Ten years ago, we ran a weekly series of posts called “Hikes You Can Do.” They were hikes across the state, seven in all, that weren’t long (though some included longer options), that weren’t necessarily strenuous (but would still get your heartbeat up), and that just about anybody could do.
When it comes to winter hiking, we tend to develop a circle-the-wagons mentality: Who knows what might happen with the weather. Better keep my winter hiking close to home.
It’s a valid thought. But it needs tweaking.
True, if you live in the Piedmont, the weather is a bit more predictable than in the mountains. We learn this in summer when there’s no rain in the forecast, and then — boom — darned if a thunderstorm doesn’t roll through mid-afternoon. A drenching rain in the heat is one thing. A cold rain-turned-sleet-and-snow in winter is a much more formidable, and potentially life-threatening, matter. So why take the risk?
If you’ve been hiking in the last couple days, you’ve likely walked out the front door on hike morning and had your first Aha! moment of the season.
Aha! as in, “Aha, I need to grab another layer or two!”
As Aha! moments go, it’s one of our favorites. We love hiking late-fall-into-winter: the air is typically dry, the diminished foliage lets you see deeper into the woods, the increasingly angled winter sunlight seems to lite the forest from the ground up.
Imagine, if you will, a first weekend of November that begins bright and sunny with a temperature in the 30s, a temperature not likely to get out of the 50s during the afternoon peak. And a weekend that, throughout much of the state, will be festooned with the best fall color of the year. Imagine, if you will, this weekend … .
It seemed like a good idea when it first occurred to us. Based on how this past weekend went, turns out it was.
This weekend we held our first GetBackpacking! Weekend Quick Escape. The premise: fall is perhaps the best time of year to be in the backcountry. It’s also the time when us working stiffs discover we’ve plowed through our PTO (or what we referred to as “vacation” in simpler times). The challenge: cram as much adventure into the time between when the 5 o’clock whistle blows on Friday and it’s time to pick out our wardrobe for Monday.