It’s been — and continues to be — a rough week for a lot of folks in North Carolina, especially down east. For the weekend, we recommend the best therapy we know: a walk in the woods. Today, we pull hikes from Hike NC!, our statewide hiking collaboration with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. For more information on Hike NC! go here.
Since launching the GetHiking! program in 2013, I’ve learned one key thing: being on the trail makes us better. It makes us better physically, emotionally and spiritually. Even on a hike where the weather turned vile, I’ve never had a hiker say, “That sucked. I’ll never do that again.” Granted, it may be a day or so before a soaked hiker comes around, but inevitably they emerge with a positive take on the experience and, more importantly, they return to hike again. Considering the main target of GetHiking! has been new hikers, that says a lot.
While GetHiking! has grown significantly since that first chapter opened in the Triangle — we now have more than 6,000 members in North Carolina (Charlotte, Greenville, the Triad and Triangle) and Virginia (Charlottesville and Virginia Beach), I’m always looking for ways to reach new hikers. So when BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina approached me in August expressing interest in a statewide hiking program aimed at cultivating a new class of hikers, I jumped. In part, that was through a matter of loyalty: when I left The News & Observer in 2009, where I’d spent most of the 17 previous years writing about health, fitness and outdoor adventure, BCBSNC quickly moved in to sponsor the blog I had in mind (the one you’re reading). But truly, the opportunity to tap into their vast network of customers — they had nearly 3.9 million members in 2015 — was a proselytizing opportunity too rich to pass up.
In the ensuing month and a half, we’ve partnered with N.C. State Parks, Friends of State Parks, N.C. Recreation & Park Association, Great Outdoor Provision Co. and others to create Hike NC, an ambitious statewide hiking program consisting of more than 60 guided hikes. The program began this past weekend (with hikes at Fort Fisher, Haw River and Jones Lake state parks) and revs up with eight hikes this weekend, Matthew permitting.
Why should you consider signing up for Hike NC? Glad you asked.
Highs in the low 80s, sunny skies. Sounds like a great weekend for a hike, no? And as luck would have it, this weekend is the kick off for Hike NC, a statewide hiking initiative by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, North Carolina State Parks, GetGoingNC and others. We’ll talk more about Hike NC in the coming days, but in a nutshell, it’s an effort to expose more North Carolinians to their state’s remarkable hiking resource, a resource they can frequently find right in their own backyard. We’ve got more than 60 hikes scheduled statewide over the next two months; today, we highlight the three that launch the program this weekend.