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Friday, March 5, 2010

Emerald Woods, a Favorite Island 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.

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