Category Archives: Camping

We’ll be having fun all summer long

Summer: so few weeks, so many places to explore. 

Deciding where to explore this summer was tough, but we’ve come up with a great line-up of adventures for GetHiking! and GetBackpacking! 

What makes it so tough, of course, is the abundance of memorable places to explore in our area. So here’s some insight into how we chose the destinations we have for some of our summer adventures.  read more

5 of our favorite Whoa! Moments

On Saturday’s final hike of our 2018-2019 Winter Wild hike series, we decided to add an extra mile or so. It was a mile of trail I hadn’t hiked.

As we made our way up the north bank of New Hope Creek, I could hear the gradient increasing upstream, the sound of water cascading over rock a bit more intense than we’re used to hearing in the Piedmont. As the noise grew, some mild scrambling was required; we shinnied up a rock outcrop overlooking the creek and emerged on a slab 30 feet above the water. read more

Weather the storm with your camping gear

Are you prepared for Florence?

If you’re a hiker, a backpacker, a camper, you’re more prepared than you might realize. You’ve got a wealth of equipment designed to help you weather what Flo may have to offer. Consider:

=&0=&. A Pocket Rocket, a JetBoil, a Windburner—any number of camp stoves can help you get through a few days without power in culinary style and on the cheap. About all you need them to do is boil water, which some stoves can do in a little more than two minutes. Instant mashed potatoes ($1 a pack) or Knorr’s rice or pasta dishes (also $1) make for a cheap and filling meal, comfort food at a time when you could really use it. 

=&1=&. You return from a trip with a near-empty fuel canister—too much left to throw out, not enough to take on another trip. So you toss it in your gear box. If you’re like us, you’ve likely got a half dozen or more taking up space. Now’s the time to use ’em up.

=&2=&. Even a casual hiker has at least one headlamp and a good-size LED lantern. These modern lamps can cast enough light for you to assess damage in the middle of the night (most are water tight as well). And you can dial back the lumens—and extend the battery life—to cast a calming, reassuring glow in your darkened surroundings.

=&3=&. Should have started here. That two-minute boil is vital when it comes to that first cup of coffee in the morning. You can just mix in a packet of instant, or if you have the MSR Windboiler with the French press attachment, you can make the real thing.

=&4=&. Rain jacket and rain pants: If it rains as much and as long as predicted, you’ll need to get out to maintain your sanity. They may not keep you totally dry, but they should keep you from getting drenched.

=&5=&. Camp towels made of chamois or another quick-drying material don’t dry out completely, but they will dry out a lot more than your cotton bath towels. Keep ’em handy when you come in from the rain.

=&6=&. Dry bags once were restricted to the domain of paddlers, but the advent of lighter waterproof fabrics has made them practical for day hikers, and odds are you have one. Even if you won’t be out long, protect your wallet, cellphone, and other valuables in a dry bag.

=&7=&. If worse comes to worst and you’re forced to leave your home, or at least abandon your second-floor bedroom—take your personal sleep system with you. Today’s sleeping bags—both down and synthetic—are plush as a comforter, and the newer, light-weight inflatable sleeping pads offer two to three inches of comfy cushion. 

=&8=&. If you subscribe to the “cotton kills” school of outdoor fashion—and you should—you already have a wardrobe made for wet weather. At a time when your dryer may be rendered useless for days, synthetic, quick-dry clothes are de rigueur. 

=&9=&. A sturdy pack with good suspension is nice on the trail, but is a downright necessity when you need to walk a half-mile to the store for a bag of ice and other necessities.

=&10=&. Be the fan of the neighborhood with your camp saw. You won’t replace the local tree service with its cranes and chain saws, but when it comes to clearing limbs off a car or clearing a path to the street, a well-maintained folding camp saw comes in handy in a pinch.

Preparing for a hurricane is like preparing for a backpack trip. In both cases, you need to meet your basic needs—food, shelter—for a period of time. And in both cases, how you emerge at the end of your adventure will be determined by how prepared you are going in.

Be safe,

Joe

An August adventure (or four) to save your summer

Every year, it’s the same thing. Memorial Day arrives with great expectations for an adventurous summer. Then, suddenly, it’s August and that longed-for adventure has not yet happened.

Despair not!

We’ve got some great adventures planned for August that will salvage the summer and then some. Put on your adventure face, it’s time to get out and play!

=&0=&, backpacking, Linville Gorge, Aug. 10-12. Three days in one of the wildest, most scenic spots in the East will salvage any summer. Our 22 miles in the gorge starts at Table Rock on the East Rim. The first night is spent  atop Shortoff Mountain, with sweeping sunset views of the gorge. On Saturday, we’ll descend to the Linville River for our first river crossing, then head up over rocky terrain interrupted only by behemoth downed trees (this being a designated Wilderness Area, the management strategy is to leave ’em where they lay). Sunday’s hike out includes more traipsing in the wilderness. It’s a backpacker’s most excellent adventure.

=&1=&, Transylvania County (and surrounding environs), camping/hiking, North Mills River Recreation Area, Aug. 17-19. Appropriately, for the dog days of August, we spend this mountain camping trip in appreciation of water. From a base camp at the North Mills River Campground, we’ll do three hikes: On Friday, we start at Gorges State Park with a hike along the Horsepasture River to Rainbow and Turtleback falls; on Saturday, we’ll explore the waterfalls—some of them swim-friendly!—at DuPont State Forest; and on Sunday, we’ll hike along—and in, at some points—North Mills River to the Hendersonville Reservoir. And, to make things even more carefree for you, we’ll provide all the food.

