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.
We have a swamp theme at the coast and (near) Piedmont this week: paddle one (and perhaps see a ‘gator) at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge near Manteo, or run through one on the Wilson Swamp Stomp. Meanwhile, Saturday is National Get Outdoors Day, and while its website lists only four locations in North Carolina with events scheduled (see below), truth be told there are several North Carolina State Parks holding NGOD events. We tell you about the one at Chimney Rock State Park; you can learn about the others here.
Saturday is National Trails Day, a time when we pay homage to the more than 200,000 miles of recreational pathways across the land that deliver us from the challenges of day-to-day life. Be it a foot path, a bike path, a canoe trail or a horse trail, events nationwide will give us a chance to either celebrate our trails by using them, or honor them by sprucing ’em up.
Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer (technically, summer ends at 10:29 p.m. on Sept. 22). Either way, you don’t want to miss out on a weekend of fun, be it paddling after ‘gators at the coast or exploring the highest land east of South Dakota’s Black Hills.
One of the first paddle trips I took east of I-95 after arriving in North Carolina in the early 1990s was to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I’d driven past the 154,000-acre lowland several times on my way to the Outer Banks, but for some reason never thought to bring a boat. Then I saw that the refuge was leading weekly paddle trips, so I signed up. As we were paddling the expansive Milltail Creek east toward the Alligator River, someone in the group asked why we weren’t seeing the refuge’s namesake reptile.
The ranger leading the trip told us to raft up and watch the river bank to the south. The bank was dominated by three-foot-high reed grass and what appeared to be fallen logs in the water.
“Watch,” he instructed. We did, and before long we noticed that the logs were blinking.
I tell this story a lot when explaining the allure of exploring Eastern North Carolina. There is so much to see east of I-95, it sometimes just takes a little extra patience and perseverance. I’ve since embraced that approach in telling the adventurous story of Eastern North Carolina, a story that’s yet to be fully appreciated by a larger audience.
We hope to change that in the months and years ahead. One way is by teaming with our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Greenville to form GetExploring! Greenville.
Our goal is two-fold: