Spreading the Wilderness Love
by Nicole Carlozo -- June 16th, 2011
Last week, I witnessed the opening of Nags Head Woods’ first handicap-accessible trail. From woods, to wetlands, to a beautiful view of the Albemarle Sound, the newly paved trail shares the joys of nature with those who were previously unable to traverse the wooded paths.
It was a hot, gorgeous morning at Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. As I sat at my desk, scouring the internet for water quality data, I looked out the window to see an iridescent green hummingbird hovering beside the green vegetation. On a usual day, I’m often bombarded by dragonflies, hornets, and mosquitoes, but hummingbirds are a rare treat. I wondered if it could sense the energy of the day.
Throughout the morning, TNC staff converged on the office before setting out for a new trail at the end of our gravel road. Before long I found myself standing on the wide, paved path of the one-mile trail that loops through the preserve. At least 30-40 people were eagerly waiting at the trail head to access the woods.
As I listened to the speakers at the Opening Ceremony, it struck me that I’ve taken my access to wilderness for granted. Although I know beach access remains an issue in many coastal communities, I never before considered the access issue from the point of view of elderly or handicapped individuals. This trail even allows families with small children to pass through the preserve, strollers in tow. I imagined what it would be like to love this coastal land as much as I do now, but to be prevented from enjoying it despite its conservation status. Now, anyone who wishes to enjoy the great outdoors of North Carolina has the opportunity, despite physical limitations.
With these thoughts bouncing around in my head, I walked.