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.
After paying weekly visits to Seven Mile Creek Natural Area west of Hillsborough for eight months, last week I finally had the chance to share this find with other hikers. They were equally impressed.
It was the first of our weekly GetHiking Sunrise, Sunset Summer Beat the Heat Hikes, and it lived up to the hype. Thunderstorms that had been threatening to flare throughout the afternoon vanished by hike time (7 p.m.) and we were treated to the late day light that’s special to the season. As the light faded, over rocky Seven Mile Creek and the surrounding low hills, we could feel it taking the temperature with it. We weren’t exactly chilled by hike’s end — the temperature was 89 less than an hour before the hike — but between the sheltering canopy above and a 7-degree drop by hikes end, we were no longer melting into our boots. You can see a video of that hike last Wednesday on Friday’s post.
Ah, Fourth of July Weekend! The fireworks displays, the Festival for the Eno, the cookout gatherings … .
OK, so maybe we can’t celebrate our nation’s independence the way we usually do. But we can certainly celebrate our independence by getting out and exploring. And this year in particular by doing so in the true American spirit of being a maverick, a lone wolf. Someone who likes to get out and take an adventure of their own. Alone. Or at least six feet from anyone else.
I was contemplating a backpack trip in the Black Mountains, and step 1, in general but especially in these pandemic times, was to make sure the route I was considering was open.
I was marginally surprised, only because so many of the trails that had been closed in the Pisgah National Forest in April have since reopened. But not, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the Black Mountain Crest Trail from Cattail Peak north to the trail’s northern terminus, at Bolens Creek. The specific reason for the closure wasn’t given, simply for “public health and safety.”
Eno River State Park is appreciated year-round, but appreciated to death on weekends, especially the areas with good access to the Eno. Now, with the temporary closing of the Eno Quarry downstream, perhaps no area has more immediate access to recreational water than the Fews Ford Access. There you’ll find pools and riffles, especially popular with families with young kids, as well as Class II rapids, where the more comfortable swimmers hang out.