Paradise Lost

first_imgTwo friends contend with spiders, snakes, and male-pattern baldness on a road trip through Pisgah National Forest.I seriously doubt Moses could clear this ditch,” Jeremiah says as he shoulders his mountain bike and steps gingerly across the log bridge that spans a relatively dry seasonal creek bed. “And yes, I’m aware that he parted the Red Sea.”We’ve been discussing the hypothetical mountain biking skills of various biblical figures. It’s just one of those tangents you find yourself on when you’re miles deep into the forest on a bike with one of your best friends.We’re riding Cove Creek Trail in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. For the most part, the trail is mind-blowingly fun, with just enough elevation drop to keep you from having to pedal, but not so much that it sketches you out. The tread is even smooth—practically manicured by Pisgah standards—with low berms at most turns and easy-going rolling dips. The whole ride plays out like a carefree linear pump track in the heart of one of the gnarliest national forests in the country. But every once in a while on Cove Creek, you have to cross a momentum-killing creek bed with a steep drop over jagged ill-kempt stairs leading to a slick as snot log bridge which carries you directly into the other side of the creek, which is near vertical with three-foot-high steps rising to level ground. There are half a dozen of these technical juggernauts, and we can’t imagine anyone clearing every single one of them on a bike. Not even Moses.Jeremiah and I are a couple of hours into a mini mid-life crisis escape. Picture two guys in their mid-30s with varying degrees of baldness who spend their days either trapped inside a cubicle or trying to convince their children to take a nap. Picture them reminiscing about their previous lives (pre-career and pre-kid), where days were spent mountain biking, trail running, and tromping through steep mountain creeks. This trip is our desperate attempt to recapture that youth: A two-day mini-road trip through Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests packed with mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and swimming holes. I suppose we could’ve gone with the traditional hair-plug and convertible douche-mobile route, but two days killing it in the woods seemed to be more our speed.The trip begins with an easy grind up a gravel road leading to Daniel Ridge Loop, a four-mile singletrack horseshoe that climbs and descends the slope hovering above the popular Davidson River. Uber-hip Brevard is just 10 minutes down the road. Our homes in Asheville are only 45 minutes away.We have less than two full days of freedom ahead of us, so we’re keeping the road miles low and focusing on the adventures in our backyard. The plan is to drive a single road (FR 475) that cuts through the middle of Pisgah before running into Nantahala National Forest, bagging as many adventures as we can along the way. We have a checklist to work through, sort of a backlog of adventures that we’ve neglected over the last year. Bike some of Pisgah’s classic singletrack. Climb the boulders at the base of Looking Glass Rock. Camp. Hunt for waterfalls. My tiny 15-year-old Jetta is loaded down with bikes, tents, sleeping bags, a huge crash pad that Jeremiah thinks looks like one of those sex props you see in the back of shady men’s magazines, and more wicking fabric than we could use in a week.Waterfall in Pisgah National ForestDaniel Ridge Loop follows the Upper Davidson for the first half-mile, taking us past primo unused campsites and one very sensitive-looking barefoot guy playing the guitar to himself on the side of the river. As soon as the tread transitions from gravel to singletrack, our pace slows down. We’re hitting the trail after a thunderstorm, so we get sucked into thick patches of black mud and fumble through root gardens still glistening from the rain. Daniel Ridge has a number of steep fall-line climbs littered with fist-sized rocks. Mountain biking is all about rhythm and momentum. We have neither, so we end up walking anything remotely technical. I blame the slick conditions, but in the back of my head, I know it’s because we’ve forgotten the nuances of mountain biking. After years of building up our skills in Pisgah, we’re starting from scratch, veritable babes in the woods.The higher we climb up the ridge, the bigger and slicker the boulders get. After pushing up the trail and praying that no one we know passes by, we top out and begin the bomber descent, which is just as steep, but considerably less rocky. Instead of boulders, we navigate hip-deep ruts in the dirt and the occasional well-worn waterbar drop. I brake too much and have to stop occasionally to shake out my hands and forearms. By the time we hit Cove Creek Trail, muscle memory has kicked in and we fly through the singletrack giggling like schoolgirls…or two overworked dads playing hooky from all sorts of responsibilities. We know the emails are piling up. We know our kids are throwing tantrums and eating junk food. But there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re riding bikes.We’re speckled with dark mud after the ride, so we head straight to Whaleback, an ice-cold swimming hole with a small rock slide and jump that’s popular with the YMCA summer camp crowd. We soak our legs and try to remember the last time we rode bikes together.“One thing’s for sure,” Jeremiah says. “We’re not very good at mountain biking anymore.”After setting up camp between a dusty forest road and a feeder stream to the Davidson, we drop into downtown Brevard for a cheap dinner and a visit to the newly opened Brevard Brewing Company, which specializes in easy-drinking German style lagers.  