GetOut! Eno Outback, Rockin’ Occoneechee, Birds

Our favorite place in Eno River State Park is likely a place you haven’t been, let alone heard of. Rocky Creek has a short run in the park, running for not much more than two or three miles through an area devoid of trails called the Eno Wilderness. Most maps show it as a broken blue line — an intermittent waterway. When it’s running, though, Rocky Creek a sight as it works its way through a beech forest that’s tight in spots, widening just enough in others to accommodate a narrow bottomland forest. As its name implies, it carves its way rough and tumble through rocky terrain.

Saturday, it’s the focus of Back Country with Ranger Dave, a 3-hour hike with Dave Cook, who served in several capacities, including Eno River State Park superintendent, with N.C. State Parks before retiring to work as the Education & Outreach Coordinator for the Eno River Association. He recently retired from that post as well. Earlier this month, Gov. Cooper awarded Dave the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award given a North Carolina resident for service to the state. Saturday’s hike is a rare opportunity to explore a stretch of land with the person who probably knows the most about it.

Saturday’s 3-hour adventure starts at 10 a.m. Group size is limited to 10, social distancing will be enforced, masks are required where safe social distancing can’t be observed. There’s a $5 fee ($3 if you’re a member of the Eno River Association). Learn more and sign up here.

Elsewhere this weekend in the N.C. State Parks system:

The quarry-inspired cliff face at Occoneechee Mountain (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

Occoneechee Mountain Geology Hike, Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough. Just as Dave Cook is the expert on things Eno, geologist Jean-Michel Margot is the go-to guy on all things Occoneechee. Jean-Michel has been leading monthly geology hikes of the mountain for years, discussing the mountains minerals from A (andalusite) to Q (quartz). He’s also quite entertaining, so perish any thoughts about rocks being a dull subject. Group size is limited to 10; it’s free, but registration is required, by calling 919.383.1686. More info here.

Eno River 2020 Christmas Bird Count Recap, Sunday, 2-3 p.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. Before the turn of the 20th century, birds were the Christmas Day focus of something called the “side hunt.” Hunters would pick teams and head into the woods with their shotguns. Whichever team emerged with the most x-eyed birds won. Ornitholigist Frank M. Chapman liked everything about the side hunt except the killing part. Wouldn’t it be better if, instead of toting shotguns and shooting, we went out with binoculars and scoped them? Thus began the annual Christmas Bird Count, where birders throughout the Americas now turn out over a three-week period around Christmas and tally the local bird population. The event has evolved into an invaluable tool of citizen science helping to keep tabs on local, regional and hemispheric bird populations. At this event at Eno River State Park, results of the local bird count will be discussed. Participation is limited to 10; learn more and sign up by calling 919.383.1686.

Weekend weather

Looks like a seasonable weekend ahead in the central Piedmont of North Carolina, with daytime temperatures in the 40s and an increasing chance of rain Sunday. Learn more about the local weather where you are here.

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