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


GetHiking! at Night, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Day-Hike Section D, Falls Lake, Raleigh
GetHiking! Triangle
When: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.

GH.Tips_.1208Same hike we did last Tuesday night, on what the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail refer to as Day-Hike Section D, the 2.8-mile stretch between Bayleaf Church Road and Possum Track Road. Why the same trail? For starters, it’s dark: who’s gonna know? We’ll start from Bayleaf Church Road, hike east for 45 minutes, then about-face and return; about an hour and a half of hiking, for the cyphering impaired. You need a nightlight for this hike; I pack a couple loaners, first come/first accommodated; sign up below. This is a somewhat rolling stretch of trail, with a few instances of roots and rocks but generally in good shape. A good first-time hike for the night-hike novice.

Hike leader: Joe Miller
More info and to sign up, go here.

GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes: Tanawha Trail
Tanawha Trail, Grandfather Mountain to Price Lake
GetHiking! Charlotte, Triad, Triangle
When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 8:30 a.m.

IMG_3809Think of Grandfather Mountain and you think of a rugged massif known for its jumbled rockscape. Think of Price Lake and your thoughts turn to a more passive mountain landscape with meadows and rolling terrain. Now think of a trail that links the two, exposing the hiker to a variety of mountain ecosystems in a relatively short span of time and you’ve got the Tanawha Trail.

Traversing the southeast flank of Grandfather Mountain, the Tanawha Trail runs for 13.6 miles. The southern section has its ups-and-downs, but there are no severe climbs. Further, since the trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are numerous access points, allowing us to offer options of 5.1, 8.5 and 13.6 miles. (Also because the trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, the shuttle is quick and easy.)

We will meet at the Price Lake parking area at Milepost 298 and drive south on the Parkway to the trailhead, at Beacon Heights, dropping shuttle cars at the Raven Rocks Overlook (for the 5.1-mile hikers) and Boone Fork (8.5 milers) parking areas.

This hike is part of our GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes series (see below for more information). It will be the 11th hike in this series of 12 hikes in 2015.

This is a fee program; the is a per-hike charge of $25. The fee includes a swag bag, monthly enewsletter and discounts on hiking gear at Great Outdoor Provision Co. You will be sent a PayPal invoice upon signing up for this hike.

Estimated drive time: Charlotte: 2 hours; Greensboro: 2 hours; Raleigh: 3 hours, 10 minutes. Registration for this hike closes Tuesday, Dec. 8 and 9 a.m.

Hike leaders: Joe Miller, Anne Triebert
More info here.

GH.QuickieGetHiking! Quick Saturday Morning Hike at Umstead State Park, Raleigh
Loblolly/Reedy Creek/Reedy Creek Lake trails
GetHiking! Triangle
When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m.

Don’t have time to drive to the mountains for an all-day hike? We understand, what with the holidays and all. That’s why Hike Leader Lori C is offering this Quick Hike at Umstead. Hike the Loblolly/Reedy Creek/Reedy Creek Lake loop, reclaim your sanity from the week past, finish up by 10:30 a.m. and carry on with your appointed rounds.

Hike leader: Lori C.
More info here

Meanwhile, in the Greenville area …

We’re taking a hiatus from leading trips until the after the first of the year. Until then, we’ll clue you in to some great programs at our nearby North Carolina State Parks.



Volunteer Day!!!, Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake
Come help improve the park in a variety of ways, from working on old farm fences and culverts, to weeding out invasive species of plants, to leaf clean-up, to building trail and more.
When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 9 a.m. to noon.
More info here.

Intro to Carolina Bays, Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown
A ranger discusses the geological mysteries of the Carolina Bays that dot the East Coast. Also discussed: the natural communities associated with Carolina Bays.
When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 3 p.m.
More info here.


Carolina Bays, Jones Lake (upper left) and Salters Lake
Carolina Bays, Jones Lake (upper left) and Salters Lake

Animal Myths Story Time, Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake
Story time with Karen Campbell from “Pony and Friends” by campfire!!! Please bring a lawn chair or blanket.
When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 4-6 p.m.
More info here.

Rockefeller House Tours, Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake
Historical tour through Mr. James Stillman Rockefeller’s winter estate. We will be walking through and around the estate, and discussing the history of the surrounding structures, some dating back to the early 1800s.
When: Sunday, Dec. 13, 3 p.m.
More info here.


GetBackpacking! on MLK Weekend?

Backpackers’ choice (see below)
When: Jan. 15-18.

The GetBackpacking! community has spoken: we will spend the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend on the Appalachian Trail.

Late Friday, we will camp on or near Max Patch. Saturday, we will hike about 12 miles to Garenflo Gap (or thereabouts). Sunday, we will continue on into Hot Springs, noodle about a bit, then continue to the Rich Mountain area (about 15 miles). Monday, we hike out, on the Roundtop Ridge Trail, back to Hot Springs, about 5 miles.

Daily mileages will vary depending upon how far we hike in Friday evening (yes, a bit of night hiking is involved). Total distance: 32 miles.

More detailed information will be provided in the December GetBackpacking! enewsletter; if you are not a subscriber, email and we’ll get you on the list (it’s free and we don’t distribute our circulation list). You can also find details on this trip in “Backpacking North Carolina” (2011, UNC Press), Trip Nos. 25 & 26.

We will hold a trip planning meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.

Gear of the week: MSR Windboiler Stove

For the next month or so, we focus on the … luxuries that you might not get yourself, but that someone else might be eager to get for you.

Windboiler-Stove-280x280Perhaps this recommendation sounds familiar; it will, if you recall our July 19 edition, when Lindsey and Andrew from the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Greenville said this was the stove of choice for their planned thru-hike of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

It’s back as we head into winter because not only is the MSR Windboiler Stove great for backpacking, it’s also a welcome addition to those long, cold day hikes of winter. It’s lightweight (15.25 ounces, not including fuel canister), compact, the heating unit and gas canister store in the pot, and boils water in a ridiculously short amount of time (in our experience, we can bring a half liter to boil in under three minutes). A spot of tea on the trail during a 10-mile, 30-degree hike sounds like just the thing, doesn’t it? (A coffee press accessory lets you brew a cup o’ joe quicker than you can slather up a peanut butter bagel for lunch.)

A little pricey at $129.95, but what price hath warm insides on a winter’s day? (And you’ll be the most popular hiker in your group.)

Tip of the week: Waiting out civil twilight

We love hiking during daylight, we love hiking at night. But the dusky period between them can be pesky. Generally, there’s about a 30-minute period between sunset and dark known as civil twilight when there’s still light after the sun sets, but in dwindling supply. Your eyes do a good job of adjusting — up to a point. It’s at that point that you switch on your headlamp. Finding that point can be vexing for some. A general rule of thumb: wait a minute or two after you think you need the light between switching it on. Fire up too soon and the competing light sources will actually make the trail harder to see. Slow down, step prudently, then go to your switch and enjoy the switch to night hiking.

Resource of the Week: Sunrise, sunset

It’s the time of year when we try and squeeze the most out of every minute of daylight.(When we officially switch over to winter, on Dec. 21, we will have just 9 hours, 43 minutes and 57 seconds of daylight.) While knowing sunrise is important for figuring out how early we can get on the trail, even more important is knowing when the sun sets and when we should be off the trail. To help with your planning, we suggest, where you can find all sorts of helpful sun and moon information, including sunrise, sunset and the aforementioned civil twilight.