The beer goes down easy, but we’re too beat from the ride to put a serious dent in the kegs. By 9:30, we’re tucked into our sleeping bags, drifting off to the babble of the creek a few feet from our tents. Check that off the list.We rise at the crack of 8 a.m. the next morning and drive the steep gravel road to the north side of Looking Glass, where a cluster of tall, granite boulders sits at the base of the cliff, known for its stout multi-pitch traditional routes. If we had the time, we would’ve hired a guide to take us up one of the easier routes on Looking Glass, but considering our brief window of opportunity, we’re happy to dink around on the boulders, which stand in the shadow of Looking Glass, both literally and figuratively.On the hike in, Jeremiah complains about his back hurting after sleeping on the camp pad. I tell him my hip is killing me.“I like camping in theory, but I think I might be more of a hotel guy now,” I say, as we approach the boulderfield.Pisgah National Forest Swimming HoleAt first glance, most of the boulders are featureless, and we have to hunt for the vague chalk residue left by previous boulderers. The majority of problems are in the V3-V7 range, well above our pay grade, but we spend some time playing around on a long, squat hunk of rock with a pyramid-shaped shelf rising and falling along its upper lip. There’s nothing in the way of a foothold, so we have to smear, trying to keep our feet pushed flat against the rock as we traverse to the right. We end up doing a mini-circuit of the boulder field, finding a fun, easy crack system that leads to a sketchy top-out, and an overhanging problem that’s way over our heads. The north side boulders don’t get a lot of attention, so the first person to climb each problem gets to contend with spiders and other creepy things stuck deep into the pocketed holds.One problem is so choked with spider webs, it looks like it’s covered with cotton candy, so we decide to skip it altogether.“Spiders didn’t used to bother me,” I tell Jeremiah as we hunt for something “cleaner” to climb.“Okay, grandpa,” Jeremiah says. It sounds mean, but he’s just upset because every picture I take seems to highlight his balding head.Even when we were climbing regularly, we weren’t very good, so our moves up each boulder now, after a year-long hiatus, are janky and comical. We make the easiest problem look impossible. Still, it’s fun to move like a climber again. It’s foreign and vaguely familiar at the same time.We power through peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as we drop back down the gravel road, leaving a gray-white wake of dust behind us on our way toward Nantahala National Forest, where a river full of rock hopping, waterfalls, and swimming holes awaits.The sky is getting increasingly dark as we park on the edge of Wolf Creek Lake, a gorgeous 183-acre body of water cut into the mountains west of Panthertown Valley that’s popular with anglers in trolling boats.  A thunderstorm is imminent, but we’re determined to tick the last item off our checklist, so we drop down the steep user-created trail that tumbles down the side of Wolf Creek Gorge. Say what you will about user-created paths, they get straight to the point. This trail follows the fall line over boulders and tangled roots and through tunnels of rhododendron, dropping several hundred feet in a quarter of a mile. It’s a completely unsustainable trail, but totally memorable.The trail bottoms out at the base of Paradise Falls on Wolf Creek. The falls itself is fairly unimpressive, a skinny shoot of water dropping maybe 15 feet. But the setting is unlike anything else I’ve seen in the South. A broad, deep, green pool leads to a 50-foot high slot canyon. Swim across that pool, and into the mouth of the canyon and you can climb a rope to the second story of the falls, where the gorge opens up and leads to a taller, more dramatic vertical falls. Paradise Falls is the most appropriately named waterfall I’ve ever seen.We throw rocks at some spooky looking fish that have been eyeballing us from the edge of the water and start swimming across the pool to the slot canyon. When I’m about 10 feet away from the entrance, I notice the giant snake, roughly the color of death, hanging out on the side of the canyon. Looking at me. Before I can finish saying, “shit, there’s a snake,” Jeremiah has already turned around and started swimming back to dry land.Sitting on the edge of the river, staring at the python, we try to figure out what a copperhead looks like. I’ve got no reception on my iPhone, so that’s no help, but the name of the falls (Paradise) and the giant snake at the entrance to said falls is all too biblical for me, so we decide to give the snake some space and start rock hopping downstream and look for a swimming hole with less symbolism.We find a few potholes to sink into and a mossy gorge with a slide but eventually decide it’s time to man up and face our fears. Luckily, by the time we swim back to the entrance of Paradise Falls, the snake is gone, so we don’t have to prove our manhood. Still, we feel like we’ve regained something. Yes, we’re scared of snakes and spiders and sleeping in a tent makes our hips hurt, but at our core, we are mountain men. At least, for a couple of days out of the year, when we’re not changing diapers or CC-ing 30 people on an email. •mini epic By the Numbers 4 – Number of adventures (mountain biking, bouldering, hiking, waterfall swimming)26 – Total number of hours on the trip door to door 1 – Number of breweries 26 – Miles driven during the two-day triplast_img read more

Arsenal prepared to listen to offers for Chelsea & Man Utd target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

