Archive for the ‘Backpacking’ category

Frozen Manhattans and other reasons this trip was different

Usually, backpackers show up at the trailhead, packs on their backs, with maybe a pound of food stowed among their weekend necessities. On this morning, 14 backpackers showed up with no packs at all. All each had was a little bag with enough clothes and whatnot for an overnight trip. In their defense, they hadn’t been told to bring a pack; they were simply told where to meet. This was…

Three Great Opportunities for Backpackers

Just in time for autumn’s splendor, we’ve got three great ideas for both active and aspiring backpackers. Fall in North Carolina is the time to go backpacking. Daytime highs gradually dip and overnight lows are perfect for snugging into a down bag and getting a long night’s rest. From Shining Rock to the Smokies, the AT to the MST, the woods beckon for an extended stay. The glorious yellows, reds…

Linville Gorge, where miles are measured differently

“We’ve only done five miles?” one of the backpackers asked with a mix of disbelief and despair. “Yes,” I said, “but they’re likely the hardest five miles you’ve ever done.” Until tomorrow. I kept that last part to myself. Our nine-person GetBackpacking! group had started that morning at 9 from our campsite atop Shortoff Mountain on the east rim of Linville Gorge. We followed the MST on a steep descent…

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail: in a day, or over 22 months

This year, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail, its birth dating to Sept. 9, 1977, when Howard Lee, then Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, told a National Trails Symposium in Waynesville that North Carolina should blaze a “state trail from the mountains to the coast, leading through communities as well as natural areas.” To commemorate Lee’s challenge of 40 years ago, the Friends of…

Backpacking: Hiking with sleepovers

So, you’ve been enjoying your walks in the woods and maybe you’re wondering what it might be like to stay a bit longer—overnight, even. We can help you. Ever since I wrote Backpacking North Carolina in 2011, I’ve been on a mission to dispel the myths of backpacking. Like the idea that you have to sleep on the cold, hard ground, eat beans out of a can, and hike 20…

GetBackpacking! Up your game

As a backpacker, you already know the joy of heading into the woods with everything you need strapped snugly to your back. You love setting up your home-away-from-home, unfurling your sleeping bag and snugging in under the stars. You know also that the journey from the trailhead to the sleeping bag is not without challenges—maybe the trail is a bit more rugged than anticipated or there are water crossing; the…

Trail Magic Revisited

On Sunday, I saw a Facebook post from a hiker visiting Damascus, Va., for Trail Days, the annual event celebrating the first wave of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers traipsing through town. It reminded me of what a delight it is to hike among thru-hikers and hear about their experiences. Back in April of 2010, I happened upon a wave of thru-hikers, along with a bit of paternal trail magic, in the Standing Indian area…

Eating MREs so you don’t have to

When I started writing about trails in the early’90s, my motto quickly became, “Getting lost, so you don’t have to.” It’s a philosophy I’ve stuck with as my scope has widened to encompass trying all kinds of things so you don’t have to. A year ago, I had a backpacking class that included three vets, a rarity because most ex-military I encounter have zero interest in voluntarily spending another night…

Movin’ on up with Big Agnes

The theme to The Jeffersons buzzed through my head as I laid back and took in the nylon ceiling. I may not have been moving on up to the East Side, but I was now laying in the tent of my dreams: the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. One dee-lux tent, if ever I’d had one. I’m not one to obsess over outdoor gear. I approach gear as I approach…

The campfire: the Algonquin Round Table of the Outdoors

We love a good campfire after a long day on the trail. We love it for the light, which extends the day into night (especially welcome when the sun sets at 5 p.m.). We love it for the heat, without which we would be forced into our bags all the earlier. We love it for its s’more-making potential. Mostly, though, we love it for the stimulating conversation staring at flames tends…