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Yosemite of the East

first_imgFor an excellent tale of hiking and reviving ones sense of adventure, click here! It’s not as easy to get lost in Panthertown Valley as it used to be. At one time, the 6,300-acre tract of land inside the Nantahala National Forest was renowned for stupefying hikers and mountain bikers hell bent on exploring the 50-plus miles of user-created backcountry trails that criss-cross the high-elevation valley and its surrounding 4,000-foot high mountains. But as more hikers and bikers have discovered Panthertown, an exhaustively researched map has been published, and trail signs have been implemented. Panthertown’s evolution from local’s secret to backcountry hot spot was inevitable, particularly when you consider the sheer drama of the landscape. High elevation bogs and skyscraper-tall pine forests dominate the valley floor while 400-foot granite cliffs act as boundary markers. And waterfalls are everywhere. It’s a suite of characteristics that has led the valley to be dubbed “the Yosemite of the East.”“Some people consider it a national park all on its own,” says Jason kimenker, executive director of the Friends of Panthertown, the volunteer organization that maintains the popular destination. “The sheer rock faces dropping into a bowl with waterfalls falling down the sides of mountains… it’s a unique place, but it’s not a national park. even with the increased popularity, it’s still very much a backcountry destination.”Below is a suggested three-day itinerary that takes in a handful of the valley’s highlights. This is an all-inclusive backpacking getaway with sandy beaches, natural water slides, and big views from bare knobs.Day OnePark at the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead on the east side of the valley. Pick up Panthertown Valley Trail (actually a gravel road) from the trailhead and head straight for your base camp, a sweet campsite at the junction of Powerline Road Trail, roughly 1.5 miles from your car. Here, you’re just a couple of hundred yards away from the Sandbar Pool, a unique sandbar in the middle of Panthertown Creek that makes for primo swimming and sunning. Set up camp and switch to a day pack with lunch and swim gear. Choose your route to Carlton’s Way, an unofficial piece of singletrack that twists through mountain laurel as it climbs the side of Blackrock Mountain. Top out at the sloping, granite overlook (4,200 feet) and soak in the all-encompassing view of Panthertown valley flanked by Big and Little Green Mountains in the distance.After enjoying the view, take Powerline Road Trail to five spectacular waterfalls along the Tuckaseegee River. The sliding and swimming potential at waterfalls like Riding Ford and Red Butt is stellar, so block out a chunk of the afternoon for swimming shenanigans, then retrace your steps to the Powerline Road Trail, which you’ll take south back to your campsite.Day TwoHike east on Panthertown Valley Trail for a mile, then head south on Mac’s Gap Trail to Granny Burrell Falls. Next, climb steadily through a rhodo tunnel before summiting 4,200-foot Big Green Mountain. The summit is shrouded in hardwoods, but take the second man way on your right to a killer view from the top of “The Great Wall of Panthertown,” a 300-foot high granite face that stretches for nearly a mile. Carry on the Big Green Trail as you drop off the mountain, then go north on Mac’s Gap Trail for less than a mile to Little Green Trail.The trail hugs the edge of the mountain, moving along gray granite with veins of green moss and tiny potholes that hold water after a rain. Continue to follow the trail (faint white arrows painted on the rock) to your camp for the night, a flat spot inside a sheltered pine forest.Day ThreePack up and drop off the east side of Little Green Mountain on Little Green Trail, which ends at the base of Schoolhouse Falls.The swimming and photo potential at the bottom of this 25-foot waterfall is some of the best in the valley. If you have time and brought a fly rod, cross the river at the base of Schoolhouse Falls and take the man way upstream for great casting options and more solitude. Even if you don’t fish, this is a great side trip that will take you to Pothole Falls and Mac’s Falls. From Mac’s Falls, connect with Greenland Creek Trail for a quick jaunt back to the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead and your car.last_img read more

Recent foul trouble threatens to end Christmas’ Carrier Dome career early against No. 2 Virginia

