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

Our next adventures

MST.Falls2As Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month continues, we continue to hike upon its well-tended tread, up and down it’s smartly switchbacked slopes, past it’s wonderful scenery.
Our next hikes in the series follow:

  • Sunday, May 24 at 9:30 a.m. A 10-mile stretch along the Eno River. After setting a shuttle, we’ll start from West Point on the Eno city park in Durham and hike upstream. We’ll pass Sennet Hole and the ensuing floodplain to Guess Road, then begin the quick up-and-downs that highlight this stretch of trail. We’ll go around a portion of the Eno Quarry and pass through a bluff of mountain laurel before winding up at the Pleasant Green Access — again, in more of a floodplain setting. Learn more about it and sign up at the GetHiking! Triangle Meetup page.
  • Saturday, May 23, 9:30 a.m.: GetHiking! on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Grandfather Mountain. 9 miles. This out-and-back starts at Beacon Heights and heads through rocky terrain to Rough Ridge, then returns. Piggybacks on the enchanting Tanawha Trail. Details and sign-up here.
    A little history near Jeffress Park
  • Sunday, May 24, 10 a.m.: GetHiking! on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway: Breakfast and a hike. Start the day fueling up at the recently-reopened Park Vista Inn & Restaurant, then hike 4.5 miles north on the MST to Jeffress Park and back. Details and sign-up here.
  • MST.TanawhaSaturday, May 23, 10 a.m.: GetExploring! on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Falls Lake. We’ll close out our salute to Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month with a 12-mile hike on the MST along Falls Lake in Raleigh. The trail runs for 60 miles along the southern shore of Falls Lake: our plan is to hike from the southeast end (at the tailrace to Falls Lake Dam) and hike northwest, to a trail access at Possum Track Road, then hike back. This is a rolling stretch of trail, with one surprising climb near the beginning, mellow rollers thereafter. Good views of the lake, some nice forest. There are restrooms at the beginning of the hike (and, because it’s an out-and-back, at the end). An aerobic way to explore the MST. Learn more specific details about the hike by visiting the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail website and checking out Day-Hikes A and B along Falls Lake. For more info and to sign up, visit our Meetup site.

Our last adventures:  A Classic on the MST

DSCF0603Our last adventure — our third in the North Carolina’s Classic Hikes series— was indeed an adventure. True Wilderness Areas, as you may know, are intended to be devoid of signs of man. That includes blazes and trail signs that are often useful in wayfinding. It was one such point where blazes are verboten that saw our Long Hikers funnel down into a deep canyon consuming much of the Middle Prong Wilderness. Down, down, down we went — until we encountered a group of four local hikers coming the opposite way. The rest is the topic of this week’s Tip of the Week (see below).
For the second straight Classic hike, the weather did the opposite of what the forecasting sages predicted. And that was a good thing, for the forecast afternoon rain never developed. We started in sunshine, ended in clouds, but no rain.
Here are two pics from the trip; find more photographic evidence of the fun at the GetHiking! Triangle Meetup site, and on a slideshow at

Gear We Like: Duct Tape

Is it too obvious to mention what a godsend duct tape can be? Rip your pants squeezing through a blueberry patch? Duct tape the tear from the inside until you can get home and get it sewn. Blow out a sole? Duct tape it and get back to the car. Blisters? Broken strap? Hiking partner who won’t pipe down?
Duct tape shoes
You needn’t carry an entire role. Just wrap about 10 feet of the miracle fabric around your water bottle or hiking pole or whatever you always have with you, and you’re set.
Duct tape: Don’t leave home without it.

Tip of the Week: Go with your gut

cartoon-thought-bubble-mdOn our latest GetHiking! North Carolina’s Classic Hikes adventure, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the Middle Prong Wilderness, I sensed something wasn’t quite right. We’d been hiking on a stretch of trail I’d last done five years earlier, a stretch I remembered as being relatively flat (for the mountains, at least) except for the very end, at about the five-mile mark, where it descended to the trailhead at NC 215. Trouble was, about 2.5 miles in, we were already descending — a lot. It’ll even out in a sec, I told myself. It didn’t.
After an eternity of dropping we ran into four hikers we’d seen heading the opposite direction at the outset — running into them again was not a good sign. They were amused to learn we thought we were on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, when, in fact, we were descending into the bowels of the Middle Prong Wilderness. They kindly offered to lead us out.
We have a rule in our house that when we first think we’re not where we think we are, we should continue for five minutes, then reassess. If I’d followed that simple rule, we would have saved our group about a mile of unnecessary hiking — and about 400 feet of unnecessary vertical climbing.
To recap: Pay attention to your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t overreact, but don’t ignore it, either. Sometimes simply stopping and thinking your situation through can yield the insight you need.

Resource of the Week:

It’s summer, a lot of you will be traveling to far-flung points of the country. And odds are you might just want to get a hike in. But how to plan in advance for an area you aren’t familiar with? has a database of more than 1,200 trails nationwide, plus links to local land managers and other sources where you can learn about trails. It’s perhaps the best single resource for checking out trail in other states, a resource you can check out here.