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We got a head start on our First Day Hike

By Russ Stevens

Special to the Salisbury Post

This year would have been my third First Day Hike. The first two were last year and the year before. They were cold, but still lots of fun. I place the blame for my New Year’s Day insanity on an article in the Post in December of 2014. Until then, I hadn’t even heard of a First Day Hike — a New Year’s program organized by the NC state parks system, as well as others around the country.

In preparation for this year, I started early in December investigating where to hike and quickly discovered I had a problem. In 2017, Jan. 1 was on a Sunday. Not wanting to miss church, I was severely limited on both the times that I could go on my hike and available friends with whom to hike. I then had a brilliant idea. Ok, maybe it wasn’t all that brilliant. But when you think about it, hiking in the Piedmont on Jan. 1 isn’t regarded by most people as brilliant either. My idea was to do a Day-Before-First-Day-Hike. I recruited from local family and three of us set off for Lake Norman State Park in the morning of Saturday, Dec. 31.

My stepdaughter, Emerald, my grandson, Daniel, and I got to the park right about 11 a.m. We had discussed our options on the way and decided that the 3-mile Hawk Loop was to be our route. We asked a nice gentleman to take a picture for us and found out that he too was from Salisbury and had just finished a bike ride. He told us not to give him credit for the picture, so I won’t. It was chilly, so we bundled up, Daniel ate a small snack, and we started hiking. I had figured having a 12-year-old along meant I had to bring food for the trip and I was right.

Lake Norman State Park is very popular with mountain bikers. This made our hike interesting as the first of the group to hear or see a biker would yell “Bike!” and we’d all get off the trail. We were very careful to get out of the way, as none of us wanted to come home with tire tracks up the back of our coats.

There really weren’t that many bikers and they were very courteous, so the hike was fairly uneventful, although the scenery along the way was striking. Unlike last year with the massive group hike in Durham, there were no hot black-eyed peas at the start and no hot cocoa at the end. Instead, I took the three of us to lunch on the way home. Next year, Jan. 1 is a Monday. It’s on my calendar to hike, but who knows with whom and where. Stay tuned so you can see.

Russ Stevens lives in Salisbury and is usually seen doing more normal things.

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