Category Archives: Hiking

Layer up and Get OuT

On Saturday morning’s GetHiking! hike at Umstead State Park, half the number of hikers who signed up showed up. No mystery there: it was cold.  

What is a mystery is why so many hikers let a little thing like freezing temperatures keep them off the trail. As we may have mentioned (just last week, in fact), we love a winter hike: among other things, there are fewer people, fewer bugs, and it’s blissfully quiet. Yet too many people miss out because they don’t know how to dress. Let’s solve that problem here and now. read more

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

It’s looking like another one-day weekend. The forecast: Saturday: cold and dry; Sunday: cold and wet.

  • Cox Mountain Hike, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. Watch the accompanying video — see the hillier sections? Those are from the Cox Mountain Trail, the very same Cox Mountain trail that’s the focus of this 4- to 5-mile hike. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Hike to Tory’s Den, Saturday, 1 p.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. New to this hiking thing and not sure you can hike very far, but still want some great scenery and you want it pretty much to yourself? (Boy, you’re demandy!) You can have it all on this half-mile round-trip hike on one of the lesser-visited, but still scenically awesome, trails at Hanging Rock. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Wildings: Winter Wing Watching, Saturday 10 a.m., Weymouth Woods State Natural Area, Southern Pines. Remember when “wilding” was a bad thing done by juvenile hoodlums? Well, it’s practiced differently down in Southern Pines, where this wilding also features youths (ages 6 to 10), but involves them quietly watching birds. Learn more and sigh up here. 

As always, you can find more opportunities this weekend here:

  • North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
  • North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
  • You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com

What we’re up to

Here are highlights of what GetHiking! and GetBackpacking! are up to this weekend:

=&6=&, Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m., Great Outdoor Provision Co., Raleigh. Join our GetBackpacking! braintrust for an all-encompassing discussion of all things backpacking, from how to get started to how to drop a pound or two. Learn more and sign up here.
=&7=&

Warm up to the Cold 

The temperature was around 60, the sky as blue as it gets. It was a gorgeous day for hiking any time of the year, let alone the first weekend of January. And yet … .

“I could stand it a little colder,” Jenny said as we took a short break hiking the Buckquarter Creek Trail at Eno River State Park, our first GetHiking! Winter Program for Beginners hike. Her fellow sun-drenched hikers nodded.

Now, I love hiking in winter: I love throwing on layers, then peeling them off as I warm up; I love seeing my breath; I love steam pouring off my head when pull off my wool cap. But I was surprised that so many people new to hiking were ready for more of a nip in the air. I associate new hikers with spring and its allure of wildflowers and touch of warmth, and fall, for its color and retreat from summer’s stifling heat. And so it was wonderful to see that they are ready to embrace winter’s subtle charms. Here in the Southeast, especially, winter offers these delights:

=&0=&. Here’s a paradox: It’s the coldest time of the year, yet the time when we’re nearest the sun. On a cloudless day, the sun is more brilliant than it is in July. And in a forest without leaves, you can appreciate the sun’s brilliance all the more. During the week, you go into work as the sun is coming up and you go home around the time it sets, so the weekend allows for full appreciation of this burst of sunlight.

=&1=&. It’s quiet — and it’s not. In winter there’s less wildlife chatter, fewer noisy people in the woods. And while hibernation isn’t a practice in these parts, there’s less foraging going on. The noise you can is hear from a  distance, because dry winter air acts as a transmitter that’s especially effective in the absence of sound-muffling leaves. Stand still and just listen.

=&2=&. On Sunday’s hike, we followed a ridge above the Eno for three-quarters of a mile. In summer, you have no idea there’s a river below. On Sunday, we stood and watched the rain-swollen Eno course its way through a series of boulder fields, and listened to the dull roar of a river made too big for its banks. The elevated vantage point was almost better than walking along the banks.

=&3=&. In summer, we stick to the trail because who knows what lurks beyond: slithery creatures on the other side of a log, poisonous vines concealed in an ankle-high carpet of green. In winter, there are few surprises. For one, those slithery creatures aren’t likely to be out until the temperature climbs into the upper 60s and those itch-inducing leaves are in remission (though keep an eye out for fuzzy vines curling up tree trunks). The winter woods are open, the threats are minimal.

=&4=&. There are few, reason enough to love winter in the woods.

=&5=&. Winter gets a bad rap because it’s viewed as down time. This is especially true if you’ve migrated to the Southeast from the North or Midwest and are used to winter starting in mid-November and lingering through March. But here, winter soon reveals harbingers of spring. In late January, the first warm rain of the season queues a chorus of spring peepers. In early February, the woods start sprouting their first clusters of daffodils, a hardy ornamental planted by early homesteaders to brighten their lives. Then, in mid- to late-February come pairs of mottled green leaves poking through the leaf litter that soon give way to the delicate yellow and purple petals of the trout lily.

It may only be the second week of January, and just the third week of winter, but already, before the first peeper has spoken, we’re already getting nostalgic for the cold. Enjoy it while you can.

Happy trails,

Joe

Let us help you enjoy the season!

For a rundown of our winter hiking (and backpacking) programs, go here.

For our weekly GetHiking! hikes in North Carolina and Virginia, go here.

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

This weekend appears to be a carbon copy (here’s a history lesson, kids) of last weekend: lots of rain during the week, lots of sun on Saturday — and this weekend, Sunday, too. That being the case, some thoughts on how to spend a sunny first weekend of 2019:

  • ERA Sunday Hike Series: West Point on the Eno city park, Sunday, 2 p.m., Durham. The Eno River Association kicks off its popular Sunday afternoon Winter Hike series with a 4.5-mile hike up the Eno from West Point on the Eno to Guess Road and back. One of the flatter hikes around, with open views of the Eno and a visit to the rock-bound pool called Sennett Hole. More info and sign up here.
  • Good Night Monadnuck, Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. One of our favorite hikes is to ascent mighty Occoneechee, the highest point in the Triangle at 867 feet, and catch the sun setting over Efland at dusk. More info here.
  • GetHiking! Winter Wild: Off Trail at Umstead, Saturday, 10 a.m., Umstead State Park, Raleigh. We launched our Winter Wild program last week in the Eno Wilderness (check out the video) and are extremely excited about it. We take you to the places you thought you knew, and show you things you haven’t seen before on a hike that’s mostly off trail. Saturday’s hike will be about 8 miles. Learn more and sign up here.
  • GetHiking! Winter Program for Beginning Hikers, Sunday, noon, Eno River State Park, Durham. Another new program that we’re excited about. If you’ve vowed to give hiking a go in 2019, this is the place to start. Sunday’s hike will be a mellow mile-and-a-half introduction; over the course of the next 8 weeks we’l build up to 4 miles, on trails around the Triangle. Learn more and sign up here.

As always, you can find more opportunities this weekend here:

=&4=& have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
=&5=& has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
You can also find more adventures right here, at =&6=&

Become a hiker in 2019 


Let’s say you went on one of the 59 First Day Hikes scheduled today at North Carolina’s State Parks, and, perhaps to your surprise, you — someone who never really considered yourself the outdoors type, let alone a hiker — really liked it. You fell into conversation with fellow hikers that made time fly, you were taken by aspects of the outdoors you never appreciated before, you didn’t mind getting a little muddy. And when it was done — Wow! Did I really just walk two miles!? read more