Kurt and Gail Rheinheimer
Kurt and Gail Rheinheimer
Four hikes from eastern Virginia and coastal North Carolina, from December 2006...
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk (mostly from the beach) and back. 4.0 miles.
At this time of year, the boardwalk is transformed at night from a promenade for walkers to a slow-ride runway for a steady stream of cars driving beneath and beside the city's Festival of Lights, brought to you this year by the first big display, the Eat More Chik'n arch from Chick Fil-A. We walked the sand just below the boardwalk, past light displays of Christmas trees and dolphins, bubbles and stars, not to mention a representation for each of the 12 days of Christmas, which were accompanied, on our walk, by The Night Hiker's singing, several times over, of the droning, repetitive, mind-numbing song brought to mind by the bright-light leaping of the 10 lords, for example. It's a little piece of Americana, the lights at Virginia beach and the cars full of kids of all ages rolling along to look. Amid the many spelled-out and acted out Christmas sentiments, we couldn't find one of the oldest: Peace On Earth.
December 26, 2006
The Washington Ditch Trail to Lake Drummond in Suffolk, Va. 9.0 miles.
We've long wanted to visit Virginia's only other natural lake (Mountain Lake we've visited many times, both at low water and full-pond), and a cool December day – with the sun low in the sky even near midday, no insects at all and the woods on both sides of the trail good and swamped up with water – is the perfect time. Of course there are parallel downsides: minimal wildlife and dormancy for most of the plantlife, rendering this wide, straight, flat road-trail a bit monotonous, even for The Day Hiker, who has a strong record of finding something of interest on the ground in any season. The reward of the walk is Lake Drummond, blue and deeper-looking than it actually is, appearing to be perfectly circular in the midst of the Great Dismal Swamp that surrounds it (giving credence to one theory of its origin – the impact of a meteorite). We had the little dock onto the water to ourselves as we at lunch, with three young-lady cyclists arriving just as we were packing up. We walked past their strewn bikes with just the slightest bit of an envious eye, a first for two such addicted hikers as we.
December 27, 2006
The Nags Head Woods and the Nags Head Original Cottages Walk. 6.5 miles.
The Nags Head Woods lives up to its claim of being among the most diverse coastal woods areas in the east. Our 3.5-mile loop took us up and down, over and around, through pine and deciduous forest, past marshlands and ponds. The preserve borders the giant dunes of Jockey's Ridge, and the woods' own high points seemed to match those of the dunes, though with vegetative cover muting the feeling of height. The walk to view the weathered old beach cottages is along N.C. 12's walkway/bikeway and is undertaken most effectively if you've bought the book that describes the three dozen cottages' history and current ownership. Most date to the '20s and '30s, with the original 13 having been built in the 1880s, and nearly all have been moved, upgraded and at least put on stilts, in response to the great storms of 1899, 1933 and 1962.
December 28, 2006
These two easiest-of-all walks took us part way around the North Pond impoundment on the bay side of NC 12, where overwintering ducks and other waterfowl have assembled as if for viewing by those of us walking around the perimeter and pausing to gaze through binoculars mounted here and there; and the other up and down the largely empty beach across the road and over the dune, where The Day Hiker was able to realize one of the highest manifestations of her predilection to look down at the ground as she walks: the gathering of the hundreds of tiny shells now spread out on the dining room table at home, with the shell-ID book right there alongside.
December 29, 2006