A spotter stands below an unseen climber at Hound Ears in Boone, North Carolina, during the first competition of the annual Triple Crown bouldering series. (Photo contributed by Rock/Creek)

There is an ant hill in my front yard, and I love to watch it. Yup, I am that girl stooped over the grass with a magnifying glass.

Once, I witnessed a dozen or so ants encircle a twig six times the size of one's body, and collectively remove it from their path.

That behavior was extraordinary, really — considering that ants and humans are two of the only species known to "group carry."

"Sometimes," Chad Wykle, president of outdoor retailer Rock/Creek, recently said to me, "you need help to push that boulder over the hill, so to speak."

Or, more aptly, help in protecting that boulder and the public's access to it.

In 2011, in an attempt to improve public access to Deep Creek and Soddy Creek Gorge, popular climbing destinations located along the Cumberland Trail, Wykle, along with a crew of climbing activists, connected with local landowners, state agencies and nonprofit conservation groups. Through focused effort and countless volunteer hours, the team raised funds to purchase property, ensuring access to the crag and protection of the area's biological richness.

"We are so much more powerful together than when we work alone," Wykle said.

I suppose that's exactly what fascinates me about the ants: their unified diligence, the way each ant is one component in a superorganism capable of incredible feats.

At Get Out, we're proud to help "group carry" the mission of promoting Chattanooga's outdoor resources by sharing stories from like-minded stakeholders — Rock/Creek, for example. In future issues and newsletters, look for special sections brought to you by Rock/Creek, featuring conservation news, spotlights, gear reviews and more. Our hope is that this new, collaborative content will better inspire your sense of adventure.

Chattanooga, after all, is full of wonders — and it begins just outside your front door.

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Sunny Montgomery

Get Out Digital Editor

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