Category Archives: Backpacking

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

Finding Sharon’s car in a parking lot is pretty easy.

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.” read more

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 miles a day with 60-pound pack on your back. read more

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 forces of nature have a way of altering even well-known paths. Or perhaps you got caught enjoying nature and suddenly find yourself setting up camp in the dark. Or, possibly, you couldn’t find anyone able to take a last-minute weekend trip with you. read more

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 of western North Carolina. So I headed into the Wayback Machine to revisit this magical encounter.  read more

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 in a tent. In our session on backpacking food, the topic of MREs — Meal, Ready-to-Eat — came up. Rather than the universal pan I was expecting from these three critics, the results were mixed. “Some aren’t bad,” they agreed. “But some are.” The next session, one of the vets pulled a brown cardboard box about the size of an iPad out of his pack and handed it to me. In dot-matrix type, it said “Egg Omelette with Vegetables and Cheese.” read more