Last weekend, we hiked more of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake and saw our first mountain laurel bloom of the season — a lone bloom, but an impressively full and vibrant (if white can be vibrant) bloom about midway between the Shinleaf Recreation Area and NC 98. We also spent a little time exploring all the Eno River in Orange County and planning a trip next weekend to the Curtis Creek area of the Pisgah National Forest. It was a busy weekend on the trail.
This picture means a lot to me because everyone in it still speaks to me. In fact, they’ve all gone on trips with me since.
The photo was taken last August on a GetBackpacking! trip into Linville Gorge. It was a three-day, 22-mile trip that involved two crossings of the Linville River, a knee-busting descent into Chimney Gap followed by a calf-burning ascent out, navigating a river section that had little interest in being navigated, and this drop into the gorge on the Leadmine Trail—a path that looked relatively innocuous on the topo map. In reality, it’s a path best tackled by tossing your pack down the mountain first, then scooting down after it. You know how trails rarely look as steep in photos? Not this one.
Hike NC, the hiking program launched in the fall of 2016 by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, is back with 60 hikes this spring. This weekend, Earth Day weekend, the spring season kicks off with seven hikes. While many of those hikes are aimed at beginners — the goal of the program is to get more people moving and outdoors — there are several good reasons for more experienced hikers to check out those hikes as well.
Weekend forecast: Saturday’s looking a little iffy in GetGoingNC land, but Sunday promises sunny skies and cool temps, ideal for a day of exploring the woods.
Today’s Friday Nudge offers takes from last weekend to encourage you to get out this weekend. If you’re interested in the places mentioned, click appropriately for more information: Little River Regional Park, Harris Lake County Park, Horton Grove Nature Preserve. For additional hiking opportunities, visit our GetHiking! page.
The first time I went to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest—a 3,800-acre tract— I was awe of the concentration of old growth trees along the 2-mile trail takes you through one of the last remaining virgin cove forests in the Southeast. Here grow behemoth yellow poplar, oak, basswood, beech and sycamore, some believed to be more than 400 years old. Put in perspective, some might have been saplings when Hernando De Soto and the first Europeans passed through. The massive canopy limits the amount of plant life below—thought it does make room for an impressive spring wildflower display of cohosh, trillium, crested iris and more—giving the forest an ethereal feel.