Mel writes: “I am the Hiking Merit Badge coordinator for Troop 395 in Raleigh and we are looking to put together our hiking itinerary over the next 12 months. As you may know, to earn this MB the Boy Scouts have to do five 10+ miles hikes and one 20+ mile hike.”
We rode at Umstead Tuesday morning and noticed nothing different. We rode Thursday morning and couldn’t help but notice the difference.
Fall had finally begun gracing the Piedmont with its festive palette.
Poplars were suddenly popping yellow, sourwoods were flashing crimson, red maples were glowing red. Real color, the first of the season. And who knows how long it will last.
“I can’t believe we haven’t seen anyone,” Krista said midway into our 15-mile hike.
“I wonder what Umstead’s like right now?” Amy wondered. “Probably bumper-to-bumper people.”
Probably, considering: 1) It was the second weekend in October and the first true weekend of fall color in the Piedmont, 2) It was a Saturday afternoon, 3) There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, 4) The temperature was struggling to get out of the 60s.
In short, it was a perfect fall day. The kind of day where it occurs to everyone to go for a hike, and it occurs to everyone to go to the same places. To Umstead State Park in Raleigh, to Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain state parks in the Triad, to Crowders Mountain near Charlotte.
The Crowders Mountain Web site offers this warning front and center on its home page: “Expect parking delays on nice fall weekends.”
Which isn’t to say you should hide at home and experience fall through silde shows such as the one above. If you know where to go — like Amy and Krista did — you can experience the magnificence of fall in magnificent solitude.