Weekend Plans: Special Fabulous Weather Edition

Last weekend, we had a taste of the hot, muggy weekends that will rule for most of the next three months. This weekend, however, a reprieve: temperatures won’t get above 70 in the mountains, while low to mid 70s under sunny skies will be the rule in the Piedmont, slightly warmer temps at the coast. In short, a good weekend to get out and do just about anything.

We offered some thoughts yesterday, in our weekly Weekend Plans segment: we’re back today with additional thoughts and direction.

Hiking

We start with hiking because once the hot weather sticks, one of the last things we’re inclined to do is hike. Copious sweating and being encased in spider webs aren’t on the American Hiking Society’s list of reasons to hike.

We won’t tell you where to hike, but we will tell you where to go to figure out where to hike. Four suggestions:

  • Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month, so hiking a stretch of the 550 miles of completed MST seems a natural. You’ll find about 50 miles down in the coast and coastal plain, nearly 200 miles in the Piedmont and a little more than 300 in the mountains. You can find helpful descriptions of where to take a hike on the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website.
  • GetHiking! Our three GetHiking! groups — in Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle — all have hikes planned for Sunday, all on the MST: Charlotte on an eight-mile stretch along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Triad will be doing 6.5 miles along the Watershed Lakes in Greensboro, the Triangle as a 15-miler planed along Falls Lake. If you’d like to explore the MST but would also like some company, click on the appropriate link and join us.
  • Great Outdoor Provision Co. Over the past two years, the Great Outdoor Provision Co., with assistance from GetGoingNC, has been developing an online trail guide. So far, we’ve got 55 trails in North Carolina and 15 in Virginia. All the information you need to assess, plan and execute a hike. Start your search here.
  • Carolina Mountain Club. This venerable (formed in 1923) hiking club offers at least three hikes a week and has an extensive database of hikes in the Appalachians. A great resource.

Paddling

First, a warning: all that rain means the local rivers are running high, local lake levels are up. Unless you’re an accomplished paddler, you might want to steer clear of rivers in particular this weekend. Your best bet: Get a copy of Paul Ferguson’s “Paddling Eastern North Carolina,” find the river you’re interested in paddling, check Paul’s recommendation for maximum runnable river level, then check the latest USGS streamflow numbers.

Lakes may also be a challenge; if possible, call before throwing the boat on the car to check on conditions. And if you need to rent a boat, don’t forget our “51 Places to Rent a Canoe, Kayak or Standup Paddleboard in North Carolina.”

Mountain biking

This is one activity you may be shut out of this weekend. Most trail networks close when wet; even those that don’t might be impassable in spots due to the rain. Again, before throwing the bike on the roof rack, call to see if your destination is open. Find a list of statewide mountain biking destinations here.

Running

This is the time of year when a race can either be sublime or a sufferfest. Most runners are in pretty good shape at this point in the spring, but that first hot race can easily bring even the best-trained to their knees. With morning temperatures forecast in the low 60s  this weekend, it’s PR time.

If you’re a runner and don’t have a race scheduled for this weekend, you might reconsider. The North Carolina Running Calendar has 38 races listed for this weekend, starting with tonight’s Hopewell Hustle 5K in Monroe and The Great Glow Run 5K in Raleigh, to Sunday’s Greensboro Half Marathon (and 5K and 10K). You may have to pay a premium to enter at this point, but it could be well worth it.

Learn about the natural world around you

There’s a lot going on this time of year in the natural world; gain some insight at one of the numerous free nature programs offered by North Carolina state parks.  to the meat-eating plants at Carolina Beach State Park. Check out this weekend’s curriculum here.

Plan for the future

A personal plug here: Yes, get out and explore this weekend. But also take a few minutes to think about your next adventure, by, say, joining me at one of this weekend’s “Adventure Carolinas” talks. Saturday at 11:30 p.m., I’ll be discussing my new book from UNC Press at the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, while on Sunday from 2-3 p.m. I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble in Burlington, at Alamance Crossing off I-40/85.

Can’t make it this weekend? I’ll be making the rounds for a while. Here’s my schedule.

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