Let’s talk backpacking and hiking

An odd thing happens when I do an appearance to promote a book: people in the audience wind up talking more than I do.

This evening, at the Cary Commons Barnes & Noble, I launch another book “tour,” this one in support of my just-released “Backpacking North Carolina,” from UNC Press. The book highlights 43 backpacking trips in North Carolina, with detailed information on — well, I’ll spare you the sales pitch: you can read more about the book here.

If the talks associated with this book are like the ones I did for “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina” (Mountaineers, 2007) and “Take it Outside: Hiking in the Triangle” (The News & Observer, 1998), here’s how they’ll unfold: I’ll jabber for about 15 minutes about the book, about how it came to be, about how I decided on these 43 trips. Then someone will ask a question, something like, “I see you included three trips in the Shining Rock Wilderness but none from it’s next-door-neighbor, the Middle Prong Wilderness. How come?”

I’ll start to answer by saying Middle Prong was actually the 44th trip and I’ve included it on my hiking and backpacking Web site, NCHikes.com. But before I can finish answering someone else will say they were just up in the Middle Prong this past weekend and discovered a new route few people are aware of. After that person finishes sharing (and I’ve finished furiously scribbling notes so I can follow-up with a scouting trip), someone else is likely to say, “You know, I was in the Slickrock Wilderness two weeks ago with a couple locals and they showed me a route I’d never seen before … .”

And so it will go for 45 minutes or so until a bookstore official who wants to get home for supper says, “Thanks all of you for coming. Now if you’d like to buy the book, just step up to this table where Joe will be happy to sign it.” And people will come up and buy a signed book and thank me profusely for everything they learned in the past hour and I’ll sit there and nod while thinking I should share proceeds from the book sales with all the audience members who know far more about backpacking in North Carolina than I do and, of course, were the ones dispensing all the useful information.

Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy the book. You should, because it’s got all this stuff written down and it really is a pretty decent guide. But you should come to one (or more) of my appearances where you’ll tap into a rich reservoir of additional resources — namely the folks sitting next to you.

If you can make it tonight, swell. We’ll get started at 7 p.m. at the Cary B&N, located here. If you can’t make it tonight, here’s a rundown of additional appearances scheduled so far.

Wednesday, March 23, 7 p.m.
Flyleaf Books
Chapel Hill

Saturday, March 26, 11 a.m.
McIntyre’s Fine Books
Pittsboro

Wednesday, March 30, 7:30 p.m.
Quail Ridge Books
Raleigh

Wednesday, April 6, 7 p.m.
Regulator Bookshop
Durham

Saturday, April 9, 10 a.m.
Mayo Park
Roxboro

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