Before I head down the trail with a batch of hikers, I do a bit of scouting. Even if I’ve hiked the trail before, the nature of things might have changed. If it’s a trail I hiked just last week, I might just scout the website to see if there’s been any flooding or tree falls. But if it’s been a while, and maybe in a different season, I’ll head on over to the trail and see for myself what’s new. Because, although it’s true that part of the delight of hiking is discovering new things, we don’t want to discover that a trail is impassable or there’s not enough space for overnight camping or there’s no water source for miles.
“We’ve only done five miles?” one of the backpackers asked with a mix of disbelief and despair.
“Yes,” I said, “but they’re likely the hardest five miles you’ve ever done.” Until tomorrow. I kept that last part to myself.
Our nine-person GetBackpacking! group had started that morning at 9 from our campsite atop Shortoff Mountain on the east rim of Linville Gorge. We followed the MST on a steep descent to the Linville River, crossed a 60-yard-wide stretch of water, then made the long descent back up the rugged west rim. Challenging, but nothing like the rollercoaster Leadmine Trail we would take back down to the river. By the time we saw water again, it was 5 o’clock and our legs were done. We took the first suitable campsite.
The theme to The Jeffersons buzzed through my head as I laid back and took in the nylon ceiling. I may not have been moving on up to the East Side, but I was now laying in the tent of my dreams: the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. One dee-lux tent, if ever I’d had one.
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 or slide show 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.
When we launched our GetHiking! program three years ago, the goal was to offer fledgling hikers a supportive hiking environment and to expose more experienced hikers to new trails. Those remaining our overriding goals; we love hiking with you, and while we hope you love hiking with us, we realize that sometimes you’d rather hike alone, or perhaps expose less-experienced friends and family to the joys of hiking. That’s why we’ve moved into a second phase of GetHiking!
Sure, you pick up a thing or two on our hikes. But sometimes you want to know more. Which is why we’ve created a series of classes designed to make you more confident in the woods.