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 adventures: Good Friday and Eno Saturday hikes, a safety paddle

We have two hikes this week:

GH.CompanyMillOn Good Friday afternoon, April 3, we’ll hike the Company Mill Trail at Umstead State Park. This is a favorite, for good reason: it’s slightly less than 6 miles of rolling terrain exploring a hardwood Piedmont forest that should be especially fetching as spring unfolds. Expect numerous Kodak moments. The hike commences at 1:30 p.m., from the Harrision Avenue side of Umstead, off I-40. More info and sign up here.

Saturday, April 4 at 10 a.m. we will hike a new 5-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Durham. This trail links the 60-mile Falls Lake section of the MST with 12 miles running along the Eno River into Orange County. We’ll meet at West Point on the Eno city park in Durham, shuttle to Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve, hike upstream back to our cars at West Point. More info and sign up here.

Meanwhile, in Greenville:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEver been out on the water and wonder just how safe your canoe or kayak is? Saturday, take the worry out of safety by participating in our Paddle Safety Day. In conjunction with the local branch of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, we’ll hold a short clinic on paddle safety, discuss safety gear, then run your boat through the Coast Guard Safety Check.
Then, assured about your skills and your craft, join us on a paddle on the Tar River from Town Common to Port Terminal, beginning at 5 p.m. (That’s when we’ll gather to set the shuttle; expect to be on the water between 5:30 and 6 p.m.)
For more information on both events, visit our GetExploring! Greenville Meetup page.

Last week’s adventures: A hike, a bike ’n’ brew

20150328_125030How much do y’all like to ride? Enough that a dozen of you turned out for Saturday’s 15-mile Bike and Brew ride despite chilly temperatures. Our peleton departed the The Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery, rode to Greenville, then shuttled back to Duck Rabbit for a post-ride brew in the brewery’s tap room (which they opened just for us).
Thanks to our intrepid cyclists, and a big thanks to the folks at Duck Rabbit.

Coming soon: Backpacking

GBP.GroupIn September, we launched GetBackpacking!, an introductory backpacking class in the Triangle. We hope to launch a similar program soon in Charlotte.
Until then, though, look for monthly backpacking trips starting in May. These trips will be aimed at folks with some backpacking experience (and equipment). They’ll be targeted to less-experienced backpackers, folks who’ve been out a time or two, but feel more comfortable heading out with a group and with an experienced leader who won’t leave  them in the dust.
GetBackpacking! at South Mountains State Park Initially, these will be three-day trips, heading up Friday morning, returning Sunday afternoon. We’ll eventually offer longer trips.
Our ethos is this: We’ll start the day together, we’ll end the day together. If you’re in a hurry to get to the next campsite, have at it. If you’re the slow and steady type, the trip leader will be hanging with you. We will have maps for each trip, so the fast-hikers, especially, can self navigate. The trips will be limited to 12 backpackers per. Our first trip will likely be to the Shining Rock area.
Keep an eye on the GetHiking! Triangle site for details.

Gear We Like: MSR WindBoiler

GH.WindboilerI’m a bit impatient when it comes to my first cup of coffee for the day, whether it’s at home gearing up for a day at the office or at the campsite rousing for a long day on the trail. I want a stove that: a) is fast; b) is simple; c) won’t be affected by the elements, especially a stout wind. Saturday morning at South Mountains State Park we had the perfect storm of events to delay that coveted first cup: an especially groggy and inattentive me, numbing cold and a persistent and pesky wind. I was cold and grumpy: I needed that first cup, my fellow backpackers needed me to have that first cup. Because I had the MSR WindBoiler, a potentially volatile situation was nipped by a steaming cup delivered in five minutes — and that includes the four minutes it took to steep the coffee.
The WindBoiler employs an “enclosed radiant burner.” I don’t know what that means. What I do know is that I was able to light the burner on first try, that the flame stayed lit, that the 16 oz. heating bowl went on in a jif, and that before I knew it I was drinking coffee. The WindBoiler — or WB, now that we’re tight — is a great companion on the trail. $129.95.

Tip of the Week: Pack a whistle

whistle-neon-green-mIt was just past 6 o’clock when someone noticed that RuthAnn hadn’t returned to camp. She’d set out on a hike after our GetBackpacking! group had pitched camp for the day, and while we’d established a return time, we hadn’t discussed what to do if she missed the deadline. We knew which direction she should be returning from; we also knew that being an extremely strong hiker she could have decided to do a more ambitious hike that would bring her back a different way. We decided that if we needed to send out search teams, we would cover both possible routes. But how to alert one another when she was found?
Pack a whistle whenever you head out. They can be used to signal trouble — three equal blasts in a row — or to communicate that RuthAnn had been found via a prearranged, distinctive series of blasts. (Whistles, unlike cell phones, aren’t deterred by  mountain draws and valleys.) Fortunately, before we got to the point of working up a call and response code, the point was rendered moot.
RuthAnn wandered back into camp.

Resource of the week: A Boy’s Life, a century ago

contentWhile researching whistle signals (see above) we came across this nifty piece from the August 1916 Boy’s Life: “Dan Beard Tells You How to Follow Trails and Use Whistle, Smoke, Gun and Gesture Signals.” Beard, the National Scout Commissioner at the time, shares personal experience while relaying these vital skills, providing entertaining insight into exploring the woods nearly a century ago. The magazine contains additional great reading as well.
Check it out here.