Doughton Park Hike in the Cold

Doughton Park Hike in the Cold

The cold was penetrating when I entered the woods. The temperature had been down in the teens the night before. There was ice in the creek. After hiking up the ridge awhile, my body temperature became effusive. Soon the heat over came the cold, and I shed several layers of clothes. I continued up the trail in bright sunshine under blue bird skies.


On Sunday, January 26, 2014, I went hiking on the Flat Rock Ridge Trail in Doughton Park. This is the same trail that I hiked several weeks earlier, in a driving rain, and had to turn back due to a thunder storm and lightening. This time I had clearer, but colder, weather.

On the way up the trail, I encountered another hiker, who was an athletic looking young man. With him was a big dog. He was wearing a huge hunting knife. It was in what looked like a homemade sheath made of deer hide with long buckskin fringe. He had on a normal looking coat and toboggan. But, astoundingly, he was wearing short pants and barefoot!! The trail was not the roughest in North Carolina, but it had plenty of sharp sticks, rocks and pinecones. How could he stand the cold? I could sort of identify with his actions. When I was a student at Wake Forest University, I remember going to work at the campus library at mid-afternoon in fair weather, and being barefooted. Then, after closing down the library at 11 p.m., I remember running back across campus a couple blocks to my dormitory, in frost covered grass! I kind of reveled in the exposure and the challenge. But this young man, several miles up the trail, and several thousand feet in altitude above the parking lot, is tougher than me!

Lunch was an amalgam of snack foods, like beef jerky, granola bars, dried fruit, nabs crackers and cold water. It was a pleasant respite sitting in the bright sun on an old chestnut log. But, the cold wind soon drove me back to my feet and the generation of more body heat.

This trip I made it closer to the top of the trail at the Blue Ridge Parkway. But I was stymied again. I injured my left groin muscle a month or so ago at yoga. It is rehabilitating well. But today, it started to get sore again, so I turned back short of the Parkway. Otherwise, it was a fine trip and good day to be outdoors in the woods.

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.