This week’s adventure: In our State Parks

Again this week, as we take a break from leading our own adventures and gear up for 2015, we refer you to some top opportunities at our regional state parks in the coming days. Attend the event, then stick around (or arrive early) and explore the park. Click on the link to discover what those value-added park adventures might be.

Longleaf pines, at Goose Creek State Park (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)
Longleaf pines, at Goose Creek State Park (photo courtesy N.C. State Parks)

Dismal in the Dark, Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills, Friday, 6:30 p.m.  What could be even better than exploring a swamp? Exploring a swamp at night! Check out the stars and possibly a meteor or two. More info and to register: 252.771.6593.

Biological Wonderland, Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach, Saturday, 2 p.m. This popular park (pictured at lower right) program explores the wide variety of plants that coexist on the peninsula. More info, call 910.458.8206.

Winter Scavenger Hunt, Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills, Saturday, 2 p.m. Celebrate Winter Solstice Eve with a scavenger hunt and a little education “about the changes that plants and animals undergo to survive the dark, cold months.” More info: 252.771.6593.

Longleaf Pine Ecosystem, Goose Creek State Park (pictured, top), Washington, Saturday, 2 p.m. See what the land looked like before the Europeans got here and discovered how valuable the once-dominant longleaf pines were to the emerging economy. More info: 252.923.2191.

Discovery Hike, Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown, Saturday, 10 a.m. Curious about the flora and fauna of a bay forest? Curious, for that matter, about what exactly a bay forest is? These and other questions answered. More information: 910.588.4550.

Tip of the Week: ‘Wild’

WildTP_Home-210To some of you, this is not news. In fact, it’s something you’ve been anticipating for months. To the rest, the movie version of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling book, “Wild” will be coming to local theaters soon. (It had a limited release nationwide on Dec. 3, but as is often the case this time of year, it could be several weeks before it makes it to the hinterlands. Or it could be here next week.)

“Wild,” if you haven’t come across it, is a must-read for any hiker or backpacker. Released in 2012, “Wild” is Cheryl Strayed’s account of her 1995 passage on the Pacific Crest Trail. Only 22, her mom had recently died, her marriage was falling apart and she was a mess. She hits the trail completely unprepared, having no idea what she’s looking for — and finds it. It may be the best trail book yet written.

If you haven’t read the book yet, read it. It’s a fast read, you’ll likely polish if off before the movie arrives in local theaters. Reese Witherspoon, btw, plays Strayed in the movie.

Resource of the Week: The Outdoor Canon

Great, you’re saying, another recommendation for a book on the outdoors — and another “must read,” no less. How’s a body supposed to keep track of all these books you shouldn’t go another day without reading?

In 2004, Outside magazine compiled what it considered the canon of great outdoor literature. I refer to it every time I’m in need of a good vicarious escape. I’ve yet to be disappointed by their recommendations (not the least of which was Tim Cahill’s “Jaguars Ripped My Flesh Apart”).

To help narrow your choices, the library is divided by the following categories: The World’s Great Places, Journeys to Hell, Discoveries of America, Natural History, Manifestos, Nature and Culture, Sportswriting, How-to Bibles, Outside Lit 101.

Check out The Outside Canon here. It should occupy your evenings for a while.

Gear I Like: Clif Bars

There was a revealing exchange Monday night at the Lincoln Theater in Raleigh, where rock star climbers Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright were appearing as part of The North Face Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series. The two spoke primarily about their two Sufferfest films, 2013’s “The Sufferfest” and the just-released “The Sufferfest 2,” both of which are about the duo’s manic climbing trips. In the first, they climb California’s 12 14,000-foot peaks, in the second, they climb 45 towers in the Southwest. And in both, they travel from climb to climb on mountain bikes.

Inevitably, though, the topic turned to Clif Bar recently dropping the two free climbers’ sponsorships, the energy bar maker deeming the two (and three other climbers) too risky. Honnold spoke kindly of his former sponsor, saying it’s a good company who’s heart is in the right place. Wright’s reaction was more visceral.

“I miss getting a free box of bars every month,” he said. “They’re really good.”

And they are. But that’s not necessarily what makes them my energy food of choice on the trail.

For one, they have a consistent texture, regardless of the weather. The traditional PowerBar, by comparison, turns into an impenetrable brick in cold weather and melts in your pocket when hot. Gu, likewise, develops a sludgelike consistency when cold.

It’s also easy to eat just a bite or two of a Clif Bar, then stick it back in your pocket. (In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to consume an entire Clif Bar on the go, which may be why they also make a two-bite-size version). Try having just a little Gu and sticking the rest back in your pocket. Whoever does your laundry won’t be happy.

And, comparatively speaking, Clif Bars are on the lower end of the price spectrum. In a comparison of seven popular energy bars tested by, the bars ranged in price from $1.45 to $3.30 — the $1.45 bar being the Clif Bar. And while I’ve seen little fluctuation in the retail price of the other bars, I’ve rarely paid more than a buck for a Clif Bar; you can almost always find them at a discount.

I dabble in other bars, but 75 percent of the time, I’m packing a Clif Bar. It does the job.

For more on Alex Honnold’s and Cedar Wright’s visit to the Lincoln Theatre, go here.

* * *

Don’t miss a single issue: get the GetExploring! Greenville enewsletter delivered to your edoorstep! Simply drop a request to