There’s never been a better time to be outdoors

If ever there was a winter to get over your dislike of the cold, this is it. 

Without dwelling, cold weather historically drives people indoors, and, this year, indoors is where you have a significantly greater chance of contracting the coronavirus. The advance of fall is already seeing a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in North Carolina and nationwide. In response, on Tuesday North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper dialed back the cap on indoor group gatherings to 10 people. Staying indoors is trouble, especially if you like people.

Thus, it’s more important than it has been since the pandemic began in March to:

  1. Wear a mask in public
  2. Stay at least 6 feet from people outside your bubble
  3. Spend time outside

The first two are in your court: pretty simple requirements that involve no hardship or sacrifice. As for No. 3 — spend as much time as possible outdoors — that’s where we can help.

Yesterday, we announced our most aggressive lineup of winter programs ever. We’ve got weekly hikes for experienced hikers, we’ve got weekly hikes for novices who don’t know why there’s a tree with a splotch of paint every hundred feet or so on the trail. We’ve got hikes in the daylight, we have hikes in the dark. We have hikes where there’s no trail, we have hikes where you didn’t know there were trails (the coastal plain). And we have more overnight trips than in any winter past.

If you’re willing to learn to deal with the cold — another focus of our winter programs — then we can assure a plethora of outdoor options over the next four months.

Here’s a quick rundown:

GetHiking! Winter Series for the Aspiring Hiker

These GetHiking! hikers embrace the cold along the Eno River in 2018.

Dec. 13 through Feb. 28

Every Sunday afternoon at 1 we hike a local trail, starting with a 1.5-mile hike and building to 4 miles to help the aspiring hiker evolve into a competent, confident hiker. The hikes are at a mellow pace, and we start with less-challenging terrain and build to intermediate-level trails. Learn more and sign up here.

GetHiking! Sunday Winter Hike Series

Dec. 13 through Feb. 28 (with an additional Dec. 30 hike)

This 12-hike series is for more experienced hikers accustomed to going longer distances on more challenging terrain. Hikes are from 4 to 8 miles long, with most around 6. We have two Sunday sessions, one at 10 a.m. and a second at 1 p.m.

Learn more and sign up for: Sunday morning, single hiker here, family/couple here; Sunday afternoon, single hiker here, family here.

GetHiking! with Friends and Co-Workers

Hikes are according to your schedule

Got a group of friends or co-workers you’d like to hike with but aren’t sure where to start? Start with us. Based on your group’s location, size and interest level, we’ll craft an 8-hike series that meets your needs. Then, once a week, we’ll send you a guide with all the information you need to do a hike that’s right for your group. Learn more and sign up here.

Tuesday Night Hikes

Every other Tuesday night at 6:30, from Dec. 1 through Feb. 23

Don’t let the fact the sun sets before you get off work keep you from taking a midweek hike. We don headlamps and hike for an hour and a half through the dark of night. Learn more and sign up here for a single hiker, here for a family.

Winter Wild

Hanging Rock’s Three Sisters

Six weekend hikes, beginning in November and running into early March. 

Winter brings with it the chance to go off-trail and explore deeper into the woods. With this 6-hike series, we take advantage of the season’s stark landscape to explore some places you thought you knew as well places you had no idea existed. The hikes are from 5 to 8 miles long.

Learn more and sign up for the series here. Openings for individual hikes, if any remain, go on sale two weeks before the event.

Winter Coastal Escapes

November through February

Jones Lake

Five events at the coast and coastal plain, including three camping trips, one backpack trip, one day hike and one paddle trip. Destinations include Jones Lake State Park, the Croatan National Forest, Carolina Beach State Park, and Goose Creek State Park. Learn more and sign up here.

Most events have a limit of 10 participants to more easily accommodate social distancing. We require masks be worn at trailheads and at other times when maintaining social distancing is difficult. We also ask that participants keep their masks handy should we encounter others and social distancing is difficult.

I’ve always loved exploring in winter, for reasons that defy easy explanation. So instead of trying to explain what’s attractive about the season, I’ll go one better by giving you a little extra incentive to see for yourself. From now through Sunday (Nov. 15), when you click on one of the above links and see an event (or events) you’d like to try, enter code 3VDXSS5S at checkout and get 10 percent off. 

Winter adventure: this year, it makes more sense than ever. 


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