Backpacking: A Hike that Doesn’t End

What’s the worst part of a hike?

When it ends and it’s time to head home.

But what if the hike didn’t end and you didn’t have to go home?

That would be backpacking. 

Imagine, for instance, that instead of sadly piling into the car and heading home after 5 or 8 or 10 miles on the trail, you pitch camp, make dinner, then enjoy the quiet of the backcountry and the transition from day to dusk to dark. Then, awake the next morning and repeat.

Backpacking has a reputation of being for the hardcore, for those up for totting 60-pound packs for 20 miles, of eating beans ’n’ weenies from a can, of sleeping (or trying to) in a damp tent. 

‘Roughing it’ the modern way

In fact, modern backpacking is about carrying as little weight as you like (for a price, of course); of dining on dehydrated gourmet meals; of sleeping in a cozy, dry nylon shelter; of hiking in less than a mile, if you like, to camp.

It’s that latter fact that we emphasize with our 10-year-old GetBackpacking! program. Though we try to keep it light, we also have a thing for comfort. That means eating well, having hot coffee first thing in the morning, having a comfy chair to sit in and enjoy a cup of tea at day’s end. That means having a pack that might way 30 pounds (as opposed to an ultralight pack weighing in at less than 10 pounds), but a pack you may carry only a mile or two, which we can do because we’re big fans of basecamp backpacking: Hike in a short distance to a primitive site, establish basecamp, do day hikes with a 5-pound daypack from there. The advantages of a primitive camp without the pain of getting there, plus getting to hike twice as far — and see twice as much — in a featherweight daypack. 

2023 is Year of the Trail in North Carolina and one of our goals is get you on the trail — and keep you there. There’s no better way to do that than backpacking.

5 of Our Favorite Trips

In one last push to get your attention, we’ll share video from five of our favorite backpack trips. And if you’re not a backpacker, stick around until the end. We’ll tell you how you can become one.

Virginia Triple Crown 

Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to US 19E

Shining Rock via Big East Fork

Wilson Creek area of the Pisgah National Forest 

Neusiok Trail, Croatan National Forest

* * *

GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking

We launched our GetBackpacking! program in 2014; since then, we’ve graduated more than 250 new backpackers. Here’s the plan for our Spring 2023 session:
* Getting to know you, getting to know your gear. In this Zoom session we’ll spend a little time getting to know one another and learning why you’re interested in backpacking. Then, we’ll go over the different types of gear, focusing on good options for beginners. 1.5 hours.
* Training Day. In full gear, we will meet at Morrow Mountain State Park for a 5-hour training session that will go over: Evaluating a campsite, setting up camp, breaking camp, meal preparation (including the various food and cooking options on the trail), and more. Expect to hike about 4 miles in full pack, during which we will work on hiking technique (including the use of trekking poles); ensuring a good pack fit by adjusting your pack during the hike to make sure it continues to fit; and more.
* Graduation hike. Three-day, two-night trip to South Mountains State Park, a great place for your first trip.
Cost of the program is $325 — $295 if you sign up by Jan. 15! The class includes:

  • Instruction, including:
    • Zoom gear session
    • 5-hour in-field training session
    • Graduation weekend
  • Info packet, including:
    • Gear lists
    • Tips sheets for:
      • Packing
      • Water crossings
      • Winter camping
      • GetBackpacking! Guide to 10 Great Places to Backpack in North Carolina once you’ve graduated
  • eguide outlining the program and covering what you’ll learn
  • 20 percent off coupon to Great Outdoor Provision Co.

Loaner gear. We have a limited number of backpacks and tents available on a first-requested, first-awarded basis, at no extra charge.’

Important Dates:
• Getting to know you, getting to know your gear, Zoom meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 6 – 7 p.m.
• Training Day: Saturday, March 18, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Morrow Mountain State Park, Albemarle
• Graduation trip: Friday afternoon thru Sunday, April 14-16, South Mountains State Park, Morganton.

For more information and to sign up to join us, go here.

Basecamp backpacking

Curious about basecamp backpacking, where you hike in a short distance, establish basecamp, then day-hike from there? Learn more about it — and our 5 favorite basecamp destinations —at this post from 2021, “5 of Our Favorite Basecamp Backpack Trips.

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