I was just beginning to think that we would never get any snow this winter. Normally, we would have at least one or two rounds by now, but somehow this year we made it through mid February without any trace of the magical white fluffiness! Granted, it had been very unseasonably warm, but I have never seen an NC winter with no snow ever since I moved here.
Finally, on Thursday night, we were blessed with a whopping 2 inches of snow! 😆Having grown up in a tropical climate, I can’t help getting excited every time I see snow. 😊One thing I love about living here in North Carolina is that we do have the change of seasons, and I get to enjoy that without having to endure the harsh winter. For me, a few rounds of snow per year is just the perfect amount. I was getting worried that the inevitable effects of climate changes from global warming had robbed that from us forever, but I’m glad to report that’s not the case, not just yet anyhow!
We went back to join our Winter Series Hiking group at Duke Forest on Sunday. This research forest spans across 3 different counties. Besides serving its purpose as research and educational resources, it also offers recreational benefits for those of us living in the area. The gravel trails here are nice and wide throughout the entire route, with occasional gradual climbs.
อาทิตย์นี้เรากลับไปเดินป่ากับเพื่อนๆกลุ่มเดิมจากโปรแกรมเดินป่าหน้าหนาวที่ Duke Forest ที่นี่เป็นป่าสำหรับการศึกษาวิจัยของมหาวิทยาลัย Duke แต่เปิดให้คนทั่วไปอย่างเราๆมาใช้เพื่อกิจกรรมนันทนาการตามอัธยาศัย ทางเดินที่นี่โรยกรวดไว้อย่างดี แถมกว้างขวางสะดวกสบาย ส่วนใหญ่เป็นทางตรงไม่วกวน แต่มีบางส่วนที่ลาดชันเล็กน้อยให้ได้เรียกเหงื่อกันบ้าง
There are signs detailing the types of trees and landscaping specifics for each different section.
Clear road signs everywhere, so no chance of getting lost here!
As the name suggests, the majority of the path took us through a forest of trees. The trail cuts across New Hope Creek a couple of times – the one at Wooden Bridge gives an optional side track that winds along the creek. We didn’t get to do that this time because it was flooded over, according to our hike leader Joe Miller.
ทางเดินที่นี่พาเราเข้าป่าตามชื่อที่เรียกไว้ มีสะพานไม้เชื่อมส่วนที่ตัดผ่านลำห้วย New Hope Creek คราวที่แล้วที่มาเราเดินลงทางแยกริมห้วยไปชมวิวริมน้ำได้ แต่คุณหัวหน้ากลุ่มบอกว่าทางข้างหน้าน้ำท่วมกลบหมด เลยอดไปกันคราวนี้
We saw some signs of Spring along the path.
This week we clocked in at 4.55 miles, which took us about an hour and a half. Temperature was nice and cool in the 50s throughout the entire hike!
Joel got an invitation from our Get Hiking Triangle MeetUp group for an MST hike this past Saturday. It was for a section we had never been on, so we decided to go with that instead of our usual Sunday hike with the Winter Series, which was scheduled to be at Umstead Park this weekend – a trail we have hiked many many times before!
The hike started at 9 am, early for us, but still we made it to the meeting point just in time. From the parking lot on Highway NC 50 by Falls Lake, we shuttled to our starting point at NC 98 and started our hike back to the car. According to our hike leader, Joe Miller, this is supposedly the longest uninterrupted stretch of the MST along Falls Lake. The weather was quite chilly 🥶in the 30s when we left, but warmed up somewhat as the day progressed.
About a mile in, we came across this section of the trail that was completely flooded over by the big storm ⛈just the day before. We had to walk way off course trying to find a good spot to cross. Most of the men in our group just jumped over, but it took quite an effort for a few ladies and I, with our short stumpy legs 😭, before we could manage to cross. Turned out this was just one in many of the tough spots we encountered during the hike! I was glad to confirm that our old hiking boots were indeed waterproof as advertised!
The hike turned out to be one of the longest we had done in recent memory, not to mention the hardest! Joel and I had such a hard time, both because of the distance, and also because of how sloppy the trail was. 😓On our regular hikes with the other group, we usually finish first, many times way before the others. But with this group, we struggled to keep up, and lagged so far behind at times they had to stop to let us catch up. I came home with super muddy pants and shoes as my souvenirs! 😆
This week we went back to Horton Grove Nature Preserve in Bahama for our Winter Series Hike. The last time we were here, it was the end of Spring and I had a heat stroke 🥵 at the end of the hike. This time, the temperature was a lot cooler at 60 degrees, so there was no need to worry about that at all!
When we were here back in Spring, the meadow was lush and green – a stark difference from this time when there was not much to see in the middle of winter… But beauty in nature is really all around, you just have to look for it! 😆
I never really thought of hiking as a dangerous activity, until now… About a third of the way into the hike, I heard the sound of the wind, and was just thinking about how windy it was, on such a clear day. The next thing I knew, something landed right next to me with a loud thud! I screamed 😱and jumped before I realized that a branch, about the size of Joel’s arm, had broken and fell. It missed my head by about 2 feet or so. I was too spooked and forgot to snap a picture of it. 😅This lady behind me saw the whole thing and she kept saying how lucky I was!
