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

Our upcoming adventures Hike, pedal, camp, backpack


MSTRST2Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake
MST Day-Hike sections R,S,T in Durham County
GetHiking! Triangle, Triad
When: Sunday, Oct. 4, 1 p.m.
Distance: 9.7 miles (with a 4-mile option)
Type of hike: Shuttle (point-to-point)
Difficulty: Moderate, due to length; a relatively flat hike overall.
After setting the shuttle at Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve, we’ll hike east on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Boom! Right off the bat, there’s fun in the form of a wooden footbridge knocked off its foundation at a 45-degree angle. We climb a bluff overlooking the Eno River, we descend into bottomland forest, we pass one of the new MST primitive campgrounds (and later, another), we skirt farm fields, we walk near remote stretches of Falls Lake, we check out an abandoned farm campus, we walk above a swamp. Those are just some of the highlights on this hike, where we should see some of the first signs of fall color.
Hike leader: Joe
More info and to sign up, go here.

PeaksOtter_smallPeaks of Otter
Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
GetHiking! Triangle, Triad, Charlotte
When: Sunday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m.
Distance: 6.3 or 8.2 miles
Type of hike: Loops
Difficulty: Moderate/ challenging
We will do a combination of the best trails at Peaks of Otter, including a visit to a historic farm that will have interpreters in period costumes, and a hike beside breath-taking cascades. We’ll start the with Sharp Top trail to the very popular summit of 3,862-foot Otter. For such a short trail (3 miles roundtrip) to the peak, it will give us quite a workout, with multiple series of steps and a rocky, mostly uphill trek throughout the hike. The summit offers an impressive 360-degree view of the Peaks of Otter area, the Piedmont to the east, and the Shenandoah Valley and Appalachian  mountains to the west. After returning to the visitor’s center, lunch will be at the tranquil Abbots Lake. Then we’ll head across the parkway to hike the 3.3-mile loop to Johnson Farm, a restored 1880’s farmstead and return via Harkening Hill Trail. A short side trip to Balanced Rock is also recommended.
Hike leader: Anne T.
More info here.


Pedaling the swamp
Dismal Swamp State Park, Saturday, 10 a.m.

Usually when you think of swamps, your thoughts turn to paddling, not pedaling.
But Dismal Swamp State Park near the Virginia border nicely accommodates both. The Dismal Swamp Canal is a popular destination for the former, while the nearly 17 miles of old logging roads provide great access for two wheelers into this wild terrain that, despite man’s best efforts, has defied centuries of attempts to be tamed.
Saturday, our GetExploring! gang will ride the park’s trails for about two hours. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one at the park ($5 for the first hour, $3 for each hour thereafter).
The ride begins at 10 a.m. Visit our GetExploring! Meetup page for more information and to sign up.


GBP.FLjpg_GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking
The October session of our four-week Intro to Backpacking course kicks off Oct. 4. We will do three training sessions, focusing on a vital skill each week. Week One: Gear and packing; Week Two: Setting up (and breaking down) camp; Week Three: Rustlin’ up a meal. Each session includes a training hike of increasing length: 2, 4.5 and 6 miles. Then, in Week Four, we take a two-night graduation trip to South Mountains State Park.
October’s session still has four openings (each session is limited to 12); a final fall session is scheduled for November. This is a fee course: $75 for the session; Great Outdoor Provision Co. offers incentives, including a $35 gift card. There is a limit of 12 participants per session.
Learn more about the program here.


Intro to Family Camping
We’ve postponed the start of our new Intro to Family Camping program, which means there’s still time for your brood to get on board. The program is aimed at parents who grew up deprived, in non-camping families. If you didn’t grow up camping, it can be intimidating taking yourself into the woods to live, let along taking the kids. Our clinic aims to take the fear out of the fun. It includes two training sessions: at the first, you’ll get a basic introduction to camping, touching on gear (and gear you may already have around the house that can substitute) and logistics. The second session will get more specific, with hands-on camp set-up, logistics and what you and the kids can do for entertainment on a camping trip. Then, you’ll get a chance to put those skills to work with a weekend overnight family camping trip to Medoc Mountain State Park.
Cost of the clinic is $95 per family, and is limited to the first 10 families to sign up. Included in the fee are dinner and breakfast on the graduation trip, plus incentives from Great Outdoor Provision Co.
We’ll have an information session on the program Wednesday, October 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Outdoor Provision store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.
Learn more about the program and sign up for the information session by going here.

