In the farthest southwest fingers of the Jefferson National Forest is a slice of Virginia that is too often overlooked. Trails climb through the forests and spill into a wide-open high-elevation frontier, strewn with giant boulders and pierced by rugged, rocky crags. Harsh winds carve through the moraines and sweep through the fields. Wild ponies roam the bald peaks and ridgelines. Bears lumber through the rhododendron thickets and feed on the huckleberry bushes. This is the high country of Mount Rogers.With over 400 miles of trails, 120,000 acres of mountain terrain, and three designated wilderness areas, the highlands of the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area are about as wild as it gets and are fairly accessible thanks to miles of primitive singletrack trails, old logging roads, railroad grades, and horse trails. The A.T. also cuts through this area, passing within a half mile of the trail to Mount Rogers’ 5,729-foot peak, the highest point in Virginia. Here are three unforgettable backcountry experiences in the high country.A Day in the High CountryHead into Grayson Highlands State Park from the south and park at Massie Gap. From there, follow the Appalachian Spur Trail. At the top, hang a left and the A.T. will deposit you right into Wilburn Ridge. Head up in late summer and you can pick blueberries and huckleberries ‘til you puke. You’ll see wild ponies grazing the grassy mountain plains, scramble through boulders and rocky trails, and catch sunsets and 360-degree views.Two Days of Little WilsonMake camp at Grayson Highlands State Park and head into the upland hardwood forests of Little Wilson Creek Wilderness. The Big Wilson Creek trail will take you in and you can branch off and do plenty of exploring, but before you’re done, grab your fly rod and take joy in the solitude of the Little Wilson Creek Trail along the creek bed and make a fishing day out of it. Catch yourself some of the beautiful brook trout that swim the waters of cold, bubbling waters and call it a day with a fire back at camp.Three Days on the TrailTwo and a half miles west of Troutdale, park at Fairwood and catch the A.T. This will take you through the gorgeous lower elevation rhododendron jungles and uphill towards the Old Orchard Shelter. Continue climbing and the A.T. will suddenly open up into the stunning highlands, where you can hike to an old fenced-in pony weigh station known as The Scales. Wild pony herds keep the area trimmed. Continue heading towards the Wise Shelter. This area is scattered with places to camp near the woods of Big Wilson Creek, where you are protected from the sometimes-brutal winds of high-elevation campsites. You’ll have access to water and beautiful starry skies to gaze upon.The next day follow the A.T. towards Wilburn Ridge and through to Rhododendron Gap. You’ll scramble over rocks and boulders, up and down the ridgelines, and boulder the rocky faces of Rhododendron Gap peaking at 5,525 feet. You’ll want your camera here as you gaze out over the moors of Mount Rogers. There are plenty of great campsites around Rhododendron Gap. Set up camp under the spruce trees and save time for a side-trip in the morning before closing the loop. Mount Rogers is home to rare Southern Applachian red spruce and Fraser fir, and its summit lays just a half-mile west from the A.T. Close out your trip by following the Pine Mountain Trail to the A.T. and back down towards the Old Orchard Shelter and Fairwood.
4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Ben Prager Prior to forming Prager Creative, Ben worked with design studios, branding firms and advertising agencies to push great strategy and design for all his projects. His experience with all aspects … Web: www.pragercreative.com/creditunions Details There’s no doubt that it’s an exciting time of year. We’ve hit the home stretch for 2018. The industry has experienced further growth in membership numbers and auto loans. And interest rate hikes have consumers looking to switch to more trustworthy financial providers with better rates. Which means it’s the perfect time to build a solid marketing plan for 2019. Sure, it can be difficult to shift your focus away from your current efforts, especially as you work hard to hit those year-end targets. But if you don’t put the effort in now, you run the risk of always having to play catch-up once the new year rolls around. And the further you fall behind, the harder it is to catch up, let alone get ahead. So if you want to give your credit union the best chance for success in 2019, answer these five questions and start planning for one of your greatest years yet. How did we fail in 2018?Too often we approach the planning process by looking at what was done well and then replicating it. But to really set your credit union up for success, look at the goals you didn’t achieve and figure out why they didn’t happen. Then determine what needs to change so you can reach them this year. By digging into the detail of what didn’t work, you’ll uncover where you need to reallocate resources or rethink your approach.Think of it also in terms of how the competition sees you. A recent survey from the Federal Reserve and the Conference of State Bank Supervisor found that community banks see credit unions as the biggest competition for consumer loans. By acknowledging your weaknesses and addressing them, you are able to stay ahead of the competition and mitigate the tactics they will use to try overstep you. The key is to always keep the competition top of mind, and ensure you are fighting back harder than they’re fighting you. Do we really know what to do with social media and video?Despite being a key driver for consumer engagement, many credit unions still lag in using social media and video content as viable marketing tools. The good news is credit unions have a distinct advantage when it comes to content marketing: they have a rich resource of stories and a highly personal nature that is perfect for engaging with consumers online. Be aware that social media is much more than just another outlet to push promotions. It’s a forum for relationship building, understanding your members, and delivering value in the tailored, personal way that members love. Video also gives you the power to connect in a way words can’t. If you don’t have a video telling your story and letting the consumer know the difference between a bank and a credit union, it’s a must for early 2019!What more can we get for our media spend?When it comes to media buys, the best attitude to have is the one that says “everything is negotiable”. And if it’s been a while since you’ve asked for more, now is the time to do so. Lower rates and fees, more value-adds, and better frequency should all be on the table. Consider working with a media buying pro. They have substantial relationships with media outlets and therefore greater power to negotiate for a better result. Also let go of the belief that you must have a presence in every medium. If your budgets are limited, select the channels with the strongest opportunities for your credit union. You’ll not only avoid sacrificing results from spreading yourself too thin, you’ll find you are better placed to try new approaches and take bigger risks. It’s the most effective way to get to the bigger pay-offs.Can we defend an ADA compliance lawsuit?Despite recent wins for credit unions in the ongoing ADA compliance saga, the threat of litigation is far from over. And if your brand hasn’t addressed the issue, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to litigation. Don’t believe that it won’t happen to your credit union, because at the this stage, every credit union is at risk. That is, of course, unless they have a website that is compliant. Consider this a top priority for your 2019 website strategy.Are we overwhelmed and drowning?Time is one of the most valuable assets to any organization. Freeing yourself of time-consuming obligations gives you the opportunity to focus on new challenges. Actually having time to just THINK rather than putting your head down and knocking things of the old to-do list can be the most valuable time spent.Look at it this way: if, right now, you can’t be proactive about getting a great start to the year ahead, find a partner that can take on the responsibility of getting you to a winning position. It could be the edge your brand needs for an unbelievably successful 2019.
The SLS 5th Grade Boys Basketball team opened their season on Tuesday, October 24th with a 33-17 loss to St. Mary’s – Vernon.The Cardinals were lead in scoring by Ben Miller with 10 points. Henry Wanstrath finished with 5 points, and Sam Laloge rounded out the scoring with 2 points.‘All the boys gave great effort, didn’t give up, and supported each other throughout the game!’ Cardinals Coach Ryan Tekulve.