It is the season that inspires our great philosophers. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, wrote: “Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.”
Or this, from a more contemporary purveyor of percipient thought:
“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!”
— W. Pooh
But it’s writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, inspired by his New England home, that we think best captures the sentiment of the season: “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air.”
That’s pretty much how we approach fall, and why we, too, endeavor to spend so much of it “in the open air” — by backpacking. Warm days, cool nights, cloudless skies and lots of autumnal color make this the season to not just to explore the backcountry, but to live in it. And while that autumnal sunshine is indeed intoxicating, the shoulder periods of dawn and dusk, not to mention those brisk, brilliant night skies, make fall the true season of backpacking.
How are we planning to spend as much of this fall as possible outdoors? In a variety of ways. And ways that nearly every one of you can be a part of, regardless of your backpacking experience — if any.
For the more experienced
Got a bit of backpacking experience under your belt? We have two four-day trips on tap.
- Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock/Citico Creek Wilderness, Sept. 16-19. On this basecamp backpack trip we hike in 1.5 miles and establish camp, then spend three days day hiking these adjoining wilderness areas. $195. Learn more and sign up here.
- Appalachian Trail at Standing Indian, Oct. 28-31. We spend Thursday evening at the Standing Indian campground, then head out Friday morning for three days on the trail, mostly the AT as it follows a horseshoe-shaped ridge over Albert Mountain and Standing Indian Mountain. $195. Learn more and sign up here.
For those short on time
Fall rolls around, you’re out of vacation time. With our Weekend Quick Escapes, you don’t need any PTO; these trips are designed to let you work a full day, then, when the whistle blows at 5, hop into your loaded car and drive to a trailhead requiring a short hike in to basecamp and two days of hiking in daypacks. Our three destinations for fall:
- Doughton Park, Oct. 22-24. $105. Learn more and sign up here.
- Rock Castle Gorge, Nov. 19-21. $105. Learn more and sign up here.
- Birkhead Mountain Wilderness in the Uwharrie National Forest, Dec. 10-1. $105. Learn more and sign up here.
Backpacking for Non Backpackers
You’re an avid hiker but, for whatever reason, have yet to try backpacking. With our Basecamp Backpack option you can enjoy the best of both worlds: the solitude of a backcountry campsite plus the ability to hike miles on end without 40 pounds on your back. We supply the basic backpacking gear — backpack, tent, sleeping pad, cook stove and cookset, plus guidance on how to use it all and be a backpacker. This option is available on our Basecamp Backpack trips that require a short hike — between a quarter mile and 3 miles — to camp in full pack. We provide a list of everything you’ll need to bring.
- Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock/Citico Creek Wilderness, Sept. 16-19. $295. Learn more and sign up here
- Weekend Quick Escape: Doughton Park, Oct. 22-24. $195. Learn more and sign up here
- Weekend Quick Escape: Rock Castle Gorge, Nov. 19-21. $195. Learn more and sign up here.
- Weekend Quick Escape: Birkhead Mountain Wilderness in the Uwharrie National Forest, Dec. 10-12. $195. Learn more and sign up here.
Backpacking for backpackers-to-be
Not a backpacker — yet? In just three sessions you can become a bonafide backpacker in time for the prime fall hiking season. We start with a gear session via Zoom, then meet for a 5-hour, in-field training session before our weekend graduation trip to South Mountains State Park. Some loaner gear is available on a first-requested basis. We have four sessions scheduled for the fall. Click the appropriate link for details and to sign up. $225.
- Intro to Backpacking: Charlotte. Sept. 8, 11, 24-26
- Intro to Backpacking: Triangle. Sept. 8, 11, 24-26
- Intro to Backpacking: Triad. Sept. 8, 11; Oct. 1-3
- Intro to Backpacking: Greenville. Sept. 23; Oct. 9, 22-24
Of all the seasons, fall is the last you can afford to waste. As noted horticulture writer Elizabeth Lawrence — the first woman, in 1932, to graduate with a degree in landscape architecture from N.C. State — put it, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”