Not crazy about being tied to a schedule? Rent an adventure according to your schedule at the coast. Wondering if you could replace LeBron in Miami? See if you’ve still got game in Charlotte. And if you’re in the mountains and think you have to travel afar for a swamp adventure, think again.
In addition to this weekend being the Great Backyard Bird Count, there are other reasons to look up.
Winter is an especially good time to check out the night sky. Skies tend to be clearer (the cold zaps the moisture from the air) and when the clouds have scattered there’s so much to see. Even more so if you happen to be stargazing at the coast, where interference from light pollution is less of an issue.
Come summer, with its 90/90 days (heat/humidity) the last thing on most of our minds is a long hike in the woods. Oceans of sweat, acres of trail-clogging cobwebs, no hydration pack big enough to sate your insatiable thirst. Very understandable, this hike aversion — if you don’t know where to go. For if you do, there are plenty of trails — from North Carolina’s steamy coast, to the stuffy Piedmont to the sun-drenched high country — ideal for summer exploring.
I cringed when I picked up the July Outside magazineand saw that it had the Mountains-to-Sea Trail listed under “Best Through-Hikes You’ve Never Heard Of.” No mention was made of the fact that the roughly 1,000-mile MST is only a little over half done, meaning that roughly 500 miles of this best-trail-you’ve-never-heard-of actually is on pavement, often competing with cars. Not exactly the escape most of us seek when we hit the trail.
OK, with fall peaking around us, you aren’t the only one thinking about taking a hike. People who in their entire lives have never thought about taking a hike are likely looking at the forecast — sunny and cool — and thinking, “Hmm, I should think about taking a hike.” And that means the usual suspects — the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains, Shining Rock — will be crawling with occasional hikers.