Before our GetBackpacking! trip last weekend on the 22-mile Neusiok Trail, we had a little hygiene talk: Share a little less on this hike, I advised. Handle your own water, resist the urge to sample a fellow hiker’s Cherry Cocoa Nib dehydrated breakfast. But I also said we would be spending the weekend in one of the safest places around: the wide-open spaces of the outdoors: few people, lots of room to breath in peace. Our typically worry-free playground seemed even more so in these uncertain times.
One of the goals of our monthly Winter Wild series, which takes hikers to the places they know, then takes them to off trail to the places they don’t, is to expose the hidden human history of where we explore. Sometimes that human history is maybe just 50 years distant. Sometimes, it’s more than 1,000. More often than not when you stumble upon an old foundation, a filling root cellar, or a long-abandoned roadbed, you’re left to speculate about their origins. On this Sunday’s Eno River Association Hike from the Few’s Ford Access, you’ll get a pretty complete story.
We’re big fans of hiking at night. We love the intimacy of the dark woods, the increased sense of camaraderie with our fellow hikers, the mystery of what lies beyond the glow of our headlamp. That’s why we created our Tuesday Night Hikes series (our next hike is Tuesday, btw; details here), and also why we keep an eye out for night hikes to recommend.
As a kid, it was a favorite thing to do: lay in the grass on a lazy weekend and watch the clouds drift by. Where did they come from? Where are they headed? Why is that moose wearing a bowler? Talk about escapism! It was even better than watching Jonny Quest escape the Terrible Turu on Saturday mornings.
We live less than a half mile from Occoneechee State Natural Area in Hillsborough, and I either hike or run there a couple times a week. Though I generally like to mix things up on trail I do regularly — hiking clockwise one time, counterclockwise the next — I have the same routine at Occoneechee: I enter from the neighborhood entrance off Eno Mountain Road, then take the Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail, Overlook Trail and Chestnut Trail back to the Loop Trail, which brings me around the west side of the mountain to the Eno River for the hike’s highlight: a 75-yard stretch beneath a north-facing cliff that is perpetually green. Green with holly and ferns, which are common in these parts, but also with mountain laurel, with rhododendron, and even a narrow carpet of galax. For this brief stretch the trail leaves the Piedmont for the Southern Appalachians.