So when a scant few sign up for a hike or trip — or worse, no one shoes up at the trailhead — we try hard to figure out why this particular hike didn’t resonate. More importantly, we try to figure out what might.
For instance, the past couple of years we noticed that attendance for our backpacking trips dropped markedly in fall, the prime time for being in the backcountry in the Southeast: cool temperatures, dry air, fall color. After asking around we learned something that should have been obvious: come September, most folks have burned through their vacation time. “I’d love to do a trip in the fall. I just don’t have the time,” was a popular response.read more
The times they are a changin’. And that change is affecting when we get out and play. Two factors in particular affect the when-we-play factor in North Carolina:
North Carolina ranks 9th nationally in number of telecommuting jobs, a position bolstered largely by the state’s high-tech industry, which is more likely to let employees work from home. (Jobs that are most likely to support telecommuting — software programming, information security, data analyst, technical writer — are common here, especially in the Triangle.) Further, the trend is growing: the number of regular telecommuting employees nationwide has increased by 115 percent since 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Between 2000 and 2010, the Raleigh-Cary area had the fastest growing retiree population in the country; the state’s Division of Aging and Adult Services says the senior population in Wake County alone will increase by 163 percent over the next two decades.
Telecommuters with more flexible work schedules and retirees whose time is likewise more malleable means that these two sizable demographics aren’t relegated to just getting out on weekends. Add in a sizable service industry with varied working hours that can leave time off during the day, and we’ve got a seemingly sizable number of candidates for midweek escapes.read more
It was about 10:30 on a Friday night, mid November, when we pulled out of the light rain and into the covered bank drive-thru in Canton, N.C. After a quick surveillance, with particular attention for the local constable, we decided the coast was clear: the five of us scrambled out of the SUV and quickly slipped into our rain gear. We wanted to be as prepared as possible when we hit the trailhead in a half hour or so to finally get our two-day backpack trip underway.read more
Talking with author/climber Mark Synnott earlier this week about his new book, “The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan and the Climbing Life,” I was touched by something vaguely familiar. Vaguely, and weirdly, because the book is about one of the most audacious physical and psychological feats of our time: Honnold’s ascent of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot near-sheer rockface in Yosemite National Park — without any form of protection to save him should he slip from one of the wall’s precarious microscopic holds. What could possibly be familiar about that?read more
The trail was wilder than I remembered. Simply finding the trailhead at the overgrown intersection of trails atop the Naked Ground meadow was a challenge, keeping it was even more so less than 100 yards in. The 10 of us slowly plowed through a welter of every type of Southern Appalachian understory — from rhododendron and mountain laurel to blueberries and huckleberries, unable to even see the trail beneath our feet at times. Our only guide: the firm ground beneath. About a mile in, the real fun began.read more