During the hectic holiday season we scale back the number of hikes we do. That doesn’t mean we aren’t planning ahead.
We’re currently finalizing a hike to be led by Don Childrey 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 the book first came out in 1998, it was hard to imagine a more comprehensive guide to the Uwharrie region. Now, Childrey has updated the guide; at 525 pages it’s more than 200 pages more comprehensive than the original. In it, Childrey covers more than 215 miles of public trail, including new sections of the original Uwharrie Recreation Trail that have 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 and heading 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.”
We should have more details next week.
As we noted last week, we’ve switch to a new format for announcing hikes. Here in the enewsletter, we’ll give you the quick skinny on all upcoming hikes on the schedule. (And not just the GetHiking! Charlotte hikes, but those in the Triangle and the Triad as well, hikes you might also be interested in.)
For more detailed information, click on the link and you’ll go to GetGoingNC.com, where a collection of our hikes will live. Miss a hike or your schedule conflicts with an upcoming trip? You should find the information you need to plan your own outing (though it probably won’t be as much fun).
Details on our December hikes may be found here.
- Wednesday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m. GetHiking! at night, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Wake County. 1 hour, 30 minutes (45 minutes out, then back). Sign up here.
- Saturday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. GetHiking! at the Knight Brown Nature Preserve (pictured, bottom), Rockingham County (north of the Triad). 3 miles. Sign up here.
- Sunday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. GetHiking! with the Cookie Monster, Umstead State Park, Raleigh. 3 and 7.2 mile options. Sign up here (3 mile) or here (7.2 mile).
Tip of the Week Why some hikes are capped
Occasionally, you’ll see that a hike has a cap on the number of hikers. Why? Two main reasons.
In some locations, the number of visitors is capped to minimize the impact on the land. Most federally designated wilderness areas, for instance, limit groups to 10 people. That’s not only to limit the impact on the land, but also to ensure that other visitors experience the solitude they came to find.
Educational hikes — those lead by a knowledgeable sort whose goal is to impart that knowledge (wildflower or tree ID, for instance) — often cap participation for a practical reason: you get more than 20 people or so together on the trail and not everyone will be able to hear what the hike leader is saying. The hikes we did with the Carolina Thread Trail in Charlotte, for instance, were capped at 20 for that reason.
There are other good reasons to cap attendance. A hike we did last year at the White Pines Nature Preserve near Pittsboro should have been capped at 15 or so because of the limited trailhead parking; great weather and curiosity about the preserve resulted in our most heavily attended hike: 80. Hikes on more challenging terrain may be capped so the hike leader doesn’t need to worry about keeping tabs on too many hikers.
Resource of the Week ‘Wandering Home’
“Wandering Home,” by Bill McKibben isn’t a new book — it came out over a decade ago. But it’s a timeless read and one that will appeal to anyone who likes to know more about the land he or she is exploring. As the book’s subtitle proclaims, the book is about “A Long Walk Across America’s Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont’s Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondacks.”
Over 16 days, McKibben sets out from the town where he works, in Vermont, to his house in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Along the way he talks about the human and natural history of the region, providing the type of insight that turns a hike into a journey. A great read for the holidays.
Gear I Like Smartwool socks
When I got back into hiking nearly 25 years ago, I dropped by my local outfitter to pick up a pair of socks. It had been a while since I’d last bought socks for athletic purposes (How long? They were cotton, tube-shaped, knee-high and had three colorful rings around the top.) Boy, was I in for a surprise. I was greeted by a wall of socks and a handout advising me on how to buy my new “technical socks.”
I’ve had a lot of time since to explore socks. The one thing I discovered: it can take a long time to decide what socks are best for you. And that’s what it boils down to: you need to find the socks that work best for you. Some people have sweaty feet and need sock liners (a thin layer that wicks sweat from your skin and prevents blistering). Some need thin socks, lest their hiking shoes rub. Some people need thick socks to warm their perpetually cold feet. So many factors go into buying a pair of socks. Because they tend to be pricey (the socks I prefer are in the $14-$18 range, considerably more than the $1.95 I once paid for a three-pack of tubers) and because they play a vital role in keeping your feet happy, take a minute to think about your needs before you buy. Sweaty feet? Cold feet? Claustrophobic feet? There’s a technical sock for all needs.
Personally, I like Smartwool, specifically the Hike Ultra Light Crew Sock. They’ve been good to my non-picky feet for everything from short hikes to multi-day backpack trips. No particular reason, I just like the socks. More importantly, they like me.