You've heard of putting rubber to the road. Recently, however, a group of Warren Wilson College students put rubber to the trail - a very steep trail - in removing about 400 pounds of car and truck tires from the Linville Gorge Wilderness.
Tires in the generally pristine Linville Gorge? Yes, you read correctly. In 1981, torrential rains swelled the Linville River over its banks, sweeping hundreds of tires from a tire storage lot into the river and carrying them far downstream into the gorge. Although N.C. Outward Bound School participants worked to remove the tires throughout the 1980s, additional tires were spotted in 1999.
Enter WWC instructor Dave Genova and students in his Wilderness Skills class. On a gray October day, the students descended the ridiculously steep Pinchin Trail into the gorge often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the East." The group brought seven tires to shore, lashed them to empty backpacks and began a 2,000-foot vertical climb up the 1 3/4 -mile trail. Two and a half grueling hours later, they reached the trailhead with 400 pounds of rubber that was clearly out of place in one of the original components of the National Wilderness System. Anyone for a tire swing?