Come summer, with its 90/90 days (heat/humidity) the last thing on most of our minds is a long hike in the woods. Oceans of sweat, acres of trail-clogging cobwebs, no hydration pack big enough to sate your insatiable thirst. Very understandable, this hike aversion — if you don’t know where to go. For if you do, there are plenty of trails — from North Carolina’s steamy coast, to the stuffy Piedmont to the sun-drenched high country — ideal for summer exploring.
I’ve been spending a lot of time along the Blue Ridge Parkway of late, exploring the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. I’d be spending even more time if the Parkway facilities, specifically the campgrounds, were open. Which they soon will be.
The National Park Service has announced 2012 opening dates for their seasonal facilities along the Parkway. I’m finding them useful for trip planning, figured you might, too. Here are some key locations for the pedestrian explorer, when they open and some thoughts for how these locations might play into your plans. For locations, go here for a Parkway map.
I cringed when I picked up the July Outside magazineand saw that it had the Mountains-to-Sea Trail listed under “Best Through-Hikes You’ve Never Heard Of.” No mention was made of the fact that the roughly 1,000-mile MST is only a little over half done, meaning that roughly 500 miles of this best-trail-you’ve-never-heard-of actually is on pavement, often competing with cars. Not exactly the escape most of us seek when we hit the trail.
Get religion at a Fat Tire Festival, howl at the coast. It’s all happening this weekend.
Saturday, we salute the Fat Tire. If you’re already familiar with the Church of the Fat Tire, we need only say that Saturday is something of our high holy day here in the Triangle. If you’re not already among the faithful, the 5th Annual TORC Fat Tire Festival is a great way to explore a different branch of exercise ecclesiology: mountain biking.