Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
Why do I push hiking?
For one, it’s accessible. North Carolina is blessed with great hiking trails. No matter where you live, from the coast to the mountains, there are great trails a short drive away. (We even have a trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, linking the coast and the mountains.)
Hiking is social. Of all the ways you can get your heart rate up, hiking is perhaps the most amenable to doing so with friends. The movement, the fresh air, the surroundings regardless of where they are, all contribute to a convivial atmosphere.
It’s soothing. For a lot of us, being in the woods is a sedative. That’s not just me talking, there’s science to back that up (see below).
It doesn’t feel like a workout. Sure, there may be times at the end of a long day where you realize your body is working, but typically that realization doesn’t occur until later on — when you try to get out of the car, for instance.
All of which is why last September GetGoingNC, with support from Great Outdoor Provision Co., launched the GetHiking! program. GetHiking! focuses on two audiences: Folks who have long been interested in hiking but, for whatever reason, have yet to take their first step into the woods. And more experienced hikers who would hike more if they knew more places to hike.
For the former, our hikes are lead from the rear, meaning you’ll never hike alone. A guide will always be at the back of the pack. For the latter, we try and hit new trails every week, ensuring that you expand your universe of hiking options.
The program launched in the Triangle in September. To date, we now have more than 500 members. Our weekly hikes can be intimate, with as few as 15 hikers, or they can be events, with upwards of 70 participants.
Based on our response in the Triangle, we are expanding GetHiking! into Winston-Salem and Charlotte, with hikes scheduled to begin in both regions later this month. You can learn more about the Triad program here, GetHiking! Charlotte here. And you can find out about our hikes and other events, and join up, by visiting the following:
There’s a half marathon at the coast and a thoughtful hike in the Piedmont this weekend in North Carolina. And, weather permitting, you can do the unexpected in the high country: go snowshoeing!
Saturday’s Ocean Isle Bridge Run for Food half marathon has been a recent topic of conversation in our household. Our oldest is running the race; a cross-country runner during his days at Enloe High School, this is his first 13.1-miler. We’ve discussed what for him are the unknowns: the advantages and disadvantages of a long flat course, the impact of a usually constant ocean breeze/wind/hurricane-force-blow, the weather. We’ve discussed pace and a target time. All of which has made me wish I was in condition to run a half marathon Saturday at Ocean Isle.
Fred Dietrich, who oversees construction and maintenance of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Durham and Orange counties, reports: “2013 was a good year for the Eno River Section of the MST trail. Thanks to your hard work we were able to keep the trail maintained, and to build the final section and final bridge to complete the trail between Penny’s Bend and West Point on the Eno.
“Over the past five years,” he adds, “we have built three sections of trail that are now part of the completed 14.8 miles of trail from Pleasant Green Road to Penny’s Bend.”
Nearly 15 miles of uninterrupted trail from Pleasant Green Road to Penny’s Bend. And at Penny’s Bend, you hook up with another 60 miles of uninterrupted MST along the south shore of Falls Lake.
That’s 75 miles of uninterrupted hiking on natural surface trail.
How does a metro area come to have a 75-mile (and growing) hiking trail in its midst? Same way the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, stretching from Clingman’s Dome to Jockey’s Ridge, is now more than 500 miles finished: because of people such as yourself. People who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves once a month and spending a Saturday building and maintaining trail. If you haven’t yet joined the ranks of dedicated MST volunteers, now’s the time to do so. We’ve even got a list of Fred’s monthly work days that you can jot into your calendar. Pencil ready?
Another year, another opportunity for change. And what better way to think about what that change may look like and how you can make it happen than with a head cleared by fresh, clean air. Fresh, clean air inhaled on a New Year’s Day hike.
Lucky for you, such events abound.
Thanks to the North Carolina State Parks’ First Day Hikes program, every park in the system is hosting a hike today. That means that no matter where you live in the state, there’s an organized New Year’s Day hike near you.
The hikes vary in length and when they start. To find out what’s happening at a state park near you, go to ncparks.gov.
A great way to start a new year.