Tag Archives: Backpacking North Carolina

Hey, aspiring hikers! ‘Let’s GetHiking!’

On Monday evening, our GetHiking! Triangle group celebrated the start of Daylight Saving Time with an after-work hike at Eno River State Park. We had some new people on the hike, and it was clear that they were a bit tentative. 

But, a mile down the trail, I noticed the steady buzz of happy hiker chatter. Our more experienced hikers had adopted the newcomers and were making them feel at home. When we finished our four miles and returned to the trailhead, it was near dark and the temperature was rapidly dropping, yet no one was in a hurry to leave. The conversation continued another 10 minutes or so until we had trouble seeing one another. I knew the newcomers would be back. read more

Get Out! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

The forecast for the weekend is looking better than it has for a spell: some chance of rain (but mostly sunny) with temperatures in the 80s. Sounds like exploring weather to us.

As we do every Friday in this space, we offer encouragement and direction to get you out and about over the weekend ahead. First, we recommend the two venues shown in the video: Brumley Forest Nature Preserve, a Triangle Land Conservancy property between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough that’s surprisingly diverse (and flat, if you’re into that kind of thing), and Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough. At 867 feet, it’s the highest point in the Triangle and has some surprisingly montane flora. Links below.

National Trails Day is Saturday, which means all sorts of NTD-related events across the land: nearly 1,000 events nationwide including 35 in North Carolina. One we’re particularly keen on is our GetHiking! Triangle hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake, a 6-mile saunter through edge forest, meadow, shoreline and along railroad tracks. Kind of a Huck Finn adventure. Learn more and sign up to join us, here.

Three other NTD events you might especially like:

  • Giving Back at Stone Mountain State Park, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Roaring Gap. Workday, including maintenance on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. More info here.
  • NTD on Bearwallow Mountain, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Hendersonville. Family-friendly hike to the summit of this Conserving Carolina property. More info here.
  • Cruise the Neuse, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Goldsboro. Paddle a section of the Neuse with Goldboro Parks & Rec.: $15 fee includes boat rental, t-shirt and lunch. More info here.
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    A Classic Hike in the Smokies

    What constitutes a “classic” hike? asks the author of “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina” (2007, Mountaineers) and creator of the GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes series.

    Content from A Classic Hike in the Smokies

    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 I first hiked the Mt. Sterling/Cataloochee Valley area in 2005 — Trips 17 and 18 if you’re following along in “Backpacking North Carolina” (2011, UNC Press) — it was on a late November day. There were light, indifferent clouds overhead, the landscape had turned from predominantly green to predominantly brown and gray. The landscape was stark, the air cold. The sky, while not threatening, suggested I not overstay my visit atop 5,843-foot Mt. Sterling. A decade later, I still have vivid memories of that trip, though not of the reality TV variety.

    This weekend, I made my first return visit, with GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes. This time it was early spring in the high country. Wildflowers were prolific. The hardwoods had budded in the valley but not at elevation. It was cloudy with a light rain falling most of the day, with late day reports of sleet and fat snowflakes from the summit. The world was a shiny, wet green, with flashes of color — blinding white dogwood blooms in the understory, the forest floor peppered with white, yellow and purple blooms — popping in contrast.

    Memorable in a different way than my first visit. Not necessarily better, different. And, I’m sure, it will be different the next time I visit.

    Despite the fact I use the word “classic” liberally despite an imprecise definition, it’s not a word I use lightly. Maybe I can’t define a classic hike, but I know one when I hike it.

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    GetBackpacking! Launches Monthly Weekend Trips

    On our latest GetBackpacking! graduation trip, to South Mountains State Park.
    On our latest GetBackpacking! graduation trip, to South Mountains State Park.

    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:

    Monthly trips. Initially, our trips will be three or four days: leave early Friday, return Sunday or Monday. We will post all trips on GetHiking! Triangle.
    Destinations. Most of the destinations will come from my “Backpacking North Carolina: The Definitive Guide to 43 Can’t-Miss Trips from Mountains to Sea” (2011, UNC Press). We’ll also venture into neighboring states. Some trips will involve backpacking from campsite to campsite, for others, we will set up a basecamp from which we’ll do day hikes.

    First trip read more

    Hiking Wilson Creek generates a bigger buzz than usual

    Huntfish Falls has a generous swimming hole at its base.

    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.
    Enjoy!

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    Congratulations to Keith and Juli Gibson Spring, the first hikers to take on the Backpacking North Carolina Challenge. Keith and Juli did Trip No. 8 in “Backpacking North Carolina,” the Hunt Fish Falls Loop in the Wilson Creek Area, a hike that Juli, the more avid backpacker of the Durham couple, had been hesitant to take because of reports that the trail was hard to follow, a common lament of the Wilson Creek area.

    Juli usually backpacks with some girlfriends (they’ve been doing a couple of trips a year for the past 10 to 15 years; their email list now totals about 25), but convinced Keith to tag along on a recent scouting trip of the area. Here’s how their trip went.

    “Our plan was to hike in to the first camping area downstream, about 1.5 miles in. Then we would hike one loop with the remainder of the day on Saturday and the other loop on Sunday.”

    Before they reached the trailhead, an ominous feeling befell Juli.

    “You know that nagging feeling you get when you know you forgot something important? Like, hiking boots?” Read more here.

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