Hiking is a gateway activity. You start with a hike along Umstead’s Sycamore Creek after a rain, maybe hike the Little Mountain Falls Trail at Virginia’s Fairy Stone State Park on a cloudless winter day. Before you know it, the notion of spending a day or more on the trail has a keen appeal. You’re hooked by the lure of outdoor escapes.
It was cold and dark, and we were occasionally plunked with raindrops. But not a one of us moved from our spot by the fire.
“What is it about a campfire?” someone asks.
We’re drawn to fire for its light and heat, of course. But for us, on a three-day backpack trip on the Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest, it was less about survival and more about pondering, as Guy Noir might say, life’s persistent questions. Like whether one would survive a freeze-dried meal with an expiration date of 1997. (Answer: yes, surprisingly.)
People sometimes shy away from hiking thinking it’s all work and no play. To those we have two words:
Holiday Hiker is both a series of hikes we’re doing in December and an overriding philosophy here at GetHiking!
Last week we told you about our Holiday Hiker series, so we won’t dwell. (But if you missed it, we’ve launched a series of short — 4 miles, give or take — hikes geared to keep you moving through the oft-stressful holiday season. Learn more about that series here.)
“Well, I learned something new on this trip,” Cat said as she watched Brandon hoist his backpack to his bent knee before pausing to swing it onto his back.
“That’s the thing about backpacking,” I said. “Every trip, you learn new things.”
In early December, we’re doing a GetBackpacking! trip on the 21-mile Neusiok Trail. It’s a two-nighter, with a 2-mile hike in Friday evening, 8 miles Saturday, an 11-mile hike out Sunday. Pretty good distances for a backpack trip.
It also makes for a great day hike — a great long day hike.