Fire, when it comes to the natural world, is often associated with loss — the loss of trees, of shrubs, of grasses, of animal life. But it also plays a key role in keeping the forest alive. This year, North Carolina is celebrating that role, proclaiming it the Year of Fire in its State Parks.
We’re taking some time the last two weeks of the year to get our head together, to regroup, to not have to think too much for a few days. So today, we bring you our GetHiking! year on the trail condensed down to 113 seconds.
These aren’t all the places we went, but they are a good cross-section: from the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, several state parks and a Triangle Land Conservancy property or two in the Piedmont, to our camping weekends in the mountains.
In our five-part Winter Wild monthly adventure series, we go off trail to explore some of the wildest places in the region. Our January hike will be to the Butner Game Lands, more than 40,000 acres of wetlands and bottomland woods on the north side of Falls Lake.
I’ve had a dream to live in a place where I could walk out the back door and be on a trail. I’ve twice flirted with this dream: once living a quarter mile from a greenway network in North Raleigh, then living just above the headwaters of Swift Creek in Cary, where there wasn’t a trail per se, but there was some awesome floodplain to explore (under the right conditions).
Saturday, our GetHiking! Winter Wild series takes advantage of the winter cold to hike the Lower Haw River State Natural area, which extends along its namesake river from Bynum south to U.S. 64. It’s an especially good time to hike this stretch, I tell people, because the dense foliage of summer is at bay, the flying and biting pest population is at a minimum, and the cold-blooded snakes will be tucked into their hidey-holes.