My reintroduction to backpacking, after a nearly 20-year hiatus, was in 1995. I signed up for a weekend immersion course through Smithfield Parks and Rec. We left Saturday morning, hiked and camped the Birkhead Wilderness node of the Uwharrie National Forest, hiked out Sunday. It was a crash course, and at the time I figured it taught me 90 percent of what I needed to know about backpacking. More than 20 years later, I still chuckle at the thought. Naive me. Backpacking is an adventure in lifelong learning.
It’s been a toasty first week of October, but the forecast for the weekend calls for cooling and temperatures of a more seasonal nature. That said, some thoughts on how you can get out and enjoy an adventurous weekend.
- GetHiking! Triangle: 5 Miles on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake, Durham. Saturday, 9 a.m. Record heat has kept fall color at bay, but it’s a good bet we’ll see some on this hike that includes ecosystems that tend to promote early color. One of the more remote stretches of the MST through the Triangle. Learn more and sign up here.
- Vade Mecum Trails Open, Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury. Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The first weekend of every month, this new section of Hanging Rock State Park opens its trails for hiking, taking you into remote parts of the Sauratown Range and past remnants of the area’s past as Camp Sertoma. Learn more here.
- Fall Hike Along Commissary Trail, Mount Mitchell State Park, Burnsville (sorta). 2 miles. Sunday, 10 a.m. A ranger-led hike on this trail just below the ridgeline of the Black Mountain Crest, the highest mountain range on the East Coast. Expect cold temperatures and good color at this elevation. Learn more here.
You can find more opportunities this weekend here:
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.
We’re all wondering the same thing: are my favorite places to explore open post Hurricane Florence?
Here’s a look at what I’ve found for our upcoming GetHiking! and GetBackpacking! adventures. Hopefully, my sleuthing can help you in figuring out your own upcoming adventure plans.