first_imgDURHAM, N.C. — Rakeem Christmas stood in place and stared down his one-way path to the Syracuse bench. For the second time in five nights, Christmas picked up a fifth foul and sauntered down the length of the court to grab a front-row seat for the rest of the game. In a five-point win over then-No. 9 Notre Dame on Tuesday, Christmas exited with 5:18 to play and the Orange managed to hold on without him. In a 19-point loss to No. 4 Duke on Saturday, he fouled out with 9:42 left and all but put the punctuation mark on a game Syracuse never gripped. “He’s our leader offensively and defensively,” SU shooting guard Trevor Cooney said on Saturday. “And when we can’t get him going it’s hard to get the rest of us going.”That becomes especially hard when Christmas is out of the game, which the Orange (18-11, 9-7 Atlantic Coast) can’t afford when it hosts No. 2 Virginia (27-1, 15-1) for a 7 p.m. game in the Carrier Dome on Monday night. To keep Christmas — who will be the only scholarship senior playing his last home game — out of foul trouble against the defensively savvy Cavaliers, SU’s guards said they have to protect him by stopping penetration from the perimeter. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThis is the first time Christmas has fouled out in back-to-back games since his freshman year, when he fouled out against Seton Hall and then DePaul three days later. He’s managed to play 58 total minutes — the lowest of any two-game stretch in conference play — but has scored 25 points in the two contests despite averaging 18.1 per game on the season. “Fouls happen,” SU forward B.J. Johnson said on Saturday. “I think whenever (Christmas) fouls out, it really hurts us but we have to play through it. It’s really not easy, though.”Johnson, Cooney and SU forward Michael Gbinije all said that the rest of the zone has to keep opponents from getting into the middle where Christmas has to contest shots and defend the rim. Penetration into the zone not only leads to perimeter players crashing into Christmas, but also forces the forward to step up and obstruct the lane to the basket. Often, guards draw the big man and dump bounces into the post — which sends Christmas recovering with limited control of his body. Against the Blue Devils, two of his fouls came off the ball and another on the fast break, but the last two were products of Duke slicing through the zone in the half court. Without Christmas on the floor for the latter half of the second half, the Blue Devils defense ditched the paint, pushed even farther out onto Syracuse’s shooters and eliminated any hope of an SU comeback. “We need to keep people in front better on defense,” Gbinije said after the Duke game. “A lot of times his fouls come with people driving on the guards. If we eliminate that, I think we eliminate some of Rak’s foul trouble.” Without leading scorer Justin Anderson, one of the best spot-up shooters in the ACC, it is likely that Virginia will look into the high and low post to score against the Orange. And with no postseason, the game against the Cavaliers is Christmas‘ last chance to prove himself against a top-flight opponent, which happens to boast one of the country’s stingiest defenses. He’ll also be honored in a senior day ceremony before the game in front of a crowd that has fully taken to his ascension into a premier scoring threat. It will be a somber farewell if he finds himself in foul trouble for the third-straight game. “I just need to stay out of foul trouble, I guess,” Christmas said after the Duke game. As for what he can do differently to avoid fouling so often, Christmas rolled his eyes, shrugged and turned away from the question. If he doesn’t find that answer, the end of his Carrier Dome career could very well play out with him looking on from the bench. Comments Published on March 2, 2015 at 12:15 am Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Week 14 Fantasy PPR Rankings: TE

first_imgWEEK 14 PPR RANKINGS: Running back | Wide receiverWeek 14 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings: TEsThese rankings are for PPR leagues1George Kittle, 49ers vs. Broncos2Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. Ravens3Zach Ertz, Eagles @ Cowboys4David Njoku, Browns vs. Panthers5Eric Ebron, Colts @ Texans6Jared Cook, Raiders vs. Steelers7Rob Gronkowski, Patriots @ Dolphins8Jimmy Graham, Packers vs. Falcons9Jordan Reed, Redskins vs. Giants10Vance McDonald, Steelers @ Raiders Week 14 Standard Rankings:Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | D/ST | KickerElsewhere in the middle of the list, Evan Engram is still attempting to return from a hamstring injury that kept him out last week. If he can’t suit up against the Redskins, Rhett Ellison will get the start. Ellison has limited appeal and upside, but it’s not like Engram has done much this year either. Meanwhile, Trey Burton — a player who saw one target last week — is a TD dependent option against the Rams. He could definitely score, but his upside in PPR formats is low due to a dearth of targets going his way.Reminder: Check back for updates during the week. And for more analysis on each player, check out our standard TE rankings for Week 14.  Greg Olsen is gone, and our Week 14 fantasy TE PPR rankings will lose depth as a result. In recent weeks, several tight ends have gone on the IR and seen their season end. There is still some solid depth at the top, but the mid-tier of our rankings is now dominated by sleepers and streamers. And for any fantasy owner facing a start ’em, sit ’em decision in the fantasy playoffs, that is a scary proposition.Olsen’s loss also doesn’t do a lot to create a logical replacement for him. Fourth-round rookie Ian Thomas will take over as the top target at TE in Carolina, but the fact of the matter is that he is unproven. He looked good against the Buccaneers in limited action, but it’s hard to recommend him as a plug-and-play option in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. It’s just too risky.center_img MORE FANTASY: Rankings | DFS11Antonio Gates, Chargers vs. Bengals12Cameron Brate, Buccaneers vs. Saints13Kyle Rudolph, Vikings @ Seahawks14Mark Andrews, Ravens @ Chiefs15C.J. Uzomah, Bengals @ Chargers16Dan Arnold, Saints @ Buccaneers17Jonnu Smith, Titans vs. Jaguars18Austin Hooper, Falcons @ Packers19Trey Burton, Bears vs. Rams20Evan Engram, Giants @ Redskins21Ian Thomas, Panthers @ Browns22Ricky Seals-Jones, Cardinals vs. Lions23Matt LaCosse, Broncos @ 49ers24Chris Herndon, Jets @ Bills25Jordan Thomas, Texans vs. Colts26Nick Vannett, Seahawks vs. Vikings27Gerald Everett, Rams @ Bears28James O’Shaughnessy, Jaguars @ Titans29Vernon Davis, Redskins vs. Giants30Tyler Higbee, Rams @ Bears31Charles Clay, Bills vs. Jets32Michael Roberts, Lions @ Cardinals33Geoff Swaim, Cowboys vs. Eagles34Ed Dickson, Seahawks vs. Vikings35Dallas Goedert, Eagles @ Cowboys36Hayden Hurst, Ravens @ Chiefs37Mike Gesicki, Dolphins vs. Patriots38Jesse James, Steelers @ Raiderslast_img read more


