A cool breeze greets your face. A cicada’s song tickles your ears. Your footsteps meet a well-worn trail. There’s hiking – and then there’s hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. Home to 500 miles of trails which include waterfalls, overlooks, and 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, your backyard national park is truly a hiker’s paradise.While there are favorite trails in Shenandoah like Old Rag and Stony Man, the 200,000 acre national park holds many more for you to explore. What are these hidden gems, you ask? We looked to the experts and asked supporters of the Shenandoah National Park Trust for their favorite ‘hidden hikes’ – those trails less travelled in this beautiful park.MILLER’S HEAD TRAILImmerse yourself into a patchwork quilt of fall foliage. This 1.6 mile round trip jaunt takes you to a lookout where you can see the surrounding valley. And bring the kids! This trail is great for families. The Miller’s Head Trail starts near the Skyland Resort and Massanutten Lodge and heads west, descending for a half mile before leveling out. Great views await you at the Miller’s Head Viewpoint.GRAVES MILL TRAILThe Graves Mill Trail is a relatively easy hike that runs along the Rapidan River, on the eastern side in the central district of the park. You will find the trailhead is in a small gravel parking lot at the end of Route 662. The 2.2 mile hike crosses two streams which hikers find can easily be crossed using rocks and boulders. Horses, mules and park-loving pups are allowed to join you on this trail.LAUREL PRONG TRAILAnother great option to see the Shenandoah National Park show off its fall colors is the Laurel Prong Trail. This out-and-back 2.3 mile trail starts at the Booters Gap parking lot where you turn left and head north along the white-blazed Appalachian Trail for about a half mile until you meet up with the blue-blazed Laurel Prong Trail. There are several stream crossings which are often more muddy than wet. This low foot traffic trail offers space for peaceful reflection.If you’d like a full list of 10 of Shenandoah’s ‘Hidden Hikes,’ and to learn about supporting trails in Shenandoah National Park through the Happy Hiker Fund, sign up for The Shenandoah National Park Trust’s newsletter at snptrust.org.The Shenandoah National Park Trust is an official nonprofit partner of Shenandoah National Park. The Trust touches every aspect of the park we all enjoy, helping to protect what you love about Shenandoah National Park, while creating programs to inspire the next generation of national park stewards. The Trust invests in programs and initiatives which help ensure that Shenandoah remains a crown jewel of the Park Service, an economic driver for the region, and a national treasure for all to enjoy, for generations to come.
UK local authority funds will be exempt from new rules governing the appointment and monitoring of fiduciary managers and investment consultants, according to a consultation published yesterday.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a consultation on the implementation of rules proposed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the back of its market investigation into the fiduciary management and investment consulting sectors.Consultancy Hymans Robertson last month called for clarity on the application of the new rules to the UK’s £346bn (€378bn) Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) system. The CMA’s ruling became law on 10 June, but the wording was ambiguous as to its application to LGPS funds. They had been exempt throughout the CMA’s 15-month investigation.In the consultation published yesterday, the DWP stated that the new regulations did not apply to the LGPS. It specified that the requirement to set strategic objectives for investment consultants would not apply “as regulations and guidance in relation to the LGPS are a matter for [the] Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government”. The clarification also means that LGPS funds will not have to review or retender their relationships with the asset pools they have created since 2015.In a briefing note on the CMA’s order earlier this month, the LGPS Advisory Board had said the ruling potentially had significant consequences for LGPS pools “if their pool companies were caught by the definition of fiduciary management service providers and cannot use the exclusion for pension scheme owned companies”.Other exemptions, tooThe DWP has also exempted other types of pension fund from the regulation, including any scheme sponsored by the provider of fiduciary management or investment consulting services, and master trusts for which a fiduciary manager or investment consultant is the appointed scheme strategist or scheme funder.“We agree that it would be impractical in these circumstances to expect the scheme trustees to carry out a competitive tender for fiduciary management when they would have a clear and legitimate preference to use the services of the sponsoring employer,” the DWP said.“However, we believe it is reasonable for the trustee to set their investment consultant objectives and monitor performance against them, regardless of whether the investment consultant is connected with the sponsoring employer of the scheme. The member can suffer detriment if this is not done.”Under the new rules, schemes outsourcing 20% or more of assets to a fiduciary manager are required to conduct a competitive tender for the mandate, including at least three providers. Schemes that have already employed a fiduciary manager without a tender must do so within the next five years.In addition, the regulations oblige fiduciary providers and consultants to improve the transparency of performance and cost reporting, while pension scheme trustees are required to set strategic objectives for their investment consultants.The consultation is open to responses and feedback until 2 September. read more
Victor Wanyama will not be moving from Celtic to Southampton, according to the player’s agent. “The news of the fee being agreed may just be coming out now, but we see little sense in a fee being agreed if there is no reasonable prospect of the player’s terms being met. “To suggest we are talking with Southampton is totally false, their offer was way below Victor’s expectations. There is no chance of him signing the deal on offer and, in fact, both Celtic and Southampton were informed of this some time ago. “The player will not be forced into a corner to accept the Southampton deal, just because it is good for Celtic. Remember, he has been with the club for two years now – without a pay rise – and has given them wonderful service ever since he arrived. “Added to this is the fact that by Celtic refusing him permission to join Queens Park Rangers last summer, Victor lost more than £1million in potential salary earnings – yet he just kept his mouth shut and continued to be a model professional. Many other players may not have adopted this attitude, in the circumstances.” Wanyama, signed by Celtic from Belgian side Beerschot in 2011, will now take some time to decide on his future for next season. “We know there is interest from elsewhere and Victor is obviously open to those prospects – he is currently back in Kenya and hopes that Celtic