As we transition into spring, our hiking genes kick in. We think not only of our favorite two-hour hikes, but also of those hikes that present a greater challenge, that will prepare us for the epic mountain hikes we hope to take this summer, whether in our own Southern Appalachians or beyond.
It started two weeks ago with a serenade by spring peepers in a pond at Horton Grove Nature Preserve. It was reinforced a day later by the sudden appearance of perky yellow daffodils near an old homestead along the Eno River. Then, last Friday, on a hike through bottomland forest at Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, I got the sign I’d been waiting for: a trout lily unfurling its delicate yellow and maroon petals.
Several years ago, when Keith Nealson was a ranger at Umstead State Park, I nearly had him talked into a canoe trip down Crabtree Creek through the park. Alas, he transferred (he’s now the superintendent of Eno River State Park) and the trip never advanced beyond talk.
Reduce your bucket list with a mountain polar plunge, get up to speed on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, or run for chocolate: they’re all options this weekend in North Carolina.
Mountains: 4th Annual Polar Plunge
One of the iconic winter sporting events that might be on a bucket list or two is the polar plunge. If you find the prospect of immersing your already cold body into cold water intriguing, check out this weekend’s 4th Annual Polar Plunge Benefit-t-t-t-ing Kids in the Creek and Youth Education at Lake Junaluska benefitting Kids in the Creek and Environmental Education.
As of 9 a.m. on Friday, the prospects for cross-country skiing were grim in the Triangle: the nearly six inches of snow forecast the night before — the minimum amount creating a sufficient base on some trails — had taken more the form of ice, a surface good for little more than hockey and busting your keister. But hey, it’s still early in this weather event dubbed Jonas.