Tag Archives: orienteering

Leave the trail behind

OffTrail.NoPassage

You love your trails. You can’t imagine what life would be like without them.
For starters, life might be a little more adventurous.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my trails as well. The Sycamore Trail at Umstead (especially during a rain, when its namesake creek is roiling). The trail network at Horton Grove Nature Preserve, which seems perpetually bathed in ethereal light. The 14-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail north of Carvers Gap, which is one stunning 360-degree view after another.
But sometimes, the terrain beyond the confines of the well-maintained, blazed path beckons. The hollow where the distant sound of crashing water suggests a cataract. The distant rocky summit promising great views. The woods that call for no apparent reason other than you’ve never paid a visit.
The lure of the unknown.
Trails exist for good reason. To keep you from getting lost tops the list. They also help minimize our impact as visitors, keeping us from trampling sensitive ecosystems and basically letting the land, for the most part, be. Yet every once in a while … .
Yesterday, we shared a recent … wilderness wander at one of our favorite local haunts. We feel comfortable making an occasional trail departure, in large part because we follow a few simple rules that all but assure we will make our way back to civilization. The best testament to these rules: we’re here to talk about them (rather than still in the woods, wandering, looking for the way out).
Before we share those simple rules: exploring off trail is something you should ease into. It’s best to head out your first few times with someone experienced, someone such as Rod Broadbelt, who this Saturday leads his annual Ruins Hike at Umstead State Park. Nearly all of this 10-mile hike, which visits 20 historic sites in the park, is off-trail. Rod’s done this hike for more than 20 years and knows the park well; hang with him (if you can) and learn his approach to off-trail exploring.
That hike meets at 8 a.m. Saturday morning in the Umstead lot at the end Harrison Avenue in Cary, off I-40 (exit 287). Questions? Contact Rod at rbroadbelt@nc.rr.com.
Now, some tips for off-trail exploring on your own. read more

This weekend: Venture fourth

This July 4, celebrate our independence in the freedom of the great outdoors.

Note: Most coastal state parks are planning to close Thursday and Friday in anticipation of Hurricane Arthur. Their reopening is dependent upon Arthur’s wrath. Check the North Carolina State Parks website before heading to any park that may be affected by the storm. read more

This weekend: Get out and enjoy the springlike weather

Lake Waccamaw in winter.

With high temperatures expected to soar into the mid-70s in parts of North Carolina this weekend, you have no excuse for not getting into the wild, be it learning to reconnoiter at the coast, scoping birds in the Piedmont or hiking the Blue Ridge escarpment. read more

Pre-spring fever: catch it this weekend

This weekend: Learn how to use a map and compass, learn how to play golf with a disc, learn your strengths as a hiker.

Coast

Ever wonder what happens when the battery in your GPS dies? You wouldn’t have to, nor would you care, if you were skilled in the art of orienteering. Orienteering: the ancient (pre 2000) art of wayfinding with map and compass. In fact, even if you’ve had a fully-charged GPS you’ve probably wished you knew how to to use a map and compass (the things aren’t 100 percent reliable). read more