Since I answer the question differently every time it’s asked, the notion of a classic hike, obviously, is difficult to pin down. In essence, I define it as a hike that you could do 100 times, and every time will yield a unique experience. Some of that has to do with the trail itself. A lot has to do with the season. A lot, too, with the weather.
When Great Outdoor Provision Co. and GetGoingNC started the GetHiking! program in September of 2013, we did so on a hunch that more people would hike if they wouldn’t be left in the dust a mile down the trail. Thus, one of the key features of our hikes is that no matter how leisurely your pace, no matter how much you like to stop and smell the flowers, you’ll never look over your shoulder to find no one behind you.
The concept seemed to appeal: today, our Meetups in Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle have about 2,400 members.
Last year, we had a similar hunch about backpacking, so we started the GetBackpacking! program, a series of four training hikes capped by a three-day, two-night graduation trip to South Mountains State Park. We’ve done four sessions, all four sessions filled up.
Thus far, we’ve graduated about 40 backpackers through the program. Backpackers who are eager to keep backpacking. Today, we launch a series of monthly backpack trips throughout the region targeted to the emerging backpacker, but certainly suitable to those with more backcountry experience.
Here’s how the program will work:
Once a week, and sometimes twice, I lead a hike through GetHiking! Triangle. I enjoy every hike, often for different reasons. Sometimes it’s for the views, sometimes for a particularly scenic stretch, sometimes for a seasonal treat, such as wildflowers. Always, I look forward to hiking with friends, including ones I’ve yet to meet.
I’m a little more excited than usual, though, about this Saturday’s hike in the Wilson Creek area at the base of the Blue Ridge escarpment below Grandfather Mountain. It’s a deceptive area: it doesn’t have elevation in mountain numbers; rather, what it does have, it has in concentration. Steep climbs, steep descents, lots of rock, lots of water. It’s exhilarating, occasionally exasperating (the trails aren’t always well marked or easy to follow). The topography is extreme.
As I was planning this trip — about eight miles on the North Harper Creek and Harper Creek trails — I came across a trip report from 2011 on our sister site, nchikes.com. It comes from husband-and-wife explorers Juli and Keith Spring, who hiked a nearby section of Wilson Creek as part of the “Backpacking North Carolina Challenge.” The report is short, but gives a good feel for the Wilson Creek experience. It starts below, and makes for a nice, quick escape on a Tuesday.
We’re finally catching up with the mail bag — and just in time for what appears to be the first warm weekend in a while.
You write to us for a variety of reasons. To find out where to take visiting kin hiking. To see if we know what the latest bear situation is in the Smokies. To ask if you can optimize our visibility on the Web, for a modest fee. You also write to point out certain … deficiencies in GetGoingNC’s content. Your latest batch of constructive comments comes in time to help others make the most of a weekend that will see sun and temperatures climbing into the mid 60s.
Translation: Sunday will bring us our first true fall hiking of the season. So get done what you need to get done on Saturday and reserve Sunday for a day in the woods.