Southwest Virginia’s Grayson Highlands State Park was just voted Best of the Blue Ridge by readers, and it doesn’t take long to understand why. Airy mountain meadows, gushing trout streams, rhododendron-filled forests, and a conglomeration of high peaks fill this park, located just over an hour from Abingdon, VA. Best of all, more than 100 wild ponies roam the park and the neighboring Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.Photo by Bob DillerPeak baggers won’t be able to resist the temptation to tackle Virginia’s highest peak, the 5,729-foot Mount Rogers. Fortunately, the shortest and arguably the most scenic route to the summit comes courtesy of Grayson Highlands State Park. The approximately 8.5-mile out-and-back route begins on the aptly named Rhododendron Trail in Grayson Highlands, beginning from the Massie Gap parking area. It links with the Appalachian Trail and Mount Rogers Spur trail outside the park. Cherish the views along the way—the actual summit of Mount Rogers is in the midst of a moss-cloaked forest.Photo by Scott WilsonThe park also has plenty to offer less ambitious hikers, with many of the shorter trails in Grayson Highlands loaded with iconic Appalachian vistas. The easily accessible Twin Pinnacles Trail begins at the park’s visitor center and takes hikers on a 1.6-mile loop with sweeping views of Wilbur Ridge and Mount Rogers. The equally short-and-sweet Cabin Creek Trail is a 1.8-mile riverine ramble, leading visitors along a trail framed by rhododendron and mountain laurel that features a 25-foot waterfall.Photo by Scott WilsonOne of the park’s highlights is the band of ponies roving the highlands—including a famous, flaxen-maned stallion named Fabio, renowned for his salon-quality locks. The origin of the equines is somewhat mysterious, but one story suggests the ponies were bred by locals to survive the fickle Appalachian high country with minimal human interference. Inside the park, the herd was introduced by the Forest Service in 1974 to provide a natural landscaping service for the highland balds, first cleared by loggers at the end of the 19th century and later grazed by cattle throughout first half of the 20th century.Photo by Bob DillerGrayson Highlands is not just a bucket-list trip for hikers in the Old Dominion—the park is also one of the premier bouldering destinations in Virginia. With nearly 1,000 problems scattered throughout the park, there are enough routes to suit all kinds of climbers. The lofty elevation of the park’s bouldering areas, many more than 5,000 feet, also make Grayson Highlands a prime climbing destination during the summer, when temperatures render many popular routes in the Southeast off-limits.Photo by Bob DillerThe artsy town of Abingdon, VA makes a convenient base camp for those not inclined to camp. Just over an hour from Grayson Highlands, the town features the region’s best collection of eateries, music venues, and sightseeing. Photo by Jesse CheersRead more about Grayson Highlands State Park.Photo by Scott Wilson
Many students and local residents were startled after a Dept. of Public Safety officer fired one shot at an armed robbery suspect, who Los Angeles Police Department said is a Compton-area gang member, early Wednesday morning.The shooting occurred on 30th Street near Figueroa Street, after the two male victims followed the suspect, identified as Jeremy Hendricks, 24, from The Row, where the robbery occurred. The suspect was confronted by a patrolling DPS officer, who shot Hendricks in the leg after he appeared to be reaching for a weapon.The Row · Four students were approached on 28th Street by an armed robber early Wednesday morning and forced to hand over their property. – Matthew Wunderlich | Daily Trojan“At first, it was just surreal,” said Sahar Youdai, a senior majoring in architecture, who lives in an apartment building in front of where Hendricks was shot. “I woke up to hearing someone say ‘Put your hands up’ and then the gunshot, so at first it didn’t register.”The incident marks one week since the fatal shooting of two USC graduate students, Ying Wu and Ming Qu, near 27th Street and Raymond Avenue.Reed Foster, a sophomore majoring in economics and mathematics, said the incident was especially unsettling in light of last week’s shooting.“Everyone was kind of getting over the death of the two graduate students and then this happened,” said Foster, who was at his fraternity house during the incident. “Everyone is kind of in a daze right now.”Though Foster said the shooting does not change his opinion about safety off campus, he said he will strive to be more conscious of his surroundings.“This [doesn’t] change how I feel about my safety,” Foster said. “It just makes me kind of more aware. I’m not likely to go out and walk by myself with my iPod or be drunk.”USC officials did not send a Trojan Alert — a multi-platform alert that provides information on immediate threats — because they determined that no students were in immediate danger following the shooting. Though officials sent an email about the incident to the USC community Wednesday morning, the decision to not send a Trojan Alert raised concerns among students and parents, according to a statement released by Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration.