Outdoor Expo in the Mountains – Abingdon, VirginiaNeed a primer on all of the outdoor action in the Southwest Virginia Mountains? The Southwest Virginia Outdoor Expo is taking place on September 13-14 at Heartwood, a cultural center and artisan gallery in Abingdon. On the first day, local outdoor clubs and organizations will share information on the region’s best recreation spots for hiking, biking, paddling, and climbing. The expo will offer a chance to grab beta on favorite spots in the area, including the Mount Rogers Recreation Area, High Knob Recreation Area, the New and Clinch Rivers and the Appalachian Trail. Day two includes the opportunity for guided trips.Scenic Trail Honors for North Carolina and TennesseeWell-respected mountain biking website Singletracks.com recently polled its readers on the Top 5 Scenic Mountain Bike Trails in the Eastern USA, and the South was well represented on the recently unveiled list. Tennessee’s Raccoon Mountain, a fat-tire favorite for riders in Chattanooga, was ranked second, just ahead of North Carolina’s Dupont State Forest. The classic route at Tsali, also in western North Carolina, came in at number five. The most votes for top-ranked ride in the East went to the Piedmont Trail in Duluth, Minnesota. Last time we checked, Duluth was a few clicks away from the Atlantic, but hey, the people have spoken.Follow the A.T. Bricks – Damascus, Va.Damascus, Va., is known as Trail Town U.S.A. for a reason. The Appalachian Trail runs right through its small downtown. Officials in Damascus have decided to mark the trail’s route with commemorative bricks, which will replace sidewalks that currently hold a small portion of the famous footpath. To give A.T. enthusiasts a piece of trail lore and raise funds for both Damascus revitalization and trail upkeep, donors can purchase a limited number of bricks that will be engraved with names and dedications. In total, 2,180 bricks will be sold (to mark each trail mile) and proceeds will be split between the town, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club. Bricks can be purchased at appalachiantrail.org.Apple to Build Third Solar Farm in North Carolina – Claremont, N.C.In July, Apple announced plans to build a new solar farm in North Carolina, after the city of Claremont approved an agreement to annex land for the 100-acre, 17.5-megawatt operation. The farm will be used to power Apple’s data center in Maiden, N.C., and the project will create 75 jobs that the tech company has agreed to source locally, if possible. If all goes according to plan and the farm is completed in a projected five years, it would become Apple’s third solar farm in the state—all in Catawba County. One is already located at the Maiden facility, and last year the company also obtained rights to build a 20-megawatt farm in Conover.New Record at Hardrock – Silverton, ColoradoIn July, a new speed record was set at the infamous Hardrock Endurance Run. Ultrarunner Kilian Jornet completed the rugged 100.5-mile course that winds through Colorado’s San Juan Mountain range in an impressive 22:41:35. The time bested Kyle Skaggs’ previous course record (23:23) that was set in 2008. Hardrock is a relentless slog through the Rockies, featuring a total elevation change of 67,984 feet as it travels through some of the state’s most remote backcountry. The Hardrock record marks another impressive feat for Jornet, an endurance mountaineer currently in the midst of his “Summits of My Life” project—an effort to set speed records on some of the world’s most notable peaks.Tube to Work – Boulder, Colo.Creative commuting has reached a new level in Boulder. This summer, the city celebrated the 7th Annual Tube to Work Day, a slowly growing initiative to get locals to head to work via the cold waters of Boulder Creek. Approximately 40 people jointly took the plunge on July 15 and decided they didn’t mind getting a little wet on their way to work. Upon takeout, the alternative commuters were rewarded by the city with a free breakfast. As one participant told the Daily Camera: “It was the most Boulder thing ever.” Indeed.Raining Ping Pong Balls – Blackfoot, IdahoImagine you’re driving along a highway in rural Eastern Idaho, scenic mountain views in the backdrop, when suddenly it starts raining ping pong balls. Fortunately, when this happened in early July, it wasn’t the Plague of Blackfoot. Instead, it was the error of a pilot, who was supposed to drop the balls from a plane on attendees at the Blackfoot Pride Days event, where they could’ve been redeemed for prizes. The pilot released the balls a little early and a nearby interstate received an unexpected plastic shower.
UK battery storage developer, Eelpower, has secured an agreement for debt funding with Gravis Capital to grow its pipeline of permitted storage sites and pursue new development opportunities in the UK.The financing agreement with Eelpower is being made through the GCP Asset Backed Income Fund, an investment company advised by Gravis, which focuses on providing financing supported by physical assets and long-term cash flows.Gravis has extended a £20 million financing facility to aid the company’s plans to build, own and operate a fleet of grid-connected batteries, according to Eelpower.Mark Simon, Chief Executive of Eelpower, said: “The Gravis investment in Eelpower’s battery storage business underlines the scale and investment strength of our current portfolio, and the growth potential of Eelpower and indeed the battery storage market in the UK.”Gravis’ decision to support Eelpower follows the November 2017 commissioning of Eelpower’s 10MW Leverton battery storage facility near Lincoln, and March 2018 announcement that it had co-located battery units at two low-head river hydro schemes in Yorkshire – owned and operated by its sister company Barn Energy.The Leverton storage facility was Eelpower’s first storage project to be commissioned in the UK – the company secured a Firm Frequency Response contract from National Grid in October 2017, and had already entered into a fifteen-year T-4 Capacity Market contract starting in October 2020.Philip Kent of Gravis said: “We are delighted to have completed the financing arrangement with Eelpower to enable the company to continue to develop its pipeline.”
There was an aura of both great pride and confidence Saturday evening as the Grateful Red locked shoulders with one another and sang Varsity for the last time in LaBahn Arena this season.University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team returned to form in front of the home crowd this weekend after defeating eighth seeded Minnesota State by scores of 4-0 and 6-0 in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.The Badgers (31-3-0, 24-3-1 WCHA) came out of the gates firing on all cylinders this weekend. UW’s offense dominated the time of possession, and its relentlessness created a stranglehold on the Mavericks’ mobility. As a result, Minnesota State was unable to establish any sort of coordinated offensive threat whatsoever.Wisconsin outscored Minnesota State 10-0 this weekend, but the more telling statistic behind the number of goals scored is really the number of shots taken. And the Badgers were able to line up 106 more shooting opportunities than their opponents in the series.Knowing that Saturday could be the final game of the season for Minnesota State, the Mavericks made it clear that they weren’t going to leave without a fight. In the first period alone, the referees had to intervene on three separate occasions to prevent any further skirmishes.One of the most promising takeaways from the Badgers’ first round showing was the true team effort and balance in scoring production. With seven different players accounting for a total of 10 goals in the series, Wisconsin’s offense proved once more to be one of the most dynamic attacks in the country.“The object is to try to score and when you do everyone gets excited, which creates energy for us and helps to elevate our game,” head coach Mark Johnson said.The Badgers’ chemistry as a team on and off the rink this season has certainly been noteworthy.Following Saturday’s victory, the Badgers made history yet again this year. Junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens set the National College Athletic Association record for most shutouts in a single season, tallying a total of 18.“The more I think about it, the more amazing it is when you think that we have only played 36 games and that half of them have been shutouts,” Johnson said.It certainly makes it easier for an offense to perform the way that Wisconsin’s has been this year, when the team knows just what kind of support they have on the other end of the rink.Saturday’s victory sealed UW’s perfect, undefeated home record this season, giving the fans one last thing to celebrate before marching into the next round of the WCHA tournament to face Minnesota Duluth next week.