Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
Even before the talk began I realized I had a live one on the line.
I was at the King Public Library Tuesday evening for a presentation on backpacking, a presentation tied to my book, “Backpacking North Carolina.” On the surface, the book is a guide to 43 places to backpack in the state. But it’s true intent is to debunk the backpacking stereotype: of an arduous pursuit best left to survivalists and folks with a high threshold for discomfort.
While most of you are staring down Day 3 of your 2012 New Year’s resolutions, I find myself with less than five months to go on my annual birthday resolutions. Make that “first” annual birthday resolutions: When I turned 55 last May 11 I got to Googling and discovered that 55 is a somewhat pivital year for a male. Among other things, our muscles and organs begin to atrophy; we shrink, on average, 0.4 inches a year; we dehydrate more easily; our joints stiffen … . Suffice it to say that on May 11 of last year I didn’t feel I could wait seven months to set some goals, so I set 10 immediately. All with a theme of 55.
I cringed when I picked up the July Outside magazineand saw that it had the Mountains-to-Sea Trail listed under “Best Through-Hikes You’ve Never Heard Of.” No mention was made of the fact that the roughly 1,000-mile MST is only a little over half done, meaning that roughly 500 miles of this best-trail-you’ve-never-heard-of actually is on pavement, often competing with cars. Not exactly the escape most of us seek when we hit the trail.
The conversation during our three days together backpacking the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area this past Easter weekend always seemed to come back to nutrition. Grace, Lois and Alan had carted in enough fresh produce to start a farmer’s market at our Rhododendron Gap campsite. Conservatively, I’d guess they had 45 pounds of food between them. I was relying heavily on prepackaged, come-to-life-with-boiling-water dehydrated food, from instant oatmeal in the morning to cook-in-bag meals at night. Foodwise, I couldn’t have been carrying 5 pounds, if that.