Fall rolls around and, dang!, you realize you’ve all but shot your vacation. And here it is, the best time to be backpacking. What is a backpacker to do? Take a Weekend Quick Escape, with GetBackpacking!
This fall, we’re introducing a new series of quick trips aimed at folks who’ve burned through their vacation time, but are soooo eager to get out and enjoy fall backpacking. Here’s the deal:
* We leave at 5 p.m. Friday, so you shouldn’t have to take time off from work.
* We drive to a trailhead that’s no more than two and a half hours away.
* We hike to a campsite that’s not too far in: from a half mile to less than 3. * We’ll be to camp no later than 8 p.m.
* We set up camp (yes, in the dark; it’s a good skill to have).
* Saturday, we have the entire day to do hike. We’ll hike in day packs, returning to our basecamp at day’s end. Our hikes will be from 10 to 15 miles.
* Sunday, we may do one more short hike before heading home. You’ll be home mid- to late afternoon.
It’s the perfect option for backpackers who thought they didn’t have time to plan a fall backpack trip, let alone take one.
Our first trip: Rock Castle Gorge in Virginia. Here’s how this trip will unfold:
Friday: We’ll leave the Triangle, carpooling from I-40 and NC 86 in Chapel Hill, at 5 p.m. We’ll arrive at the trailhead to the primitive camping area at the base of the gorge around 7:30 p.m. and hike in the half mile or so on an old roadbed and set up camp.
Saturday: We’ll take on the 10.8-mile Rock Castle Gorge Loop, hiking the trail counter-clockwise from the camping area. It’s mellow at first, then some sturdy climbing up to the ridge. Here, you’re rewarded with passage through ridge top meadows affording great views, during the height of the fall leaf season, of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. After about four miles of rolling views, we descend down more challenging terrain into the gorge, where the 2.8 miles back to camp is on old roadbed above and along Rock Castle Creek. One of the most scenic hikes in the South.
Sunday: We’ll pack up, be back to the trailhead by 10 a.m., then drive 40 minutes to nearby Fairy Stone State Park for a 5.3-mile hike on the Little Mountain Falls and Turkey Ridge trails, for more fall color.
Includes: The trip itself, camping/permit, eguide for the trip detailing all hikes (including a custom map and elevation profile), tips on what to bring and how to dress, information on the terrain we’ll be exploring. We’ll also have a Trip Planning meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Chapel Hill to over the hike and give tips on how to be ready for a quick Friday escape, hiking and setting up camp at night, unique challenges this trip may present, and more.
Hike is limited to 12 participants.