We clocked in at 4.6 miles in just a little over one and a half hours. Despite the close-call with the fallen tree limb, we did have a great hike! 😆And I’m still looking forwarding to going back out there in the wild again next week. But perhaps we ought to avoid Horton Grove…that’s two strikes out of two recent hikes! 🙄
This Sunday’s Winter Series Hikes took us back to the Mountains-to-Sea trail (MST) at Falls Lake in north Raleigh. The weather was similar to last week’s at around 50 degrees – perfect hiking weather for me! We did a shuttle hike, which means we carpooled and drove to one end of the trail, then hiked back to the other end. The very first time I heard the term, when we started hiking with this group a few years ago, I kept thinking that a shuttle was going to come pick us up and drop us off 😊, but learned (with slight disappointment) at the end that there would be no shuttle… 😆
We had an interesting Saturday volunteering as part of this weekend’s bottling crew at Mystic Farm & Distillery in Durham. We took a tour there a few months ago and Joel loved it so much that he thought it would be fun to sign up for the task. We got an offer earlier in the week and decided this would be the perfect way to start off our weekend! 😆
We woke up early and reported for duty promptly at 9 am. Once there, while waiting for the guys to finish setting up the bottling line, we got to enjoy shots of sweet and aromatic Mystic Bourbon Liqueur in their cozy lounge – such a great way to warm up for the arduous task ahead! 🤪
My main task was to catch bottles coming out of the heat shrink machine, inspect them to ensure they were properly sealed, then set them on a table ready to be labeled by Joel. I thought I got an easy job, then quickly realized that it was no joke, when shrunk-wrapped bottles started to come flying out and one almost fell from the conveyor belt before I could catch it! 😳 In the end, another lady stepped in to help when we realized there was simply no way I could transfer bottles and inspect them fast enough at the rate they were coming out!
Joel’s job was to man Martha, the labeling machine. He would take a bottle I set out on the table, lay it on a mold, first on its back, pump the foot pedal to apply the back label, then flip over to the front to apply the front label. Towards the end, I decided catching bottles was a bit too stressful for me 😣, so I switched over to grab the readily-labeled bottle and smooth them on to get rid of air bubbles before passing it over to the boxing team instead!
After a hard day of work, we were rewarded with the fruits of our labor 😉 – a bottle each of the Heart of Mystic single-barrel bourbon whiskey, from the batch we just finished!
หลังจากที่ตรากตรำทำงานมากว่าครึ่งค่อนวัน ท้ายที่สุดเราก็ได้รับค่าเหนื่อยเป็นเหล้าเบอร์เบินวิสกี้ Heart of Mystic คนละขวด แกะกล่องมาจากที่เราเพิ่งแพ๊คเสร็จไปหมาดๆนี่เอง 😉
All in all, we had a lot of fun. Mystic seems like a really great place. These people truly love what they do and are serious about their products. They only make a few things and make them extremely well. You can really taste the quality in every sip 🥃.
They also have a beautiful farm 👨🌾 where they grow their own wheat and corn for the distillery. They even keep their own bee hives 🐝 for the honey they use to blend into their bourbon. Speak about dedication, that’s it, right there!
This Sunday our Winter Series Hikes group took us back to Little River Regional Park in Rougemont, which is just north of Durham. The weather couldn’t be more perfect at exactly 50 degrees. We started off on South River Loop, then took Ridge Trail to North River Loop.
โปรแกรมเดินป่าหน้าหนาวอาทิตย์นี้พาเราไปเดินกันที่ Little River Regional Park ที่เมือง Rougemont ซึ่งตั้งอยู่ทางเหนือของเมือง Durham ไปเล็กน้อย อากาศเย็นสบายกำลังดีอยู่ที่ 50 องศาฟาเรนไฮต์ หรือประมาณ 10 องศาเซลเซียส เราเริ่มต้นกันที่รอบวงเลียบแม่น้ำตอนใต้ จากนั้นจึงไปต่อที่เส้นเชื่อมสันเขาที่นำเราไปจบที่รอบวงเลียบแม่น้ำตอนเหนือ
One unique feature of this park is that they set up this thing called Planet Walk at the start of the trail. There are pictures of all the planets in our solar system. Not only are they ordered by the actual sequence they are located in real life, but the posts for each are also separated by the distance intentionally scaled to depict how far they actually are from each other. This came in handy on the way back, when we were trying to gauge how far we were from the finish line! 😝
ที่นี่เค้ามีจัดนิทรรศการเล็กๆเรียกว่า Planet Walk ไว้ให้ดูกันเพลินๆระหว่างทาง เป็นภาพของดาวเคราะห์แต่ละดวงในระบบสุริยุปราคา ตั้งเรียงลำดับตามตำแหน่งจริง และแยกจากกันด้วยระยะห่างตามอัตราส่วนที่ย่อลงมาหลายเท่า เพื่อแสดงให้เห็นว่าแต่ละดวงอยูห่างจากกันแค่ไหนในชีวิตจริง ขากลับก็ได้รูปดาวพวกนี้แหละมาช่วยกะได้ว่าเกือบสุดทางรึยัง 😝
The trail just got renovated and they added stone paths to some of the sections to help us avoid the sloppy bits. It snaked nicely along ‘Little River’ which did not look so little this time because of recent rainfall.