Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
When we launched our GetHiking! program three years ago, the goal was to offer fledgling hikers a supportive hiking environment and to expose more experienced hikers to new trails. Those remaining our overriding goals; we love hiking with you, and while we hope you love hiking with us, we realize that sometimes you’d rather hike alone, or perhaps expose less-experienced friends and family to the joys of hiking. That’s why we’ve moved into a second phase of GetHiking!
Sure, you pick up a thing or two on our hikes. But sometimes you want to know more. Which is why we’ve created a series of classes designed to make you more confident in the woods.
That breath of fresh air you inhaled coming out of the house Monday morning — a breath devoid of hot, of wet, of recreational despair — convinced our GetHiking! crews that there’s no need to wait for fall in order to take a fall-like hike. Let’s do it now, our hike leaders declared. Or at least this weekend.
So we will.
This weekend, GetHiking! Charlotte, GetHiking! Triad and GetHiking! Triangle will all exceed the 10-mile mark, a distance typically not contemplated by most until it’s time to toss a fleece into the daypack. Fleece be danged, let’s hike!
Here’s what our three hiking groups have planned for the weekend:
Why do I push hiking?
For one, it’s accessible. North Carolina is blessed with great hiking trails. No matter where you live, from the coast to the mountains, there are great trails a short drive away. (We even have a trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, linking the coast and the mountains.)
Hiking is social. Of all the ways you can get your heart rate up, hiking is perhaps the most amenable to doing so with friends. The movement, the fresh air, the surroundings regardless of where they are, all contribute to a convivial atmosphere.
It’s soothing. For a lot of us, being in the woods is a sedative. That’s not just me talking, there’s science to back that up (see below).
It doesn’t feel like a workout. Sure, there may be times at the end of a long day where you realize your body is working, but typically that realization doesn’t occur until later on — when you try to get out of the car, for instance.
All of which is why last September GetGoingNC, with support from Great Outdoor Provision Co., launched the GetHiking! program. GetHiking! focuses on two audiences: Folks who have long been interested in hiking but, for whatever reason, have yet to take their first step into the woods. And more experienced hikers who would hike more if they knew more places to hike.
For the former, our hikes are lead from the rear, meaning you’ll never hike alone. A guide will always be at the back of the pack. For the latter, we try and hit new trails every week, ensuring that you expand your universe of hiking options.
The program launched in the Triangle in September. To date, we now have more than 500 members. Our weekly hikes can be intimate, with as few as 15 hikers, or they can be events, with upwards of 70 participants.
Based on our response in the Triangle, we are expanding GetHiking! into Winston-Salem and Charlotte, with hikes scheduled to begin in both regions later this month. You can learn more about the Triad program here, GetHiking! Charlotte here. And you can find out about our hikes and other events, and join up, by visiting the following:
“They draw pictures of bears and lions and all these really big animals,” says Weems, the center’s senior manager of early childhood programs. At the end of the program, when she asks them to draw a picture of what they actually did see at this 45-acre natural oasis in the heart of Raleigh, she gets sketches of tadpoles, frogs, crickets, ladybugs … .
“The reality is it’s really much more fun to get close to a lady bug,” says Weems, who has been in the business of exposing kids to the outdoors for 30 years.
The reality is also that today more than ever, too many kids like the ones viewing Prairie Ridge as a wild jungle have only a vague notion of what’s going on outside their living room windows.
That’s why in 2006, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Director of Education Liz Baird deemed it necessary to create Take A Child Outside Week, seven days at the end of September dedicated to introducing our increasingly insulated youth to the great outdoors. Take A Child Outside Week 2013 begins Tuesday and runs through Monday, Sept. 30. At least 82 Take A Child Outside-related programs are scheduled throughout the state. (To find an event close to you, check our calendar, here.)
“The average child spends seven hours a day in front of a screen,” says Baird, “with no logged time outdoors. Obviously, we still need to remind parents to get their children outside.”
Take a Child Outside Week was spurred by Richard Louv’s 2005 bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” an account of how, in less than a generation, our kids have gone from being weaned in the wild to garrisoned in the great room.
To anyone who came of age pre-1980, the notion of having to be reminded to go outside and play would have seemed crazy; outside — in a local forest, along a nearby creek, in a neighborhood park — was where kids went to escape. But as Louv notes, a proliferation of electronic options and increasingly protective parents have conspired to keep our kids inside.
Some disturbing numbers: