Intro to Backpacking: Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

Last year, we took an advanced backpacking trip, to the Mount Rogers NRA. The trip was a huge success, and some of our repeat customers from 2016 asked that we include that as an option for the Introduction to Backpacking for 2017. While our customers had limited experience, they wanted us to take us on this trip. This is a bit of a more advanced tour, given the nature of the terrain… it steadily climbs for 6 miles on Day 1.

As our clients had flow in from Cleveland,OH – our departure started from the Raleigh Durham area. We made the drive up to Virginia and loaded up our packs to start the adventure. As, I alluded to earlier, the hike was a gradual incline for the first 4 miles. A quick break for lunch at a trail junction, we then started the steep ascent to a beautiful bald area with incredible views. After another break, we journeyed on to our camping spot. We arrived, just below the Mount Rogers summit at the Thomas Knob shelter. I set up our camp, while kindling was found for our fire. We also sent Joe off to collect water from the spring.

Cocktail hour arrived as we had an unencumbered view of the sunset. Dinner was served as the stars started to explode above us. The temperatures got down to 40, so it took a bit of work to get all of us out of our tents. After enjoying breakfast and discussing the next backpacking trip, the four of us headed up and over the crest to explore the National Recreation Area. We were on the hunt for the wild ponies, but they would prove to be elusive to us today. We did see some young calfs laying in the field enjoying the sun. We thought that was a good idea, so we found a spot to enjoy our lunch.

In the afternoon, we returned to our campsite to soak in the sun and take naps. That evening presented us with similar weather, clear skies and a great campfire. We retired after dinner. Day 3 had us breaking camp early. We had a nice coat of frost on our gear, so the group elected to have breakfast down the trail. We found a nice open area with full sun exposure to warm our bones. The chill was quickly abated and we enjoyed hot breakfast and coffee. Conversations again returned to future trips, and we headed off to the cars and our drive back to the airport.

It was a great weekend, with a little under 20 miles traveled. The general consensus was that the elevation gain was a bit much… challenging, but satisfying… hence the note that this is not really a “intro” tour, but one for folks with a bit of experience like our repeat customers. Hope you can join us on one of our trips!

Line Dempsey

Line Dempsey has been guiding adventure tours for many years. Having been born and reared in NC, Line got his start in leading tours in the 1980's with unsupported bicycle tours of the state of NC, SC and Virginia. Line worked in the tourism industry for 10 years prior to leaving for graduate school. Line began leading motorcycle trips in NC, VA, SC, as well as a trip to the lower east corner of the US ( Key West ). For the last 14 years, Line's work has allowed him to travel throughout the state of NC at least once a week and he's seen most of the overlooked side roads of our beautiful state. Line has explored NC via bicycle, kayak, motorcycle, rock climbing, hiking and by sailboat.

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