Exercise tests federal, local catastrophe response

By the dawn’s early light, about 300 members of the North Carolina National Guard along with a host of local law enforcement personnel and first responders gathered at Guion Farm in nearby DuPont State Forest, outside Hendersonville the morning of June 8. 

Two aircrew had ejected from their F-15 just before it augured in to the rocky dirt, sparking a large fire and kicking off a massive search and rescue mission.

Braving the storm: Backcountry rescuers save lost hikers in snow, frigid temps

It was around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, when the two hikers stepped out of their red Ford Edge and into the parking lot at Big East Fork Trailhead. After the stunning vistas the Blue Ridge Parkway had offered on their drive from Asheville, David Crockett, a 23-year-old UNC Charlotte student, and his friend Sultan Alraddadi wanted to see those mountains up close.

They’d found the hike on AllTrails, an app that outlined an 8.1-mile loop that climbed Chestnut Ridge, continuing west to butt up against the Art Loeb Trail before returning east via the Shining Creek Trail. 

A growing mark: Outdoor school opens world’s largest wilderness medicine classroom in Cullowhee

Just north of Cullowhee, at the curvy, gravel terminus of Cane Creek Road, sits the building containing the world’s largest wilderness medicine classroom. 

Landmark Learning, a nationally accredited school offering a variety of courses in wilderness medicine, started using the building in May, though there’s still heavy equipment in view as fine-tuning continues. The 8,000-square-foot building contains a 2,400-square-foot classroom, a commercial kitchen, and a student lounge. Up an even steeper hill than the one that leads to the main building is a pair of dorm-style cabins and a terraced camping area, which together can accommodate 36 people.

A look back at 2016: Backcountry adventures, birthday celebrations and a wildfire season to remember

For those who love the outdoors, it’s not hard to list the reasons why Western North Carolina is a spectacular place to live, and from that standpoint, the year 2016 certainly didn’t fail to deliver. The curtains are now closing on 2016, but the year will get its proper send-off with this roundup of favorite moments and memorable stories from the past 12 months outdoors.

To save a life: Global village rallies for high-altitude rescue in the mountains of Nepal

Judy Seago almost left the United States without packing a stethoscope. 

Seago, a pediatrician, was headed to Nepal on a honeymoon trek with her new husband Jerry Parker, a pharmacist. Medical missions weren’t part of the itinerary for the Jackson County couple — it was supposed to be all about exploring the miles-high mountains of Nepal’s Annapurna range.

Haywood completes animal rescue operation

After serving as an ad-hoc temporary animal shelter, the old Lea Industries building on Lea Plant Road in Hazelwood is once again empty and silent. 

Volunteers, donations needed in dog rescue effort

Haywood County officials and volunteers continue to minister to the needs of 140 — and counting — dogs removed from a property on Terrace Drive in Canton over the weekend. 

Animals rescued from Korean dog meat farm

Two small animal shelters in Western North Carolina have made national news this week as they’ve opened up their facilities to 11 dogs rescued from an illegal backyard dog meat farm in South Korea.

Behind-the-scenes rescuers: Emergency management team gears up for autumn rescue season

out frSummer’s not quite over, but emergency responders in Haywood County are already practicing their skills in preparation for rescue season, known to most simply as “fall.”

“That time of year is when our beautiful forest has people, by the hundreds and by the thousands,” said Greg Shuping, Haywood County’s director of emergency management. “The more people we get up there, the more likelihood of a missing or injured person.”

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.

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