The mountains are calling

The beach is great.  I’ve been to some beautiful beaches, and I am always happy to see more of the ocean.  But my longing to go to the mountains is deeper, longer-lasting, more constant.  (And me saying this has nothing to do with the recent spate of shark attacks on North Carolina beaches.) Last week, I read a New York Times travel article about Asheville, and since then I’ve been reminiscing about how much I loved our trip to Asheville and Pisgah National Forest last August. And also playing, like the total novice I am, with the photographs I took on the trip in Photoshop.

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View from the Blue Ridge Parkway. This picture used to be very, very blue.

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A spring (really! officially! spring) hike at Umstead State Park

I’ve been trying to sample as many of the hiking trails in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area as I can, and for a while now–probably at least since December, so pretty much forever–I’ve had my sights set on checking out Umstead State Park. On Saturday morning, more social plans were postponed, and the garden looked just fine (no weeds yet!), so Sasso and I finally had our chance for a good long hike in a new park.

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Loblolly pines at Umstead State Park.

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North Carolina rocks: Hanging Rock State Park

Even though we had already been to two rocky state parks (Raven Rock State Park and Chimney Rock State Park, as part of our trip to the Asheville area in August), word of mouth and, of course, my trusty Hiking North Carolina assured me that Hanging Rock State Park is the park to beat in central North Carolina.

The views from Hanging Rock State Park are not bad. Not bad at all.

The views from Hanging Rock State Park are not bad. Not bad at all.

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Fall arrives in the Piedmont: Eno River State Park

In the two weeks since our summery dip in the Cape Fear River, fall has sneaked into the Piedmont, complete with brisk temperatures and golden leaves and a time change that allows nighttime to accost you suddenly just after 5 p.m.  Yesterday, a sunny, beautiful, and very autumnal day, we hiked the 3.75-mile Cox Mountain trail at Eno River State Park.  It was chilly and the sky was that deep blue that comes only with fall.

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Out of the parking lot, into the forest.

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