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.
This weekend’s offerings are proof that adventure in North Carolina knows no seasons.
Every once in a while, the Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge opens its roads allowing the public in to better explore this 8,219-acre refuge in Currituck County. To explore its low-lying freshwater and brackish marshes, it’s upland and lowland eastern pine hardwood forests. And this time of year, to be treated to a variety of migrating waterfowl (including snow geese and Canada geese) in addition to year-round residents such as the bald eagle and osprey.
Sunday, Marcy and I headed over to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary after roadside flashes of sourwood red and dogwood peach suggested the fall color show was just getting underway. Roadside trees — stressed by the heat of automotive exhaust — are often the first to show their chromatic hand. When they start to go, we grab the camera and head for woods.
Last week, we talked about long-distance greenways in the state — existing and planned — associated with the East Coast Greenway. Interviews for that story touched on other long-distance trails in the planning stage across North Carolina. Today, we touch on those trails.
This weekend’s theme for action: Water, in its various forms.
At first blush (a blush suggestive of hypothermia?), the notion of taking a 4-hour kayak trip in 30-degree weather might seem daft. But then, this particular trip is on Belews Lake, which the sponsoring Piedmont Environmental Center notes, “being a power plant lake [Duke Energy] where water is used to cool energy-producing turbines, the heated water … is much warmer than ambient air temperatures. The result is a three-foot deep blanket of warm air — perfect for the kayaker!”