=&2=&, backpacking, Eno River State Park, Aug. 18-19. Here’s your chance to have some fun and sow the seeds for a whole new life of adventure. If you’ve been curious about backpacking, this is your chance to see whether spending the day on the trail and the night in the backcountry is for you. It’s a minimal investment — not even 24 hours, and we provide the backpacking gear — that could alter the trajectory of your exploring life. We’ll get you fitted in a pack and get you packed, then hike in a couple miles, set up camp, cook and hang out. We spend the night in the great outdoors, then cook some more and hike out. Just enough of a taste to let you know if backpacking is for you; if you decide it is, you’ll get 25 percent off our more extensive GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking class in September.

=&3=&, west of Franklin in the Nantahala National Forest, camping/hiking, Aug. 24-26. When it comes to summer adventure, nothing does it for us like days filled with challenging, scenic hiking, followed by lounging around camp and trading stories. That’s what this Classic Escape is all about: Saturday, we hike an 11-mile loop that includes a stretch on the Appalachian Trail and tops out on 5,498-foot Standing Indian Mountain, with a large view to the south and east of rolling ridges of rugged green. On Sunday we’ll fuel you with a pancake breakfast, then hike a shorter loop that includes the Appalachian Trail. In between, we’ll loll in the cool waters of Kimsey Creek, which runs through camp.  

Join us for a summer adventure to remember.

Happy trails,

Joe

More info

For details on the August adventures mentioned:

  • GetBackpacking! Linville Gorge Intermediate Skills, go here.
  • GetHiking! A Transylvania Waterfall Weekend, go here.
  • GetBackpacking! Overnight Sampler, go here. Learn more about this class and our other GetBackpacking! programs here,
  • GetHiking! Classic Escapes: Standing Indian Area, go here.
  • read more

    Finding new places for you to explore

    “You’re hiking where? I’ve never heard of that trail.”

    It’s one of our favorite things to hear, because it means we’re meeting one of our key goals: leading you into the unknown. Sure, we hike a lot of trails more than once, and for good reason: they’re worth it. Our Charlotte group goes to South Mountains State Park regularly, our Charlottesville crew loves the Jones Run/Doyles River Circuit in the Shenandoah National Park. And with 120 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail running through the Triangle, I’ve lead a goodly number of hikes on the statewide path along the Eno River and the south shore of Falls Lake. 

    But it’s the new discoveries most hikers really love.

    “Show of hands,” I said at the beginning of a recent hike at the Shallow Ford Natural Area north of Burlington: “How many of you have hiked here before?” 

    None of the eight hikers raised a hand.

    Ditto a recent after-work hike at the two-year-old Brumley Nature Preserve in Chapel Hill, at Little River Regional Park on the Durham/Orange county line, and on the Great Blue Heron Loop Trail at Haw River State Park’s Iron Ore Belt Access area. Some of these gems are new, some simply off the beaten path. We’re constantly on the lookout for both.

    This week, we thought we would highlight a few upcoming adventures to places that may be new to you.

    • Confluence Natural Area, day hike, Hillsborough, July 22. The Eno River Association is one of those land trusts whose work frequently flies under the radar. If you’ve hiked in Eno River State Park, or at Little River Regional Park, you’ve likely hiked on land preserved by the ERA. They typically buy land in the Eno watershed, then, eventually, turn it over to North Carolina State Parks. This spring, though, the ERA opened the 200-acre Confluence Natural Area, its first preserve open to the public, where we’ll explore 2-miles of newly blazed trail.
    • Standing Indian Recreation Area, hiking/camping weekend, Nantahala National Forest, Aug. 24-26. Standing Indian was new to me when I scouted it in 2009. I was finalizing which trips to include in my book “Backpacking North Carolina” and noticed this big network of trails west of Franklin. It seemed worth a chance — and it was. On this trip, the main hike is an 11-mile loop consisting of a mellow climb up Kimsey Creek to the Appalachian Trail at Deep Gap, then hiking north to 5,498-foot Standing Indian and back to camp on the Lower Ridge Trail. We’ll do a shorter hike Sunday.
    • Curtis Creek, hiking/camping weekend, Pisgah National Forest, Sept. 28-30. The Curtis Creek area of the Pisgah outside Old Fort is hardly new: in fact, it’s the oldest tract in the Pisgah National Forest, dating back more than a century. It’s also not new in that it’s home to some of the oldest old growth in the Pisgah. We’ll explore here and in the nearby Montreat Wilderness area with a climb up 5,592-foot Graybeard Mountain.
    • Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock/Citico Creek Wilderness, four-day backpack trip, Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests, Oct. 25-29. This is the mountain land that time forgot. Too rugged and remote to draw much interest from logging concerns, the area was a natural for inclusion as a designated Wilderness Area. The area may be popular with locals — what locals there are — but it’s largely untouched by us outsiders.
    • Nags Head Woods Preserve, hiking/camping weekend, Outer Banks, Nov. 2-4. Usually, when you head to the Outer Banks, your thoughts are on the beach, not the trail. Yet there’s some stunning hiking to be done, none more so than through the maritime forest at The Nature Conservancy’s thousand-acre Nags Head Woods Preserve. Five miles of trail explores everything from dense woods to the sound. That’s Saturday; on Sunday, we’ll do another five miles amid some of the oldest trees in North Carolina, in Pettigrew State Park.

    Interested in expanding your adventure horizons? Find more information on each adventure in the links below and join us.

    Happy trails,

    Joe

    Explore!

    Learn more about the new places we’ll be exploring by clicking on the links below.

    Confluence Natural Area
    Standing Indian
    Curtis Creek
    Joyce Kilmer-Slicrock/Citico Creek Wilderness

    Nags Head Woods read more