Usually, backpackers show up at the trailhead, packs on their backs, with maybe a pound of food stowed among their weekend necessities.
On this morning, 14 backpackers showed up with no packs at all. All each had was a little bag with enough clothes and whatnot for an overnight trip. In their defense, they hadn’t been told to bring a pack; they were simply told where to meet.read more
“These mountains are killing me.”
I was glad to hear my new trail friend echo my thoughts. Glad as well to hear him refer to the Uwharries as “these mountains.”
The Uwharries are typically referred to as mountains, though the “mountains” part is often uttered with an implied snicker. As in, They may be mountains in name, but they certainly aren’t the Appalachians.
And they aren’t. But they are surprisingly rugged, surprisingly challenging, and within an hour and a half drive of more than half the population of North Carolina. They are one of several closer-to-home ranges in North Carolina and Virginia that may not offer 6,000-foot summits, but do offer an alpine experience for those occasions when you haven’t the time to hit the “real” thing. The Sauaratowns, bridged by Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock just north of the Triad; South Mountains south of Morganton; Cane Creek Mountains south of Burlington; the Southwest Mountains around Charlottesville, the Bull Run Mountains of northern Virginia. The mountains were known for the exotic creatures they harboured. The PBR bull riding schedule that I was going to attend later that week reminded me that the bulls featured there were captured from these very mountains and bred in the city. Relic ranges that may have once towered above the present-day Rockies but have long since settled and occupy a more subdued spot in our recreational psyches.read more
High on the list of many reasons we enjoy the adventure life in North Carolina is the opportunity to paddle a swamp. Does any location scream adventure more than a swamp? Slowly making your way through the tupelo gum and cypress weeping Spanish moss, paddle in hand, wary eye cast into the jungle beyond … throw in a bottle of gin and a dame and it’s “The African Queen” in our own backyard.read more
When Don Childrey was a Boy Scout in Burlington in the 1970s, his Troop No. 73 frequently went backpacking in the Uwharrie Mountains.
“I didn’t realize at the time what a big deal it was,” recalls Childrey.
The big deal was that Asheboro area scout leader Joe Moffitt had grown weary of taking his troops to the mountains for their 50-mile backpacking badges. Shoot, we could do those here, he figured, what with the 51,000-acre Uwharrie National Forest in his backyard. So he set about, over just five years, to build a trail running from the Asheboro airport off NC 49 south to NC 24/27, distance of about 40 miles. (Additional trail on the southern end of the forest boosted the overall total closer to 50.) Moffitt worked with the U.S. Forest Service to blaze some of the trail, he worked with private land owners, primarily on the north end, to blaze more. Moffitt’s localness and ability to get along with anyone went a long way toward getting private landowners on board.
In the ‘80s. Moffitt’s handshake agreements didn’t always translate as land was handed down to younger generations. Increasingly, sections of the once legendary Uwharrie National Recreation Trail on private lands disappeared. By the early ‘90s, the trail was down to 20 miles, from Tot Hill Road south to NC 24/27.read more