If you’ve been reading this blog, Facebook postings or the Carolina Mountain Club website and haven’t yet gone on a hike, you might have some questions about how it all works. No mystery. We’re all volunteers and we’d love to have you join us. All our hikers are listed on the CMC website.
Yesterday, we had one of our regular Wednesday hikes, this time in Dupont State Forest. Though leaders commit to leading a hike months in advance, they show up at the meeting point, on time and eager to lead a hike. They’ve scouted (checked out the hike) recently and know the route.
We leave on time. So if the meeting time is 8:30 am at Westgate, it means that we leave at 8:30, so plan to come about 10 minutes early. We carpool to the trail head and it is customary to give a driver 10 cents a mile for riding in someone else’s car.
You should have a day pack with all the gear needed for your hike. In particular, a lunch and two quarts of water for the day. And always carry your raincoat, independent of the weather forecast.
On the Trail
Once at the trailhead, you’ll sign a release form. The leader will make sure that you’re introduced to the group. She’ll name a sweep, a person that will stay in the back and make sure we all go the same way.
Then we’ll all start walking. We walk at a moderate pace but that is subjective. Sometimes you’ll find it too slow, sometimes too fast, but that’s group hiking. We stop for snack breaks, lunch and for trail breaks. Trail breaks are official pit stops – men one way, women the other – so that you don’t have to dart into the woods to pee and then run to catch up with the group.
Hikers stick with the group, chat and take photographs. This is not a solitary commune with nature.
A good leader will point out flowers, historic artifacts or whatever makes this hike interesting.
No question that Bridal Veil Falls was one of the highlights of yesterday’s hike. Our leader stopped so we could look and photograph.
Not everything is perfect at Dupont State Forest.
The houses that date from its development days are deteriorating.
The state doesn’t have money to maintain them or to tear them down. It’s a shame since these houses could have been saved and turned into a visitor center or a hostel.
At the end of the hike, you’re back at your cars having made new friends, exchanged a couple of emails and maybe made mental plans to go next week.
If you’re not a member
You need to look at the schedule and pick out a hike that you’ll think you’ll enjoy. Anyone can do 6 to 8 miles and enjoy it.
Call the leader a few days before and let them know you’re coming. Once you join, you’ll just show up – except for wilderness hikes that are well advertised that way. And after a hike or two, we expect you to join and become part of the CMC family.
See you on the trail.