Diamonds in the Rough: Trail Blazers search for gemstones beneath Douglas Falls in Pisgah National Forest, N.C. Photo: Nicole HinebaughKentavius can see the Blue Ridge Mountains from his apartment beside the interstate in downtown Asheville. But the nine-year-old had never hiked in them until last month.Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine has helped create the Trail Blazers Youth Adventure Club. Children from inner city communities are learning outdoor skills on a series of adventures throughout the summer.Last month, I accompanied Kentavius and twelve other Trail Blazers on a hike to Douglas Falls, a 70-foot waterfall surrounded by an old-growth forest. The kids, who ranged in age from 8 to 14, were awestruck. None of them had ever been hiking in a national forest; most had never left the city.They marveled at yellow-striped millipedes and the towering trees, including an overturned hemlock with its intricate root system exposed. “This was all underground? Daaang!” said ten-year-old Tahtiona.More than once, I was asked if cobras and anacondas lived in this forest. But by the time the kids reached the waterfall, they had completely forgotten about snakes. They quickly splashed across the creek to stand beneath the falls.As the frigid water pounded down on them, Alexus screamed with wild, shrill delight; Diontae flexed his muscles; Kentavius simply extended his arms and looked skyward, smiling.Afterward, the kids climbed into an old rock cave, scampered up a steep dirt trail, searched for gemstones in the creek, and even shimmied across an old log suspended between two boulders. They were adventurers exploring a brave new world, far away from the barren concrete of their public housing block.Nearly every day of their childhood has been filled with the sounds of the interstate. But for a few hours, they heard the wind in the trees and water cascading over rock. And on the hike back to the trailhead, they stopped walking, stopped talking, and for a few moments, just listened to the silence of the forest.The Asheville-based Trail Blazers are organized by the heroic Nicole Hinebaugh and volunteers from the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation. We plan on expanding the Trail Blazers Club into other towns across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Let us know if you’d like to lead a hike or lend a hand. Upcoming hikes, photo galleries, and additional information can be found at trailblazersclub.org.We hope that the Trail Blazers experience will inspire more kids like Kentavius, who discovered that those distant summits are within his reach. 1 2
London, United Kingdom | AFP | Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes the English champions can do “something incredible” by knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League at the Camp Nou on March 14, despite blowing a lead to draw the first leg of their last-16 tie 1-1.Willian gave reason to a bold team selection from Conte on Tuesday by putting the English champions ahead just after the hour mark, having also hit the woodwork twice before half-time.However, Barca pounced on a very rare Chelsea mistake on the night as Andres Iniesta intercepted a slack pass by Andreas Christensen and squared for Lionel Messi to slot home his first goal in nine appearances against Chelsea. “We’re talking about a player he’s only 21. It’s great that he can play this game with this maturity. I am very happy. For me he was one of the best players tonight.”Share on: WhatsApp Pages: 1 2 “We must be realistic. We are talking about Barcelona. They show tonight to be a strong, fantastic team,” said Conte. “We have showed that if we are ready to work very hard together defensively, but continue to have the right feeling when you win the ball when you have the chance to score, we can try to do something incredible at the Nou Camp.”Conte named a front three without a recognised centre-forward with Willian and Pedro Rodriguez either side of Eden Hazard, while the 21-year-old Christensen started in place of club captain Gary Cahill.And Conte refused to pin the blame on the inexperienced Dane for conceding.“I think it was a great performance, an incredible performance,” added Conte.
Defending champions Manchester City have shown they can compete like “animals” this season in a bid to retain their Premier League title, midfielder Fernandinho has said.City restored their one-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the table after Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Manchester United and can become the first team to retain the Premier League title since the Old Trafford club in 2009.Victory in the final three games of the season will ensure a fourth league crown in eight years and Fernandinho said City’s display at United showed how determined they were to succeed.”We showed the desire in competing for every ball like animals. I think this is the spirit of a team that wants to be champions,” Fernandinho told reporters.Liverpool, who are looking to end a 29-year drought for an English league title, were seven points ahead of City in January before Pep Guardiola’s side handed them their only defeat of the season to reduce the deficit.City have displayed ruthless form since, winning their last 11 league games, and Brazil international Fernandinho believes that the title race will go down to the wire.”If you look back to January, they could have been 10 points clear after our game. We didn’t want that. We reduced the gap to four points and now we’re one point up,” he said.”That’s the way the Premier League is going to be decided and I hope we can do our job and win those three games, and be champions again.”advertisementCity are at Burnley on Sunday and finish their season with games against Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion.”Burnley are always difficult. They have a specific way to play and it’s not easy to go there. They drew with Chelsea last Monday,” added Fernandinho, who is a doubt for the game with a knee injury.”We have to recover as soon as possible and try to be fit and be ready. It’s going to be a very important, very difficult game for us.”Also Read | Manchester City star Raheem Sterling honoured with award for fighting racismAlso Read | East Bengal exploring Barcelona tie-up possibilityAlso Watch | Love the energy of the Indian players in the IPL before World Cup: Virat Kohli