Funny how necessity recalibrates your intentions. Back in California I’d do almost anything to avoid long drives to trails — it seemed like a crime against nature to spend more time driving than hiking. The reality, though, was there were so many excellent hiking trails in the Bay Area that I could always find an excuse to pair a long hike with a short drive.
On our current end of the country, the situation is almost entirely reversed: it’s crazy to make do with local trails when excellent ones are just a couple hours away. Case in point: Saturday’s hike at Grayson Highlands State Park paired five hours of driving with five hours of hiking. While the Appalachian peaks seem scrawny by Western standards, they are nevertheless mountains that stretch for 1,200 miles from Georgia to Canada. There’s nothing like it within 50 miles of Winston-Salem.
The route up to Grayson Highlands twists, climbs and dives though at least 50 miles of remote two-lane blacktop; I’ve always loved taking these kinds of drives. Seems I now have two reasons to head for the hills.
(I’m sure it’s just a coincidence — not karma or anything — that my luck seems to have been continually improving since my departure from the daily-dose-of-doom industry.)