I know, I know, everyone's still obsessed with snow right now (can you believe we got well over 8 inches in Durham?!) but today's a little bit of a throwback. Final photos for the Wake County Parks project were delivered and I am just itching to show you all the last round of images! I got to do a ton of fun things for the Wake County Parks photography project, from photographing mountain bikers and stand-up paddleboarders to exploring hiking trails to meeting up with equestrians to doing some fun interactive lessons with kids - but it also gave me the opportunity to do something I'd never be able to do otherwise (well, not legally at least): explore a park that hadn't been opened yet!
I am still trying to catch up on sleep after this weekend. I always strive to be the type of person who gets up early in the morning and is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to tackle the world, but in reality I'm at my best energy levels sometime after 8pm and before 5am. I have a friend who is the same way and she calls us "morning owls" - fighting our natural circadian rhythms just to get a little more mileage into our days. So with that in mind, Saturday morning was an eeeeearly morning for me. I woke up at 5am and had to force myself out of bed, all groggy and groaning and rubbing crusty sleep from my eyes. I'd already woken up early the day before for a pre-work climbing session, so two early mornings in a row was hella hard. But the mountains were calling, and I had a date with a meet-up group.
Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve is a Triangle Land Conservancy property that nestles up against Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. Swift Creek runs along both parks and is protected by tall bluffs which create a montane environment with flora and fauna commonly found at higher elevations. In January very little is showing off its alpine blossoms, but with the trees bare you can easily spy the creek along the entire trail.
I've got to admit something to you all: as much as I love hiking and books I've actually read very few trail memoirs. Sure, I've read the basics like Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods and Cheryl Strayed's Wild, but that's about it (correction: that is it!), and even then those are hiking novels written by writers rather than memoirs written by hikers. So when Beaufort Books reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in reading Jeff Alt's A Walk for Sunshine I was eager to give it a chance.
On Sunday morning when I woke up to go on a Sunday Stroll it was four degrees Fahrenheit outside. Four degrees! I couldn't remember ever witnessing such cold conditions; even the winter break of my freshman year that I spent in Wisconsin racing sled dogs only showed me temperatures as low as 8°F. Regardless I had promised my dad that cold or no cold we were hiking that morning at Bass Lake in Holly Springs, so I bundled up with my merino wool long johns, my quilted coat, and my snowboarding jacket and I headed out.
This recent snow from the "bomb cyclone" or whatever cute name we're supposed to call it calls to mind the trip McCrae and I made to Bullhead Mountain a few weeks ago. It had snowed a few days before we drove up to a small town outside Boone to stay at a mountain cabin owned by McCrae's uncle and aunt, and in the morning when we pulled on our warmest hats and coats the drifts lay deep in the mountain shadows.