I was walking the Matrimony Creek Greenway in Eden yesterday, lost in thought. Not deep thought, just the kind that never bubbles to the surface unless you’re on the trail.
There was a break in the week-long rain, but it remained gray and cold. Certainly not weather to entertain thoughts of spring. But suddenly I was, thanks to one of the sweetest sounds nature conjures — the ascending croak of a spring peeper.read more
I was 10 minutes down the trail when I heard the distinctive sound of wings disturbing the air above. I looked up to see an uneven “V” of maybe 20 Canada geese directly overhead. The early morning sun illuminated their port sides, giving them an almost luminescent, coppery glow.read more
The following originally appeared Aug. 9, 2018, under the title, “Making Sense of a Weather Forecast.” It appears again, tweaked a bit, because knowing the forecast going into fall is especially important, as we’ll start encountering cooler temperatures that will affect how we prepare for a hike, and thus, our safety.read more
OK, it’s been hotter than a cup of lawsuit coffee the past week; no surprise that of the 24 North Carolina State Park events scheduled for Saturday, seven are water related. We’ll get to those. But first in this week’s 5 weekend activities:
Whack Attack! Invasive Species Removal Workday, Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Lower Haw River State Natural Area, Pittsboro. Periodically, the Friends of the Lower Haw River State Natural Area (pictured) hold workdays to remove the profusion of invasive plants that grow along this linear Natural Area lining the Haw River between Bynum and U.S. 64. It’s a great opportunity to learn about invasive species and to work out some aggression by yanking ‘em out of the ground. BYO — loppers or hand pruners, work gloves, insect repellent and water, that is. Preregistration is required, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with “Invasives” in the subject line. Learn more here.read more
Note: The following post originally ran May 7, 2010. It’s been updated, and the information on snake ID is as relevant today as it was 12 years ago.
Wednesday, I was hiking along the North Prong of Shining Rock Creek, a lively mountain stream that plunges 2,200 feet in just three miles through a narrow, overgrown canyon. I was in a reveric trance, lulled in part by the rugged vegetation here in the Shining Rock Wilderness, in part by the cloudless, 70-degree spring afternoon, when — Whoa!
I like snakes, but their sudden appearance four feet away causes me to stop in my tracks and say, “Whoa!” Such impromptu meetups are common this time of year, as we humans hit the trail more and rising temperatures activate these cold-blooded critters. Being in the sun rejuvenates our spirit, it jumpstarts their system.
After catching my breath, I scoped out the critter, taking a couple of pictures, jotting some notes, searching my increasingly porous memory for clues about what kind of snake it might be. Not that my database was brimming to begin with.
When it comes to snakes and birds, I don’t expend a lot of my remaining gray storage memorizing types and species. Two reasons: One, there are thousands of species to begin with, and two, the same critter can look completely different depending on various factors:read more