Tag Archives: night hike

Predator! (Or pussy cat?)

Alan stopped dead in his tracks. I nearly ran into him.
“What is that?” he whispered.
His headlamp was fixed 30 feet up the trail and maybe 10 feet to the right. There, two bright green eyes starred from the brush.
We were on the Falls Lake section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on a seven-mile night hike, and I thought of the two things it could reasonably be: a fox or a bobcat. The eyes were the critter’s most easily identifiable feature, but we could also make out a rough outline of its head.
“It’s ears seem a little small for a fox,” I whispered back.
“Could it be a bobcat?” Alan asked. Suddenly, we both sounded like Marlin Perkins.
A month earlier, in the middle of the day, I’d inadvertently treed a bobcat on the Bartram Trail in western North Carolina. It had behaved the same way: holding its ground and holding eye contact even as we eased closer.
“Take two steps,” I said, nudging Alan up the trail. Now I was like Marlin Perkins using Jim Fowler as a protective shield. Alan, apparently unfamiliar with the Wild Kingdom dynamic, took two steps forward. The eyes held their ground.
“Take two more steps,” I whispered. Alan hesitated, then took two more steps. The eyes remained fixed.
We were nearly perpendicular to the critter. I flashed the critter from a side angle and my headlamp caught it in a revealing side profile.
“It’s a cat,” I said.
“A house cat,” Alan clarified. Indeed, it was a handsome, healthy Tabby. “What’s a house cat doing way out here?”
“Probably came from up there,” I said, turning and pointing up the slope where, not 30 yards away, sat a spacious, well-lit home, one of many that dot the trail along the 26-mile stretch between NC 50 and the Falls Lake dam.
We stared at the cat for a few more moments, it stared back. Finally, in silence, we moved on.
Such is life in the Wild Kingdom of the Triangle.
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Don’t let the fun set at sunset

Mountain bikers, lights ablaze, head down a local trail.

We were on a post-sundown training hike for the Ultimate Hike last month when a beam  of bright light began gaining on us from behind. I turned and saw two headlights bearing down on us, still maybe 75 yards down the road.

“I’ll do the talking,” I said, since I was the hike leader and since I may have forgotten to mention to my fellow hikers that, technically, we were trespassing. We were hiking on a gravel road in a local forest where — again, “technically” — the gates close at sunset. I quickly relied this information to my hikers — then we waited a surprisingly long time for the two beams of light to reach us. When they did, they split, passed us on either side, and continued on their technically illegal way. It wasn’t a park ranger on patrol in a pickup; it was a pair of mountain bikers. read more

90 Second Escape: The Night Hike

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb. read more

Wake up and hike

I bolted upright, wide awake, at 4:45, 15 minutes before the alarm was scheduled to do its ugly business. In 10 minutes I was dressed, had my daypack packed, poured a mug of coffee and was ready to go. I wasn’t my usual morning self.

But then, on this morning I wasn’t going about my usual morning routine. read more

Enjoy the night with a hike

An hour or so into the hike, the lightbulb went on for Alan. “Now this looks familiar.”

The problem up until now? We’d been hiking in the daylight.

Alan Nechemias and I had probably hiked this stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake — sections 10 and 9 — a couple dozen times over the past three years. But we could only recall hiking it once in daylight. The other times had been under conditions much like this: cool to cold late fall and winter nights once the sun had long since set. read more