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This weekend: Get a workout and an education in nature

The approach of spring apparently means two things in North Carolina: Get out and learn. Coast Learn about the wild habitats that make up Carolina Beach State Park at 10 a.m. nature hikes both Saturday and Sunday. The meeting place of this ranger-led hike — Flytrap Trail Parking Area — should provide some clue about the ecodiversity at Carolina Beach. “Wear good walking shoes and dress for the weather,” advises…

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Shuttle Diplomacy

When I wrote “Backpacking North Carolina” and “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina,” I focused on loop trips and hikes whenever possible. The reason? Simple: Shuttles are a pain. For the traditional shuttle you need two cars; you can’t do a point-to-point solo. If there are just two of you, you both have to drive. That’s not only a waste of gas, it eliminates catch-up time on the drive (not…

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Gear up for walkin’ in the rain

Note: This post was amended on Sept. 23, 2015, to reflect my more recent discoveries in great rainy day gear. I awoke to gray skies, a steady rain and temperatures in the upper 50s. Perfect day for an off-trail hike. Alas, only nine other folks shared my feelings for Rod Broadbelt’s annual Wilderness Hike at Umstead State Park. The hike, 98 percent of which is advertised as being off-trail, has…

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90 Second Escape: A Wilderness Wander at Umstead

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 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. Today’s…

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Pittsboro parks a hidden surprise

When I drive through a small town, I wonder what unsung recreational treasures are hidden within. Sometimes I get lucky and stumble upon them. And every once in a while I get a call from the director of a local parks and rec department asking if I’d like a tour. … * * * Paul Horne must have picked up on my perplexed look. I was staring at what looked…

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This weekend: There’s much merry to be made (if you don’t mind a little rain)

Rain is in the forecast for much of North Carolina, but don’t let that douse your plans. Dress appropriately (you do have a Gore-Tex tweed jacket, don’t you?) and you’ll be fine. Coast Silence is golden. Especially when you’re eavesdropping. And particularly especially when you’re eavesdropping on nature. That’s the theme of Saturday’s Silent Hike at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park on a high bluff overlooking the Neuse River…

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90 Second Escape: Winter Water

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 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. Today’s…

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Picture a great weekend

Can a camera lead to fitness? Is paddling in winter as cool (not cold) as it sounds?  And whitewater racing? Really? Coast Sometimes all you need to spur you on to an active lifestyle is the right motivation, a motivation that, perhaps, hasn’t yet occurred to you. Like a camera. Think about it. You have a camera, you want new and unusual subjects to shoot. The outdoors is replete with…

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Weight Watchers scores with Points Plus

The following story appeared yesterday in both the Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer. The basic reporting was done by The New York Times; I provided the local comments. Yesterday, I ran more of those local comments in this space. The story below appears in expanded form, with links. When Linda Helms first tried Weight Watchers four years ago, she lost weight using the venerable weight-loss program’s popular points…

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Weighing in on Points Plus

In today’s Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer is a story on Weight Watchers’ shift within the past year to the Points Plus system, which WW said was intended to steer people toward more healthy food choices. One change under the new plan: encourage people to eat more fresh fruits by giving them zero points. The guts of the reporting is from the New York Times; I added the…

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