Our Explorer Series can help you meet your adventure goals
Julie Steiner atop 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro

When it comes to adventure, we all have goals, some of which would qualify as lofty.

What we often lack in attaining these loftier goals is a plan. A plan for logistics, a plan for training, a plan for the actual event. Planning a plan can be more daunting than the lofty adventure itself.

That’s why we’re launching our Explorer Series for 2018. One a month, we’ll feature a local explorer much like you, in that they had a vision for an epic adventure. But they had something you might not: a plan. Their plan is the focus of the Explorer Series presentations.

We got the idea for the Explorer Series from our Pints & Paths series this past fall. On several Tuesday evenings we had local backpackers share the stories of their trips on some of the nation’s long trails, the Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail, Colorado Trail and Mountains-to-Sea Trail among them. Our explorers shared the experience of the trip itself, but more importantly, they shared their preparation, from planning the logistics to whipping their bodies into shape. The presentations were intended to break down the psychological barrier that can prevent us from simply taking that first step. They demonstrated that while planning is essential, you shouldn’t be deterred by the notion you have to do everything perfectly. Mistakes can, and will, be made. For instance, AT thru-hiker Susan Levy prepped about as well as a body could for her 2015 hike. Yet when she arrived at Neels Gap three days down the trail for the traditional hiker shakedown, she was stripped of four pounds of excess gear, including a half-dozen or so lighters. “They told me they’d never seen anyone so prepared to start a fire,” she told our gathering.

Other lessons from our Pints & Paths presenters:

  • There are often reasons for rules. When a fellow hiker told Marya McNeish she could skirt the bear canister requirement for the John Muir Trail by buying the smallest canister available — a canister too small to be of much use — and appeasing the rangers, she noted, “I wasn’t worried about the rangers. I was worried about the bears.”
  • Be patient with your feet. Asked the hardest part of his Mountains-to-Sea Trail section hike, Jerry Barker responded, “It was my feet, at first. But they toughen up. Gradually.”
  • Good planning needn’t take forever. Kate Rice of Chapel Hill told our group that she got the idea to start her hike of the Colorado Trail on a Sunday; less than 48 hours later she was halfway across the country, on the trail. (It should be noted that she had previous experience planning backpack trips.)

As you can see, advice comes in varying degrees. It’s good to know that your feet may hurt at first on a long trek, that you shouldn’t be quick to dismiss a rule that may seem excessive, that time constraints can be more perceived than real.

This is the type of help we hope our Explorer Series will offer in 2018.

Our first presentation in the series is Wednesday, January 17, in our Chapel Hill shop. Destination: Mount Kilimanjaro, at 19,341 feet the highest point on the continent of Africa. Chapel Hill Explorer Julie Steiner bagged the peak in September after first being intrigued by the mountain while watching a nature show on TV as a kid. The notion of Kilimanjaro resurfaced when she began “craving a physical challenge — something significant that would give me a goal to work toward over the course of a year.”

Julie’s story will include both the highs (summit day) and the lows of her quest. The latter may have come on a backpack training hike in Linville Gorge a little more than a month out from her summit bid, when her feet and her boots, which hadn’t been getting along beforehand, had a major falling out. Julie recovered, found a pair boots her feet could live with, and summited Kilimanjaro.

The adventures for our Explorer Series are epic, make no mistake. But they are also adventures that, with training and preparation, are achievable. They’ll include visits to far-flung locales such as Kilimanjaro and Machu Picchu, they’ll include trips to places closer to home, such as the 77-mile Foothills Trail straddling the North Carolina/South Carolina line (the topic of our February session). Even if you aren’t planning to tackle one of these adventures, come and enjoy some good vicarious thrills.

We hope to see you Wednesday.

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More Explorer Series Info

For more information on Wednesday’s Kilimanjaro presentation by Julie Steiner and to register (it’s free, we just like to know how many to expect), go here.

For recaps of last fall’s Pints & Paths presentations, click the following links: