Emerald Woods, A favorite Hike

The sun was shining and the skies were a brilliant blue when we headed over to Emerald Isle for breakfast at Ballyhoo's. I decided a couple of days ago that getting spring here requires an effort of mind over weather .

Having breakfast out is not one of our regular winter activities, but spring usually finds us venturing out earlier. Today I hoping that wandering out for breakfast and a quick hike might help usher in some warmer weather.

It might be a futile effort on my part, but getting out and enjoying the out of doors is something that I enjoy anyway. If nothing else, I will just be a little ahead of the curve with my vitamin D once the nice weather arrives.

There is something about enjoying a breakfast outside of home that changes your perspective on the day. Perhaps it is just a break in a routine that is hard to change that makes the difference. Maybe it is starting the day with some food that someone else cooks.

Whatever the reason, we enjoy breakfast outside the home as much or more as we do a fancy evening meal. The bonus is that I do not have to get dressed up, and the price is much more reasonable.

Wearing a normal outfit with blue jeans at breakfast also made it easier to go on my hike after our meal. Perhaps because this was my birthday week, I ordered the biscuits and gravy, while my wife had a cheese omelet with some grits. Both were excellent. We also enjoyed relaxing and not worrying about cleaning up our dishes.

After our hearty meal, I needed some exercise so we headed to Emerald Woods for my hike. There was little doubt that down by the water a stiff breeze would be blowing. The sheltered section of the trail would be welcome protection from the winds. The Emerald Woods Park is just a short distance out Coast Guard Road on the right. It was actually designed as an area to hold excess water from storms.

One of the things that I like the most about the Park is the construction of the trail. It is a boardwalk all the way from the trail head to its terminus in Bogue Sound. I know the trail is accessible to everyone since last summer I took a friend who is confined to a wheel chair all the way to Bogue Sound on it. An added bonus of the park is that the ladies always appreciate the restroom facilities.

Today, I was the only hiker on the trails since my wife's feet were bothering her. I have seen several deer in the marshes on previous trips. Today there were none. The Town of Emerald Isle has authorized some of the town's policemen to thin the deer herd through bow hunting in the Park when it is closed. That probably explains the lack of deer. I suspect they are avoiding the Park until the hunters go away.

I am always impressed when I get to the point where the trail heads down to Bogue Sound. It is so neat hiking through the woods and then all of the sudden having Bogue Sound and the Emerald Isle bridge spread out in front of you. In the summertime, it is rare to find the floating pier unoccupied. There always seems to be a youngster fishing there under the watchful eyes of a parent. I have run into couples enjoying a glass of wine while they watch the sun slip below the horizon.

I took
two web pages worth of pictures today. While there were no real signs of spring, the hike to the sound and back put some spring into my step and made me feel a little less guilty about my breakfast meal.

The main Emerald Woods trail is one of the easiest you will find in the area. As mentioned I have pushed a wheel chair the length of the trail without any difficulty other than my wife being worried that I was going to launch my college roommate into the sound if I lost control on the aluminum ramp and dock at the end. There are other trails in the park, but we have yet to find time to hike them. Today I noticed some new markings where they cross the main trail so perhaps when the weather warms up, we will give them a try.

I was hoping that
an earlier slide show that I made might have shown the Park during the summer, but it was also done in the early spring. It does have a few different pictures. One of my favorite photographs of all time was made from the Park. I call the shot " The End." It is a sunset picture that I took in February 2007.

If you have never been on the Emerald Woods Trail, you are missing a real treat. Now is a great to get out and hike it. It is one of the few places that you can find real protection from the wind.

Beach to the Horizon

About the only good thing about cold weather is that I get very little sand in my shoes. I will admit to being a warm weather beach walker. I admire those folks who get out on the beach when the temperatures are in the forties, and there is a stiff breeze.

However, admiring them is one thing and joining them is a whole other kettle of fish. I will walk the beaches in the upper fifties and low sixties as long as the wind has not come directly from Canada.

I snapped the picture in today's post over at the Point on Emerald Isle. It is one of my favorite places to walk, but it takes a few minutes to get to the beach from the parking area, and today was not the day for that kind of walk.

I did see a couple of beach walkers, but they were likely fooled like I was when I first got out of the car. As I was walking through the cut in the dune, I thought that maybe a walk on the beach might be in the realm of possibility. As soon as I got out in the open, I felt my body heat heading for South Florida which actually is not a lot warmer than us these days. There will be better days ahead.

The sight of sand and blue sky both running together at the water's edge is a captivating view. Whenever I come to the point, I always leave a little humbled. It is a place that makes me understand the vastness of the ocean and sky surrounding our planet.

Sometimes I think that my real world ends at the beaches on the Point, and the world of possibilities lives just out in the ocean beyond the Inlet. Often the best fishing is just after you get through the Inlet. When you are just a little off shore, it is easy to look out in the ocean and see nothing but water and blue sky running all the way to the horizon.

If you turn down and make a run along Hammocks Beach, it is rare to see very many people even in the busy time of the year. It is almost like there are two worlds, the one inside the Inlet and the other out in the ocean. When you are in the ocean, it is just you, your boat, the water, and the sky. There is a weak, easily broken line to shore with your cell phone and marine radio, but neither is strong enough to drag you out of the world beyond the Inlet.

There is also some excitement going out the Inlet into ocean. Along with that comes some relief when you guide the boat back towards the Intracoastal Waterway. There are days when you are racing a storm or the wind has picked up so much that the turn into your protected harbor comes with a great deal of satisfaction and relief.

I get some similar feelings when I take my kayak out into the White Oak River near our home at Bluewater Cove. The White Oak there is close to two miles wide and a pretty impressive river when you are sitting about six inches above the water. Days when I battle the wind to kayak, it is such a relief to return to our cove and be sheltered from the wind and waves.

Of course there are days on the beach, in the ocean, and in the river when the winds are quiet. Those are the days that I cherish the most,
An evening kayaking trip can often let you see the river at its most beautiful time. Then it is easily possible to see the river glassy smooth and beautiful early in the morning as you try to get out the Inlet in time to catch some Spanish mackerel.

If you frequent the Point a lot, you will see plenty of waves, sometimes with their tops cut off by wind, and more than your fair share of wind even in the summer.
This YouTube video of the ocean at the Point was taken in May of 2009. I would say that it shows a normal day at the Point.

As the sun starts to warm things, I will be back on the beach. I am looking forward to
a nice beach walk which will help erase the memories of this winter. With all the sand back at the point, I cannot wait to take a nice long hike when the temperatures are back to normal.

It will not be long before we are out to sea looking at the land and wondering why there are creatures stranded there in the surf when the waters beyond the Inlet offer so much promise.

One way or the other, I am
ready for this winter to end, and for spring to begin in earnest.