What we're about
Upcoming events (5+)
Welcome to the most scenic stretch of trail in North Carolina (and Tennessee). From the git-go at Carver's Gap, the Appalachian Trail passes over Round and Jane balds (with a side trip to a third, Grassy Ridge, possible), offering sweeping views of the North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia mountains. There's some intimate high-ridge hiking (the mountain ash should be coming into bloom), then more balds: Little Hump and Hump mountains. We should also be on the cusp of the spring wildflower season at this altitude, which flirts with 6,000 feet . This three-day, two-night trip starts from Carvers Gap on the Appalachian Trail and heads north for 14 miles. Particularly stunning are the three balds in the first couple of miles and the famous Hump and Little Hump mountains about 10 miles later. Day 1: We will set off from Carver's Gap around 2 p.m., hike about 6 miles and establish camp at the Overmountain Shelter. Day 2: We will hike 5-6 miles, over Little Hump to Hump Mountain. Depending upon the weather, we will either camp atop Hump Mountain (clear sky, minimal wind) or continue another mile or so and camp at Doll Flats. Day 3: Hike out, about 3-4 miles, to US 19E. We will have a trip planning session on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 7 pm, at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Chapel Hill's Eastgate Village. This trip includes a shuttle to Carvers Gap and a shower afterward, before heading home. This is a challenging backpack trip. Though it trends downhill, there are good climbs along the way. You must be in good shape for this hike. We are a beginner-friendly bunch, but you will need to have some experience — and your own gear — for this hike. If I haven't hiked with you, we will have a phone chat beforehand to make sure this trip is a good fit.
Love the trail but uncertain about your wayfinding skills? This three-hour session goes over basic map and compass skills, then hits the trail to offer key tips on how to follow and stay on the trail, how to find it again if you stray, and how to explore off trail. We’ll start with a 30-minute map-and-compass introduction, then use that map and compass — and some Daniel Boone skills — to find our way in the woods. We’ll also do some off-trail exploring, with the goal of purposefully venturing off trail, then figuring out how to rejoin the trail. Our goal is to make you confident hiking alone or taking a novice friend on the trail — and a little bit off! Course fee of $45 (kids 17 and under accompanied by an adult are free) includes a customized map and use of a compass. A PayPal invoice will be sent upon signup. Course is limited to seven adult participants.
To a lot of us, the joy of backpacking is escaping the masses, of hiking in just far enough to earn a little solitude, setting up camp, then exploring. The more exploring we can do without 30 pounds on our back, the better. That’s the goal behind our Wonderful Wilson Creek trip in October. On Day 1 we hike in less than a mile and a half, set up camp, then explore some of the best summer swimming holes in the Southeast. On Day 2, we play in the water a bit more before breaking camp and relocating to a spot, that’s again only about a mile and a half hike, for one of the best sunsets — and sunrises — around (we might also catch the first color of fall cascading down Grandfather Mountain to the west). On Day 3, we hike out in full pack, then drop those packs for a last hike of less than two miles to one of the most rugged falls in an area rife with ‘em. If you aren’t familiar with Wilson Creek, and many of you are not, it’s the roughly 11,000-acre area that sits on the southeast flank of Grandfather Mountain, and catches much of the runoff that falls on Grandfather’s southeast side. As a result, there is a lot of water in the Wilson Creek area: creeks, streams, waterfalls, pools at the base of the waterfalls that make for awesome swimming holes. Here’s our plan to experience as much of Wilson Creek as possible in a weekend: Friday: Arrive at Wilson Creek Visitor Center at 3 p.m. We'll drive 20 minutes to the Huntfish Falls Trailhead and hike 1.4 miles to our camp for the night. Saturday: We will take a 7-mile day hike, with the objective of spending time at Gragg Prong, checking out the great falls and pools along the way, and practicing our water crossing skills. We'll return to our tents around 3 p.m., break camp and move on to our destination for the evening, at the end of Little Lost Cove Trail. It’s a 1.7-mile hike in. We’ll spend the evening atop a generous rock outcrop and watch the sun set over Grandfather Mountain. Sunday: We'll gather at 9 a.m. for breakfast on the aforementioned outcrop, then break camp, hike back to the cars, take a short drive and do one last hike, a 4-mile out-and-back, to the spectacular South Harper Falls. Difficulty and backpacking level We travel short distances — 1.4 miles