first_img Comment Advertisement Aubamayang wants to be paid on par with top earner Ozil (Picture: Getty)Aubameyang appears to have many suitors and is reportedly eager to play Champions League football next season.Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy (19) is the only player to score more in the Premier League than Aubameyang this season.Aubameyang has bagged 17 goals and is challenging to win his second successive Premier League Golden Boot.More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityThe forward would presumably fetch a big fee despite his age due to his remarkable goalscoring record.Since joining Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in a £56million deal in January 2018, Aubameyang has scored 61 goals in 97 games for the Gunners.Arsenal’s rivals including Chelsea believe the London club will be forced to sell their star striker in the next transfer window.MORE: Chelsea target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as Arsenal’s rivals believe striker will be soldMORE: Arsenal targeting £35m-rated Celtic ace Odsonne Edouard as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s replacementFollow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more stories like this, check our sport page. Aubameyang has many suitors (Picture: Getty)Arsenal are ready to listen to offers for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after shelving contract talks with the striker, according to reports.Aubameyang has been the subject of intense transfer speculation this season, with Barcelona, Inter, Manchester United and Chelsea linked with the goalscorer.Discussions over a new deal have ground to halt since Aubameyang demanded £300,000 a week to stay at the club.Read the latest updates: Coronavirus news liveADVERTISEMENTArsenal have already convinced most of their first-team squad to take a 12.5 per cent pay cut for the next 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.Aubameyang’s current deal expires next year and the Daily Mail claim Arsenal have decided to stop negotiations with the Gabon International.AdvertisementAdvertisementThe club’s financial problems appears set to have an effect on contract talks, as well any potential transfer business.Arsenal are prepared to field offers for Aubameyang, as the Gunners bid to avoid losing the 30-year-old on a free transfer next year. Metro Sport ReporterFriday 24 Apr 2020 5:35 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link5.6kShares Arsenal prepared to listen to offers for Chelsea & Man Utd target Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Advertisementlast_img read more

The Latest: Kevin Love commits $100,000 to arena workers

first_img___12:20 p.m.All five Power Five conferences have canceled their basketball tournaments, putting the NCAA Tournament in doubt.The Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 conferences were all preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.The NCAA had announced Wednesday that it planned to play its men’s and women’s tournament games that start next week with restricted access for the general public. The NCAA said only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to attend the games. ___12:05 p.m.The 12 Hours of Sebring scheduled to run in Florida next weekend has been rescheduled because of the ban on travel from Europe. Many teams that compete in IMSA’s sports car events use European drivers and team members.The race was rescheduled as the IMSA season finale to be held Nov. 11-14 at Sebring International Raceway.IndyCar and NASCAR are still mulling options. IndyCar has been told by the Mayor of St. Petersburg that fans cannot attend Sunday’s season-opening race. NASCAR received the same message for next week’s racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Associated Press LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement he’s “fully committed to rescheduling these important events on our 2020 schedule,” especially the ANA Inspiration.Earlier, the tour called off events in Thailand, Singapore and China.Two California events on the developmental Symetra Tour also were postponed, the IOA Championship in Beaumont from March 27-29 and the Windsor Golf Classic in Windsor from April 2-4.___5:40 p.m. Cavaliers star forward Kevin Love is committing $100,000 toward helping arena workers in Cleveland who were impacted by the shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.Love announced his intentions to make the donation through the Kevin Love Fund on Instagram.Love, who has been very open about his struggles with anxiety, said he appreciates how the outbreak can be “extremely overwhelming” to people and that the suspension of the NBA season has caused a “sudden life shift” for workers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — home of the Cavs.The team announced plans to financially help staff during the interruption.Earlier, arena CEO Len Komorwski said despite the cancellation of the Mid-American Conference tournament that employees will be paid as if the event was held. March 12, 2020 Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the 32 teams “after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts,” according to a league statement. Goodell said the decision was made out of “concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations.”Further changes could be coming for the draft, scheduled to be held in Las Vegas from April 23-25.Major football issues, including playing rules, bylaws and resolutions, as well as other business matters on the agenda for the March meetings will instead be handled at the May 19-20 spring meeting in Marina del Rey, California.