The drifts are unexpected. There’s easily six feet of snow, piled high in velvety waves, just a few feet shy of the cliffed-out mountain rim. They roll one after the other, like an ocean swell, for as far as I can see into the forest ahead. I assume the trail is somewhere beneath the snow. I lost the blazes a half-mile back, but the ridgeline is so narrow (maybe 10 feet wide), there’s nowhere else for the singletrack to go but forward, beneath the undulating snow. Forward is the only choice I have, too, so I put my cross-country skis back on for the one thousandth time today and ski into the drifts, sinking to my knees under the weight of my backpack.This isn’t how my backcountry ski adventure trip was supposed to go. I was supposed to spend three days backpacking the glorious North Fork Mountain Trail, a 24-mile ridgeline path that hugs the cliffy North Fork Mountain as it splits two forks of the Potomac River in West Virginia. I brought my skis along on a whim, in case I had the chance to drop into nearby Canaan Valley and sample their sublime cross-country specific singletrack. Skiing was supposed to be a distraction, not my main mode of transportation through the wilderness, but a freak spring storm dumped two feet of fresh powder across West Virginia’s Highlands.When I originally drove over the North Fork Mountain, scouting the trail at the beginning of my trip, I took one good look at the icy, snow-covered cliffs and headed straight for Canaan Valley, thinking my notion of a meandering backpacking adventure was completely sunk.I parked my truck in a ski in/ski out campsite with electricity in Canaan Valley State Park and proceeded to spend the day skiing solo along the trickling creeks of the park while listening to The Police on my headphones. I raced half a dozen deer (the deer always won) and only once thought I was entering into a “To Build a Fire” moment because I was completely lost.I could have stayed in Canaan Valley for the remainder of my trip skiing fresh powder and eating chicken wings and drinking bottles of Miller High Life at the state park lounge. It would be a beautiful vacation, but not much of an adventure. So in a moment of hubris, I packed my truck and headed back to North Fork Mountain looking to redeem the original plan. If the trail was covered in snow, then I’d ski it.That’s the beauty of the solo trip, after all. You can do what you want, when you want. I came alone so that I could change my mind on a whim. So I could sandbag it or go full tilt with no one else to consider. So I could ski and eat chicken wings or embark on a backcountry ski adventure with my trusty PBJ’s. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good “bro” trip as much as the next dude, but every once in a while I think it’s important to set forth solo for a few days when you don’t have to compromise, and the only body odor making the tent toxic is your own. Three days in the woods being selfish—what’s not to love?The juxtaposition between the Valley and the knife-edge North Fork Mountain is stark. The snow I skied yesterday in the Valley was like cotton. Soft and pillowy. Up here, along the cliffs, it’s icy and underpinned by a layer of rock. The views are incredible, but the skiing is shit. Most people mountain bike the North Fork. Others backpack it. I know one guy who’s gunning for the trail running speed record. I’ve never heard of anyone skiing it, though, and I can see why.There’s no snow at the northern trailhead when I begin my hike south, so I strap my skis to my backpack and climb the monstrous 2,000-foot vertical slog in my cross country ski boots. The blisters come fast, but as soon as the trail levels out on the ridge, the snow begins to get thicker. Soon, I’m clicking into my skis and kicking slowly beneath a canopy of hardwoods. The snow is patchy for the first few miles, so I’m constantly having to take my skis off, then put them back on, then take them off…My pack weighs roughly 75 pounds even though I’m only going for a 12-mile, overnight jaunt. I blame the obscene number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and extra pairs of socks I felt compelled to pack.There are occasions of flow. Brief moments when the snow is deep enough and the terrain rolling enough for me to glide down a little hill, then kick-kick to another crest and glide down a little hill and repeat for maybe 100 yards. It’s unexpected and blissful. The kind of flow you get when mountain biking or cross country skiing, but never experience while backpacking. It feels like cheating, and I love it.I don’t bother making a fire when I set up camp six miles into the trail. I clear a square out of the snow big enough for my tent, then scramble to the top of a cliff to watch the sunset while eating three PBJ’s. I’ve never liked camping solo and I’m convinced every sound I hear throughout the night is a yeti. When I wake up, I see tracks surrounding my tent. I’m no Natty Bumppo, but I can tell they’re too small for a yeti. I figure something cute and furry came to visit, lured by the aroma of peanut butter wafting from my pack.The skiing is better as I hit the high point of the trail and find myself in the sea of snowdrifts, sinking to my knees with every step. Then the trail drops elevation through rhodo thickets and the snow gets thin and rocky again. I tell myself this is what I wanted. I eschewed deep powder and groomed trails for something more adventurous and difficult. This is the decision I made. I chose the harder option. This is the problem with traveling solo. Not only is there no one around to take your picture, there’s no one around to blame but yourself.Near the gravel road where I stashed my truck, the ridgeline broadens and the forest turns from rocky rhododendron fields into a canopy of tall pine trees. The grade is mellow and the forest is open without a hint of underbrush. Here, the skiing is good. Actually, it’s great. There’s a foot of untracked powder offering unlimited tree runs. You can make wide arcs through the pines for 100 yards to the bottom of the slope, then kick back up to the top and pick a different, fresh line. I drop my pack at the top of the slope, ready to ski laps until my legs turn to jelly, and look around. There’s no one else around to claim the first tracks. It’s just me and the snow. Not exactly what I expected when I planned this trip, but exactly what I wanted.
