The following items are gleaned from our GetHiking! enewsletters for Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle, and our GetExploring! Greenville enewsletter. All enewsletters are delivered, upon request, to subscribers’ email boxes on Mondays. If you’d like to sign up for this free service, email

This week’s hike: New trail in the Birkheads

P1030166-1Saturday, we’ll be the guests of the Uwharrie Trailblazers on a 6-mile hike in the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness area of the Uwharrie National Forest. This is a different section of the Birkheads than we’ve hiked before. In fact, this is a section you likely wouldn’t be able to hike without the guidance of the Trailblazers; it’s not on traditional, blazed trail. Rather, the hike begins on land obtained by The LandTrust for Central North Carolina and recently turned over to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The hike begins on a originally road cut to access a subdivision — which didn’t come to be. The hike passes the old Doud Mines, tops out on Cedar Rock Mountain, then does a little cross-country travel on its way back to the trailhead.
Because access is limited at the trailhead, we’ll gather nearby in Asheboro and shuttle over. If you’re interested in carpooling to Asheboro, consult the GetHiking! Charlotte Meetup site, where you can also learn more about the hike and sign up.
Read an account of a recent visit to Cedar Mountain at the Greenmon’s Folly blog (from which we borrowed this photo).

This week’s adventures in Greenville: A trio of fun

Osprey_Raptor-101We’ve got a busy week planned in Greenville. Got your calendar handy? Good, let’s go.

  • Thursday, 7 p.m. Hiking Basics. Swing by our shop in La Promenade II, for a talk on two hiking topics: the 10 essentials for your daypack and a discussion of Leave No Trace ethics. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Saturday, 2 p.m. Bike and Brew. We’ll take advantage of the afternoon warmth (hopefully) for a pair of rides: a 7-mile ride suited for beginners and an 18-mile ride for more advanced cyclists. Learn more and sign up here.
  • Sunday, 2 p.m. Orienteering Basics. We’ll meet at River Park North, discuss how to use a map and compass, then do some hands-on navigating. If you have a compass, bring it; if not, we’ll have a few loaners. Learn more and sign up here.

Last week’s adventure: G-G-Goose Creek State Park

600_434383935Sunday’s GetExploring! Greenville hike at Goose Creek State Park generated a good deal of thoughtful debate. Is it ever too cold to hike? If so, is 29 degrees (the day’s high) the point at which that happens? Is the windchill overrated? Underrated? Simply annoying? And how many dogs does it take, anyway, to wrap around you to ward off a good swamp chill?
Good questions all, and if there were answers uttered Saturday they were tough to decipher through chattering teeth. But, as we discovered, if you’re properly dressed for a day of cold, the crispness and clarity can’t be overstated. Congratulations to the hardy Explorers who turned out for Sunday’s hike.

Gear I Like: Balaclava

Recently, I sent out a gear checklist to our GetBackpacking! group that, for winter camping, included an entry for a “balaclava.” That got one of the backpackers to scratching her head and asking what role Middle Eastern pastry played in winter camping. That made me wonder how many other folks may be unaware of this vital piece of winter clothing, a piece that can mean the difference between enjoying a very cold day on the trail and simply surviving it.
OR-Sonic-Balaclava-280x280Balaclavas offer full head protection, generally covering your head and neck, leaving only your eyes and, depending upon the balaclava, your nose and mouth, exposed. They come in a variety of weights; for our purposes in this part of the country you’ll generally be fine with the lighter version. They say you lose a good deal of heat out the top of your head, but slip on a balaclava and you realize you also lose heat from your neck, your ears, your forehead  … . A highly recommended bit of gear for these extremely cold days on the trail.

Tip of the week: Check the forecast

We touched on this in early November, when temperatures in the 40s seemed cold. It bears repeating this week, when temperatures throughout much of the region will remain between freezing and freezing your — well, suffice it to say it will remain dangerously chilly and precipitously precarious for the near future.
Two things about checking the forecast:

  • Check more than one forecast. Especially regarding precipitation, forecasts can vary significantly, depending upon which weather model the forecaster elects to follow. (In the Triangle, for instance, accumulation prognostications ranged from 1 to 3 inches for the storm moving in late Monday, to 6 to 8 inches.
  • Keep checking. Planning a Saturday adventure? Go ahead and check on Monday to get a ballpark idea, but be sure to check again on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Checking daily will keep you up on the latest, but perhaps most significantly will help you detect any trends.

RandyResource of the week: AHS cold weather tips

Again, borrowing from an earlier enewsletter: Getting a good start in cold weather (above) is good. But staying warm and comfortable on the trail involves a bit more planning. Pick up some valuable tips from the American Hiking Society on their Cold Weather Hiking page.