___2:30 p.m. The three-day event typically draws more than 130,000 fans. Local officials said earlier Thursday that no general admission would be permitted. Only essential personnel will be permitted inside the fencing that surrounds the course.The event will also be shortened to two days, with Friday used for driver health screenings and determining who is considered essential.___3 p.m.The NFL has canceled its main owners meeting scheduled for later this month in Palm Beach, Florida. The NASCAR Cup Series race winning team and second- and third-place finishers will be available via teleconference. In short, there will be no in-person competitor availability this weekend outside of live broadcast partners and NASCAR Productions.___6:09 p.m.The Colonial Athletic Association says an official who worked a game during its men’s basketball tournament has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Latest: Kevin Love commits $100,000 to arena workers Horse racing is continuing to operate in North America and abroad without fans in the stands.Races at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in California, Aqueduct in New York, Gulfstream Park in Florida, Laurel Park in Maryland and Turfway Park in Kentucky will go on without spectators. The upcoming Dubai World Cup will be held at an empty Meydan Racecourse on March 28. Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, says when it opens for racing again in April there will not be fans allowed in.Churchill Downs said preparations to hold the Kentucky Derby on May 2 are up in the air. According to a statement from track officials: “With the event still seven weeks away, a decision will be made closer to that date with respect to postponing the event until later in the year, using the most recent information while working with and seeking guidance from public health experts and authorities.”___5:30 p.m. USA Gymnastics has canceled all sanctioned events through the end of March, which includes local meets scheduled at hundreds of USA Gymnastics-sanctioned clubs throughout the United States. The cancellations also extend to USA Gymnastics-sponsored workshops and clinics as well as any national team camps. The organization had already limited travel for USA Gymnastics staff and national team athletes.___5:15 p.m.The Colonial Athletic Association says it has been informed that a game official who worked at the conference men’s basketball tournament has tested positive for the coronavirus. That plan was scrapped as every major American sports league, beginning with the NBA, put the brakes on their seasons due to concerns about the pandemic.The NCAA also canceled all of its championships in every winter and spring sport, including hockey, baseball, lacrosse and several others.___3:30 p.m.The Atlantic Coast Conference has suspended all athletic-related activities. That includes all games, practices, recruiting — and participation in NCAA championships until further notice. Arsenal’s game at Manchester City was called off on Wednesday after players came into contact with a rival team owner who announced Tuesday that he had contracted COVID-19. They met Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis after the Greek team won at Arsenal in the Europa League on Feb. 27.___6:17 p.m.NASCAR has put strict regulations in place for this weekend’s race at Atlanta, which will be held without spectators. Photographers will not be permitted at the event beyond a pool photographer, and media will not have access to the garage area or pit road. All driver availability will take place via teleconference, fed into the media center. The NCAA has not — at this point — postponed the men’s basketball tournament that’s scheduled for next week, but several individual schools have announced they’re taking a break from sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement that “this is uncharted territory and the health and safety of our student-athletes and institutions remains our top priority.”___3:15 p.m.IndyCar will open its season on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, without spectators. The expansion team owned by Mas and former England captain David Beckham had been scheduled to play its home opener Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 Football season is months away, but spring practice for college teams was in full swing around the country. That is being put on hold in many places, too. USC and Notre Dame both announced they would suspended practice as their campuses shut down. The SEC’s suspension of sport through March will also take football teams off the practice fields.___1:45 p.m.The NHL is following the NBA’s lead and suspending its season. The CAA said the official did not exhibit symptoms of the virus until 72 hours after the game he worked. The conference said it was using an “abundance of caution” to make the involved institutions and tournament personnel “aware of the situation so they can take proper precautionary measures.”Hofstra beat Northeastern in the conference championship game on Tuesday in Washington.___4:30 p.m.The NCAA has canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of the spread of coronavirus. The decision came one day after the NCAA announced games that were scheduled to start next week would be played in mostly empty arenas. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the pause of the season amid concerns about the new coronavirus. The NBA announced Wednesday night it was suspending play, after a player tested positive for COVID-19.Several NBA and NHL teams share arenas. The NHL has not said any player has tested positive for COVID-19. The league is halting play with 189 games left in the regular season, sparking uncertainty about how many more, if any, could be played before the playoffs.Bettman said the NHL has tried to follow mandates of health experts and local authorities without taking premature or unnecessary measures.” Bettman’s statement said the NBA’s news made it “no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”___ Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the coronavirus outbreak’s affect on sports around the globe (all times EDT):___7 p.m. ___11:40 a.m.Major League Soccer is shutting down because of the coronavirus, according to Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas.Mas says the target period for the hiatus is 30 days.He told players and coaches, then held a news conference and says, “We’ve made a decision as a league this morning, as owners, that play will be suspended temporarily.” ___12:35 p.m.The Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences have gone beyond canceling just their men’s basketball tournaments.The SEC announced within an hour of canceling the tournament that the league was suspending regular-season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses as well as league championships until March 30.The Pac-12 said it was scrapping all league championship events and all competitions effective immediately and until further notice. 6:27 p.m.Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the club to close its training complex and put the entire first-team in self isolation.Arsenal was due to play at Brighton on Saturday, with the Premier League pushing ahead with a full fixture list and stadiums with fans — unlike most other major sports.However, Arsenal said “it is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates.” The club issued a statement quoting Arteta as saying: “This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.” 1:05 p.m.The Big East Conference basketball tournament has been canceled at halftime of Thursday’s first game because of the coronavirus outbreak.As several other big conferences around the country canceled their postseason tournaments, the Big East resumed on schedule at New York’s Madison Square Garden. It started its second-round game between top-seeded Creighton and St. John’s at Madison Square Garden and not until halftime was the tournament called off with St. John’s leading 38-35.As the Bluejays and Red Storm were playing, a few subway stops away at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Atlantic 10 Conference was holding a news conference to called off its tournament.___ The ACC announced the cancellation about 10 minutes before the scheduled start of Thursday’s first quarterfinal game featuring No. 4 Florida State and Clemson. With the tournament scrapped, the Seminoles will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after winning the regular-season title.ACC Commissioner John Swofford presented the Seminoles with the tournament trophy on the court, while the Tigers joined them on the court instead of tipping off their game.The men’s NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular events on the American sports calendar. March Madness draws hundreds of thousands of fans to arenas from coast to coast.___12:15 p.m. The league says the official did not exhibit symptoms of the virus until 72 hours after the game he worked. The conference says it has made the institution involved and tournament personnel aware of the situation so they can take proper precautionary measures.___5:55 p.m.The LPGA Tour has postponed golf’s first major championship of the season and two other events because of the coronavirus.The tour called off the Volvik Founders Cup in Phoenix on March 19-22, the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California, on March 26-29 and the major ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California, on April 2-5. 12:40 p.m.The Big 12 is canceling all of its championships through April 15, including upcoming gymnastics and equestrian meets, and will reassess the rest of its spring sports schedule April 15.Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he anticipated a conference-wide policy for spring football, though athletic directors have not yet discussed a plan.The league anticipates a heavy financial hit from refunded ticket sales to its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and having to adjust the rights fees it receives from its TV partners.Bowlsby also said that nobody from the conference, including staff members, coaches and players, had fallen ill or been tested for coronavirus. The International Tennis Federation has postponed all of its sanctioned tournaments for six weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining the men’s professional tour in suspending action.The ITF oversees various junior, wheelchair and lower-tier events.The group says no tournaments on the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour, the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors, the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, ITF Beach Tennis World Tour or ITF Seniors Tour will take place until at least the week of April 20.The men’s tour announced earlier Thursday it was calling off ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events for six weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.The WTA women’s tour has not made any comment so far related to its schedule. ___12:10 p.m.The Champions League match between Manchester City and Real Madrid has been postponed after the Spanish team puts its players in quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.Madrid has ordered its soccer and basketball teams to remain in isolation after one of the basketball players tested positive for the virus.No new date for the second-leg match in the last 16 was announced. City leads 2-1 from the first leg in Madrid.last_img read more