Saturday, November 4, 2017
From Winter to Summer - Back on my home Trail
When I left northern Wisconsin it was 22 degrees F. After a 1200 mile drive I arrived at my little piece of beach paradise and was greeted by a temperature closing in on 80.
On my last hike in Wisconsin, it was snowing and I was wearing multiple layers. This morning, three days later, I was sweating and shedding the one extra layer I had brought along as I did a sunrise beach hike with temperature in the upper 60's.
With wildlife viewing like this, and with different sky and sand conditions daily, beach hiking never gets old for me.
Today I hiked down to touch base with my home trail - North Carolina's official State Trail, a 1175 mile 'linear State Park' called the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST).
Back in 2013 and 2014 I worked hard to get this trail routed out to Topsail Island. I scouted the route then showed it to the decision makers who could make it happen, and they did the rest. Thank you, Kate Dixon!!! Just this summer, the route was formally designated by the NC State Legislature as the official MST route, and the local denizens got busy marking it.
This oversized white blaze with marker post is meant to be visible from quite a distance as hikers who are coming eastbound, up the beach from Surf City, approach, looking for the exit point.
As of this writing, Jennifer Pharr Davis, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, noted for holding the Appalachian Trail speed record, is doing a Through Hike of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. This trail is seriously 'going places'!
But back to my own little hike. The beach is full of fishermen this time of year, as is the adjacent ocean. They're pulling them in thick and fast.
Look closely just right of center on the horizon and you can see the New River Inlet buoy. When the wind is calm, as it was on this hike, you can hear its haunting foghorn--similar to the sound you make blowing over the top of an empty bottle.
Like all good hikes, beach hiking is a feast for all five senses. The sound of the waves breaking on the sand is, of course ubiquitous. The gulls and other birds can kick up a racket. When the wind comes off the ocean there's that distinctive briny sea smell. Off the land and I can smell the marsh grass and mud. Sometimes I can even smell bacon cooking as I pass a cottage full of early rising vacationers. Despite being early November, the clean saltwater is still warm enough for comfortable swimming. Great barefoot hiking weather--toes in the soft cool sand.
What a treat it is to be back on the beach.