This morning I set out with a couple of buddies on one of their regular adventures and was reminded of a column I wrote a couple years back about free soloist Alex Honnold. Honnold is known as the climber who eschews ropes and other protection — “free soloing,” it’s called in climbing circles.
Game lands? Aren’t those for hunting and fishing?
They are. But they’re also for all kinds of exploring, including hiking. And that’s from someone who would like to see more folks hiking the state’s game lands: Brian McRae, Division Chief for Land and Water Access for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
We love a good weather forecast. We especially love it when we have a big hike planned, which is the case this Saturday.
Saturday at 9 a.m. we kick off our GetHiking! Winter Wild series of hikes designed to take advantage of a woefully under-appreciated season for being in the woods. Winter offers access, vulnerability, brilliant sunlight and best of all, few fellow hikers. That’s especially true on our Winter Wild hikes, which are largely off-trail. We take advantage of old roadbeds, of game trails, of the lack of undergrowth, to explore places inaccessible the rest of the year. Our first hike: the Eno Wilderness.
A little over a month ago we waxed over our upcoming Winter Wild series of monthly hikes. We won’t wax again; you can read that account here.
But we can’t help but mention one more time, here on the cusp of the 2021-22 Winter Wild season, how much we love exploring off trail when the temperatures and the leaves drop. With more freedom to roam, without being as tied to a trail, winter offers a more true sense of adventure. And so we make the most of it.
If fall is nature at its showiest, winter is nature at its most honest. Minus her canopy, her understory, her ground cover, she has little to hide. Stone foundations from homesteads long abandoned lie exposed. Distant mountaintops are revealed. Critters have nowhere to hide. It’s the perfect time to be in the woods, a time when you can peer deep into nature’s soul. Especially if you seek a more true form of adventure — the type of adventure that doesn’t exist on a blazed trail marked on a map. That’s why we go wild over winter.