Following the arrow: Bowed Up Outdoors expands offerings, serves growing archery community

out frWalk into Bowed Up Outdoors, and the first thing you’ll notice is the friendly banter moving back and forth between customers seated at the stools in front of the gun counter and the staff on the other side of it. Then, your eyes will wander to the lineup of rifles hung on the wall behind the counter and travel past the rows of shooting accessories to the back wall, hung with a variety of bows — compound, recurve and long. An eight-lane indoor shooting range is hidden behind that wall, giving the Maggie Valley shop a claim to fame among counties west of Buncombe.

Working for play: Trail groups pass forest stewardship to the next generation

coverThe woods are quiet on a cool Saturday morning in late March. There’s no wind swaying the still-bare trees or the rhododendrons clustered along streambeds. In this, one of the most remote trails of the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest, the only sound comes from the occasional squirrel plowing through the bed of fallen leaves or bird sounding its call through the woods. 

But then a soft buzz begins to float through the air. It pauses briefly, replaced by the sound of voices. A group of three is clustered around a fallen log, probably 2 or 3 feet in diameter, that’s lying across the faint path of the East Fork Trail. They analyze its position on the mountainside, its angle of contact with another trunk below the trail and the severity of the slope. Finally, trail crew volunteers Scotty Bowen and Richard Evans start up again with the crosscut saw, and the buzzing resumes.

Get out: Waynesville and Jackson county look to the mountains for parks programming

fr outdoorrecMountains and rivers shape the landscape of Western North Carolina, but when it comes to recreation programming, counties and municipalities tend to focus on facilities and league sports. Both the town of Waynesville and Jackson County, however, are working to look beyond the status quo to point people toward the beauty in their own backyards. 

Climbing to the top: Local school a hub for outdoor training

coverIt’s a chilly day on the Tuckasegee River. Air temperature is in the mid-40s, and the water isn’t much warmer. 

Eric Johnson struggles to stand upright, bracing his paddle on the river bottom as a chain of four fellow college students leans on him to traverse the Dillsboro Drop rapid.

Outdoor gift guide: Local outfitters recommend their faves for this holiday season

out frBy Colby Dunn • Correspondent 

Though winter may have you couped up inside, you can dream of sunnier days in the outdoors with The Smoky Mountain News outdoor holiday gift guide, a rundown of the season’s hottest gifts from the region’s top outfitters. So for the budding outdoor enthusiast or seasoned nature lover still on your gift list, we’ve got you covered from head to toe, pretty much literally. Or if you’d like to reward yourself for making it out of the mall alive and not using a waffle iron as a weapon on Black Friday, there’s some options for that, too. 

Breaking the mold: Triathlons now starring the aquabike

out frNo, it’s not Aquaman’s preferred mode of commuting; nor the latest urban workout trend or new-fangled underwater gym equipment.

The aquabike is yet another off-shoot of the classic triathlon now popping up on race calendars —  including its first debut at the upcoming Lake Logan Multisport Festival this weekend.

One-night trips into the Smokies

out frFor day hikers who want to take the next step or for a seasoned backpackers who can’t find the time or resources to make that long trip this year, outdoor author Jim Parham is offering up the solution that is just right: the short backpacking trip. 

His recently published book, Backpacking Overnights, details 50 one- and two-night trips in the Carolina Mountains. The premise of the book, and Parham’s philosophy, is that backpacking should be easy, accessible and fit into the schedule of the 9 to 5 working stiff.

Outdoor gear store in Franklin celebrates expansion

out 76expandsFranklin’s downtown outdoor gear store just got bigger.

Bridging the gap between young, old

out frWith each passing day, the first-person accounts of what life was like in the Smokies before Google, iTunes or even black-and-white television slip away. So, Beth Bramhall, a seasonal education ranger with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, decided to recruit the next generation to stem the tide of such loss.

The result was “Passing It On: A Digital Storytelling Project,” a year’s worth of old-timers’ stories collected and compiled digitally by area middle- and high-school students who were helped along by their teachers, park staff, local experts and folks from the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Triathlons aim to make treachorous lake swims safer

out frThe swim leg of a triathlon is notoriously daunting. Of the sport’s three heats — swimming, biking and running — the water is the most brutal and dangerous.

It’s every person for him or herself as the racers jump from a dock or surge forward from shore, creating a sea of flailing limbs and churning water as they jockey to get an early lead off the start. 

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