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.
Tuesday, I had one of the more exhausting times I’ve had in 20 years of covering outdoor adventure — and I was in an air-conditioned building. At a catered affair.
The affair was a media event sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Tourism, a gathering of tourism promotion types from around the state and the people they hoped would write about them. People such as myself.
Immediately upon walking in the door of the Contemporary Art Museum — CAM for short — in downtown Raleigh I was met by my old buddy, Suzanne Brown. Suzanne and I worked together for years in the Features Department of The News & Observer, Suz overseeing everything entertainment, me doing my outdoors thing. In 2008, we were both part of a massive newsroom exodus. I landed here, Suz at Tourism, a job that suits her as she wasted little time getting my attention.
“Do you know about the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddle Trail?” she asked.
I didn’t, but I didn’t feel too bad upon learning that the trail is a work in progress, a proposed — though some of it exists — paddle trail running from Virginia south through the Carolinas and Georgia, where it will meet with the existing 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. A kind of Appalachian Trail for paddlers.
“Cool!” I said.
“What about Jetpacks?” she wanted to know.
“And what about telephones with TV screens and flying cars?” I said.
No, she said, you can now rent a JetPak on the Outer Banks.
Then, in a Graduatesque nod to the Next Big Thing, she leaned in and whispered “Zip Lines.”