will adopt a more reasonable approach and take into account the service that he has given the club so far and the rest of these issues,” the player’s agent added. “Nobody at Celtic can question his attitude and he is hopeful he can leave on good terms with the club. He loves the club and its fans, he’s played his heart out for the jersey, but he didn’t quite expect that it may end like this.” A Celtic official said: “These negotiations like any others, are carried out by Celtic in a proper, private and professional manner. Celtic carries out its business with integrity, we work to the highest standards and in the interests of the club, our supporters and indeed our players. We do not need to comment any further on this matter.” Combative Kenyan midfielder Wanyama, 21, looks set to leave the Scottish Premier League champions after Celtic accepted a fee from Southampton for the 21-year-old, believed to be in excess of £12million. However, Wanyama’s representative Ivan Modia maintains there are no longer any talks with Southampton, and the player is likely to look elsewhere. Barclays Premier League newcomers Cardiff are said to be monitoring Wanyama’s situation, while Arsenal have also been linked in the past. “We are not in talks with Southampton and have not been since their final offer of terms, which was more than two weeks ago,” Modia told Sky Sports. Press Association read more
And those were the Warriors, these are the Thunder.Most importantly, that’s 6-foot-11 scorer supreme Kevin Durant, the newly anointed NBA Most Valuable Player, they’re now dealing with.Not Stephen Curry.And in Westbrook, Durant has the necessary Robin to his Batman.And that’s a big problem.“It’s hard but that’s why their names are Westbrook and Durant,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.Durant was recognized as the best player in the league this week, so it stands to reason he’s the best player in this series.That’s historically the difference-maker when two otherwise evenly matched teams meet in a seven-game playoff series. And with Durant properly motivated by both league recognition and possibly falling into an 0-2 hole against the Clippers, you had to figure he was itching to put his stamp on things.“I think it was more fueled because we lost by 20 points last game, and we were pissed off.” Durant said. “That’s what fueled tonight.”He responded by scoring 32 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.Throw in Westbrook’s 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Clippers had major problems.And no answers, their defensive intensity and execution both falling short.“I didn’t like how they scored, it was too easy,” Rivers said. “Tonight we just didn’t have it. But I don’t know if we didn’t have it or they took it away from us.”Probably a little bit of both.Blake Griffin went missing with just 15 points and DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul were handcuffed by fouls, and with Durant and Westbrook ratcheting up their games and the pressure, that was a deadly combination.“It’s hard enough guarding Russ as it is,” Paul said. “Let alone having to do it in foul trouble.”On top of that, they began bickering with the referees and hanging their heads over the way the game was officiated.“We got caught up in the clutter,” Rivers said.And that was an issue.“We got to be better,” Paul said. “We can’t worry about bad whistles.”But they didn’t, eventually falling down by 20 points and their focus shifting every so subtly to the next two games in Los Angeles.“We got to keep playing our game, we’ve got to defend better,” Paul said.Durant and Westbrook will have something to say about that,It’s been an emotional three days for Durant — first suffering a shocking Game 1 loss to the Clippers on Monday, then being announced the league’s MVP on Tuesday and delivering a moving acceptance speech in which he graciously singled out every Thunder teammate and paid a heartfelt tribute to his mother.On Wednesday, he formally accepted his MVP trophy from NBA Comissioner Adam Silver in front of a thunderous crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena, including rapper Jay-Z, who doubles as Durant’s agent.All of it happened in front of the Thunder’s biggest game of the season, as close to a must-win as possible lest they fall down 0-2 to the Clippers heading to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.The tricky thing about winning the MVP award is it all unfolds right in the middle of the playoffs, and for a first-time winner like Durant, who was moved to tears and emotions ranging from happiness to nostalgia, the challenge is reining in those feelings in order to play a game.Some guys pull it off, some don’t. Rivers remembers former San Antonio teammate David Robinson winning it in 1995, then completely forgetting to mention Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon as Robinson meticulously acknowledged his fellow candidates during the pregame ceremony.It was an innocent mistake, but the problem is the Spurs and Rockets were playing in the the Western Conference finals at the time.Olajuwon, now properly motivated, took out the slight on Robinson and the Spurs on their way to winning the NBA championship. Considering the emotions that came spilling out of Durant the last 48 hours, it was a fair concern how much he’d have against the Clippers.But he immediately squashed any worries by going to work on the Clippers with a big first quarter, scoring 17 points and leading the Thunder to a 37-28 lead.It was the beginning of a big night for Durant, and a long one for the Clippers.And now they’re left to wonder: Did they take care of business in Oklahoma City.Or did they awaken a sleeping monster? Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error OKLAHOMA CITY — In hindsight, it was probably too ambitious to think the Clippers could actually walk out of Oklahoma City with a two-game lead on the Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.It was a nice little thought for a day or so, the Clippers rocking the Thunder with a Game 1 beatdown and all, and everybody pumping out their chests as a result.All of a sudden all kinds of crazy dots were being connected: If the Clippers could steal Game 2, could they be looking at a shockingly short series against the powerful Thunder?Admit it, the thought crossed your mind, too. But reality slapped the Clippers and everybody else square in the mouth on Wednesday, and it arrived as swiftly as a Kevin Durant corner jumper and as powerfully as a Russell Westbrook tomahawk dunk in a 112-101 Thunder victory that evens the series 1-1.And as we head back to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 this weekend, you can’t help wonder if the Clippers should be happy by splitting the first two games here or worried they awakened a sleeping giant with their audacious Game 1 blowout.“We came here to win two, but we did get one,” Clippers guard Chris Paul reasoned.And the way the Clippers have answered the bell so far this postseason — keep in mind they punted away home-court advantage in round one by dropping the first game against the Golden State Warriors only to regroup and win in seven games — they’ve shown the necessary resiliency.But that was then, this is now. read more