This weekend: Plunge into 2015 (then dry off and take a hike)

Start the year with a traditional polar plunge at the coast, then head to higher, drier and warmer ground for a hike.

DDip2010Coast

We would be remiss if, in this New Year’s edition of Weekend Plans, we didn’t include at least one polar plunge, that peculiar tradition born in the north where we strip down to our skivvies and immerse ourselves in water that hasn’t frozen over — though in some northern climes the tradition requires drilling a hole through the frozen-over lake surface, then jumping in. An impressive level of lunacy.

To fulfill this obligation, we tried to find the warmest polar plunge around. Thus, we passed on the plunge planned for Hanging Rock State Park on Thursday, from 1-3 p.m., despite the promise of a bonfire and DJ (go here if you’re interested), in favor of the 13th Annual Dolphin Dip Extravaganza at Surf City, where the water temperature is around 55. (If that sounds not-so-cold, when you visit in the summer the water temperature is generally in the low 80s.)

And if you subscribe to the notion that there’s strength (and possibly a little heat) in numbers, more than 4,000 dippers are expected.

Logistics: 13th Annual Dolphin Dip Extravaganza at Surf City, Thursday, Jan. 1, noon, Surf City. For more information, go here.

Thursday forecast: Mostly sunny with a high of 52 (at noon, look for closer to 48).

Piedmont

Eno Wilderness (photo courtesy North Carolina State Parks)

Eno Wilderness (photo courtesy North Carolina State Parks)

Sunday, the Eno River Association kicks off its annual Winter Series of Sunday hikes with a hike even regulars at Eno River State Park likely haven’t done: the Road to Shy’s Ford. The hike begins at the Cole Mill Access to the park, and for most of the next 3.5 miles entails hiking off trail. Along the way: “Your guide will tell you more about the interesting history of the area as you take this journey.” Expect to cover more than 7 miles on “uneven terrain.” The hike is rated strenuous.

The Winter Series continues every Sunday afternoon through March 8 — when the Association’s Spring Wildflower Series begins.

Logistics: Sunday, Jan. 4, 1:30 p.m., Cole Mill Access to Eno River State Park, Orange County. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 60 with a chance of rain.

Mountains

Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest.

Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest.

Got a hankerin’ to head to the mountains after the holidays and before the grind of the new year begins, yet worried about the potential for dicey, icy weather at higher elevations?

Sunday’s Carolina Mountain Club hike at DuPont State Forest is just what you’re looking for. It’s a low elevation hike that will take in some features high in scenic value, including High, Triple and Grassy Branch falls, and the Thomas Cemetery. 11.6 miles total.

Logistics: Sunday, Jan. 4, 8:30 a.m., DuPont State Forest near Hendersonville. More info here.

Sunday forecast: High of 52, mostly sunny.

New Year’s Day hikes

First Day Hike at Carvers Creek State Park (photo courtesy of N.C. State Parks).

First Day Hike at Carvers Creek State Park (photo courtesy of N.C. State Parks).

Tomorrow, we’ll have a rundown of New Year’s Day hikes throughout the state, including more than 40 offered by North Carolina State Parks as part of the First Day Hikes program.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed 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

Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

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.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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