If fall is nature at its showiest, winter is nature at its most honest. Minus her canopy, her understory, her ground cover, she has little to hide. Stone foundations from homesteads long abandoned lie exposed. Distant mountaintops are revealed. Critters have nowhere to hide. It’s the perfect time to be in the woods, a time when you can peer deep into nature’s soul. Especially if you seek a more true form of adventure — the type of adventure that doesn’t exist on a blazed trail marked on a map. That’s why we go wild over winter.
About 12 percent of the United States is protected as natural area. That’s roughly 456,000 square miles of the nation’s total land mass of about 3.8 million square miles.
Now, when most of us think of land set aside to protect nature, at least here in the Southeast, we think of National Parks, we think of National Forests, we think of State Parks. Yet nationwide those three entities only account for about 10 percent of total protected land. What about those remaining 3.3 million square miles?
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.
We believe in being out in the cold. We want you non-believers to believe as well.
Last week, we shared what it is we love so much about the winter woods. Today, we share some cold-weather-coping — nay, cold-weather-embracing — tips from our GetBackpacking! Winter Camp tips sheet. (These tips related more to the hiking end of the experience; the 8-page tips sheet covers cold-weather camping tips as well.)
It’s looking like a pretty nice weekend to be out in the woods, with daytime highs into the low 60s both Saturday and Sunday. There’s a chance of rain Sunday; otherwise, a good-looking December weekend is on tap.
First, a couple of off-trail adventures, both intended to keep you off pandemic-popular trails.