Tag Archives: GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking

Backpacking the AT: Make a video dream come true

You watch a video of a spellbinding adventure. You think, “Man, I would love to do that … .” 

And it doesn’t happen.

It doesn’t happen for any number of reasons. More often than not, though, it falls victim to overthinking the logistics: What kind of preparation do I need? How will I get there? How will I know what to do when I do get there? Before you know it, you’re mentally exhausted and have moved on to the next video. read more

Escape with us into the Outdoors in 2018

Hiking is a gateway activity. You start with a hike along Umstead’s Sycamore Creek after a rain, maybe hike the Little Mountain Falls Trail at Virginia’s Fairy Stone State Park on a cloudless winter day. Before you know it, the notion of spending a day or more on the trail has a keen appeal. You’re hooked by the lure of outdoor escapes.

We’re here to help you realize that vision. We’ve been working on ways to help you spend more time outdoors in a variety of ways. Last week we talked about some of the more straightforward hiking programs we have planned for the new year (for those of you newish to the trail). Today, we look at two programs that let you spend the day and night on your adventure. And in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be unveiling even more programs.


Maybe you once thought that backpacking is only for the hardcore. And maybe you’re not feeling so hardcore. But backpacking can fit into your life, no matter what your age or current fitness level. We can help you get started or keep going on the trail.

  • Intro to Backpacking: Folks who have never backpacked or haven’t in a while—say, since the days of the external frame canvas pack—are advised to start with our Intro to Backpacking class: three training sessions, followed by a weekend graduation trip to the mountains. Each training session focuses on a key element of backpacking: gear and proper packing; setting up and breaking down camp; food and its preparation. By the end of the course, you’ll be a confident backpacker.
  • Intermediate Skills courses: Maybe you’ve done some backpacking but would like to be more confident in the backcountry. We have a series of Intermediate Skills courses that will build your skills in the areas of wilderness navigation, river crossings, solo backpacking, hiking and camp set-up at night, and winter backpacking.
  • Trips: In 2018, we plan to do a trip a month. Some will be three-day weekend excursions, some will be longer. Most are great opportunities for both beginners, who can to hike with and learn from more experienced backpackers, and more seasoned backpackers, who can not only mentor newbies but also discover new places.
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    Three Great Opportunities for Backpackers

    Just in time for autumn’s splendor, we’ve got three great ideas for both active and aspiring backpackers.

    Fall in North Carolina is the time to go backpacking. Daytime highs gradually dip and overnight lows are perfect for snugging into a down bag and getting a long night’s rest. From Shining Rock to the Smokies, the AT to the MST, the woods beckon for an extended stay. The glorious yellows, reds and oranges of leaves changing color is but one sign of the natural world slowing down for winter; you can experience also the stillness and the dwindling yet increasingly brilliant sunlight knifing through the woods.

    You backpackers know what I’m talking about; you non-backpackers might be wishing you did. And you can.

    If you’re not a backpacker today, you can be one by the time fall kicks in. We have two GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking classes scheduled for fall. The first starts this Sunday and the second on Oct. 15. Both consist of three training sessions, each focused on a  specific skill, each including increasingly longer hikes in full pack. We start with gear and packing a pack, move on to setting up and breaking down camp, then get out our spork and camp stove with a session on trail food.

    We end with a trip, a two-night, three-day visit to South Mountains State Park. Here, you’ll put your newfound skills to the test, and experience autumn like you’ve not experienced it before.

    Ready to start? Check it out here:

    If you’re already a backpacker, we’re thinking of you as well. While this is the time to be out and about savoring the trail, it’s also the time to be planning ahead — for that epic hike that’s been on your mind. The 77-mile Foothills Trail. The 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The Long Trail. The John Muir. The AT.

    This fall, in conjunction with our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co., we’re holding a series of Pints & Paths sessions on Tuesday nights (to keep your weekends free for backpacking!). From 5:30 to 6:30 we’ll enjoy a local craft beer, then settle in and listen to folks who’ve been there talk about their experiences on America’s premier trails. You’ll have first-hand access to hikers who have done the planning, worked out the the logistics, hiked the trail. Stay tuned for more details.

    Finally, for active backpackers itching to get out on the trail, our friends at the LandTrust for Central North Carolina are planning a four-day, 40-mile Uwharrie Trail Thru-Hike. There are 13 slots left for this 70-person event. For more details, check out the Uwharrie Trail Thru-Hike.

    Happy trails!


    Backpacking: Hiking with sleepovers

    So, you’ve been enjoying your walks in the woods and maybe you’re wondering what it might be like to stay a bit longer—overnight, even.

    We can help you.

    Ever since I wrote Backpacking North Carolina in 2011, I’ve been on a mission to dispel the myths of backpacking. Like the idea that you have to sleep on the cold, hard ground, eat beans out of a can, and hike 20 miles a day with 60-pound pack on your back.

    The experience we teach with our GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking program introduces you to lighter equipment, advances in food-preparations, and reasonable mileage goals. This four-week program is designed to turn the backpacker-wanna-be into a confident, competent backcountry explorer. Here’s how the program works:

    =&0=&: We discuss gear and how to properly pack a pack. We then strap on our properly packed pack and hike two miles to get a feel for hiking with weight (about half that 60 pounds!) on your back.

    =&1=&: In full pack, we hike two miles, scout good campsites, and set up camp. We discuss what to look for in a good campsite and what to avoid. Then, we break down camp and hike two miles out.

    =&2=&: In full pack, we hike in about three miles and cook a meal, going over the different types of stove and food options. We pack up, discussing Leave No Trace ethics, and hike three miles out.

    =&3=&: The fourth week, we hold a Wednesday planning meeting to go over our graduation weekend — the route, logistics, the weather, special equipment we may need. Then, on Friday we leave for a two-night trip to South Mountains State Park, where you’ll get a chance to practice your newfound skills.

    About the gear: If you don’t have everything, don’t worry. We have a limited number of loaner tents and backpacks. Not having a cookset isn’t a deal-breaker, either. The main gear you’ll need are a good pair of hiking shoes or boots and trail-friendly clothes — basically, what you wear to hike.

    To ensure that everyone gets individual attention, each session is limited to 12 participants.

    We have three sessions scheduled for fall, two in the Triangle and one in the Triad.


    Session 1: Training, Sept. 10, 17 and 24; graduation trip Oct. 6-8. Learn more and sign up here.

    Session 2: Training, Oct. 15, 22 and 29; graduation trip Nov. 3-5. Learn more and sign up here.


    Details to be posted soon. Keep an eye on GetHiking! Triad for details.

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    Backpacking North Carolina

    Backpacking North Carolina covers 43 backpack trips throughout the state, including the Piedmont and the coast. Most of the trips are beginner friendly, and many embrace the “base camp” concept: hike in a relatively short distance (usually less than 5 miles), set up base camp, do day hikes from there. Learn more about the book here.

    What are your 2017 backpacking goals? And How can we help?


    Over the past two and a half years, we’ve graduated more than 120 backpackers through our GetBackpacking! program. They come in with little or no experience, after three training sessions and a weekend graduation trip to South Mountains State Park, they emerge competent backpackers.

    Then what?

    It’s a question raised most recently by Mike Owen, who went through the class this past summer.

    “Have you considered a longer backpacking trip — say 5-6 days on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail or the AT — for graduates of your South Mountains trip?” Mike asked.

    In fact, we have been thinking about “What next?” And until Mike wrote, it hadn’t occurred to us that the best way to answer this question is to ask you, “What next? What would you like to do, both those of you have graduated from GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking, and our backpacking friends in general?”

    Some options:

  • Solo weekend. Several of you have mentioned that, someday, you’d like to solo. Understandably, there’s reason for concern: will I be safe? What if I get sick or injured? What if a vital piece of gear breaks? One thought we’ve had: a two-night solo with a shadow. We would have a clinic on soloing, about how to prepare, what’s different, what to expect, and how to get yourself out of jams that might occur. Then, on a Friday, we would head to the mountains; you’d be given a designated route — and pointed down the trail. Your instructor would be nearby, but out-of-sight. You’d be on your own — with a safety net.
  • Four-day, three-night trips. Leave Friday, return Monday. We’d have a clinic on preparing for a longer trip, going over clothing, food, water and how much different three nights is than two. In part, this course would help you gauge the difference between trips of different lengths. It would also give you a better sense of whether extended treks are for you.

  • Self-directed group trips. We post general parameters — number of days, number of nights — then coordinate a planning meeting — a true planning meeting — for those who sign up. We would give some trip options, but you would decide on the actual trip. A good exercise in thinking through a specific route, figuring out campsites, how much ground you want to cover (and, based on topography, can) in a day, where you’ll find water.
  • Trips outside the region. Are you interested in a week-long trip in the Rockies?
  • Presentations and clinics. We also plan to start doing clinics and presentations in 2017. Someone who’s hiked the John Muir trail, for instance. Or someone who did a trip completely off trail. Let us know what you would be interested in.
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