Since I answer the question differently every time it’s asked, the notion of a classic hike, obviously, is difficult to pin down. In essence, I define it as a hike that you could do 100 times, and every time will yield a unique experience. Some of that has to do with the trail itself. A lot has to do with the season. A lot, too, with the weather.
A few years back I was nearing the top of the Mount Mitchell Trail when I came across a group of youngsters intently examining the balsam firs that begin appearing above 5,500 feet. As they probed about, an older fellow explained what they were seeing. The gentleman had a professorial look; not surprising, I soon discovered, considering these were forestry students from N.C. State. I lurked in the shadows and got a free education on the challenges of life above 6,000 feet in a Southern Appalachian forest.
Sure be great if you didn’t have to go to school to get this kind of education, I thought.
Last night, I discovered, you don’t.
Before a packed house Tuesday evening at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, Steph Jeffries and Thomas Wentworth discussed their just-released guide, “Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia” (UNC Press). It’s a scientific look at the forest written for a lay audience.
Jeffries and Wentworth are uniquely qualified to write “Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests.” As N.C. State professors — she in the Department of Forestry, he in Plant and Microbial Biology — they’ve been exploring these woods for years. On one outing with students several years ago, Jeffries yelled to Wentworth: “We need to write a book about this.”
“Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests” is peppered with insights that can’t help but make a hike all the more enjoyable. A sampling:
Looking for a new adventure?
Let me answer that for you: Yes, you are.
I know this because you visit this site for one of two reasons: Either you’re already into adventure and are always looking for more, or the idea of adventure intrigues you, you just haven’t found the right fit.
My goal here at GetGoingNC is to help you find that fit. That’s also the goal of my new book, “Adventure Carolinas.”
Billed as “Your Go-To Guide for Multi-Sport Outdoor Recreation,” the book focuses on six key adventure sports and touches on 10 more.
The six keys: mountain biking, flatwater paddling, whitewater paddling, rock climbing, scuba diving and backcountry exploration.
The 10 more: downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, tubing, kiteboarding, hang gliding, ziplining, standup paddleboarding, windsurfing, geocaching and caving.
Sure, I’d like to you buy the book. But first, I’d prefer that you learn more about it, ask a few questions. And for that reason, I have a number of appearances set up statewide over the next month. Check out the list below, mark your calendar.
Let’s talk about your next adventure.
Translation: Sunday will bring us our first true fall hiking of the season. So get done what you need to get done on Saturday and reserve Sunday for a day in the woods.
Sometimes all you need is a little extra incentive to get you out the door and into the wild.
Those are some of the incentives we’re offering as part of the Backpacking North Carolina Challenge 2011, which kicks off this evening at 7:30 at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.