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Mystic Lands property owners may have prevailed in court over one issue a few weeks ago, but a majority of the other claims against developer Ami Shinitzky have previously been dismissed.

The Mystic Lands development along the Nantahala River has been controversial since Ami Shinitzky purchased the 35-acre tract for $4.8 million back in 2005.

A Swain County jury sat patiently listening for seven weeks as a room full of lawyers introduced over 400 exhibits, examined and cross examined numerous witnesses and pored over thousands of emails trying to get to the bottom of a dispute between a developer and property owners.

It’s a warmer-than-average January day, the contours of the mountains visible from the highway beneath a thin covering of leafless tree branches under a half-blue sky. A U.S. Forest Service Jeep travels west on U.S. 74, bypassing Franklin and hanging a right for the winding road that leads to Wayah Bald. 

The vehicle pauses for a moment as it traverses a valley framed by Wayah’s upward-reaching face. The slope is mottled with patches of darkness that could almost pass for cloud shadows. 

travel mrpeanutHeading west out of Bryson City, just before the highway narrows into a twisting two-lane road, a small, ramshackle hut watches over the crossroads of Southern Appalachia — a last stop before descending into the remote Nantahala Gorge ahead, or the desolate beauty of Fontana Lake to the right. 

The shack, wedged between junk cars and a rundown trailer, has seen better days, on a property that has seen better years. But, upon closer inspection, a friendly face sits behind a counter filled with knickknacks and the wafting smell of boiled peanuts.

kayak mainA destination for paddlers around the world, the Nantahala River is known for its complexity of rapids and consistent waters levels, ensuring a level of competition that can’t be found anywhere else in the United States. The world’s top paddlers will descend on the river for a week of competition, camaraderie and cold water during the 2013 International Canoe Federation’s (ICF) Freestyle World Championships Sept. 2-8. 

out frBy Tyler Norris Goode • Contributor

Rowan Stuart’s favorite kayak maneuver is called the “Phonics Monkey” and involves spinning the vessel on its bow like a pirouette for a full 360 degrees then flipping the boat end over end.

There’s nothing easy about the trick, but Stuart’s ability to cleanly achieve it at high-level competitions is a big reason she’ll be competing in the Freestyle World Championships, the premier competition for freestyle paddling athletes, that start Sept. 2 in the Nantahala Gorge. 

Events + Happenings

kayak events

kayak whatisfreestyleCombining an array of difficult tricks, precision paddling and finely tuned choreography, freestyle kayaking can be described as aquatic gymnastics.

Meet the athletes

kayak competitorsPeter Csonka

Age: 28

Country: Slovakia

Awards: 2012 World Cup Champion

Day job: Kayak retailer

I was 12 when I started paddling. We had a group of kids doing canoe sports, traveling around and doing competitions. It was really nice to have those trips together. At that time, we all were just starting to race and do rafting, doing small competitions, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.

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