Usually on Fridays, our GetOut! feature highlights the guided hikes and other outdoor outings for the weekend. But, these being unusual times, there are no guided hikes or other organized outdoor outings. Instead, this week we encourage you to get out and explore your own neighborhood.
A couple years back I was in need of a destination for our annual winter GetBackpacking! trip to the coast. Typically, the trip is on the 21-mile Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest near Havelock. Unfortunately, the Neusiok was closed, still feeling the wrath of Hurricane Florence’s visit the previous fall. People love backpacking at the coast in winter, and I needed an alternative. Scanning a map, I locked onto Merchants Millpond State Park.
Sunday was the perfect day of winter hiking. On Monday, it was sunny, 70 and springlike. I savored both, I didn’t know what to make of either.
I love winter hiking. Waiting for Sunday afternoon’s hike to start, I marveled at the perfect storm of conditions that would make for a great day on the trail: cloudless skies, crisp air scrubbed cleaner by a gusting wind, a temperature struggling to get much above 50. These were the conditions that stick in memory. One of my earliest memories is of a day like this: a Sunday afternoon in January of 1966 — a mite colder perhaps, but otherwise identical — exploring Cherry Creek on what was then the outskirts of Denver with Billy Skinner, reveling in the far-flung adventures (we were a quarter mile from home) of two 9-year-olds. The sprawling cottonwoods along the banks sheltered us from both the cold wind coming down the Front Range as well as the pressures of third grade. Bellview Elementary School never seemed so far away.
Temperatures in the 70s, mostly sunny skies — sounds like a weekend to get out and explore in the GetOut! universe. Some options for your adventure consideration:
High 5 @ Hanging Rock, Saturday, beginning at 7 a.m., Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. Our friends with the Friends of Sauratown Mountains do a great job supporting both Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock state parks, the west and east endpoints, respectively, of the Sauratown Mountain range. They support the parks in a variety of ways, one of which is by funding some of the smaller park projects that might not otherwise get done. Where do they get their money? you ask. From events like High 5 @ Hanging Rock. The goal of High 5 is to hike all 5 of Hanging Rock’s key high points: Moore’s Knob, Cooks Wall, Hanging Rock, Wolf Rock and House Rock. Complete the circuit and get a patch! There are two rest stops along the route, foot trucks at the finish (get a $5 food truck voucher upon registration). Cost is $40, which, again, will largely go to benefit the parks. Learn more and sign up here.
When I was growing up in Colorado, my countdown to spring began when pitchers and catchers reported for training. It wasn’t warm enough to play baseball where I was, but it would be in six weeks or so. Spring was on the horizon.
Today, I use a different standard to count down to spring: the appearance of the first trout lily.