Last week at the bookstore I picked up a copy of “The Language of Trees” and began thumbing through it. I randomly sampled a handful of the 50 or so essays and decided it was coming home.
The essay that tipped my decision was the Introduction, in which writer Ross Gay recounted some of his favorite trees, from “the chokecherry tree in Verndale, Minnesota, where my grandpa parked his hospital-green ’68 Chevy pickup,” to “the beech tree in Vermont I met on a night hike two summers back.” That night hike tree reminded me of the imposing white oak that once appeared out of nowhere on a favorite night hike of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. And that got me to thinking about some of my other favorite trees.read more
The following is a variation of a piece that originally ran Aug. 6, 2014, titled, “Summer Hiking: Beat the Heat,” that we rejiggered and ran again, titled “Hiking: Where to Beat the Heat,” on July 20, 2016, then ran yet again on July 6, 2021. The original has been paired down from 10 hikes to 5, but with more details on the 5.
Some of us don’t mind hiking in the heat. Switch to cotton, freeze your water bottle overnight, use your trekking poles as spider web vanquishers … . Sure, you work up a nice glow. But you’re on the trail, and really, it’s not unbearable.
We recognize, though, that not everyone is inclined to keep on hikin’ between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We also recognize that along about the Fourth of July weekend, the aforementioned cool-weather hikers are starting to undergo withdrawal. They get out their phone and stare longingly at those photos from the beginning of the year, when you were bundled in fleece. Ah, the good cold days.read more
Winter hikes in the mountains intimidate us. Not so much the hiking itself — who doesn’t love tromping through a forest carpeted with snow? Rather, it’s simply getting to the trailhead. The prospect of icy mountain roads, of road closures, of other drivers who don’t know how to drive on icy roads. Why run the risk?read more
If your knee-jerk response to finish this thought is “… not enough adventure,” we hear you. It’s a common sentiment this time of year. The leaves nearly gone, the cycle of another calendar year is fast coming to a close. We begin looking ahead to next year with thoughts of big plans for the year ahead. And that’s when it hit: “What were our plans for this year?” And what the heck happened to them?read more
Back in January I got to thinking about where I haven’t been in too long and thus, where I would love to explore this summer.
I didn’t have to think long: the mountain portion of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Now, I hike the MST nearly every day, since I can pick it up a couple blocks from my front door in Hillsborough. And while I never tire of this stretch, nor of the other 120 miles I hike with some frequency through the Triangle, there’s something about the MST’s nearly 350-mile run through the mountains that’s especially enchanting — and diverse, capturing both the rugged beauty of the Southern Appalachians and its moments of intimate calm. Here’s a look at three favorite sections, all along the Blue Ridge Parkway.read more