Category Archives: Uncategorized

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

We return to winter-like temperatures (in the 40s) this weekend, which makes our thoughts turn to adventure that keeps us on the move. Our three suggestions for the weekend:

  • Aquatic Ecosystem Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., Haw River State Park, Browns Summit. If you live in the central Piedmont, you’ve likely crossed the Haw River a time or two. And perhaps you’ve wondered: Where does this thing begin? It begins north of Greensboro, pretty much where you’ll find Haw River State Park, site of Saturday’s 1.5-mile walk checking out the river’s headwaters and the plants and critters that call it home. Learn more here.
  • Sunday Saunter, Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. Eno River State Park has been hosting a series of Sunday morning hikes that are a little longer (in this case, 3 to 4 miles) and a little more laid back. This Sunday: a mellow meander along the Cole Mill and Bobbit Hole trails. Learn more here.
  • Jomeokee Hike, Sunday, 10 a.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. You love the idea of exploring Pilot Mountain on the weekend, but you don’t love the idea of the crowds. Beat the wait for a parking spot up top by coming early for this hike exploring the base of the pinnacle. Distance: a little less than a mile.

As always, you can find more opportunities this weekend here:

  • North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
  • North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
  • You can also find more adventures right here, at

GetHiking! this weekend

New Trail Hike: Pilot Creek Trail, Saturday, 9 a.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. Our GetHiking! Triad and Triangle groups are getting together to explore the recent handiwork of the Friends of Sauratown Mountains — the 3.3-mile Pilot Creek Trail, which explores the north flank of the mountain. Learn more and sign up to join us, here. read more

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

This week’s video is a salute to exploring in the rain, which is our way of saying there’s a lot of it in the forecast the next few days.

But not on Saturday! So, we have three options today: 1) if you want to stay dry, 2) if you don’t mind the rain, 3) if you’d rather wait until New Year’s Day (when there’s still a chance of rain).

  • Small Steps, Saturday, 10 a.m., Eno River State Park, Durham. This is the no-rain option (in the words of the Eno River State Park poet laureate): If your 2019 goal is a fitter you, begin your journey with a river view. read more

GetOut! Your Friday Nudge for Weekend Adventure

There is still good fall color to be had, and based on the forecast, it’s to be had against a backdrop of crisp baby blue skies. That said, some thoughts on the weekend ahead.

  • Fall Foliage Hike, Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Haw River State Park, Browns Summit. What we said above about the forecast should make the colors pop even more. Learn more here.
  • Fall Tree ID Hike, Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. When was the last time you slow down enough on the trail to learn a thing? Can’t recall? Then this could be the most informative half mile you’ll come across this year. Learn more here.
  • Weymouth Goes to the Dogs!, Sunday, 3 p.m., Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines. Learn more here.
  • read more

    GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

    Finally, some fall-like weather! The weather unpleasantness that blew through late in the week has been replaced by seasonable temperatures. Meaning if you head out for a hike early Saturday, you better be packing fleece — it could be in the upper 40s.

    That said, a few thoughts on the weekend ahead:

    GetHiking! Triangle Fleece Hike at Horton Grove, Saturday, 9 a.m. Horton Grove Nature Preserve, Bahama. We aren’t about to pass on our first opportunity of the fall to hike in fleece! Expect a temperature around 50 when we hit the trail on this 6-mile hike. Starting from the old white barn on Jock Road we’ll hike a loop composed of the Jordan, Walker, Peaks, Holman, Hart and Justice trails. Because of its elevation and location on a high plateau, it should be comparatively immune from the drenching rains of Michael. Learn more and sign up here.

    Big Canoe Program, Saturday, 2 p.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville (northeast corner of the state). We’re intrigued by the simple program description: “Come to the visitors center at 2:00 p.m. for a canoe program in large canoes.” Large canoes … hmm. It’s free, and while these are large canoes, seating is limited, preregistration is required, by calling 252.357.1191. Not much more information here.

    =&2=&, Sunday, 1 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap (west of Elkin, which is northwest of Winston-Salem. If you’re new to hiking, this is a great starter hike: from the Lower Trailhead Parking Area, it’s a short hike (a half mile overall) to the Hutchinson Homestread, long enough to see some emerging fall color, learn about the homestead, and see the massive moon face of Stone Mountain (and likely some climbers working their way up the smooth face). Moreyinfo here.

    More options

    You can find more opportunities this weekend here:

    • North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
    • North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
    • You can also find more adventures right here, at

    And if you’re interested in exploring the two areas featured in our video, you can find more info by clicking the link below:

    Little River Regional Park
    Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Falls Lake

    Day-Hike Section S read more

    Backpacking: An Adventure in Lifelong Learning 

    My reintroduction to backpacking, after a nearly 20-year hiatus, was in 1995. I signed up for a weekend immersion course through Smithfield Parks and Rec. We left Saturday morning, hiked and camped the Birkhead Wilderness node of the Uwharrie National Forest, hiked out Sunday. It was a crash course, and at the time I figured it taught me 90 percent of what I needed to know about backpacking. More than 20 years later, I still chuckle at the thought. Naive me. Backpacking is an adventure in lifelong learning. 

    In fact, what I learned on that 36-hour weekend in the Birkheads was maybe 5 percent of what I need to know about backcountry camping. I’m still learning, every time I go out, about living with all my needs condensed to 28 pounds in a 50-liter pack. 

    That 28 pounds is a good example of the learning process. In 1995, I was lugging 50 pounds on my back. Learning how to drop more than 20 pounds was a long process of trial and error. By necessity, backpacking turns you into a lifelong learner. Carrying 50 pounds when you’re 40 is survivable. Carrying 50 pounds when you’re 62 is what drives people to say, “This is a youngster’s sport.” 

    But backpacking is an adventure for all ages, so long as you stay attentive and learn both about gear and about your own capacities on the trail. I dropped those 20-plus pounds in part by swapping a 2-pound tent that collapses to the size of a football for of a 6-pounder that I had to strap it to the back of my pack; by migrating from a bulky and not so comfy foam sleeping pad to a lightweight and much more plush inflatable; and by swapping my Boy Scout-era sleeping bag whose bulk nearly demanded a backpack of its own for a down bag that compacts to a quarter of my first bag’s size and weight.

    This evolution is a key point we drive home with out GetBackpacking! program. It starts with our GetBackpacking! Overnight Sampler, the briefest of introductions to backpacking (comparable to the class I took back in 1995), it permeates our GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking class and it continues with our Intermediate Skills trips aimed at established backpackers eager to become more proficient in the backcountry. 

    • GetBackpacking! Overnight Sampler. This class is for the uninitiated, for the person who has heard of backpacking, is curious, but isn’t prepared to commit until they get a better sense of what it’s about. Learning potential: You’re starting from scratch, so we won’t overwhelm you with information. We touch on the basics, going over the pack and getting it to fit comfortably so you get a sense of hiking a couple miles in full pack; we go over what goes into the pack, discussing the philosophy of whittling one’s needs to what fits comfortably in a backpack; we go over spotting a good campsite, setting up camp, enjoying camp; and, perhaps most importantly, we allow you to appreciate on your own the wonder of spending a night in the woods. Loaner backpacks, tents, sleeping pads and stoves are available.
    • GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking. In this class you quickly appreciate the lasting learning potential of backpacking. Again, we try not to overwhelm, though we come close. And it’s not just us: because your classmates are eager to learn, they’ve been doing homework on their own. The group information sharing in this class makes you a confident backpacker by the time you emerge from graduation weekend at South Mountains State Park. Learning potential: There’s not a test, per se, at the end of this class, but we do advise participants to bring a pencil and notebook and take notes. You’ll get a solid education in backpacking basics; more important, you’ll walk away with the resources and resourcefulness to continue learning and growing on your own.
    • GetBackpacking! Intermediate Skills. Our Intermediate Skills classes are intended to take your learning to the graduate-degree level. Our next Intermediate Skills class, in two weeks, is focused on trip planning, specifically planning a trip in a wilderness. With all the appropriate resources needed to plan a trip — maps, guidebooks, etc. — we’ll meet, and with the four days allowed for the trip, plan our route, keeping in mind water sources, campsites, reasonable mileages considering the terrain and more. If you’ve ever wished you had more say in a backpack trip, this course will give you the confidence to speak up.

    Backpacking is a course you’ll never complete. And one you’ll always look forward to.

    Happy Trails,



    Here’s what we have going on the rest of fall semester:

    =&0=&, Oct. 20-21, Raven Rock State Park. Details here.
    =&1=&, November session, Haw River State Park/South Mountains State Park. Details here.