90 Second Escape: That first cool hike of fall

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 this trying transition, we’re running a new feature every Monday called 90 Second Escape. Essentially, it’s a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s in the sun.

Today’s 90-Second Escape: Hiking in real fall weather

There’s weathering a hike, and there’s weather for hiking. For the past five months or so, if you’ve ventured out to hit the trail in North Carolina, you’ve been weathering the hike. A lush bottomland forest, an exposed ridgeline with great views, ascending through a mature hardwood forest is only a treat for so long if forehead sweat obliterates your view. On the other hand, walking through a controlled burn (that is, the remnants of a controlled burn) can bring a smile on that first overcast, drizzly day of fall when the temperature barely breaks into the 60s, when you find yourself sticking a light fleece into your pack and looking forward to an apres hike hot shower rather than an I-just-coached-my-team-to-the-Super-Bowl-victory ice bath.

This past Saturday was the first bonafide day of fall* hiking weather in North Carolina: trailhead temperature of 57, clouds, light rain absorbed, for the most part, by a still full summer canopy. As luck would have it, my Ultimate Hike group was scheduled for a 20.3-mil training hike on the Falls Lake stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. A full day day on the trail, in true hiking weather. It was … well, come along for yourself and see, in this 90 Second Escape.

* Officially, meteorologically, fall doesn’t start until Friday, Sept. 23, at 5:05 a.m.

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