Jan. 1, 2017


2017 started with a hike through the trails at Carolina Beach State Park. One of my resolutions this year is the #52hikechallenge – to average one hike a week during the year.

Hike #1 of the year, a big loop hitting almost every trail in the park, 2 hours and 40 minutes and ~6 miles. We had two goals:


Sugarloaf Trail, leading to Sugarloaf sand dune, a 55 foot tall dune used on navigation charts since 1663 for river pilots on the Cape Fear River.


Someone left a rope swing.


and Flytrap Trail, searching for wild Venus Flytraps – thanks to the eagle eyed Clarks for finding a pair of them –


just a cactus, but cool to see it with fruit in the “wild”


On the way back to the start, we saw a bunch of buzzards in the woods – there must be something there – so we investigated….


a fresh coyote




feet and ears



We debated why so many remains in one spot. Choice 1 – Park employees dump road kill here. Choice 2 – Park employees kill problem animals and dump here (but if the fox was suspected of rabies, seems unlikely) Choice 3 – We have entered a VERY BAD place.


Before heading home, we headed back to the beach and just watched the ocean. Welcome 2017!

Dec. 31, 2016


The last day of 2016 started at the USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship in Wilmington.


Nicknamed “The Showboat” – the ship was only active for 6 years (4/9/41- 6/27/47).

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A Great Blue Heron during another walk along the Snows Cut shore.


Cars pass over the Snows Cut Bridge going into Carolina Beach


Two Flippacs set up, playing cards till midnight!

Oct. 29, 2016


It was time for Sam and my annual backpacking trip and the great late October weather made the mountains an easy choice. This year we tried a new to us section of the Appalachian Trail.

We started at Carvers Gap on the Tennessee and North Carolina border and headed north, just over 14 miles back to my truck!


This is almost straight out of the camera, Blue Ridge glory!


The hike features 5 peaks over 5,000 feet and several balds (clear mountain tops) and we quickly reached the first couple, Round Bald (5,826ft) and Jane Bald (5,807 ft).


This is where all the day hikers turned around and we were alone. We started late and most backpackers were hours in front of us. After rolling up and downs we went over Elk Hollow Ridge (5,180 ft)



One of the concerns was water, the mountains are dry and many water sources are dried up, so when we reached Overmountain Shelter, we filled up and decided to stay the night.


The shelter is an old barn with sleeping up stairs and on the porch, but I carried a tent and there were mice in the barn, so we set up the tent.


Sam was less than thrilled at the “Privy”


Some color below us


and the sunset from my tent door. That night the wind picked up and we had 35 plus MPH gusts and my 15 year old K-Mart tent held up as well as some $500 backpacking tents, but man they are MUCH lighter.




Oct. 16, 2016


The day started slow and we got on the road a little late, it was race #2 of the season, but the light was awesome, and we stopped a couple of times for pictures. In fact I had to talk myself into going to the race over hiking and picture taking.


But race I did! The Boone race is always great, a challenging course and free pizza and beer make it an easy choice!


Sam’s picture of this year’s special treat, an of camber greasy turn downhill… lots of falls!


I was happy I rode it all 3 laps, no falls for me.


Me on the run up.


Celebrating my 44th place : P – thanks Sam for the pictures and cheering for me!


It was time for pictures after the race, the Blue Ridge Parkway was busy as near peak color was everywhere!


Price Lake at Julian Price Memorial Park

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Jesse Brown Cottage next to the Cool Springs Baptist Church on the parkway.


Cascade Falls, also called “The Cascades“,¬† located at E. B. Jeffress Park


Just a creek


Raven Rock Overlook


Me cycling just for a picture. (Sam picture)


Oct. 15, 2016 (The rest of the day)


The day started before dawn for the drive to Lenoir and the first race of the 2016-17 North Carolina Cyclocross Series. Turns out tennis does not help one bit for cycling – I finished about 5 from dead last, but this picture from Sam captures the moment… this is the last lap and coming out of the last turn, the lap before I had caught this guy but took a beer hand-up (illegal, but it’s ‘cross) and had to work to catch him again, as I started my sprint, the chain slipped (why I am about to go over the bars) so no fun sprint to the line for us.

Then Sam and I visited Henry River Mill Village (it’s own post) and headed for a hike a part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to the Upper and Lower Gragg Prong Waterfalls and Hunt-Fish Falls. We got a late start, and I decided to turn around before it got dark, as it was it was after 5:30 when we got back to the truck.

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Cruising along dirt roads in the mountains


Finally we got on the foggy Blue Ridge Parkway and headed for a campground for the night.

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Dinner, a small fire, a quick card game and off to bed!