first_imgHIGHLY REGARDED FRENCH-BRED DANZA CAVALLO ONE OF TWO SHIPPING IN FROM KEENELAND ARCADIA, Calif. (May 22, 2015)–Monday’s Memorial Day headliner, the Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf, has attracted a talent laden cast of 10 fillies and mares including recent local graded stakes winners Blingismything and Queen of The Sand, along with a pair of invaders from Kentucky–Grade I stakes winner Hard Not to Like and graded stakes placed Danza Cavallo.Trained by Eric Kruljac, Blingismything stalked the pace and was up to win the Grade III, one mile turf Wilshire Stakes by a nose on April 26 and will try 1 1/8 miles for the second time in her career on Monday. A close seventh, beaten just two lengths in her only other try at the distance–the Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes five starts back on Dec. 27, Blingismything has been a gem of consistency, with her only out of the money performance in 10 races coming in the Frankel.A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Arch, Blingismything is owned by Class Racing Stable and retains the services of leading rider Tyler Baze. With an overall mark of 10-4-2-3, she has earnings of $246,330.Like Blingismything, trainer Paddy Gallagher’s Irish-bred Queen of The Sand exits a nose victory last time out, in her case, the Grade III, 1 ¼ miles turf Santa Barbara Handicap on April 18. Next-to-last in the early going, the 5-year-old mare rallied late, overcoming traffic trouble, to just prevail over Fanticola, who’ll she’ll again face in the Gamely.Owned by Derrick Fisher, Queen of The Sand will make only her third start of the year and sports an overall mark of 23-8-2-3, with earnings of $343,920. Although winless in three tries at 1 1/8 miles, she has three wins from four tries at a flat mile on turf and will be ridden back by Drayden Van Dyke.Trainer Phil D’Amato’s Fanticola, who just missed a gate to wire win over Queen of The Sand in the Santa Barbara on April 18, will likely show plenty of speed again when shortening up a furlong in the Gamely. A winner of the one mile turf Megahertz Stakes three starts back on Jan. 17, the 5-year-old Ontario Canadian-bred mare has been no worse than third in her last five starts. Owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino, Fanticola, who has never run at the Gamely distance, is 15-4-4-6 overall, with earnings of $288,300.Third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Queen of The Sand in the Santa Barbara, Team Valor International’s Three Hearts was perhaps unlucky in defeat, as she lacked room at the rail from the quarter pole to the furlong marker at odds of 5-2. Conditioned by Neil Drysdale, the 5-year-old Hat Trick mare is 6-1-2-2 at the Gamely distance and is 17-3-4-5 overall with earnings of $262,249. Ridden by Tyler Baze in her last three starts, she switches to Gary Stevens on Monday.Trainer Christophe Clement’s Hard Not to Like, who caught a yielding turf when running third in the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland April 11, brings a solid resume, that includes a Grade I win in last year’s Wiley, to Monday’s Gamely.  Hard Not to Like finished first in the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles turf Endeavour Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 31, but was disqualified to second. The 6-year-old Ontario Canadian-bred mare by Hard Spun is 18-6-3-2 overall with earnings of $781,671. She’s owned by Speedway Stable, LLC.French-bred Danza Cavallo rallied from far off the pace to take her second stateside start, a third condition allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf April 17 at Keeneland. Second, beaten a neck in her U.S. debut, the Grade III, 1 ½ miles turf Long Island Handicap Nov. 8, Danza Cavallo has been favored in both of her U.S. starts. Conditioned by Chad Brown and owned by Sheep Pond Partners and Dubb, the 4-year-old filly by Sunday Break will be piloted for the third consecutive start by Irad Ortiz, Jr. She is 13-4-4-2, with earnings of $189,868.With all horse assigned 119 pounds, here is the Grade I Gamely Stakes, to be run as the eighth race on a nine-race card Monday, with jockeys in post position order: Moulin de Mougin, Mike Smith; Three Hearts, Gary Stevens; Blingismything, Tyler Baze; Fanticola, Joe Talamo; Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez; Generosidade, Tiago Pereira; Elektrum, Flavien Prat; Danza Cavallo, Irad Ortiz, Jr.; Hard Not to Like, Victor Espinoza, and Queen of The Sand, Drayden Van Dyke.                First post time on Monday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.last_img read more