Saturday’s GetHiking! Winter Wild hike at the R. Wayne Bailey-Caswell Game Lands near Yancyville was cold, really cold. But the brilliant blue sky more than made up for the 28-degree temperature. If I had a nickel for every time someone on the hike said, “What a beautiful day!”, I’d have a dollar thirty-five. A little sun can make up for a lot of cold.
A brilliant bluebird day without a cloud in the sky — yet not another soul is on the trail. Can this possibly be so? you wonder. And if it is, what price must be paid for the privilege?
How about just enduring a little cold weather.
We love hiking this time of year. The air is typically dry, the diminished foliage lets you see deep into the woods, the slanted winter sun seems to light the forest from the ground up. Yes, it’s cold, and perhaps you’ve shied away from hiking in the cold in the past. But not this year, not when you can escape the hordes of recent hiking converts and have the trail nearly to yourself.
Note: We run a version of this post, tweaked and updated, every year around this time. We run it because every year around this time, when the sun spends less time with us and the temperatures drop, a lot of folks think about hanging up their hiking gear for the season. That, we believe, is a bad idea. In this post, we explain how to make friends with the cold on the trail.
Just as a retailer’s thoughts turn to Christmas once Halloween has passed, our thoughts turn to the coast once the fall color starts to fade here in the Piedmont. While I love a summer’s day at the beach, the coast — and coastal plain — are at their most alluring in late fall and winter. A week at a vacation beach house is swell over the summer, but a week at the coast in winter leaves memories that aren’t soon forgotten.
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.