This weekend, we were able to conclude our Spring GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking class, with a graduation weekend at South Mountains State Park. Originally scheduled for the end of March, this pandemic-delayed trip was one we were especially interested in, as a way to gauge whether we might be able offer small-batch backpacking trips. In short, could we enforce physical distancing to the point we would feel safe moving ahead.
I can’t recall going into a Memorial Day weekend that felt less like a Memorial Day weekend.
Typically, this much-anticipated three-day hiatus marks not just the beginning of summer, but the end of the year’s most sustained run in the salt mines. For five straight months, we typically toil away, indulging in a federal holiday or two, but saving our sacrosanct vacation days for summer. From New Year’s Day to Memorial Day, it’s pretty much work, work, work.
From the N.C. State Parks and Recreation Facebook page on Sunday:
- Occoneechee State Natural Area full as of 11 a.m.
- Eno River State Park’s Cole Mill and Fews Ford accesses closed as of 1 p.m.
- Raven Rock State Park is full as of 10:00 a.m.
- Hanging Rock State Park is full as of 10:40 a.m. Main restrooms are closed due to sewer failure; restrooms are open at the lake parking lot. There were 1,000 more visitors at Hanging Rock yesterday than ever recorded before.
- Pilot Mountain State Park is full as of 10:40 a.m.
A thousand more visitors at Hanging Rock State Park “than ever recorded before.” That is a stunning statement if you’ve ever been at Hanging Rock on a gorgeous spring or fall afternoon. A thousand! Where on earth would an extra thousand fit?
Portions of the 29 North Carolina State Parks that had been closed as a result of the coronavirus reopened this past weekend. Some reopened all their trails, some just a few. It’s worth a visit to the N.C. State Parks Facebook page for a sense of how things went systemwide. You’ll need to go beyond the photo of cars queued up as far as the eye can see at Raven Rock State Park to get a sense of what Reopening Day was like.
As we reported earlier this week, you’ll have more hiking options this weekend as a result of Gov. Roy Cooper’s easing of the coronavirus-influenced stay-at-home order. Initially, it sounded like all trails in North Carolina’s 41 state parks would reopen. Turns out that’s not quite the case.