We weren’t quite 4 miles into the hike, not far past Camp 5 and beginning a long downhill stretch when the realization struck: the 30 or so hikers with me, most of whom had never hiked hiked more than 5 miles, were under the impression that the hike was a little more than half over. That we had about 3 miles to go, tops, and when those 3 miles were over they’d be back at the trailhead, basking in their new PRs, motoring to a local brewpub for a celebratory pint.
Gate 35 appeared almost as a dream.
I was driving north from Chapel Hill to Hillsborough on Old NC 86 late one afternoon in early December, a time of fading light known as the gloaming. The sun hadn’t officially set, but with a mostly cloudy sky it might as well have. Little light remained, but just enough that, passing by at 55 miles per hour, I thought I glimpsed what appeared to be dirt road guarded by a familiar gate, a chalk-white chain-link iron bar suspended between two forest green posts. I made a mental note of the location, and a Post-It Note to return and check it out.
It’s looking like a pretty nice weekend to be out in the woods, with daytime highs into the low 60s both Saturday and Sunday. There’s a chance of rain Sunday; otherwise, a good-looking December weekend is on tap.
First, a couple of off-trail adventures, both intended to keep you off pandemic-popular trails.
Another mostly sunny weekend with daytime highs in the low 50s.
In other words, another weekend where you might be hard-pressed to find a trail that isn’t swamped with hikers. And, as a result, another GetOut! column in which we try to point you in the direction of trails less likely to attract the masses.
Today we revisit a topic we first wrote in 2012: 10 of our favorite winter hikes. Hikes that, for various reasons, are especially good hiked in cold weather. For some (at the coast, for instance, it’s the only time you can hike them, lest you have an immunity to squadrons of dive-bombing mosquitoes and an unusually high tolerance for things that slither. For others, it may be a view otherwise obscured by a lush, full forest, or for the opportunity to hike in evergreen conditions, or because of exposed terrain that lets winter’s warming sun shine in.