Category Archives: Backpacking

Linville Gorge, where miles are measured differently

GetBackpacking! Linville Gorge

“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 to the Linville River, crossed a 60-yard-wide stretch of water, then made the long descent back up the rugged west rim. Challenging, but nothing like the rollercoaster Leadmine Trail we would take back down to the river. By the time we saw water again, it was 5 o’clock and our legs were done. We took the first suitable campsite. read more

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