Outdoor skills

Lacking an outdoor skill? Tell us what you need

On a hike several years ago on the Bartram Trail in western North Carolina, I did a quick hiker count and realized one was missing. Despite having handed out customized maps of the hike, despite having gone over the trail could be tricky to follow, and despite our best efforts to herd, one hiker had indeed disappeared from the flock. And I had a pretty good idea where she’d gone wrong. A half mile earlier the Bartram and Appalachian Trail, which had buddied up for a mile, split, the Bartram sticking to the ridge, the AT following a draw down Wayah Mountain. I backtracked and headed down the AT, eventually running down the errant hiker two miles down the trail.

“You’re on the wrong trail,” I said between gasps.

“I know,” she said. “I realized that about a half hour ago but I just figured the two trails would meet up again.”

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How she came to this conclusion, I’ve no idea. What I did know was that we were going to start teaching classes on various outdoor skills, starting with how to use a map and compass. 

Since holding our first GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods class in 2016, we’ve since added instruction on night navigation, water crossings, solo backpacking and exploring a wilderness, among others. 

But we can’t help but feel there are other skills our hikers and backpackers would like to learn. And rather than speculate, we thought we’d just ask. So if you have 4 minutes, please answer the nine questions in our survey below. And while the survey is anoynmous, if you include your name and email address, we’ll enter you in a drawing for an Osprey Stratos 24L Daypack provided by our good friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. We’ll announce the winner on June 26.


Happy Trails,


Finding Your Way in the Woods

While you’re helping us figure out what classes to offer in the future, here’s one class — GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods — that you can take today. Well, not today, per se, but on either June 22nd or 25th. Here’s the course description followed by when and where you can take it.This three-hour session goes over basic map and compass skills, then hits the trail to offer key tips on how to follow and stay on the trail, how to find it again if you stray, and how to explore off trail. We’ll start with a 30-minute map-and-compass introduction, then use that map and compass — and some Daniel Boone skills — to find our way in the woods. We’ll also do some off-trail exploring, with the goal of purposefully venturing off the trail, then rejoining it again. Our goal is to make you confident hiking alone or taking a novice friend on the trail.

We have two GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods classes coming up.

  • GetHiking! Triangle: Saturday, June 22, 9 a.m. Eno River State Park, Fews Ford Access. Learn more and sign up here.
  • GetHiking! Triad: Tuesday, June 25, 5:30 p.m. Haw River State Park/Iron Ore Belt Access. Learn more and sign up here.

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