Category Archives: Backpacking

90 Second Escape: Harper Creek/North Harper Creek WSA

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

The Uwharries: A guide book is reborn (and much bigger!)

Little Long Mountain (photo courtesy The Land Trust for Central North Carolina)
Little Long Mountain (photo courtesy The Land Trust for Central North Carolina)

When Don Childrey was a Boy Scout in Burlington in the 1970s, his Troop No. 73 frequently went backpacking in the Uwharrie Mountains.
“I didn’t realize at the time what a big deal it was,” recalls Childrey.
The big deal was that Asheboro area scout leader Joe Moffitt had grown weary of taking his troops to the mountains for their 50-mile backpacking badges. Shoot, we could do those here, he figured, what with the 51,000-acre Uwharrie National Forest in his backyard. So he set about, over just five years, to build a trail running from the Asheboro airport off NC 49 south to NC 24/27, distance of about 40 miles. (Additional trail on the southern end of the forest boosted the overall total closer to 50.) Moffitt worked with the U.S. Forest Service to blaze some of the trail, he worked with private land owners, primarily on the north end, to blaze more. Moffitt’s localness and ability to get along with anyone went a long way toward getting private landowners on board.
In the ‘80s. Moffitt’s handshake agreements didn’t always translate as land was handed down to younger generations. Increasingly, sections of the once legendary Uwharrie National Recreation Trail on private lands disappeared. By the early ‘90s, the trail was down to 20 miles, from Tot Hill Road south to NC 24/27. read more

Finding your way, when your way is buried in snow

Friday around 11 a.m.: Snow begins falling high in the Mount Rogers area.
Friday around 11 a.m.: Snow begins falling

Trail blazes painted on rocks are a necessity where there are no trees.
And that’s fine — until those blazes are buried beneath a foot of snow.
A freak early-season winter storm the first weekend in November that dumped up to 22 inches in the high country may have gotten the 2014-15 Southeast ski season off to a great start, but it presented a challenge to backpackers surprised by the intensity of the storm, especially those making their way on the Appalachian Trail through the Mount Rogers/Grayson Highlands area of southwest Virginia, known for its vast exposure.
“We got lost twice,” says Greg Carpenter, 50, of Greensboro, “the first time for 30 minutes, the second for about 15.” As seasoned AT section read more

Another batch of backpackers

Every five weeks I get a new batch of best friends.
That’s how long it takes to graduate folks from my beginner-to-bonafide-backpacker program, GetBackpacking!
After four weeks of training hikes, this past weekend we spent three days and two nights at South Mountains State Park. Peak fall color, cool (OK, at night it was cold) temperatures, 10 happy, newly minted backpackers, all of whom I would gladly spend 60 straight hours with again. read more