We take a slightly different approach this week, inspired by what seems to be a greater-than-usual offering of intriguing critter programs this weekend in our state parks system. Today, we simply list the program title, the park hosting it, when it is, and a link. You have no reason not to learn a thing or two this weekend.
Ready to up your backpacking game in 2019? Or get a backpacking game going, period? We’re ready to help!
First, if you’re curious about backpacking but don’t have any experience, we have two courses designed to get you started.
- GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking. More than 200 backpackers have come through this comprehensive intro course since it launched in 2013. We start with a two-hour gear session, going over the gear you’ll need, the gear options available, and how to get that gear into your pack. Next we have a five-hour, in-the-field training session in which we hike two miles in full pack, scout campsites, set up camp, cook a meal, break camp and hike out. Finally, we take a weekend trip to South Mountains State Park. Loaner gear available.
- GetBackpacking! Overnight Sampler. Intrigued by backpacking but not ready to commit to our Intro class? This overnight session gives you a taste of hiking with a full pack and of spending the night in the woods. Backpacking gear and food provided.
Now, let’s get into our trips! Unless otherwise indicated, our backpack trips accommodate folks with a range of experience, from recent graduates of Intro to Backpacking through experienced backpackers. Newer backpackers learn from experienced backpackers. And, since we do all the planning, experienced backpackers will be able to get in more than a trip or two a year. Here’s where we’re headed the first half of 2019:
- Appalachian Trail: Max Patch to Hot Springs, January 19-21. Get a taste of winter camping on one of the more winter-friendly 20-mile stretches of the AT in the state. Trip includes shuttle, and for folks with minimal winter camping experience, we will have a pre-hike winter-preparedness training session.
- Croatan National Forest: Neusiok Trail, February 8-10. If it’s too cold for you to backpack the mountains in February, you’ll love the milder weather on this trip in the coastal Croatan. This 20-miler isn’t entirely flat: the northern six miles has some mildly rolling terrain, including a patch or two hinting of the mountains. The Neusiok Trail in winter is our most popular backpack trip.
- Uwharrie National Forest: Dutchman’s Creek Loop, March 30-31. This is a good opportunity for warm-weather backpackers to shake off the winter cobwebs and get ready for the backpacking season. We’ll hike in 5.5 miles on Saturday, camp, then complete the loop Sunday with a 6.5-mile hike out. This trip is for women only.
- Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to US 19E, April 5-7. Mile-for-mile, trail doesn’t get much more scenic than this 21-mile run that starts with three balds in the first couple miles, encounters two more about 8 miles in, and throws in additional great views along the way. We’ll be on the cusp of the spring wildflower bloom as well.
- Intro to Linville Gorge, May 17-19. Full immersion into Linville Gorge can be overwhelming for the first-time backpacker: the trails are steep, rocky, rugged. On top of that, the gorge has a way of generating its own weather. In this introduction, we establish base camp on the east rim, atop Shortoff Mountain, then don daypacks to drop into the gorge itself.
- Going Solo in Wilson Creek, May 31-June 2. In this weekend class, we hike in and spend the first night together. The second night, backpackers spread over a mile-long stretch of trail for their first overnight solo (with the trip leader not far away).
Make 2019 your year of backpacking.
For more info
When we started GetBackpacking! four years ago, we assumed that everyone wanted to learn how to plan a trip, then venture off on their own. But we quickly learned that not everyone enjoys pulling out the topo maps, the rulers, the string, the protractor, the hiking guides to plot a trip. They come to the trip planning meetings to prepare for a specific trip, but they’re not so interested in sussing out the information on their own. And that’s fine with us. We love that backpackers are out there to calm their minds, to clear their heads, to reduce their world to the basics: food, shelter, survival. If the logistics of planning and following that plan are a burden, we are more than glad to take the reins.
We do, however, find some backpackers who subscribe to our initial premise, who do want to learn how to plan and execute a trip on their own.
In our most recent planning session, Nick, one of the backpackers attending this weekend’s GetBackpacking! Going Solo trip to Wilson Creek, noted: “I’m interested in doing some trips on my own, but I have no idea how to plan one. I don’t know how to find out if there’s water, or where I would find a campsite.”
So, for Nick and his kind, we’ve worked up a new class that we’ll debut this fall:
- Trip planning. Are you up for planning a trip, but not sure where to start? In this two-part class we go over all the basics—using both time-trusted tools like maps and more modern tools like Mr. Google—to help you plan a trip. That’s Session 1; for Session 2, you’ll return with your trip plan to share with the class.
We will continue on with our Intro to Backpacking course, which will be retooled a bit for fall. We’ll start with a two-hour gear session, during which we go over the basic gear required, the options available, then how to properly pack your gear. Then we’ll spend the better part of a Saturday at Morrow Mountain State Park setting up and breaking down camp, cooking, and getting used to hiking in a full pack. Finally, graduation: a two-night trip to South Mountains State Park to execute your new skills.
For backpackers interested in moving toward independence, we’ll continue with our series of Intermediate Skills Classes:
- Going Solo. If you’re into backpacking for the solitude but are leery of going the distance, we help you prepare as much as possible, then take you on a supervised solo trip.
- Winter Camping. Cold and snow and a scarcity of sunlight make backpacking a different animal in winter. The season also underscores the importance of careful planning. We help you plan, then execute, a winter trip.
