Jump-start 2023 with a year-end 2022 adventure

Another year, another year of … .

If your knee-jerk response to finish this thought is “… not enough adventure,” we hear you. It’s a common sentiment this time of year. The leaves nearly gone, the cycle of another calendar year is fast coming to a close. We begin looking ahead to next year with thoughts of big plans for the year ahead. And that’s when it hit: “What were our plans for this year?” And what the heck happened to them?

If you’re waiting for us to say it’s not too late to redeem 2022 with a quick adventure or two, expect a long wait. Instead of thinking about salvaging this year, an approach that carries with it an air of desperation, think instead of getting a jump on 2023. Go ahead and work in a couple of memorable forays into the wild. But think of them as revving your engine for the year ahead.

We make this suggestion in part because the year ahead, 2023, is Year of the Trail in North Carolina, and you’ll be really bummed if you find yourself feeling this way this time next year. With all the opportunities that lie ahead in 2023, you’ll have no excuse to look back back on the year with regret. 

We make the suggestion in large part, though, because salvaging 2022 is an exercise in looking  back. Getting a jump on 2023 is about moving forward.

Here are two ways we can help you move forward in the year ahead.

Go Wild on the Weetock

The Croatan’s wet nature requires lots of pricey bridging and boardwalk, such as this stretch on the Weetock Trail.

Two things we love about winter hiking: 

  1. You can head off trail because the undergrowth has died back and you can get into areas otherwise inaccessible.
  2. It’s prime time for hiking at the coast, what with the cooler temps keeping the bug and snake populations at bay. 

Both are good incentives on their own. But when you combine the two, then you’ve got a real adventure. Such is the case with the 11-mile Weetock Trail in the coastal Croatan National Forest. At its northern trailhead off NC 58 near Maysville, the Weetock seems like just another trail: there’s parking, an obvious trailhead, even an informational kiosk. And there’s easy-to-follow trail — for the first few miles. But then you cross the gravel Long Point Road,  and … is that the trail on the other side? Or does it head down the road for a spell? And if so, which way? The trail’s uncertainty is one of the things we love most about the Weetock; that and the fact it dives deep into woods that are oddly comforting on a cold, sunny day. (We also like that there are bail-out options should sunset — at 5:07 p.m. on the day of the hike — keep us from trail’s end.)

A challenging hike from a way-finding standpoint. And a really fun hike as well. 

Not up for quite that much adventure? There’s a 7-mile option that forgoes the off-roading.

What: GetHiking! Exploring the Coastal Croatan National Forest’s Weetock Trail

When: Friday, Dec. 30, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: Maysville, NC

Cost: $45 (includes a Zoom planning meeting, 7-page trail guide, lunch and trail snacks.

Learn more and sign up here.

Weekend hiking the Blue Ridge Escarpment

The MST in Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Here’s something that could really get you revved up for 2023: a weekend of hiking 20-plus miles on the Blue Ridge Escarpment — with great camping to boot! For this adventure, we hike 1.5 miles along the flat Basin Creek at Doughton Park and set up base camp for the weekend in a spacious, tree-covered primitive campground. Saturday, we do a loop hike of either 12 or 15 miles (depending upon the weather), a hike that gains three-quarters of its elevation in the first 4.5 miles and yields miles of panoramic views from mountaintop meadows. Sunday, it’s a 3.3-mile hike along Basin Creek to a one-room cabin once home to 13 people. 

While Doughton Park is part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we spend less than a mile and a half within view of scenic highway (where you’ll be distracted by the aforementioned views, anyway). For the most part, we’ll be on the well-tended trails that make this part of the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park less about driving, more about hiking. (Doughton Park has about 30 miles of hiking trail, btw.)

You do need to have a bit of camping gear for this trip, though we can help with a backpack if you need one. Probably your best bet for late-season mountain hiking in the Southeast.

What: GetBackpacking! Weekend Escape: Doughton Park

When: Friday, Dec. 2-Sunday, Dec. 4.

Where: Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway

Cost: $105

Includes: Zoom planning trip, eguide (including custom maps and route descriptions), camping.

Learn more and sign up here.

Don’t look back. Get a jump on 2023 with these year-end adventures.

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