“We must always balance the community’s desire to know against the need to send out text alerts judiciously, in order to ensure maximum attention and response in case of an immediate threat or emergency,” Dickey said.Dickey said that, in the future, officials will consider other methods, such as tweeting or only sending an email, for conveying pertinent information in similar situations.“We will consider all delivery options for alerts in future situations where a threat does not exist but the university community would benefit from more timely information,” Dickey said.Lynette Hammond, who lives on 30th Street the location of the shooting, said she was scared when she woke up to news of the shooting Wednesday morning. She was especially surprised by the incident because she said the area where it occurred is perceived as being among the safer off-campus living options for students.“It’s really bad,” Hammond said, “Because this is supposed to be the good part. Here you are, going to school, minding your business and no one should have to be afraid.”Hammond, however, said students could prevent more incidents from occurring by limiting risky behavior, such as drinking and staying out extremely late.“The kids kind of have to curb it a little, too, because they have a false sense of security with [DPS], the police and the people in yellow jackets.”With all the security precautions, Hammond said there is little the school can do to improve prevention.“What else can they do?” Hammond said. “They can’t call in the National Guard.”Foster said he still believes the area is safe for students, although he said students are safer living in buildings that are more secure.“Things like this are bound to happen,” Foster said. “If I were sending my kid here, I’d be more comfortable with them living on campus or in a Greek house or one of these larger apartment complexes, as opposed to a neighborhood home.”
1 Millwall manager Neil Harris Millwall took a big step towards Wembley by coming from behind to win 3-1 at Bradford in the first leg of their Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final.First-half goals from Lee Gregory, Steve Morison and Joe Martin turned the tie in the Lions’ favour ahead of Friday’s return game after the Bantams had taken the lead through Tony McMahon’s early penalty.There was a raucous atmosphere inside Valley Parade all afternoon, although it was temporarily subdued ahead of kick-off by an emotional minute-long applause in memory of former Bantam Chris Mitchell, who died earlier this month at the age of 27.Spurred on by the vocal backing, the home side were given the perfect opportunity to seize the initiative when Lions left-back Martin handled in the box following Jamie Proctor’s header across goal.McMahon was perhaps lucky to still be on the pitch to take the penalty following a coming together with Millwall’s Chris Taylor as he waited to take the kick. Referee Dean Whitestone opted to book the Bradford player and he duly stepped up to send goalkeeper Jordan Archer the wrong way with 13 minutes played.The goal prompted the noise levels inside the stadium to increase further, but the City supporters were not smiling for long.Lions top-scorer Gregory, on his first start since April 19 following a double hernia, controlled Morison’s nod down in the area two minutes later and turned to fire his 26th goal of the season into the bottom left corner.Filipe Morais then flashed a volley wide for Bradford before the visitors turned the game on its head 11 minutes prior to the break.Shane Ferguson sent in an out-swinging corner from the left and captain Morison rose highest to head home off the underside of the crossbar.Millwall are aiming for an immediate return to the Championship following relegation last season, and full-back Martin atoned for his early error by extending their lead in the final minute of the half.Gregory was adjudged to have been fouled 25 yards from goal and Martin impressively curled the resulting free-kick past the dive of Bradford keeper Ben Williams and into the left corner.Portuguese midfielder Morais should have reduced the deficit eight minutes into the second period but he somehow shot wide with the goal gaping after Proctor had robbed Carlos Edwards and teed him up.Phil Parkinson’s side, who have not been in the second tier since 2004, dominated the second period and defender Nathan Clarke almost scrambled the ball home following a corner.Keeper Archer then had to be alert to tip over a header from Nathan Clarke, while Lee Evans curled narrowly wide from a free-kick from distance.The Londoners offered little attacking threat after the break but their dogged defending was enough to ensure they take a two-goal advantage back to The Den.