Category Archives: Adventure

90 Second Escape: RDU #BestTown2015

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb. read more

Doughton Park: a Classic adventure begins

Saturday, 21 of us spent the day on the first of 12 monthly hikes exploring the best trails in North Carolina. The kickoff of GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes was a reminder of why we hike.

Content from GetHiking! at Doughton Park

There was the hike itself, at one of the most accessible mountain hiking destinations in the state, Doughton Park. Doughton Park occupies about 7,000 acres cascading down the Blue Ridge Escarpment between Sparta and Elkin. Part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 469-acre linear park running through Virginia and North Carolina that’s best known as a classic auto trip, Doughton has 30 miles of trail. Some of our hikers did a 17.2-mile loop that emphasized the escarpment’s dramatic drop of about 2,400 vertical feet from bottom to top and back. Others did a 7.4-mile hike that stuck to the ridge, along the Bluff Mountain Trail. The ascent and descent for the long group built a healthy appreciation for how abruptly the Southern Appalachians rise from the Piedmont; the passage through rolling meadow after rolling meadow along the ridge offered hike-stopping views rare in our heavily wooded mountains.
And there were the hikers. There’s something about spending a full day on the trail together that builds the kind of comfort and trust we tend to think can only be achieved as kids. You feel more at ease to ask questions, more at ease to answer them, more at ease to be yourself.
Take Bill. I’ve been hiking with Bill for more than a year and a half. I know him as one of the most decent people I’ve met, but because he typically hikes at the front of the pack and I’m in the back, we rarely get to talk. On this all-day trip, we did.
I knew Bill was from New England originally and was a big hockey fan. Had, until recently, played. The way he’d talked in the past, I’d assumed he was a long-time rec league player. In passing, he mentioned having to take time off from the auto body shop he ran years ago to play for the Maine Mariners. With a little cajoling, he acknowledged they were a semi-pro club affiliated with the Boston Bruins. My respect for his modesty prevents me from sharing more.
There was Mark from Boone, an executive with a worldwide non-profit. I asked if he hiked a lot, what with living in Boone and all. No, he said. His wife had died of cancer six years ago, “and I’m beginning to come out of my funk and get out.”
There was Kevin, who allowed that his new, leather hiking boots were killing him, but that he’d been assured by devotees of the boot that after the break-in period, he would love them.
“How long does it take to break ‘em in?” I asked.
“About 400 miles.”
There was Jean, who took up hiking six years ago and, now 65 out-hiked the lot of us (and entertained us with news of a gruesome murder over lunch), and there was Gene, who’s dad I worked with in a previous life. I lived vicariously through Hale’s tales of his son, who lives the classic nomadic outdoor life out West, I listened with humility as Ruthann pointed out every climb I’d forgotten to mention. I avoided talking work with Lisa (we don’t work together, but she and my wife are magazine editors with the same publisher), and was delighted to see Sue approach from the opposite direction with news of her delayed arrival at the trailhead (two hours after the rest of us had shoved off).
It didn’t hurt that we had perfect weather — temperature in the low 50s, the occasional wispy, white cloud. But I think this group would have weathered a monsoon in good humor.
I’ll hike between now and our next trip, at the end of April, and I’ll certainly have some good trail conversations between now and then. But I’m eager for the combination of a long day in the woods with fellow hikers looking to let their hair down. read more

The motivation to soar

C4-d-antoine-saint-exupery

There are many reasons why Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “Wind, Sand and Stars” ranks No. 3 on National Geographic’s “The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time,” and comes in No. 1 on Outside magazine’s “25 Essential Books for the Well-Read Explorer.” Saint-Exupéry’s piloting skills in the early days of aviation, flying from France to North Africa to deliver the mail when maps were sketchy and the likes of electronic navigation non-existent, are exceeded only by his gift for conveying what he and his comrades endured.
Think you’ve had a great adventure? Ever had your engine conk out flying over the Pyrenees or landed in hostile country where the locals had killed two pilots a year before? “Wind, Sand and Stars” is filled with such adventures, adventures that would forever ground the vast majority of us. For Saint-Exupéry and his peers it was just another day at the office.
It’s the motivation of Saint-Exupéry and his kind that fascinates us. Early in “Wind”, he offers a glimpse that most of us can relate to, an explanation of why the risk was worthwhile. It comes as he rides an early morning shuttle to the airport with the office clerks and other desk-bound workers who know all too well the outcome of their workday — and the rest of their lives. read more

90 (-plus) Second Escape: Colorado Trippin’

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb. read more

90 Second Escape: Neighborhood Wilderness

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb. read more