Our recent adventures: A Classic day on the AT, SUP on the Tar

GH.AT_Shortly into Sunday’s 14-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, one hiker was skeptical when another referred to the hike as a “trek.” A veteran of numerous “treks” in the Himalayas, he said this was a hike, not a trek.
Somewhere on the slog up Little Hump Mountain he changed his tune.
“This is a trek,” he panted.
Indeed, none of the 19 hikers on the Long Hike would dispute the challenge presented by the AT between Carvers Gap and US 19E, a run of trail that is often cited as the most scenic in the state. Nor would they deny that every sore muscle afterward was well worth the effort.
We’ll let the day speak for itself, in the 100 or so photos posted for both the Short and Long hikes on our GetHiking! Meetup page, here and here.

Hikers Corner: Maria’s takeaways

Maria, left, with Quintiles colleagues Stacy and Tamara, on Jane Bald
Maria, left, with Quintiles colleagues Stacy and Tamara, on Jane Bald

Maria Lanni joined GetHiking! this summer through our Corporate Wellness arm. Once an avid hiker in Upstate New York, her goal was to rekindle those glorious hiking days of old. Sunday, atop Jane Bald on the AT, she gave me a big high-five and announced, “I’m back!”
After the hike, Maria shared four takeaways from an epic day on the trail:

  • “I will never plan to drive home directly after a long hike like that.”
  • “I got some great pictures and enjoyed the first 9 or so miles.” (Nine out of 14 — not bad.)
  • “I noticed that THOG is doing the same hike this weekend, but they are breaking it up in two pieces. No wonder! I guess i have bragging rights now … “
  • The good news is I’m  looking forward to next month’s hike!

Also on Sunday, our GetExploring! crew enjoyed ideal weather  — sunny, temperatures in the mid-80s — for a two-hour standup paddleboard trip on the Tar River.
After putting in at the Port Terminal Wildlife access, our folks paddled downstream, checking out a side creek where, according to trip leader Andrew, they spotted some eels.
After 45 minutes, the group paddled back upstream. A good afternoon of paddling on the Tar.

Gear of the week: Merrell Capra Waterproof

This past weekend I did something I wouldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago: I took a new pair of hiking shoes out of the box and: a) hiked four miles in a full backpack on Saturday, then b) hiked about seven miles on the Appalachian Trail on Sunday. Time was, you spent the first month or so taking short walks in your neighborhood to break in a pair of shoes or boots. Not any more. And my experience was heightened all the more because not only were my Merrell Capra Waterproofs trail-ready from the start, but they wore like bedroom slippers. Usually, for the degree of support offered by the shoe’s EVA midsole, you pay a price in comfort. Not with these; after dialing in the lacing, I was floating, even with a 35-pound pack. Fortunately, the weather cooperated so I didn’t need to test the “Waterproof” element of the name. But believe me, as comfy as these guys are I can’t wait for a good excuse to tromp through some puddles. Price: $140.

Tip of the week: Lace and re-lace

Sunday, deep into a long hike on the Appalachian Trail, a few hikers observed that their toes were sliding around — and taking a bit of a beating. Hmm, I thought. Did I remind everyone to stop after 10 minutes and tighten laces? Perhaps not.
Your shoes or boots might feel nice and snug at the beginning of a hike, but after 10 minutes are so, they will loosen. Even if you don’t notice any slippage, take a minute after 10 to stop and tighten up. There’s a real good chance you’ll notice significant loosening, a condition that if left to continue will result in blisters, black toenails, no toenails and even twisted ankles.

Resource of the Week: Healthy Trail Snacks

“I had a Milky Way and it was so good!” the hiker told me with a hint of self-recrimination. “I hate Milky Way; they’re too sweet. But I loved it.”
The bite-size candy had come from a baggy of similar bite-size badness I’d given each hiker at the trailhead. A thought occurred:  Was I turning these well-meaning hikers into sugar junkies?
Fuel is important on the trail. But there are more acceptable ways to keep a body going than pumping refined sugar into your veins. Thus, today’s resources:

See? Good nutrition on the trail needn’t be painful.