Cataloochee started padding its slopes with the white stuff last week, getting a jump on a sports season that usually begins around Thanksgiving.

If things go well, the Smokies resort might not need to run those machines every night. According to the National Weather Service temperatures in WNC this winter are expected to be somewhat higher than the 30-year average but considerably cooler than last year’s. That little dip in the digits, combined with a weak El Nino pattern setting itself up in the mighty Pacific, could send winter storms that bring snow rather than rain across our blessed Appalachians.

WNC meteorology maven Ray Russell is forecasting amounts at 120 to 130 percent of normal snowfall, and Wooly Worm Festival winner “Jerry Garcia” seemed to agree, calling for cold and snowy weather for nearly half of the season’s 13 weeks. Thanks, Jerry.

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