As we transition into spring, our hiking genes kick in. We think not only of our favorite two-hour hikes, but also of those hikes that present a greater challenge, that will prepare us for the epic mountain hikes we hope to take this summer, whether in our own Southern Appalachians or beyond.
That breath of fresh air you inhaled coming out of the house Monday morning — a breath devoid of hot, of wet, of recreational despair — convinced our GetHiking! crews that there’s no need to wait for fall in order to take a fall-like hike. Let’s do it now, our hike leaders declared. Or at least this weekend.
So we will.
This weekend, GetHiking! Charlotte, GetHiking! Triad and GetHiking! Triangle will all exceed the 10-mile mark, a distance typically not contemplated by most until it’s time to toss a fleece into the daypack. Fleece be danged, let’s hike!
Here’s what our three hiking groups have planned for the weekend:
To the glass-half-empty crowd, this weekend’s forecast of rain followed by more rain topped by a dash of drizzle (and more rain) may seem discouraging. But if you don’t mind seeing that half-full glass fill further, the wet weekend offers opportunity. You just need to know how to dress for it and where to best enjoy a walk in the wet woods.
Mel writes: “I am the Hiking Merit Badge coordinator for Troop 395 in Raleigh and we are looking to put together our hiking itinerary over the next 12 months. As you may know, to earn this MB the Boy Scouts have to do five 10+ miles hikes and one 20+ mile hike.”
“I can’t believe we haven’t seen anyone,” Krista said midway into our 15-mile hike.
“I wonder what Umstead’s like right now?” Amy wondered. “Probably bumper-to-bumper people.”
Probably, considering: 1) It was the second weekend in October and the first true weekend of fall color in the Piedmont, 2) It was a Saturday afternoon, 3) There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, 4) The temperature was struggling to get out of the 60s.
In short, it was a perfect fall day. The kind of day where it occurs to everyone to go for a hike, and it occurs to everyone to go to the same places. To Umstead State Park in Raleigh, to Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain state parks in the Triad, to Crowders Mountain near Charlotte.
The Crowders Mountain Web site offers this warning front and center on its home page: “Expect parking delays on nice fall weekends.”
Which isn’t to say you should hide at home and experience fall through silde shows such as the one above. If you know where to go — like Amy and Krista did — you can experience the magnificence of fall in magnificent solitude.