The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, running 2,180 miles over mountains, rocky slopes, and deep valleys. Since it was established in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has cared for the trail, maintaining 250,000 acres of public land. The organization educates hikers on Leave No Trace camping and why it's not a good idea to challenge a bear to a hugging contest.
Volunteers and trail crews build and repair shelters along the footpath and engage youth and community members in outdoor activities. In addition to these human-oriented services, the ATC works to protect endangered species living along the trail and to preserve the land's watershed streams and migratory corridor.
Bob Wollam's life is in full bloom. Since 1989, the gardener has surrounded himself with 11 acres of fresh flowers, more than 80 varieties of trees, shrubs, and perennials, and a volunteer army of green-thumbed interns. And the plants aren't the only beauty to fill the grounds. A federal house dating back to 1819 features antique furnishings and was fully restored over Bob's first ten years on the farm. Guests are welcome to spend the night, and get full old-fashioned experience with fresh-baked goods from Bob's sister Karen, who lives next door, and eggs or career advice from the farm's chickens.
Though spectral forms and shadowy figures still reside in The Haunted Cottage, its greatest legacy is as the occasional vacation home of assassin John Wilkes Booth. Also known as the Booth House, The Haunted Cottage is home to paranormal researcher Vince Wilson, who helms the haunted abode's ghost tours and maintains the paranormal library and history museum, where guests can spy a vampire skeleton among other supernatural exhibits. All this knowledge pours from Vince's mouth during tours and investigations, which pair breakdowns of the house's 150-year history with actual equipment designed to catch ghosts, from cameras and digital recorders to EMF meters delicately hoisting a morsel of cheese.
The Haunted Cottage also strives to school spirit-seekers with paranormal-research training that cycles through parapsychology topics such as extrasensory perception, hypnosis, and psychic healing.
River & Trail Outfitters owners Lee and Eunsook Baihly have been acquainting customers with the area's natural beauty since 1972. Their outdoor-exploration company's more than 70 friendly staffers accompany customers on relaxed, informative rafting, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and tubing excursions. In addition to having mastered river- and boat-safety skills, staff members are experienced in first aid, CPR, and the correct way to ask dolphins for directions. River & Trail Outfitters also accommodates businesses, organizing team-building events and rock-climbing excursions or hiking trips. The Baihlys' environmental commitment extends to an in-house recycling program and the use of biodiesel fuels.
Most obstacle courses are challenging enough without adding the undead to the mix. During the approximately 5K Blood & Guts Run, however, that's exactly what participants get. As they go sprinting through the Virginia woods, they'll have to traverse gore-drenched hay bale pyramids, climbing walls, tire gauntlets, and cargo nets while brain-hungry zombies slog after them. These creatures don't just moan and move, though—they take aim at runners with water guns filled with fake blood, creating a crimson-tinged scene reminiscent of classic horror movies or particularly gruesome ketchup fights.
At the end of the course, runners will collect prizes for the most creative costumes before dancing to live music and DJ-spun tunes. A portion of the profits go towards The American Cancer Society, the Military and Veterans Association, and local school districts.