By the end of March, with the first few spring wildflowers poking through the forest floor, your gear closet is calling out to you. The chill of winter is gone, but it hasn't warmed enough to bring out those pesky bugs. The weather for an overnight trip is ideal.
If you haven't backpacked in awhile or you're itchin' to try out some new gear, this early season overnight trip is a great option. We'll head to the Uwharrie National Forest, a relict mountain range southwest of Asheboro, for a two-day, 12-mile hike. Being from the mountains of North Carolina, I was pleasantly surprised when I first hiked here: It's not the Blue Ridge with long vista views, but if getting away from city life and hiking is what you want, this area does not disappoint. We won't have challenging steep climbs but we will have decent accents, some interesting creek crossings and rocky terrain. Best of all will be the solitude of the woods and you'll be amid the companionship of like-minded women.
A bit of history about the trail: Hikers can thank an old-time trapper's son, Joe Moffit of Asheboro, for this trail. Moffit grew up in the Uwharries during the Great Depression and learned to live off the land at an early age. In 1972, as a Scoutmaster, Moffit started the Uwharrie Trail project to help his Boy Scouts earn their Eagle rank. They completed the path in 1975 and founded the Uwharrie Trail Club. At the time, it ran 50 miles, north to south. The length of the trail dwindled into the 1980s and 1990s, but efforts by the Uwharrie Trailblazers, the Three Rivers Land Conservancy and others have gotten the trail back up to 40 miles.
The loop we are doing, on the southern end of the trail, is the Dutchman Creek route. Camping will be about 5.5 miles in, at Big Island Campsite. This is a primitive site with a creek for filtering water. We will take a leisurely pace on this trip.
You will need gear for one night, including one dinner, one breakfast and two trail lunches. I will have a water filter device to share.
Included are in the $65 trip fee are:
* Trail snacks
* Eguide with trail map
* Refresher guide for taking a backpack trip after you've been off the trail for a while