Exploring new trail in the Uwharrie Mountains

During the hectic holiday season we scale back the number of hikes we do. That doesn’t mean we aren’t planning ahead.

On Sunday, January 11, after the dust has settled from the holidays, Don Childrey will co-lead a GetHiking! hike in the Uwharrie National Forest on recently opened trail. If Don’s name sounds familiar, you may have a copy of his guidebook, “Uwharrie Lakes Region Trail Guide.” When it first came out in 1998, it was hard to imagine a more comprehensive guide to the Uwharrie region. Now, Childrey has produced just that, issuing an updated version that, at 525 pages, is more than 200 pages larger than the original. In it, Childrey covers more than 215 miles of public trail, including new  trail sections of the original Uwharrie Recreation Trail that had fallen by the wayside after its construction in the 1970s.

It’s one of those recently reopened sections, from the Jumping-Off Rock trailhead at the northern end of the forest north, that Childrey will be leading us on. “The four-mile section from Jumping-Off Rock Trailhead at Dark Mountain northward goes over the top of Little Long Mountain. There is a 360 degree view from the top. As you know, that is pretty uncommon in the Uwharries.” The trail continues on over King Mountain, one of the few peaks in the Uwharries to top 1,000 feet.

Sign up for that hike at our GetHiking! Triangle Meetup site. And learn more about Don, his updated guide and the the Uwharries in general, at GetGoingNC.com.

Also on the hike schedule:

Thursday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. GetHiking! to Welcome the New Year! New hiker? We have an intro hike of 2 miles. Going for distance on Day One? We have a 9-mile route, too. And if you’re up for something in between, we’ve got a 6 miler that should make you happy. All starting from the Harrison Avenue entrance to Umstead State Park. Sign up here.

Saturday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. GetHiking! at Cox Mountain in Eno River State Park, Orange County. 5 miles. Sign up here.

Our last delicious adventure: Cookie Monster Happy 100th

Apparently, the way to attract newcomers to our hikes is to mention that there will be apres hike cookies. Sunday’s hike celebrating our 100th hike (unless you count last Wednesday’s night hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, in which case Sunday’s hike would have been our 101st) drew several new faces, all of which were covered with cookie crumbs at hike’s end.

And what a selection of crumbs it was: peanut butter, peppermint chocolate chip, shortbread, boyfriend, gluten-free, oatmeal chocolate chip, shortbread, gingerbread graced with gum drops and candy corn, and red velvet, the latter thoughtfully wrapped in hard plastic much like you would get at a grocery store. There was also fudge and an especially tasty doughy white-powder-covered concoction that reminded us of the rum balls mum used to make during the holidays. (She assured us the alcohol evaporated during the baking process, but they were responsible for some awesome naps!) There was hot chocolate and marshmallows, and none of the single fellas in attendance left without a sampler.

Also, there was a hike.

Tip of the Week: ‘Wild’

To some of you, this is not news. In fact, it’s something you’ve been anticipating for months. To the rest, the movie version of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling book, “Wild” will be coming to local theaters soon. (It had a limited release nationwide on Dec. 3, but as is often the case this time of year, it could be several weeks before it makes it to the hinterlands. Or it could be here next week.)

“Wild,” if you haven’t come across it, is a must-read for any hiker or backpacker. Released in 2012, “Wild” is Cheryl Strayed’s account of her 1995 passage on the Pacific Crest Trail. Only 22, her mom had recently died, her marriage was falling apart and she was a mess. She hits the trail completely unprepared, having no idea what she’s looking for — and finds it. It may be the best trail book yet written.

If you haven’t read the book yet, read it. It’s a fast read, you’ll likely polish if off before the movie arrives in local theaters. Reese Witherspoon, btw, plays Strayed in the movie.

Resource of the Week: The Outdoor Canon

Great, you’re saying, another recommendation for a book on the outdoors — and another “must read,” no less. How’s a body supposed to keep track of all these books you shouldn’t go another day without reading?

In 2004, Outside magazine compiled what it considered the canon of great outdoor literature. I refer to it every time I’m in need of a good vicarious escape. I’ve yet to be disappointed by their recommendations (not the least of which was Tim Cahill’s “Jaguars Ripped My Flesh Apart”).

To help narrow your choices, the library is divided by the following categories: The World’s Great Places, Journeys to Hell, Discoveries of America, Natural History, Manifestos, Nature and Culture, Sportswriting, How-to Bibles, Outside Lit 101.

Check out The Outside Canon here. It should occupy your evenings for a while.

Gear I Like: Clif Bars

There was a revealing exchange Monday night at the Lincoln Theater in Raleigh, where rock star climbers Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright were appearing as part of The North Face Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series. The two spoke primarily about their two Sufferfest films, 2013’s “The Sufferfest” and the just-released “The Sufferfest 2,” both of which are about the duo’s manic climbing trips. In the first, they climb California’s 12 14,000-foot peaks, in the second, they climb 45 towers in the Southwest. And in both, they travel from climb to climb on mountain bikes.

Inevitably, though, the topic turned to Clif Bar recently dropping the two free climbers’ sponsorships, the energy bar maker deeming the two (and three other climbers) too risky. Honnold spoke kindly of his former sponsor, saying it’s a good company who’s heart is in the right place. Wright’s reaction was more visceral.

“I miss getting a free box of bars every month,” he said. “They’re really good.”

And they are. But that’s not necessarily what makes them my energy food of choice on the trail.

For one, they have a consistent texture, regardless of the weather. The traditional PowerBar, by comparison, turns into an impenetrable brick in cold weather and melts in your pocket when hot. Gu, likewise, develops a sludgelike consistency when cold.

It’s also easy to eat just a bite or two of a Clif Bar, then stick it back in your pocket. (In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to consume an entire Clif Bar on the go, which may be why they also make a two-bite-size version). Try having just a little Gu and sticking the rest back in your pocket. Whoever does your laundry won’t be happy.

And, comparatively speaking, Clif Bars are on the lower end of the price spectrum. In a comparison of seven popular energy bars tested by wildbackpacker.com, the bars ranged in price from $1.45 to $3.30 — the $1.45 bar being the Clif Bar. And while I’ve seen little fluctuation in the retail price of the other bars, I’ve rarely paid more than a buck for a Clif Bar; you can almost always find them at a discount.

I dabble in other bars, but 75 percent of the time, I’m packing a Clif Bar. It does the job.

For more on Alex Honnold’s and Cedar Wright’s visit to the Lincoln Theatre, go here.

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