- Navigating Wilderness. Wilderness areas are intended to be devoid of the impact of man. For starters, that means no blazes, no signs, no trail maintenance. Our class takes the mystery out of navigating a wilderness.
- Our Wildest Places. A new trip series that will take us to some of the wildest areas in the Southeast in a series of 3- and 4-day trips. Our first trip will be a Friday thru Monday trip to the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Wilderness in far western North in October.
And for those of you intrigued by the notion of backpacking but not sure if you want to make a full commitment, we have:
=&7=&. We provide the backpacking gear on this overnight trip designed to give you a sense of spending a night in the backcountry.
Regardless of your motivation for backpacking, we have a place for you around the GetBackpacking! campfire.
For more information on the classes described above:
=&0=&=&10=&This class will be held in August, the dates for which are to be determined. Keep an eye on GetHiking! Triangle for details, or email us at email@example.com to receive information before the session is announced.
=&2=&. We have one more opening for the
trip this weekend
The photo was taken last August on a GetBackpacking! trip into Linville Gorge. It was a three-day, 22-mile trip that involved two crossings of the Linville River, a knee-busting descent into Chimney Gap followed by a calf-burning ascent out, navigating a river section that had little interest in being navigated, and this drop into the gorge on the Leadmine Trail—a path that looked relatively innocuous on the topo map. In reality, it’s a path best tackled by tossing your pack down the mountain first, then scooting down after it. You know how trails rarely look as steep in photos? Not this one.
The weekend was filled with moments like this—moments, when, had a plank been handy in this raucous assemblage of rock, rhododendron and roiling water, I might have been asked to take a walk.
Yet late Sunday afternoon, when we returned to the trailhead, the requests began: We gotta do this again! (Perhaps not immediately, but within a couple days.)
We gotta do this again!
Was it because we had great weather?
A month later at Wilson Creek, it rained most of the weekend. We saw the sun when we met at the Visitor Center, but it had disappeared by the time we reached the trailhead 20 minutes later, never to return. Yet same thing: We gotta come back.
Part of what draws us back is the promise of the truly memorable. On a trip earlier this year in the Uwharries, we camped in the clearing atop Little Long Mountain and watched day ever-so-slowly fade to night, then sat star-struck beneath a brilliant winter sky devoid of clouds and much light pollution. Likewise, a trip on the AT in February found us crossing Max Patch on a cloudless day, the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia sleepily rippling into the distance. If you’ve ever done the 14-mile stretch of AT between Carver’s Gap and US 19E on a sunny day, you know all about the truly memorable.
The evening campfire, the electronic detachment, the dehydrated meals that are the best ever, and the simplicity — wake, eat, walk, make camp, eat, sleep — make things like daylong rain and a sketchy trail seem a small price to pay.
Here on the cusp of the 2018 backpacking season, we are especially excited about the adventures ahead, which include:
One of my goals for 2018 is to take better advantage of potential opportunities. In some cases — a car refusing to start before the temperature reaches 20, for instance — that may mean simply recognizing opportunity in the first place. One of our goals at GetGoingNC in 2018 is to do a better job of helping you find opportunities, then take advantage of them. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve identified some of the opportunities we’re creating to help you be more active in this new year. As you contemplate your course for the year ahead, here’s a quick recap of these programs — and a reminder that we’ll be sharing more in the next couple of weeks.
=&1=&. You’ve wondered about hiking, now’s your opportunity to act. Our Beginning Hiker Series consists of eight weekly hikes at different locations around the Triangle intended to introduce you to the world of hiking. The hikes are 2 to 4 miles long, are on Sunday afternoons, and — and this is especially important for you beginners — are led from the back, so you’ll never be left behind. Starts Jan. 7. Learn more and sign up here.
=&2=&. Need a little motivation to keep hiking in winter? Every Sunday afternoon through February, we’ll hike a different trail in the Triangle area. We’ll start with a 4.2-mile hike along the Eno and finish with a 9.7-mile hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. In between, our hikes will be 5 to 6 miles — just long enough to get you ready for the spring hiking season. Starts Jan. 7. Learn more and sign up here.
=&3=&. Once a month from January through June, we’ll hike a different trail within an hour-and-a-half drive of the Triangle. The series is designed to expose those of you accustomed to hiking locally to some of the great Piedmont trails nearby. The hikes will generally be 5 to 6 miles long. Learn more and sign up here.
=&4=&. There’s a certain romance, well deserved, about backpacking, about spending a weekend or longer on the trail, detached: no boats, no lights, no motor cars … . But that romance is unlikely to blossom if you aren’t prepared. Our Intro program includes three training sessions each focused on a specific skill — gear and packing, setting up and breaking down camp, food and its consumption — followed by a weekend graduation trip to the mountains. There is no better way to introduce yourself to the sport. Learn more and sign up here.
=&5=&. So you already do some backpacking but would like to become more proficient. Our Intermediate Skills classes help you become more confident in the areas of wilderness navigation, river crossings, solo backpacking, hiking and camp set-up at night, and winter backpacking. Learn more and sign up here.
=&6=&. In 2018, we plan to do a trip a month. Some will be three-day weekend excursions, some will be longer. Most are great opportunities for both beginners, who can to hike with and learn from more experienced backpackers, and more seasoned backpackers, who can not only mentor newbies but also discover new places. Learn more and sign up here.
Opportunities to explore — they abound in 2018. Reach out and take advantage of them today.
Happy Trails and a Happy New Year,