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.
A dozen summers ago I tried to hike a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail off Redwood Road in Raleigh and was quickly thwarted. About 20 yards in, the trail disappeared into a sea of summer growth, of saplings and grasses and ground covers all prospering in the heat of the season. I was bummed, because I’d hiked this stretch, Day-Hike Section P, of the MST several times, but, apparently, every time in winter, when the less hardy species had gone into cold storage. The problem in summer: no one hiked this stretch, in large part because not many folks knew it was there.
GetHiking! is back!
Over the past couple of weeks, our GetHiking! groups in North Carolina and Virginia have resumed group hikes — group hikes that look a little different than they did the beginning of the year.
“As stay-at-home orders started to relax some in the past few weeks, we have started posting some hikes again,” says Pepper Ernest, hike leader for GetHiking! Charlottesville. “I led my first hike (very small group) today and several other hike leaders have posted and led hikes over the past week.”
Temperatures are warming, skies are clearing, wildflowers are blooming and more people are getting the itch to hike. All of which means it’s time for our annual Spring Hike Leader Recruitment Drive. Not everyone is interested or inclined to lead a hike, but if you’ve ever given the notion a thought, there’s a good likelihood a hike leader lurks within. Today, one of our hike leaders — one I personally raised through our farm system — shares what led her to be a hike leader and what she enjoys about it. Kate Rice is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been leading hikes with us for two years. And, nepotism be danged, she’s also my stepdaughter.
As we noted in Wednesday’s post, February is a great month for hiking because of its link, in the Southeast at least, between the last of the best of winter and the beginning of spring. One particular upside of February is that you can start thinking about heading back up to the mountains. Sure, maybe not the highest peaks, where winter will hold court into late March, but certainly along the Blue Ridge Escarpment — and not far beyond.