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Five trails that appeal to your need for speed

It started as a mellow saunter, progressed to an up-tempo hike, then, on a modest downhill, evolved into a trot. It was one of my first hikes at the Triangle Land Conservancy’s new Brumley Forest property near Hillsborough, and the absence of rocks and tree roots coupled with the gentle flow reminded me of my bygone days of being able to run a 10-minute mile on trail. For the most part, I…

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This weekend: Fun with Dad 

Show dad how much he means to you by taking him into the great outdoors. Coast So many mysteries contained in Merchants Millpond, the nearly 200-year-old, 760-acre water assemblage that spreads throughout the State Park bearing its name. Is it a pond or a swamp (sure seems like the latter)? What are those weird, prehistoric fish you occasionally see near the surface? Are there alligators? These questions and more answered…

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Wake Up and Hike

As summer and its 90-degree temperatures near, hiking midday can be one sweaty undertaking. That leaves the evenings and early mornings, when temperatures in the 70s seem downright fall-like. Today, we revisit a piece from May 6, 2011, that expounds  upon the delights — and challenges — of the early morning hike. I bolted upright, wide awake, at 4:45, 15 minutes before the alarm was scheduled to do its ugly…

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This weekend: We get the fun off to an early start

Start your weekend Friday evening in the Piedmont, learn how the woods once helped paint their own portraits at Elk Knob State Park, “sneak” into 10 nature programs at the coast. So much to do this weekend, and great weather in which to do it. Coast When I was in high school, certain friends would buy a ticket for the noon movie on Saturday, then, when it was over, linger…

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Hikes from a road trip

Today, a slideshow. At the end of May, I helped my daughter move from North Carolina to Salt Lake City for her first job. Along the way, we managed to work in a hike or four. All were spontaneous, there was no planning. These were pretty much of the, ‘Hey! We’re in the Ozarks! Let’s pull over and hike” variety. Roadside hikes that were pretty dang awesome. We started in…

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Trail Magic Revisited

On Sunday, I saw a Facebook post from a hiker visiting Damascus, Va., for Trail Days, the annual event celebrating the first wave of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers traipsing through town. It reminded me of what a delight it is to hike among thru-hikers and hear about their experiences. Back in April of 2010, I happened upon a wave of thru-hikers, along with a bit of paternal trail magic, in the Standing Indian area…

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Trail etiquette: play nice

We head into the wayback machine again to revisit the timely topic of trail etiquette. The following first appeared here on March 19, 2010. It reappears today, with minor revisions.  Sunday, I was running the bike and bridle trail at Umstead when I came upon a sizable obstacle: a phalanx of hikers bearing backpacks spanned the width of the trail, spilling over onto the shoulders. The trail is quiet generous, a…

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This weekend: Cool spring lingers (but for much longer?)

Take advantage of yet another cool spring weekend with a fitness challenge at the coast, a Mother’s Day hike in the Piedmont, and what may be the most ideal first hike ever offered. Coast You think of firefighters, you think of folks in pretty darn good shape. So who better to stage a fitness challenge? Saturday, the Wilmington Professional Firefighter’s Association holds its Second Annual Charity Firefighter’s Fitness Challenge. Wondering what types…

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Good or bad? A lesson in perspective

Grr, another creek crossing, or Yippee! Another creek crossing! Thinking recently about the difference between a good experience and a not-so-good experience, I was reminded of a scouting trip I’d taken in December 2009. Here’s a brief reflection from that trip that originally appeared around the same time. Sometimes, to keep a challenge from becoming an ordeal you have to try and balance the bad with a good. Take my ordeal…

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This weekend: Adventure from sea level to 6,000 feet

Learn about the salt marsh on a paddle at the coast, watch the sun set on the weekend from the Art Loeb Trail, or discover a “new” gorge where the Piedmont and coastal plain meet. Coast The Bald Head Island Conservancy does an exemplary job of promoting the environment through public education. This weekend, for instance, there’s Birding BHI, Touch Tank Time and Reptile Roundup on Saturday, and Island Nature…

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