Frozen fingers and toes competed with watery eyes and noses as locals gathered at Grassy Creek Vineyard and Stone Mountain State Park for freezing First Day Hikes.
“It was really a great hike once we got started,” said avid hiker Dee Neil. “The hardest part was the few minutes’ wait before we left.”
Surrounded by the trees, shed bare but still full enough to shelter from frigid wind, hikers traipsed the trails with a dedication spurred on by more than just New Year’s resolutions.
Park Rangers Jeff Jones and Lynette Hicks lead the Stone Mountain hike, which nearly tripled the number of locals at the winery.
Lead by Bob Hillyer, who recently returned from a second sojourn along the El Camino de Santiago, with assistance from Joe Mickey, who is a retired wildlife biologist, the Grassy Creek hike was full of both fun and information as well as warmers.
“Bob led us at a pretty brisk pace so we warmed up quickly,” said Neil, who came prepared with hand warmers.
This hike traveled through “The Enchanted Forest” to Byrd’s Branch Campground and back to Grassy Creek Winery.
“Sarah and Jerry Byrd awaited us with hot chocolate, coffee and cookies and a place to get warm,” said Neil. “Grassy Creek had a fire in the tasting room as we completed our hike.”
“It’s too bad you couldn’t have joined us,” said Hillyer as he refueled over the Yadkin Valley Rotary’s traditional New Year’s Day dinner. “We had a good time. You’ll have to join us next month.”
“[It was] a great invigorating start to the New Year,” said Neil.
Find photographs of both hikes by Joe Mickey as well as stay informed about future hikes and work days at www.facebook.com/ElkinValleyTrails/.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.