Every Monday, our GetHiking! hikers in Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle receive our weekly enewsletter, including details on upcoming hikes, a report on the past week’s hikes, hiking tips and resources. Every Tuesday, we will recap information here in the Great Outdoor Provision Co. Blog. To get the enews delivered fresh to your computer every Monday, drop a line to joe@getgoingnc.com.

This week’s hike: Birkhead Mountain Wilderness

If you rely on a periodic day hike to preserve your sanity, check the calendar and you’ll realize that this is the last weekend before the holiday season officially begins. (Begins, that is, outside the retail world; that ship sailed weeks ago.)

A week from this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, a week from Friday is Black Friday; after that, it’s a mad scramble to survive the end of the year. Your odds of getting in a full day on the trail? Slim to none.

That’s why you need to take advantage of this Sunday’s hike in the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness of the Uwharrie National Forest. The 11.5-mile Birkhead loop offers mountainlike terrain within an hour and a half of the Triangle. The two-mile spur to the main Birkhead loop in particular is a scenic climb through mature hardwoods and rock outcrops. The 7-mile loop is a more mellow roller, sticking mostly to ridgelines but spending some time along the mountain laurel-lined Hannahs and Robbins creeks. Plus, there should still be color clinging in this forest of mostly deciduous hardwoods.

Think Sunday’s hike as taking a deep breath before diving into the holidays. A deep, sanity-saving breath.

Note that hunting is permitted in the area and it is hunting season. Wear festive DOT orange if you have it in your hiking wardrobe; otherwise, wear another festive color or stick next to someone wearing festive color.

For details on Sunday’s hike, check out our GetHiking! Triangle Meetup page.

Our last adventure: Goose Creek State Park

For some reason, when it comes to fall color we tend to think geographically: Mountains: Oooohhh, pretty! Piedmont: Nice! Coast: Trees turn colors at the coast? Really?

Yes, really, as we found out Saturday at Goose Creek State Park. While there are plenty of pines, live oaks and evergreen understory shrubs and plants, there are also plenty of deciduous trees that, like their montane counterparts, do indeed change colors: reds, purples, oranges, yellows — all the colors in the Trix rainbow. And, there’s the added plus of all that great marsh scenery, from reed grass rising from the watery depths to Spanish moss dripping from the highest oaks.

Missed the trip? Here’s a snapshot from the lenses of our hikers. For more, check out our GetHiking! Triangle Meetup page.

Tip of the week: Hiking glossary

It occurred to us that we may use words you aren’t familiar with. Here’s a quick glossary of some of hiking’s more common terms:

Blaze: Uniform marks that indicate where a trail goes. For instance, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail uses white circles, typically painted on trees at eye level, to show where the trail goes through the woods. You can usually find out what blazes a given trail uses from a park map or kiosk, located at the trailhead (see below). If you’ve been hiking for a few minutes and haven’t seen a blaze, feel free to advise your hike leader of this fact: odds are you’ve realized you’re off-track before he has.
Cairn: While blazes (see above) are typically painted on trees, sometimes there are no trees. When there are no trees, trails are often indicated by “cairns,” or small piles of rocks shaped into a pyramid that are one to two feet high. Use them to navigate the trail.
Natural surface trail: A dirt or gravel path, as opposed to a paved greenway. Some of these paths are relatively smooth, most have at least the occasional rock or tree root.
Trailhead: Where a trail begins or can be picked up. Typically, it refers to the place where your hike starts.
Trek: This is a long hike. Tuesday, when Anna wanted to make sure a 27-mile hike wasn’t on the schedule, she could have correctly referred to it as a “27-mile trek.” We have no plans in this session for a “trek.”

Resource of the week: More words

Those aren’t all the words unique hiking. To get your trail talk up to speed, check out the LandBigFish.com glossary of hiking terms.