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Hot Dates: Hikes, Hornets and Hunter S. Thompson

Hiking along the Umbrella Tree Trail in Reedy Creek Park.
Hiking along the Umbrella Tree Trail in Reedy Creek Park. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Shake off the winter rust and hike into spring: Opening Day for Trails, 9 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday: Spend an hour hiking a link on the Carolina Thread Trail with Sean Bloom, Catawba Lands Conservancy/Carolina Thread Trail GIS director and botanist. The hike is part of the national Opening Day for Trails, with 30 events scheduled across 11 state and the District of Columbia. More than 10,000 Americans have pledged to take part.

The Charlotte leg is actually the South Fork Rail Trail, with the trailhead at 2648 Laboratory Rd. in Lincoln County. The trail runs along the South Fork of the Catawba River in the 324-acre Rhyne Preserve. There’s parking at the trailhead. Register by clicking here.

Can’t make that event, try these trails – with spring popping out – any day:

▪ Little Sugar Creek Greenway: When completed, this greenway will be 19 miles of trails and connectors, linking Central Piedmont Community College, Carolinas Medical Center and Park Road and Carolinas Place shopping areas with a scenic walk through urban Charlotte. Easy access at trailheads near CPCC and Metropolitan and an easy walk.

▪ Latta Plantation: The nature preserve has 16 miles of trails through a variety of terrain with exquisite views of Mountain Island Lake, forests and streams. It is Mecklenburg County’s only property open to horseback riding.

▪ Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve: More than 10 miles of hiking trails in this 737-acre nature preserve. The trails provide a variety of terrains and scenic views of small lakes, forests, fields, streams and wildlife. It is also home to the Reedy Creek Nature Center and the Dr. James Matthews Center for Biodiversity Studies.

▪ Crowder’s Mountain State Park: Twenty-five miles west of Charlotte, the park attracts hikers and rock climbers for the scenic views and sheer cliffs. The peaks of Crowder’s Mountain, Little Mountain and Kings Pinnacle have plantlife that resembles that found in the N.C. mountains at much higher elevations – such as mountain laurel and highbush blueberries.

Off the winding trail

Monday: ‘Gonzo: Fear and Loathing,’ 7:30 p.m., Tommy’s Pub, 2207 Central Ave. Charlotte theater group Citizens of the Universe hosts a workshop of James Cartee’s script “Gonzo: Fear and Loathing,” second in a triptych about Gonzo journalist and writer Hunter Thompson. Donations accepted.

Tuesday: Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway, 7:30 p.m. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.: Sir James, the best-known – many say the very best – classical flute player comes to Charlotte. He will play Mozart’s Concerto No. 2. With his wife, Lady Jeanne, the duo will perform Cimarosa’s Concerto for Two Flutes. The Charlotte Symphony, led by Christopher Warren-Green, will perform two short Mozart pieces, “Serenata Notturna” and “Symphony No. 15. Details, click here.

Galway’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee:”

Thursday: The Madness continues: Gone from Charlotte are eight teams and their fans who brought their excitement to uptown last weekend. But, starting Thursday, the 16 survivors scatter across the country to continue the madness.

Speaking of hoops, the Charlotte Hornets finish up a daunting road swing Monday in Chicago, then return home to Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets. The Bugs are on life support for the NBA playoffs, critically needing wins to stay in the hunt.

Note: Twelves days until the Charlotte Knights play the parent team Chicago White Sox at uptown’s BB&T Ballpark; 18 days until the home opener at BB&T against Norfolk.

Friday: John (formerly “Cougar”) Mellencamp, 7:30 p.m., Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.: Mellencamp is on a tour to support his 2014 album release of “Plain Spoken,” considered by many as one of the most distinguished records of his career. Those going to the concert will get a digital download “Plain Spoken” record with purchase of tickets to the tour. But let’s hope they’ll hear a litte ditty about Jack and Diane, too. Special guest: Carlene Carter, June Carter Cash’s daughter and Johnny Cash’s step-daughter. Details, click here.

Mellancamp and his little ditty:

Opening Friday at a theater near you: The comedy “Get Hard,” starring Will Ferrell as a white-collar executive who's headed for prison and Kevin Hart as the black employee who has been there (or so the exec thinks) and can teach him to be tough enough to survive.

A “Get Hard” snippet:

Sleeper of the week: Saturday, 10 a.m, wreath-laying for William R. Davie: He’s known in these parts as a Revolutionary War hero, North Carolina’s 10th governor and the founder of UNC Chapel Hill. If you enjoy history, or want to know more about where you live, this formal wreath-laying ceremony at Charlotte’s William R. Davie Park, 4635 Pineville-Matthews Rd., will be a good lesson. The Mecklenburg chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution is hosting the ceremony, the first for Davie, said Jay Joyce, chapter spokesman. There’ll be speeches by Davie and Captain James Jack, portrayed by local historians Jim Williams and Central Piedmont Community College President Tony Zeiss. Chapter members will wear period dress.

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