I realized a few weeks back when I went to find a picture of Hanging Rock State Park in my computer archive that it had been a while since I’d paid a visit. The reason: I didn’t have a Hanging Rock file, let alone a single photo of the photogenic state park north of the Triad. Because I always take my camera when I hit the trail, that meant I hadn’t been to Hanging Rock since my dark PC days — at least five years ago. (Re: “the dark PC days” — The first/last PC I’ve had ate my photo library not long after my “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina” came out in 2007. Shame on me, yes, for not backing up. But shame on the PC for having such a convoluted and vulnerable system. Rant over; moving on … .)
It’s one of the cheapest recreation deals going: for as little as $5 an hour you can captain your own ship on any number of waterways throughout North Carolina. These bargain basement deals are offered at various county, municipal and state parks throughout the state.
Saturday is National Trails Day, a day set aside for paying homage to the nation’s more than 200,000 miles of trail. In most cases, that involves grabbing a rake, a pickax, a shovel and sprucing up the trails that on the other 364 days of the year we love to death. It’s a day underscoring that without volunteer labor, our trail systems simply wouldn’t exist. Last year, for instance, 190,350 volunteer hours were logged at nearly 2,000 registered National Trails Day events. That represents roughly $3.9 million in labor that our cash-strapped federal, state and local land managers simply couldn’t afford to pay for.