90 Second Escape: A Hike Into Winter (Again)

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.

Today’s 90-Second Escape: A Hike Into Winter (Again)

Saturday, I got nostalgic for a hike. So I took one. Or tried to.

Driving back from the RiverBound Race Series 15K (more about that tomorrow) at Charlotte’s National Whitewater Center, I decided to stop and check out the northern trailhead for the Birkhead Wilderness Trail in the Uwharrie National Forest. This trailhead had eluded me for more than 20 years; On previous attempts I’d driven slowly past the clearing where I’d been told the trailhead entered the woods. Now, it has a sign and a gravel lot and is hard to miss.

It’s gorgeous hike — at least that was my vague impression. Through eyes bathed in sweat I seemed to start out climbing a ridgeline through a mature hardwood forest. The Uwharries elevation gains never cease to amaze, and this was no exception: the trail continued to climb, though at one point a foggy shadow to my left indicated the trail had dropped below the ridgeline. Again, through a gauze of sweat and a collection of cobwebs I wasn’t entirely sure.

What I was sure of, though, was that I can’t wait for cool, hike-worthy weather to return. Weather where a chill sets in every time you stop for more than 30 seconds and where the air is so crisp, clear and dry you can hear an acorn drop a football field away.

That nostalgia leads us back to a hike from this past winter. On a February day, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake, a light rain quickly evolved into a moderate snow. It was the kind of hike where a chill set in if you stopped for more than 30 seconds, where the forest was so quiet you could hear the snowflakes land. Where the splash in your eye was cold, wet and bracing, not hot, salty and stinging.

Take 90 seconds and escape with us to hiking weather.

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