Technically, it may still be summer (fall starts a week from Friday, on Sept. 22), but the weather suggests the season is well underway. Sunny skies, dry air, temperatures in the 70s and low 80s: weather that beckons with a seductive come-hither finger to come outside and have some fun.
That breath of fresh air you inhaled coming out of the house Monday morning — a breath devoid of hot, of wet, of recreational despair — convinced our GetHiking! crews that there’s no need to wait for fall in order to take a fall-like hike. Let’s do it now, our hike leaders declared. Or at least this weekend.
So we will.
This weekend, GetHiking! Charlotte, GetHiking! Triad and GetHiking! Triangle will all exceed the 10-mile mark, a distance typically not contemplated by most until it’s time to toss a fleece into the daypack. Fleece be danged, let’s hike!
Here’s what our three hiking groups have planned for the weekend:
Last weekend, we had a taste of the hot, muggy weekends that will rule for most of the next three months. This weekend, however, a reprieve: temperatures won’t get above 70 in the mountains, while low to mid 70s under sunny skies will be the rule in the Piedmont, slightly warmer temps at the coast. In short, a good weekend to get out and do just about anything.
Saturday, 30 hikers with our GetHiking! Triangle hiking group set off on an ambitious, but certainly not arduous, task: To hike all 60 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake. In Greensboro, our GetHiking! Triad group likewise launched a month of exploring the MST with a 5.7-mile hike on a section it piggybacks on the Sauratown Trail between Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain. And this Saturday, GetHiking! Charlotte will commence its month-long exploration of the MST with a hike from the Basin Cove Overlook to the Devil’s Garden Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Why do I push hiking?
For one, it’s accessible. North Carolina is blessed with great hiking trails. No matter where you live, from the coast to the mountains, there are great trails a short drive away. (We even have a trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, linking the coast and the mountains.)
Hiking is social. Of all the ways you can get your heart rate up, hiking is perhaps the most amenable to doing so with friends. The movement, the fresh air, the surroundings regardless of where they are, all contribute to a convivial atmosphere.
It’s soothing. For a lot of us, being in the woods is a sedative. That’s not just me talking, there’s science to back that up (see below).
It doesn’t feel like a workout. Sure, there may be times at the end of a long day where you realize your body is working, but typically that realization doesn’t occur until later on — when you try to get out of the car, for instance.
All of which is why last September GetGoingNC, with support from Great Outdoor Provision Co., launched the GetHiking! program. GetHiking! focuses on two audiences: Folks who have long been interested in hiking but, for whatever reason, have yet to take their first step into the woods. And more experienced hikers who would hike more if they knew more places to hike.
For the former, our hikes are lead from the rear, meaning you’ll never hike alone. A guide will always be at the back of the pack. For the latter, we try and hit new trails every week, ensuring that you expand your universe of hiking options.
The program launched in the Triangle in September. To date, we now have more than 500 members. Our weekly hikes can be intimate, with as few as 15 hikers, or they can be events, with upwards of 70 participants.
Based on our response in the Triangle, we are expanding GetHiking! into Winston-Salem and Charlotte, with hikes scheduled to begin in both regions later this month. You can learn more about the Triad program here, GetHiking! Charlotte here. And you can find out about our hikes and other events, and join up, by visiting the following: