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MST mapmaker makes us a map

The trail climbs a surprising bluff then, briefly, joins forces with an old roadbed. But I’m not aware of the “briefly” part, and it would be easy to miss where the trail darts back into the woods. Easy, but for two things. One, this new 4.2-mile stretch of trail along the Eno River is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and even freshly minted segments of the MST are hard to…

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Look! Up in the sky! It’s a Eurasian wigeon!

Back when William McKinley was president, a first-class postage stamp was $.02 and the champions of college football were the Yale Bulldogs, Frank Chapman thought it might be nice to go out on Christmas Day and look for birds. This was a common occurrence of the day, though the “looking” also involved shooting. Chapman’s idea was to take the gun out of the equation. A lot of folks liked Chapman’s…

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A complete American Tobacco Trail by the end of 2011?

We were hiking a new section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Eno River today when we came upon an old rail line, which I realized was the Norfolk Southern line that, for a while, looked like it might turn into a rails-to-trails project running from Person County south to downtown Durham. Downtown Durham and rails-to-trails projects reminded me of the American Tobacco Trail, the northern end of which begins…

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Adventure envy

I was … envious? Envious of Alan’s 13-hour nights in the tent? Envious of the 10-degree nights? Envious of having to crawl out of a warm bag at 4 a.m. for the inevitable commune with nature that goes with calling it a night at 6 p.m.? Alan had just gotten back from six days on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Six days that saw the first cold of the season…

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Hooky alert! Cross-country skiing

Last week, according to SkiSoutheast.com, between 18 and 22 inches of snow fell in North Carolina’s high country, more snow is falling (Ski Beech reported 9 inches of new snow overnight), and snow is expected to fall throughout the week. That’s good news for the state’s downhill ski industry, although cold temperatures alone is enough to make ski areas and their sophisticated snowmaking operations happy. The true benefactors of this…

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This weekend: wayfind, paddle, ski

Wayfinding, warm water kayaking, winging your way down a mountain — it’s all happening in North Carolina this weekend. Coast Sometimes luring the recalcitrant into the outdoors is simply a matter of offering the right bait. A mere walk in a cold forest may not appeal to someone more involved in cerebral pursuits, but throw in a map, a compass and the opportunity to calculate your way over hill and…

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Rowing: Workout vs. way out

My friend Michael Bowers must have sensed I’d just done my first workout on a rowing machine. Hence the timely notice he sent of not one, but two openings on crews planning to row the Atlantic this winter. That’s row, as in row a boat, and Atlantic, as in ocean. Rowing the Atlantic seems a ridiculously over-the-top, Survivoresque thing to do, a true product of our obsessive society. Yet the…

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More pros (and cons) of running

Some interesting new research is out on the effects of running. Some of the findings will make you want to dig your waffle trainers out of the closet. Other findings may explain a thing — or ache — or two. For instance, if you thought Forest Gump was nuts, in fact, he may have been on to something with his cross-country jaunts. A study of 44 runners taking part in…

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Exorcising a grotty water bottle

I find a gimme water bottle full of fermented energy drink under the 16-year-old’s bed and I toss it into the recycling. Bike water bottles infest every nook and cranny of our house; one won’t be missed. But a CamelBak, a $19.95 CamelBak, is another matter. I’ll do whatever it takes to revive that sucker. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much, as this instructional video demonstrates.

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Kayaking for the kayakless

It’s hard to paddle this time of year if you don’t have a boat. Only a handful of boat rentals are open year-round (Lake Johnson and Lake Wheeler in Raleigh come to mind), and most of those only open when the 100-degree rule applies (when the combined air and water temperature top 100). Thus, the joys of winter paddling go unappreciated by the masses. Isabelle, an assistant organizer with the…

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