This weekend: Don’t retreat, get out and beat the heat

The view from atop Jockey's Ridge (elevation 85 feet the day this was taken).

The first summerlike weather of the year has descended, but don’t let that keep you cooped up this weekend. Beat the heat with a coastal retreat, by doing the vampire thing and coming out at night, or hitting the high — particularly high — country.

Coast

I was at Jockey’s Ridge State Park three weeks back for the end of Diane Van Deren’s record-setting MST Endurance Run and was reminded again that there’s more to Jockey’s Ridge than just 100-foot sand dunes to fly a kite — or yourself — off of. Like the estuary on the park’s sound side and a rare maritime forest as rich in flora and fauna as the dunes are devoid. Hence, this week’s recommendation of Saturday’s Eco Hike at 9 a.m.

“Learn about the plant and animal life in the park and how these ecosystems work together in a balance, with a special focus on the estuarine environment,” states a promo from the park. The “moderate to strenuous” (those dunes can be calf-burners) hike should take about an hour. Bring walking shoes, sunscreen, and water.

Logistics: Saturday, 9 a.m., meet at the park visitor center (the hike ends on a sound beach; from there, feel free to “strike out and explore the park” on your own. Free, but pre-registration is required, by calling 252.441.2588.

Saturday forecast: High of 82, 30 percent chance of rain.

After the Sun sets at Jordan Lake, the stars come out at Jordan Lake. Photo by B. Phil Howell/North Carolina State Parks

Piedmont

Our first run of hot, steamy summertime weather doesn’t exactly make you want to get out and explore. Unless you’re getting out to explore in the cool(er) of the evening. Say, to check out the night sky.

Saturday, from 9-11 p.m. join the staff of the Morehead Planetarium at Jordan Lake for a two-hour viewing of planets, nebulae, star clusters and, of course, the Moon when available,” as well as to discuss constellation myths and legends. The Morehead folks bring their sophisticated telescopes as well as their knowledge for your viewing pleasure.

Logistics: Meets at 9 p.m. at the Ebenezer Church Recreation Area. Cloudy skies can scuttle this event; check with the planetarium Web site (look under “news”) or call them at 919.962.1236 on Saturday to make sure the event is a go.

Saturday forecast: Daytime high of 90 with afternoon thunderstorms possible.

Elk Knob in the distance. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Parks.

Mountains

This weekend is The Great American Backyard Campout, which means it’s the one time of year you can camp at Elk Knob State Park. Elk Knob is one of the few tracts of public land in the northern section of the North Carolina mountains; the flora here is different than what you typically find to the south in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. According to the park Web site, “The summit of Elk Knob contains an excellent example of a northern hardwood forest … typically found above 4,000 feet in elevation, consists primarily of sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Trees growing on the northern slopes and on the summit of Elk Knob are gnarled and stunted by the harsh weather conditions.” A unique outpost whose elevation offers respite from the heat below. The event is aimed at families and newcomers to camping.

Logistics: Begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. Free, but registration is required by calling 828.297.7261, where you can also find additional information.

Weekend forecast: High of 77, low of 55 (in nearby and lower Todd), 20 percent chance of rain.

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Those are GGNC’s thoughts for an active weekend. Find out other ways you can get out this weekend by browsing our super calendar, a collection of events calendars from throughout the state, below.

Coast

CapeFearCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

NCCoast.com
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

Mountains

Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar

Piedmont

Charlotte

Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triad

GoTriad.com
Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Triangle

Triangle.com
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Statewide

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

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