The world may be closing down but our trails remain open! We offer some tips for hikers used to heading out on group hikes, who now find themselves heading out on their own.
Temperatures are warming, skies are clearing, wildflowers are blooming and more people are getting the itch to hike. All of which means it’s time for our annual Spring Hike Leader Recruitment Drive. Not everyone is interested or inclined to lead a hike, but if you’ve ever given the notion a thought, there’s a good likelihood a hike leader lurks within. Today, one of our hike leaders — one I personally raised through our farm system — shares what led her to be a hike leader and what she enjoys about it. Kate Rice is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been leading hikes with us for two years. And, nepotism be danged, she’s also my stepdaughter.
Our two favorite times to be in the trail in winter: sunrise and sunset. They’re great year-round, frankly, but much more accessible in winter: Sunrise today is at 7:21 a.m., sunset at 5:34 p.m.
If you have to ask what’s so special about these two golden hours of the day, then you’re probably not a hiker. Or possibly in possession of a pulse. Personally, we love the moment-to-moment change as the sky evolves from yellow to pink to orange to crimson to purple. If we sense the conditions for a good sunset, we’ll dash to the local summit in town, Occoneechee Mountain, which affords an open view to the west: sunset over the Eno River Valley is one of the best. We’re pretty crazy about certain other sunsets as well: from Shortoff Mountain at the south end of Linville Gorge, from atop Shining Rock in the Pisgah National Forest, from Little Long Mountain in the Uwharrie National Forest, from Hump Mountain on the Appalachian Trail. We’ve even seen the queen mother of sunset phenomena: the elusive green flash, a prismatic neon burst that lasts just a second or two, which we saw over the Pacific Ocean years ago in Hawaii.
We’ve got another gift-of-fall weekend coming up. There might be some rain Sunday, but at this point Saturday looks ideal, with lots of sun and temperatures in the upper 50s to upper 60s. So many ways to take advantage of weather like this, weather that won’t be around a lot longer. And as today’s video shows, there’s finally good color moving into the Piedmont.
We’ve encountered our first 90-degree days on the trail. We’ve also encountered our first signs of heat exhaustion (on a sweaty trip deep into Linville Gorge this past weekend).
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which can damage the brain and other organs and can lead to death. Fortunately, if you recognize and treat heat exhaustion at the outset you can keep it from devolving into something much more serious.