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Linville Gorge, where miles are measured differently

“We’ve only done five miles?” one of the backpackers asked with a mix of disbelief and despair. “Yes,” I said, “but they’re likely the hardest five miles you’ve ever done.” Until tomorrow. I kept that last part to myself. Our nine-person GetBackpacking! group had started that morning at 9 from our campsite atop Shortoff Mountain on the east rim of Linville Gorge. We followed the MST on a steep descent…

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Grow the awe of the eclipse

Hard to say which was the most spectacular phenomenon Monday afternoon: the moon blotting out the sun or the event itself blotting out everything else. For a couple hours on Monday afternoon we were all focused on the awesomeness of nature. Some made a holiday of it, ignoring dire warnings from the NCDOT about driving to the Zone of Totality. Some simply stepped out into their backyards when the time…

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This weekend: Embrace the approaching gloom

Don’t forget your eclipse-viewing safety glasses! Based on dire warnings from N.C. Department of Transportation message boards statewide (“Plan Ahead”!), we’re guessing that pert near everyone is resting up this weekend for the day of gathering gloom on Monday. Thus, we focus on events focused on the Sun’s disappearance Monday afternoon around 2:30. Coast The North Carolina coast is outside the range of total obliteration; Wilmington, at 96 percent obfuscation,…

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Celebrate the Dark of Day!

The event poster reads like that for a rock extravaganza a la Lalapalooza or Coachella: Get Here Early! Gates open at 5 a.m.! Stay All Day! Food trucks! Vendors! Live streaming! Don’t you dare miss it … ! In fact, it’s the poster promoting Total Solar Eclipse 2017 at Gorges State Park, part of the normally staid North Carolina State Park system. North Carolina, and the mountains in particular, are…

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Calling All Hikers! Mark Your Calendars for Sept. 9!

On Saturday, September 9, the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is celebrating the trail’s 40th anniversary with MST in a Day—an event that invites hikers to join together to cover every inch of the trail, from Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee line to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast. This is an awesome goal. The 1,175 miles of the trail is divided into 20 segments, which are further divided into 300…

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This weekend: Make it an MST in a Day warmup

On Sept. 9, 1977, Howard Lee, then secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, introduced the notion of a trail spanning the state. That notion has since evolved into the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, extending from Clingman’s Dome high in the Smokies on the Tennessee line, to Jockey’s Ridge, occupying a lower post at the coast. On this Sept. 9, the Friends of the MST will celebrate…

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This beach vacation, take a hike

Ah, time for a beach vacation! Time to frolic in the sun and surf, read, eat. But, eventually, you’d like to move, right? Luckily, trails abound at the coast. Below are five trails we enjoy at the beach—and all of these trails are well away from the current blackout zone of Hatteras and Ocracoke. 1. First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, Va. With more than 20 miles of trail, First…

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This weekend: A grand opening, a world premier 

It is one gala weekend in North Carolina, from the grand opening of the new Discovery Room at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve to the world premiere of the Hanging Rock State Park Players’ “A Town Without Spiders.” Dress for both, you’ll be relieved to hear, is hiking casual. Coast | Coastal Plain Who doesn’t like a grand opening, especially when it involves the world of discovery (as opposed to…

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The Mountains-to-Sea Trail: in a day, or over 22 months

This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail, its birth dating to Sept. 9, 1977, when Howard Lee, then Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, told a National Trails Symposium in Waynesville that North Carolina should blaze a “state trail from the mountains to the coast, leading through communities as well as natural areas.” To commemorate Lee’s challenge of 40 years ago, the Friends of…

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This weekend: Explore, Party 

This week, hikes and a paddle with something extra. Coast | Coastal Plain Exploring is great. Exploring with a party thrown in, even greater! That’s the situation Saturday at Lumber River State Park, site of the Lumber River Day Festival 2017. There’s exploring, in the form of free canoe rides on the Lumber River. And there’s fun stuff in the form of bluegrass music, pony rides, a casting contest (for kids),…

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