2020 will be remembered as the year we learned to do things differently.

Need to meet with your committee or group? Hop on Zoom. Need training? It’s been uploaded to YouTube. Want dinner? It’s time to reacquaint yourself with your kitchen. Out of toilet paper? Good luck with that quest. There have been many challenges over the last few months, some serious, some funny. But I want to focus on a positive. Hiking.

My daughter and I have hiked for years. It’s a way to stay in shape and has the added benefit of giving us wonderful memories. We normally hit state and national parks, focusing on the mountains, although we had one wonderful trip to the Outer Banks and found hiking on the coast was fun, too. We’ve also hiked wonderful trails in the Raleigh Durham area where we are frequent visitors. 

This year, we took the stay at home suggestions seriously. We didn’t travel. Throughout the worse of the restrictions, recommendations for walking outside while social distancing were advocated, so we put on our hiking boots and went outside.

In my neighborhood, without getting on a major road, we can walk three miles with minimal backtracking, but we need more milage than that to stay in shape for the mountains. As we adjusted to the new normal, we found that Tanglewood Park in Forsyth County remained open. It’s near my home, and we have long used Tanglewood to get in the miles to keep in shape for our mountain hikes, and we know it well. This year we focused on really seeing the park. The creatures as well as the flowers and mushrooms. We’ve acquired books on North Carolina animals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, trees, mushrooms, and the like. Thus began our research of nature.

In 2020 alone we’ve seen, red tailed hawks, red shouldered hawks, heron, egrets, owls, all manner of perching birds, deer, frogs, snakes, turtles, rabbits, and a skunk. All were seen in Tanglewood Park. It’s a not so hidden gem right in our backyard. The vast majority of the folks we saw practiced appropriate social behavior for COVID. Still, after weeks of only going to Tanglewood and the grocery store, we were ready for more.

As things opened up, we strolled around Salem Lake, Reynolda, and Bethabara (although Bethabara is currently upgrading their trails). Rich Park in Mocksville is a nice paved trail that I have walked when in the area waiting for an appointment. The Mountain to Sea trail goes through downtown Elkin and continues through the park and into the woods. As things have improved and trails have opened up, we have returned to Hanging Rock, South Mountain, Stone Mountain, Crabtree Falls, and the like. The point is, there are many ways to get out and get some fresh air, so why not take a hike?