As available sunlight goes, we hit our annual nadir on Saturday: the winter solstice, officially commencing at 12:11 p.m. The sun rises at 7:19 a.m. and sets at 5:06, with just 9 hours and 47 minutes of daylight in between. From Saturday on, gradually at first, the sun starts setting a little later every day incrementally increasing our daylight for play.
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.
For the most part, you can hike in the mountains year-round. Hiking in the Piedmont is enjoyable from October into May, and at the coast conditions are favorable for three, maybe four months of the year (the non bug-infested months). Winter, though, is the one time when all regions, from mountains to sea, are in play for a good hike. Here are our recommendations for hikes that seem especially well-suited for December.
If you’ve got good rain gear, you’re in for a great weekend. One of this week’s picks even comes with coffee!
Tis the season to check out the bird life at the coast, where waterfowl from various points north are congregating to spend the winter. With the skies so full of feathers, wouldn’t it be nice to know who’s who? Learn to identify the year-round residents and snowbirds at Saturday’s Coffee with the Birds at Pettigrew State Park. A cup of coffee and a knowledgeable birder — what better company for a Saturday morning in early December?
Winter is approaching, but the temperatures this weekend will be more autumnal. Perfect, in fact, for getting out and shaking the lethargy of a Thanksgiving feast. Carolina Beach State Park gives you good reason to head for the coast, there’s a rare opportunity to explore a Jordan Lake tributary in the Piedmont, and in the mountains, the trail less traveled could be the one yielding the biggest reward.