to the first camp, 1.7 to the second — in full pack. However, the hike into camp Day 1 involves a good descent, and thus, a good climb out. There are shorter climbs on the hike to camp Day 2. We are in no hurry on these hikes; patience is key (as are trekking poles). There are creek crossings on this hike, but not in full pack. We will go over creek crossing technique at the Tuesday planning meeting (see below). This is a good trip for recently-minuted backpackers. Because of the short distance in full pack and an anticipated lighter pack due to summer weather, it’s a good opportunity to explore more challenging terrain in your pack. This is also a good trip for anyone who has never explore Wilson Creek. We will post a slideshow of our most recent trip and share the link shortly. If this trip sounds familiar, it’s similar to the GetBackpacking! Going Solo class we offer, with one twist — on night 2, rather than camping solo, we will camp together at the expansive primitive site at the rock outcrop overlooking Little Lost Creek. What this trip includes: * Planning meeting: Tuesday, Oct., 7 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Chapel Hill's Eastgate Village, 100 E. Franklin St. We will go over logistics for the weekend, what you should bring, the weather and more. * eguide with custom map of the route, camping spots, water sources, and tips on going solo. * Guide * We will arrange a carpool from both the Triangle and Triad. Trip is limited to 12 people. Cost: $105. Immediately upon signing up, you will be sent an invoice via PayPal. Because of the popularity of this trip, the invoice must be paid within 10 days of issue; otherwise, you will be delegated to the Waitlist and may lose your spot on this trip.
GetBackpacking! 24 Hours of Backcountry Skills You fancy yourself a Daniel Boone type. But are you? Are you proficient at starting a campfire? Is your bear hang foolproof (or at least bear proof)? How are you at pitching a tent under deadline pressure (read: you’re about to get dumped on)? Do you know the right knot for the right occasion? Basic backcountry skills aren’t that hard; basically, it’s a matter of a little knowledge, a little direction. In our first 24-hour skills clinic, that’s just what we plan to give you: knowledge and direction in 7 key areas: starting a fire, perfecting your bear hang, basic knot tying, effective tent pitching, hiking at night, map and compass use. We’ll also go over the basics of leave-no-trace. We’ll do this over an action-packed 24-hour period, on a campout at Eno River State Park. Here’s how the weekend will unfold: Saturday, Oct. 18 3 p.m. — Arrive, hike the half mile or so to camp, with all your gear. (We have a handful of backpacks available first-come, first-given-to.) We’ll start with quickly and efficiently setting up camp. 4 p.m. — We’ll have three 20-minute rotating sessions covering: knot tying, bear hangs and leave no trace. 5:30 p.m. — Dinner begins with a clinic on how to make a campfire. Then we eat. 7:30 p.m. — Night hike. We’ll discuss the basics of night navigation, then head out on a 3.25-mile hike up, over and around Cox Mountain. Sunset is at 8:11, meaning we’ll have a chance to hike in twilight-fading-to-dark, the toughest time to hike. We’ll be back to camp around 9:30. 10 p.m. — Lights out. Sunday, Oct. 19 8 a.m. — Breakfast begins with another opportunity to make a fire. 9:30 a.m. — GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods. We’ll start with a 20-minute session to go over basic map and compass skills (map of the area and compass provided). Then, we’ll wander out the back of our camping area and hike downstream along the Eno, navigating a 2.5-mile loop, much off which is off trail, some of which is on an old roadbed, the last little bit of which will be on trail. The goal: to get you comfortable with using a map and compass, and to help you relate the reality of what you’re seeing with what’s depicted on the map. We’ll stop and have lunch along the way. 1:30-2 p.m. — Back to camp. Break camp and be on our way. What you’ll need: Food: bring one dinner, one breakfast, one lunch and trail snacks. Water: Bring at least one water bottle and the capacity to have in your possession 2 liters of water. Clothing: the Sunday morning GetOriented! session does involve off-trail hiking through unmaintained areas: long pants are strongly encouraged. Backpackers: you should be set. Bring what you would normally bring on an overnight backpacking trip. Non-backpackers: We can provide a backpack to help you tote gear to the campsite. We will provide a list of what else you will need. Headlamp: we have spares, but if you have one, bring it. Again, a comprehensive list of what you will need will be provided upon registration. Cost: $125. Includes: — All instruction — Materials for skills sessions (unless otherwise noted in registration packet) — Skills tips sheets on all skills covered (provided upon registration) — Campsite