continue reading » As expectations for faster, more convenient financial services continue to grow, focusing on technology and innovation has become increasingly more critical to address consumer demand. But, as you focus more of their time and efforts on the development and implementation of solutions designed to best meet account holders’ financial needs, it’s imperative to maintain awareness of existing issues that can put revenue, account holder relationships and reputation at risk. Products and services that aren’t monitored regularly or maintained properly can become performance and service liabilities and can expose your institution to increased regulatory scrutiny.Monitor the reliability of your revenue sourcesA decreasing number of income-producing sources and the possibility of a reduction in interchange revenue could have a significant impact on the bottom line going forward. If the recent settlement of the class action, anti-trust lawsuit involving Visa/Mastercard and a group of U.S. retailers results in merchants opting to pursue their own lawsuits to negotiate for better rates, the outcome could strike a blow to essential fee income. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
The No. 9 USC swimming and diving team fought its way into third place this week in the ultra-competitive Pac-10 conference, overtaking No. 4 Arizona with 1298.5 points to claim its best Pac-10 championship result since 2003.Record setter · Junior Lyndsay DePaul broke USC’s all-time record in the 100-yard freestyle race, swimming a 52.04 in the finals. – Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information Bay Area rivals No. 1 Stanford (1489) and No. 5 California (1341) took first and second, respectively, followed by USC and then Arizona (1223.5).“Overall, it was an outstanding meet to be a Trojan,” senior co-captain Krissy Forelli said.Following a Pac-10 victory last year, USC sophomore diver Victoria Ishimatsu claimed two Pac-10 titles on both the 1-meter (332.80) and 3-meter (381.15) events. Ishimatsu was named diver of the meet. Freshmen teammate Ariel Rittenhouse claimed second in the 1-meter (366.60) and third in the 3-meter (326.25).“[Ishimatsu] dominated the event with confidence and consistency,” USC diving coach Hongping Li said. “Ariel dove beautifully as well in a tight and close contest with her teammate.”The women started off the first night of competition with a bang, winning the 800-yard freestyle relay in 6:59.48 and crushing their school record of 7:07.59. The team was made up of juniors Presley Bard and Lyndsay DePaul and freshmen Haley Anderson and sophomore Katinka Hosszu. Bard led off the relay with a 1:44.47, breaking Hosszu’s school record (1:45.22) in the process.“The 800 free relay was amazing. Berkeley has won the event for the past six years straight, and we broke that pattern,” senior co-captain Dina Hegazy said.USC led the Pac-10 into day two of the conference and continued to blow its competition out of the water. Three more school records were smashed, the first by Hosszu in the 200-yard individual medley (1:55.49), another by Bard in the 50-yard freestyle (22.26) and the final by the women’s 200-yard freestyle (1:31.45) relay, which consisted of Hosszu and freshmen Lindsay Parrish, Christel Simms and Kate Shumway.By day three, USC was ranked third and was determined to remain in the top three in one of the toughest conferences in the nation. The women made six finals appearances, including Bard who became the first Woman of Troy to claim a Pac-10 100-yard backstroke final with a time of 51.92.DePaul broke USC’s 100-yard fly record twice during Friday’s session, first in preliminaries (52.04) and then in the finals (51.86) where she came third.Saturday marked the last day of competition, and the Women of Troy showed no signs of slowing down. Bard touched first in the 200-yard backstroke (1:51.80) and erased Hegazy’s school record (1:53.27), which she recorded at last year’s Pac-10’s. Hegazy came fourth in the event in a time of 1:55.63.The most exciting event of the meet was arguably Saturday’s 200-yard butterfly final, when USC dominated half the start list with four women competing in the eight-person final.“It was the last event of the meet, and we had all the stands just cheering for USC; it was just inspirational,” Hegazy said. “Everybody was just behind the blocks screaming so hard for the girls.”Hosszu won the event in 1:52.71, winning her first title of the conference. Stanford’s Elaine Breeden (1:53.15) and USC’s DePaul (1:53.88) came second and third, respectively.The conference marked the last Pac-10 championships for team captains Hegazy and Forelli.“I’m so glad this was my last Pac-10’s. I ended on a great team, and I couldn’t ask for more,” Hegazy said. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor being part of this team.”“I think I speak for the entire team that we are really looking forward to next year with an even stronger team that will challenge for a Pac-10 team championship title and a run to the top of the NCAA championships,” USC coach Dave Salo said.
