This weekend, we were able to conclude our Spring GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking class, with a graduation weekend at South Mountains State Park. Originally scheduled for the end of March, this pandemic-delayed trip was one we were especially interested in, as a way to gauge whether we might be able offer small-batch backpacking trips. In short, could we enforce physical distancing to the point we would feel safe moving ahead.
Stormy weather sticks around, for much of the region, though Saturday: Sunday, it’s low 70s and sunny. Perfect weather for getting outside.
But will everyone be thinking along the same lines?
Today, we direct you back to some of our strategies for avoiding the crowds that have caused some state parks in North Carolina to close their gates.
We’re taking some time the last two weeks of the year to get our head together, to regroup, to not have to think too much for a few days. So today, we bring you our year in backpacking condensed down to 165 seconds.
These aren’t all the places we went, but they are a good cross-section: the Appalachian Trail from Max Patch to Hot Springs and also from Carvers Gap to US 19E, Wilson Creek, the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, Rock Castle Gorge in Virginia and the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness.
Imagine, if you will, a first weekend of November that begins bright and sunny with a temperature in the 30s, a temperature not likely to get out of the 50s during the afternoon peak. And a weekend that, throughout much of the state, will be festooned with the best fall color of the year. Imagine, if you will, this weekend … .
The times they are a changin’. And that change is affecting when we get out and play. Two factors in particular affect the when-we-play factor in North Carolina:
- North Carolina ranks 9th nationally in number of telecommuting jobs, a position bolstered largely by the state’s high-tech industry, which is more likely to let employees work from home. (Jobs that are most likely to support telecommuting — software programming, information security, data analyst, technical writer — are common here, especially in the Triangle.) Further, the trend is growing: the number of regular telecommuting employees nationwide has increased by 115 percent since 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Between 2000 and 2010, the Raleigh-Cary area had the fastest growing retiree population in the country; the state’s Division of Aging and Adult Services says the senior population in Wake County alone will increase by 163 percent over the next two decades.
Telecommuters with more flexible work schedules and retirees whose time is likewise more malleable means that these two sizable demographics aren’t relegated to just getting out on weekends. Add in a sizable service industry with varied working hours that can leave time off during the day, and we’ve got a seemingly sizable number of candidates for midweek escapes.