Everything's better with Butter

Eric "Butter" Hurd 2
U.S. Olympic Team member Eric 'Butter' Hurd poses in his paddling gear at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte on Tuesday June 26, 2012. Hurd and his teammate Jeff Larimer will be competing in the tandem canoe slalom event in London this week.
Eric "Butter" Hurd

I have the unique privilege this year of pulling for one of my friends, Eric "Butter" Hurd, who is competing with teammate Jeff Larimer in tandem canoe slalom at the London Olympics this week. 

I took the photos above a few weeks ago before he left for London (Jeff lives in Atlanta and wasn't available) and the photo below is from U.S. Team Trials at the whitewater center earlier in the summer. 

U.S. Olympic athletes don't get much support, unless they play basketball or they're an attractive female. That sounds rough, but it's essentially true. It doesn't help that in North America NBC has a monopoly on using the Olympic Games to fill space between commercials. As long as that practice is allowed to continue, only the popular sports will generate lucrative sponsorships for a few select athletes that make good talking points.

In any event, I'll be pulling for Butter this week, and if you want to show your support he has T-shirts on sale for a small donation with a design based on my photo below. I think they look pretty cool. (Disclaimer: I receive no profit from the sale of the shirt. The screen printing company is taking a chunk, but most of it goes straight to Hurd). 

Olympic Team Trials - Hurd / Larimer

Perilous Peaks

Perilous Peaks 2

Most people don't know this, but there are at least six small aircraft wrecks in the Black Mountain Range, home of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in Eastern North America.

All the ones I'm familiar with are small Cessna type planes like this one. Some crashed into the mountain due to weather, and at least one set down under control after a mechanical problem. The pilot and passenger in that one both survived. Most others were not so fortunate.

It isn't too hard to fathom why there are so many. Most of these planes fly below 5,000 ft in unregulated airspace. Most of the Black Mountain range is over 6,000 ft in elevation and often obscured in clouds.

The saddest part of the story, perhaps, is that both of the crash sites I've been to so far are only fifty feet below the ridge line. A little bit more altitude and they probably would have made it.

I'm currently trying to find out more about the history of some of these incidents and hope to locate all the wrecks. If you know anything please let me know.

Perilous Peaks 1