Percy TauSoweto, South Africa | AFP | Percy Tau starred for a much-changed and much-improved South Africa in a crucial 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso Saturday in a 2018 World Cup Africa zone qualifier in Soweto.The diminutive winger scored the first goal after 48 seconds, played a role in the second, and created the third with a cheeky back-heel at Soccer City stadium.South Africa won with a team showing eight changes from that which suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat by Cape Verde in Durban last month.Back-to-back losses to Cape Verde and the annulling of a win against Senegal over match manipulation by a Ghanaian referee left South Africa desperate for maximum points.Despite the win, South Africa remain bottom of Group D and needing home and away victories over Senegal in November to have a chance of winning the group and qualifying.Burkina Faso and Cape Verde have six points, Senegal five and South Africa four ahead of a match between the Cape Verdeans and Senegalese in Praia later Saturday. A Tau header gave South Africa the perfect start and he later avoided going offside, allowing Themba Zwane to score, before Sibusiso Vilakazi made it 3-0 in first-half stoppage time.Surprisingly, subdued Burkina Faso could have been five goals behind before Alain Traore scored a consolation goal direct from a free-kick on 87 minutes. Share on: WhatsApp
Colin Kaepernick is sticking to his word when he promised to give back to his community. The former NFL quarterback was spotted in Oakland, California’s “Tent City” this weekend feeding the homeless and supplying them with much needed help on his 32nd birthday.He partnered up with his foundation, Know Your Rights Camp, and provided backpacks filled with snacks, socks, shampoo, and more. Additionally, he also provided a food truck that fed all consumers on his dime. Kaepernick has been using his name and his foundation to provide for his community since at least 2016 when he was forced out of the NFL due to his National Anthem protest.While he is no longer playing in the NFL, Kaepernick seemed to be in great spirits as he handed out backpacks, food, and posed photos with fans.
A chain of local strip clubs has announced that it will give back to the community for Thanksgiving once again this year.Cheetah Gentlemen’s Clubs are planning to give away 3,000 turkeys to families in need.The annual giveaway will take place on Monday, November 25 at 11 a.m., at the clubs’ parking lots.According to a report, 1,000 turkeys will be available at each location, and there will be a one-turkey-per-family limit. The event will be held on a first-come-first-served basis while supplies last.Cheetah owner and former Marine, Joe Rodriguez, has held the turkey giveaway for the past five years through his non-profit organization, Rodriguez Charities.The turkey pick-up locations are:-3342 Shawnee Avenue, West Palm Beach-100 Ansin Boulevard, Hallandale Beach-497 NW 31st Avenue, Pompano Beach
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a temporary flight restriction alert for the Thanksgiving holiday, as it appears that President Trump will spend the holiday in town.Flight restrictions will be imposed from Tuesday, November 26, through Sunday, December 1.The White House has not confirmed whether the president will indeed spend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago again this year, although he is scheduled to host a political rally in Broward County next week.Last Sunday, the Team Trump-Pence campaign issued a press release promoting a “homecoming” rally on November 26 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 3 p.m.Trump filed last month to become a Florida resident, and is now also registered to vote here. He has spent each Thanksgiving as president in Palm Beach County.The President is also scheduled to be in Florida on December 7. During that visit, he will be the keynote speaker at a summit for the Israeli-American Council.That event, which will be held at the Diplomat Resort & Hotel in Hollywood, is expected to attract, “nearly 4,000 attendees from around the world,” according to a statement from the IAC.Trump is also expected to speak at the Florida Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Miami the same day.The President last visited Mar-a-Lago during the Easter weekend in April.
President Trump is expected to return home to South Florida Tuesday to host a Keep America Great rally in celebration of his officially becoming a Florida resident.The president opted to give up his New York residency and officially become a Florida resident earlier this month.Chief Operating Officer of Donald J. Trump for President Inc, Michael Glassner recently said of the change:“President Trump recently became an official resident of the great state of Florida and looks forward to a ‘Welcome Home!’ rally with his fellow Floridians.” “Florida is thriving under President Trump and this homecoming rally will be one of our best yet,” Glassner continued.The will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise where doors are set to open at 3 p.m. and the rally will be held at 7 p.m.Officials with the Florida Highway Patrol are warning drivers who are not attending the event to avoid the BB&T Center and the area surrounding the Sawgrass Mills Mall unless they do not mind significant traffic delays.The Sawgrass Expressway near the arena will also be closed to commercial trucks during the afternoon rush hour and other drivers should expect significant delays as traffic will be merged into one lane.In addition to the rally, the President and his family are expected to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday at Mar-a-Lago.Checkpoints and road closures in and around Mar-a-Lago are expected will begin Tuesday, no later than 5 a.m. and remain up through Sunday, December 1st. Motorist are encouraged to seek alternative routes.
Palm Beach County can expect wet weather through the weekend before we dry out as Christmas approaches, according to the National Weather Service.A low-pressure system that is developing in the Gulf of Mexico could cause storms and tornadoes in South Florida beginning on Saturday. The NWS in Miami predicts we will see severe storms, heavy rain and flooding through Sunday.East winds of 15 mph are expected throughout weekend, with high gusts into the low 30s on Saturday night. Wind speeds should fall on Sunday morning to a high between 10 and 15 mph.Marine conditions will include wind speeds as high as 35 knots all weekend. The weather service issued a gale watch for the Atlantic that began Thursday night, and advises that the risk of rip currents in the ocean will remain high into next week.NWS meteorologist Larry Kelly says waves will remain in the range of 7 to 9 feet during the weekend, before subsiding early next week.Graphic courtesy: WPEC/CBS12Another cold front is forecast to reach our region Monday morning, with temperatures dropping into the upper 50s and low 60s near Lake Okeechobee. Temperatures along the Atlantic coast should be warmer, with the high Monday expected to be in the 70s.The cold front will extend into Tuesday. Morning temperatures are predicted to be in the upper 50s and low 60s, rising to the 70s as the day progresses. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day should remain sunny.
A patient in Southern California has become the third person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the new pneumonia-like virus from China, according to health officials.The Centers for Disease Control confirmed a traveler from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is where the outbreak began, tested positive for the virus.That patient is in isolation at a hospital and is in good condition, a release from the agency states.The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family, which is in turn related to the deadly SARS and MERS viruses that caused outbreaks in previous years. The first known case in California follows the first domestic diagnosis in Washington state on January 21 and another in Chicago last Friday. Both of those patients — in Washington, a man in his 30s, and in Chicago, a woman in her 60s — had traveled to China.The death toll from the virus in China has reached 56 so far. That country has issued massive travel bans in hard-hit sections of its borders while it tries to stop the virus from spreading. Meanwhile, the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan announced on Sunday that it would evacuate its personnel as well as some private citizens aboard a charter flight.The CDC expects more Americans to be diagnosed with the virus, which is believed to have an incubation period of about two weeks. The worldwide number of confirmed cases is approaching 2,000.In addition, the CDC is screening passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan at major airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.