We weren’t quite 4 miles into the hike, not far past Camp 5 and beginning a long downhill stretch when the realization struck: the 30 or so hikers with me, most of whom had never hiked hiked more than 5 miles, were under the impression that the hike was a little more than half over. That we had about 3 miles to go, tops, and when those 3 miles were over they’d be back at the trailhead, basking in their new PRs, motoring to a local brewpub for a celebratory pint.
First Day Hikes have been a tradition in N.C. State Parks for nearly a decade.
Unfortunately, there’s been nothing traditional about 2020, and there will be no First Day Hikes as we usher in 2021.
“Parks are not hosting any guided First Day Hikes on January 1,” states a notice on ncparks.gov. “We encourage park visitors to conduct their own First Day Hikes with members of their household. Please note that parks may be busy on New Year’s Day, so please be prepared for parking delays and make backup plans.”
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.
Face it: you miss your coworkers. Sure, Bob in the next cube could drive you nuts with his frequent “Got a minute?”s. The chronic tongue-clucker near the copy machine, the dude
overmedicating on Creed Aventus, the fantasy football guys, the never knowing when Ms. Dithers might drop by “just to say hello.”
Hiking has long been lauded for it’s health benefits. Hiking regularly can lower your blood pressure and reduce your chance of heart disease. It can lower your risk of certain cancers and of getting diabetes. It improves muscle fitness and can help stave off osteoporosis. When you hike during the day, you sleep better at night.