Face it, after this weekend you’ll be hard-pressed to find time to get out and release your stress; once the holidays hit, your time will be spoken for. That said, here are three opportunities for pre-holiday adventure that you shouldn’t pass up.
Beavers can be quick to judge.
I realized this Sunday at Falls Lake as I crossed a lengthy boardwalk leading to the footbridge over Little Lick Creek. Normally, Lick Creek is maybe 12 to 15 feet across. But after a good rain, like we’d had the past two days, the surrounding wetlands are flooded. Hence, the lead-up boardwalk on this section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Durham County.
I heard a spectacular splash and looked up to see a radiating circle of disturbed water about 25 yards north of the bridge. At the base of the bridge, on a spit of land that wasn’t submerged, stood a man holding loppers who also was checking out the splash. Moments later the beaver slapped again.
“She’s mad at me,” offered Gregory Scott. Undeservedly so.
Scott is one of the hundreds of volunteers responsible for blazing and maintaining the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the 950-mile work-in-progress that will one day link Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee line with Jockey’s Ridgeread more
We stood in a circle, this group mostly in our 50s, 60s and 70s, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was 8 again, shuffling nervously in a schoolyard playground. Our team leaders were choosing work crews, but it had the unmistakable feel of picking teams for a pickup football game.read more
I cringed when I picked up the July Outside magazineand saw that it had the Mountains-to-Sea Trail listed under “Best Through-Hikes You’ve Never Heard Of.” No mention was made of the fact that the roughly 1,000-mile MST is only a little over half done, meaning that roughly 500 miles of this best-trail-you’ve-never-heard-of actually is on pavement, often competing with cars. Not exactly the escape most of us seek when we hit the trail.read more
I’m back to remind you that Saturday is National Trails Day, a day when we celebrate the more than 200,000 miles of trail that help us escape the oppressive monotony of day-to-day existence and recoup our souls.
OK, maybe that’s a little strong.
But trails do play a vital role in our physical and mental well being. So in honor of National Trails Day, pay a visit to your local trail. You can either give something back (in the form of a workday) or you can celebrate their existence. And while you’re at it, celebrate the essential role that you, the people, play in blazing and maintaining the nation’s trails. To wit, another account of the vital part volunteers play in our trails, this one in regard to the Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest.
“You ask about the vital roll volunteers played in the trail,” says Sue Huntsman. “There wouldn’t be a trail without them! The Carteret County Wildlife Club — specifically my husband Gene Huntsman — conceived of the trail in 1970. With the advice of the USFS district ranger Ed Grushinski, the trail’s 22-mile course was determined. For the next decade, the members of the club donated untold hundreds of man-hours, blood and sweat roughing out the trail’s path in sections then connecting and refining the sections. Finally, (and still on-going) boardwalks and bridges were built to protect wetlands and ease hikers’ passage.”
While the U.S. Forest Service now does most maintenance on the Neusiok, the club continues to improve the trail, building additional boardwalks in perpetually wet areas, as well as shelters and fire pits for backpackers. In addition, the club remains busy building another trail in the Croatan, the Weetock, and also built a third trail, the two-mile Sea-Gate Woods trail for the Coastal Land Trust. All this from a club whose membership is largely over 55 years old.
The Carteret County Wildlife Club plans to celebrate National Trails Day on Sunday with a cookout Sunday afternoon. Show up between noon and 4 p.m. to hike, paddle the Neuse, fish or whatever (“The afternoon activities are unstructured,” advises Huntsman), the cookout commences at 5 p.m. (bring a side dish, barbeque will be provided).
For a rundown of other National Trails Day events, check out the GGNC post from last Thursday. In addition, Tim Lee with TORC fills us in on this late-breaking NTD event at the growing Briar Chapel trail network south of Chapel Hill. NTD @ BC
10 a.m.-noon — Guided mountain bike rides (RSVP required at site below).
12:30pm — Free lunch, including Carolina-style BBQ with burgers, hot dogs, drinks, more.
1-4 p.m. — Party.
More info here.read more