Saturday, our Gethiking! Triangle crew will hike a 5-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail north of Durham. Known as Day-Hike Section S, it’s one of our favorite stretches of the MST through the Triangle because of its ecological diversity: it spends time skirting edge forest, it sidles up to Falls Lake and a large farm pond, it passes through emerging hardwood forest and mature bottomland woods, it takes advantage of long abandoned farm roads.
We love the idea of exploring the wild places out there. But actually doing it can be daunting.
The wildest place we know of in the Southeast is Linville Gorge. Most of the 11,651 acres is wilderness. The gorge is just three-quarters of a mile across, from rim to rim, and is as deep as 1,500 feet in spots. On its 13-mile run through the gorge, the Linville River drops 2,000 vertical feet. So inaccessible is much of the gorge that it contains virgin timber, a rarity in this part of the world. Trail descriptions are peppered with such phrases as “very strenuous,” “very primitive,” and “notoriously steep.” There is no “easy” in Linville Gorge.
Fall is our favorite time of year to go backpacking: temperatures are cooling, the forest is alit in color, the air is dry, the chance of rain is greatly diminished. It’s a great time to be on the trail — and to stay on the trail.
That’s one of the many joys of backpacking: once you’re on the trail, you don’t have to leave. Stay a night, or two or three.
We’ve got a lot going on this fall, for hikers, campers and backpackers.
You love a mountain hike in the fall. What you don’t love is driving there and back in a day. Or paying leaf season rates for a motel. So don’t.
This fall, we’ve got four weekend camping/hiking trips planned to some of the best hiking in the mountains, and one late fall trip to some pretty cool hiking at the coast.
As part of my Monday morning ritual, I check the weather forecast for the hikes, trips and classes we have in the week ahead. It may be the most frustrating thing I do all week. What I have discovered, though, is there’s a whole lot more to deciding whether to proceed or pull the plug than simply checking the chance of bad weather.