Tag Archives: backpacking

‘Backpacking North Carolina’ — Why you need this book

I’m not comfortable with self-promotion.
I make an exception today because the book I worked on for two years is finally in bookstores, and I figure two years worth of work is worth a little self-indulgence. I cut myself some slack, too, because the book — “Backpacking North Carolina” — is pertinent to our mission here at GetGoingNC.com.
I wrote “Backpacking North Carolina” because UNC Press asked me to. We kicked around a number of ideas, they liked this one, mainly because it hadn’t been done. I liked it because it had the potential to open a world of active adventure to people who otherwise might not have  thought that marching through the woods with 40 pounds on their back seemed doable. Or fun.
Based on my first foray into backcountry camping in 1970s, I would have been among the doubters. Packs were heavy and cumbersome, your stuff and you got wet and stayed that way for the duration. Dinner was burned over an open fire, coffee did not in any way resemble the coffee of today. Our low-tech canvas tents were more inclined to collect water than shed it.
To me, backpacking was a sufferfest. Hence, the lengthy gap between my first exposure to backcountry camping in the 1970s and my reconnection with it in the mid-1990s.
Technology has had a huge impact on the outdoor experience. High-tech fabrics dry in an instant, boil-in-bag dinners range from Chicken Vindaloo to Organic Yakisoba Noodles,  I have a sleeping bag that keeps me warm down to 0 degrees, gear has become so light I no longer feel like a pack mule trudging from camp to camp. I wake up on the trail to coffee from a French press.
What I’ve tried to inject into this mix with “Backpacking North Carolina” is an emphasis on exploring vs. hauling. Wherever I could, I tried to find trips where you could backpack in a reasonable distance, set up base camp, then explore the backcountry via daypack-supported day hikes. A good example: the Shining Rock Wilderness, where you can backpack in five miles, set up camp, then enjoy a week’s worth of day trips in one of the most stunning regions of the high country.
“Backpacking North Carolina” isn’t geared toward Survivorists looking to be the last one on the island. It’s for folks who like to hike but don’t yet realize that they would enjoy extending their backcountry journey over two, three, four days — maybe a week while still enjoying nearly all the comforts of a pricey lodge. Enjoy, and be fully physically capable of doing so.
If you want to read more about what’s behind the book, check out this interview on the UNC Press Web site.
If you want to see why you should get into backpacking, check out this slide show.
If you want to come out and chat about backpacking and trails (have I mentioned my other book, “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina”?), check out this list of upcoming appearances.
And if you’re still not convinced that backpacking is for you, leave a comment voicing your reservations and we’ll have a chat. You want to try backpacking, you know you do.
Or at least I know you do. read more

Take the back door into Middle Prong Wilderness

Wilderness areas shouldn’t be the private domain of only the most intrepid swashbuckling types who have no compunction about pushing through where the trail disappears, about fording waist-deep streams, about scrambling through rhododendron hells ever-so-deserving of the name. They shouldn’t be their private playground and they needn’t be. Provided you know how to get in the back door. read more

Ditching one winter expedition for another

The plan was to go backpacking at Mount Rogers, a plan that was ultimate done in by it’s inspiration

A winter trip to the highest, most exposed part of Virginia during one of the snowiest winters in recent memory? Epic! But then the area got an additional foot of snow last week on top of an existing foot (sending drifts up over six feet from their original four, according to an advisory posted on the Web site for Grayson Highlands State Park, which adjoins Rogers). Even more snow was forecast overnight. Then a backpacking colleague pointed out that what blazes there are at Mount Rogers (mostly on rocks, since trees are scarce in spots) would likely be covered. Finally, my partner for the trip backed out. read more

Adventure envy

I was … envious?

Envious of Alan’s 13-hour nights in the tent? Envious of the 10-degree nights? Envious of having to crawl out of a warm bag at 4 a.m. for the inevitable commune with nature that goes with calling it a night at 6 p.m.?

Alan had just gotten back from six days on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Six days that saw the first cold of the season descend, bringing with it those 10-degree nights and daytime highs in the 20s. Six days with snow, a foot on the trail in places, drifts of up to two-and-a-half feet. Six rare days of bona fide winter backpacking, Southern style. His trip had the added cache of accompanying a thru-hiker down the homestretch. His buddy Rich — a k a Orson Deep Waters — was concluding his conquest of the AT (a conquest interrupted once to cut Christmas trees in Avery County in November, once to go to Belgium for the world punkin‘ chunkin‘ championship). Meanwhile, I spent the week here in Cary, sick, going three-on-one with the kids. An adventure in its own right. read more