It was a Wednesday evening four years ago about this time and we were huddled in a splotch of shade just off the parking lot, waiting for the last hikers to arrive. It was a few minutes before 6; the temperature was trying to drop from the day’s high of 88, with a humidity that seemed to match. We hadn’t taken a single step, but already we were aglow.
We take a slightly different approach this week, inspired by what seems to be a greater-than-usual offering of intriguing critter programs this weekend in our state parks system. Today, we simply list the program title, the park hosting it, when it is, and a link. You have no reason not to learn a thing or two this weekend.
On a hike several years ago on the Bartram Trail in western North Carolina, I did a quick hiker count and realized one was missing. Despite having handed out customized maps of the hike, despite having gone over the trail could be tricky to follow, and despite our best efforts to herd, one hiker had indeed disappeared from the flock. And I had a pretty good idea where she’d gone wrong. A half mile earlier the Bartram and Appalachian Trail, which had buddied up for a mile, split, the Bartram sticking to the ridge, the AT following a draw down Wayah Mountain. I backtracked and headed down the AT, eventually running down the errant hiker two miles down the trail.
We’re ready for spring, so we can get outside even more often. We bet you’re ready, too.
What say we get together and do a little exploring? Here are some of the adventures we have planned for spring.
Winter Wild Off-Trail Adventures
This series of off-trail adventures started in winter but it’s trickling over into spring — in part, because weather caused a postponement or two. It’s also because we’ve had such a blast on these hikes — a portion of which are on official trail, most of which aren’t — that we decided to extend the program through March. Still to come:
When we launched our GetHiking! program three years ago, the goal was to offer fledgling hikers a supportive hiking environment and to expose more experienced hikers to new trails. Those remaining our overriding goals; we love hiking with you, and while we hope you love hiking with us, we realize that sometimes you’d rather hike alone, or perhaps expose less-experienced friends and family to the joys of hiking. That’s why we’ve moved into a second phase of GetHiking!
Sure, you pick up a thing or two on our hikes. But sometimes you want to know more. Which is why we’ve created a series of classes designed to make you more confident in the woods.
Here’s our lineup so far for fall:
BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina / GetHiking! Fall Hiking Series. This new program is aimed at the beginner hiker, those of you who have been intrigued by the idea of hiking, but intimidated by the prospect of going alone. We will be launching a 10-week series of weekly hikes in six North Carolina metro areas — Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Wilmington, Winston-Salem — starting Sept. 18. Stay tuned for details.
GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking program. Backpacking is a bit like space travel: in both cases, you’re headed into a foreign environment with a life-support system on your back. Thus, since astronauts don’t learn space travel from their buddies, you shouldn’t learn backpacking from acquaintances, either. In three local training sessions, you will learn about the necessary equipment and develop the skills necessary to venture into the woods. The class culminates with a three-day, two-night graduation trip to South Mountains State Park. From beginner to bonafide backpacker in three weeks. Fee: $85 for Triangle, $75 for Triad (introductory offer), includes $35 gift card to Great Outdoor Provision Co. and 10 percent GOPC discount during the course of the session. Class size limited to 12.