It started two weeks ago with a serenade by spring peepers in a pond at Horton Grove Nature Preserve. It was reinforced a day later by the sudden appearance of perky yellow daffodils near an old homestead along the Eno River. Then, last Friday, on a hike through bottomland forest at Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, I got the sign I’d been waiting for: a trout lily unfurling its delicate yellow and maroon petals.
OK, today’s nudge for spring is more of a tease: today, it’s in the 70s and sunny, tomorrow it will barely top 40 and it looks like rain. Sunday, though, the sun returns, the high temp reaches into the more seasonal upper 50s. So let yourself be inspired to go out Sunday in search of your first trout lily and be serenaded by spring peepers. We found them today at Ayr Mount, on the Poet’s Walk, Hillsborough, and at the recently opened Brumley Forest North in Chapel Hill.
Scott Hicks, Bill Downey Jr. and Bonner Ballinger got the idea to backpack the Foothills Trail in early 2015. Same goal: thru-hike the 77-mile trail straddling the North Carolina / South Carolina line in 7 days. Different motives — and approaches.
Bill viewed the hike as a physical challenge, as a way to structure his hiking and give him a goal to train for. Scott saw the hike as a prelude to a longer hike, most likely the 211-mile John Muir Trail in California. It was a chance to tackle the logistical challenges of a long hike. And Bonner? Bonner is more of a “because it’s there” guy — no underlying motive needed.
They’re the best trails you may not have heard of, those hikes that somehow fly under the radar.
You know the ones: You’re exchanging notes on favorite hikes with a friend and they say, “And, of course, there’s the Birkhead Wilderness.”
In October, we suggested that winter was a good time for taking long hikes at the coast. Fewer biting things flitting through the air, fewer slithering things making their way across the ground. Today, as we’re in the throes of a sustained cold weather hiking season, we return to the coast with suggestions for shorter walks.