MAY. 3, 2017
Stretching 1175 miles across the state of North Carolina, the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) is as unique as the landscape it traverses. From its western-most point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the eastern terminus on the Outer Banks, the MST crosses four national parks, three national forests, and two wilderness areas. Driven by a large network of volunteers, the trail has been a work in progress since 1977. As of 2016, nearly 700 miles of footpath are complete. The rest of the trail is temporarily made up of backroads and community bike paths and greenways.
If you call North Carolina home, the MST isn’t far from where you live. Here are some highlights and favorite hikes across the state.
1. Clingman’s Dome
The MST’s western terminus stands at 6,643 feet and is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. Mt. Mitchell
A short spur trail off the MST takes hikers to the summit of 6,684 ft. Mt. Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Rockies.
3. Linville Gorge
Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, Linville Gorge is a rugged wilderness area known for spectacular rock climbing and hiking.
4. Stone Mountain
Hike to the top of a massive 600 foot granite rock face and enjoy views of a 200 foot waterfall.
5. Hanging Rock
Known for its sheer cliffs and rocky summits, Hanging Rock State Park is a favorite for local climbers.
6. Watershed Lakes
The MST connects six different footpaths around three lakes near Greensboro: Lake Higgins, Lake Brandt, and Lake Townsend.
7. Falls Lake
More than 50 miles of the MST winds around farmlands, through hardwood forests, and along the shores of Falls Lake just outside of Raleigh.
8. The Neusiok Trail
The MST follows the Neusiok Trail for more than 20 miles through Croatan National Forest, which is known for Loblolly Pines and swamplands.
9. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
This section of the MST is almost completely a beach walk that covers 113 miles across Cape Hatteras National Seashore. As an added bonus, hikers can climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse between April and October.
10. Jockey’s Ridge
This 140 foot sand dune (tallest in the Eastern US) is the eastern terminus of the MST.
To plan your own adventure on the Mountains to Sea Trail, check out an interactive map of the entire trail here.
Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director
APR. 21, 2017
A key piece of equipment for any outdoor enthusiast is the rain jacket. Every Hante Participant will need one. The right jacket will last you much longer than any one Hante and will be handy in your everyday life too. So let’s take a look at picking the right one for you.
First off, you should always make sure the jacket is labeled as “waterproof” and not “water-resistant”. Resistant fabrics will end up saturating with moisture in anything more than fog. Waterproof jackets may include numbers like 10K (10,000) or 25K (25,000). This number refers to the millimeters of water required to seep through 1 square inch of fabric. The higher the number, the more pressure the fabric can withstand, i.e. the more waterproof it is. 10,000 is the lowest recommended for moderate to heavy rain. Currently the industry leader in waterproof technology is Gore-Tex. Jackets with Gore-Tex Fabrics are always a good choice, but tend to be pricier since you are paying for a premium brand. That said, most jacket manufacturers have their own technology at a lower price point. For example: Patagonia makes waterproof items with Gore-Tex Fabrics but you will find other jackets with their “H2NO” fabrics at a lower cost.
Next you will want to look at the breathability of the jacket. A waterproof jacket won’t keep you dry if it traps in all of your body heat and turns your torso in to a sauna. Along with the waterproof rating you may also see a breathability rating. These ratings tend to vary more widely across the industry. Read the tag of the jacket to see how the company measures breathability. For summer treks you will want a jacket that is more breathable to allow heat and evaporation in the jacket to “breathe out” of the fabric. Gore-Tex generally has above average breathability. Vent and “pit-zips” help with breathability. These options tend to be available on technical shells where the wearer exerts high energy and needs to “dump” heat from the jacket. If you’re backpacking in the wet summer months, these features are great! Remember to make sure that the zipper on your jacket are either waterproof (they have rubber sides and might be harder to zip) or have a fabric covering to prevent moisture from seeping through the zippers.
Finally, you’ll want too look at fit, weight and insulation. Summer travels will want to look for a lightweight waterproof “shell”. These tend to weigh less, pack down small and have little to no insulation to prevent heat buildup and keep you cool when it’s hot. Shells should be a bit loose to allow airflow. You can also put warmer layers under a loose shell in the cooler months. When you try on jackets, raise your arms over your head to test coverage. A pro-tip for climbers/backpackers: look for pockets that are placed higher on the torso to allow you to keep your hands warm and in your pockets while wearing a backpack waist strap, or while you’re waiting in line to climb.
To wrap up, there are many, many jackets out there and finding the right one can be tough, but the right rain jacket can work for so much more than just rainy days. Most rain jackets are generally windproof and will help cut the chill on windy days while simultaneously offering protection from wetter elements. Jackets can also work to keep warmth in when layered underneath as the temperatures drop. My recommendation is to find a shell with a high waterproof rating, pit-zips, and a slightly loose or athletic fit. This will be very versatile. You may also consider purchasing rain pants. Keep in mind that in the heat of the summer rain pants tend to be very steamy. Look for brands with lifetime guarantees. They will be more costly upfront but in the long run they will last longer and should be able to be replaced if necessary.
P.S. Don’t forget to read the washing/care instructions. Many waterproof fabrics are now fine for the washer and dryer. Following those directions along with the use of approved cleaners and “re-waterproofers” like NikWax products, will keep your jacket fresh and dry for many years to come.
Marlin Sill, Hante Director
APR. 20, 2017
Hante Appalachian Trail Trek circa 1980…
Hante Instructor Greg Kucera, Eagle Scout, prepares to lead his first Hante and is faced with the arsenal of whole foods recipes that Helen Waite has adapted for fine trail culinary experiences. Nowhere in sight was something he was familiar with to eat. What was a young man from Minnesota to do but call his mom Marti Kucera for her famous “Cow Dabs” recipe – known to get you down the trail several more miles.
Looking for a fun treat to take out on the trail this spring? Try these!
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup peanut butter
(add raisins, coconut, etc. as desired)
In a saucepan, boil sugar, cocoa, butter and milk for 2 minutes. Add oatmeal, peanut butter and any other personal choice ingredients. Plop spoonfulls onto waxed paper to cool and set (yes, they will look like cow pies). Plan at least a 5 mile hike and get out and enjoy!
Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director
MAR. 31, 2017
Hante Adventures is thrilled to announce that our 2018 season will be out of this world. Literally. Next year, we’re adding new meaning to our mantra “Step Out and Learn” with Hante Moon. During Session II, a group of 8 adventurous teenagers and 2 instructors will blast off into Outer Space for what will truly be a once in a lifetime experience.
Hante Director, Marlin Sill, is especially excited about this opportunity. “In an effort to reach new heights, we’ve decided to go farther than any other adventure program has gone before. This will be one small step for the Hante program, and one large step for travel programs world and galaxy-wide,” he said on Friday.
Marlin is working closely with the founders of SpaceX to arrange travel to and from Outer Space. While this adventure is still in the planning phase, participants can count on long lunar walks, crater exploration, Earth gazing, and a day swapping stories with the Man in the Moon himself.
Considering the history of the program, it’s no wonder Hante Adventures will now offer intergalactic travel. Hante began back in 1973, when a group of teenagers embarked on a journey on the Appalachian Trail. Led by Helen Waite, they trekked over 100 miles through the Great Smoky Mountains, including a climb up the highest point on the AT, Clingman’s Dome. Since that adventure 44 years ago, Hante has traveled to six continents; an expedition to the moon is the logical next step.
More details, including registration information and a preliminary itinerary can be found here.
Liz Snyder, Assistant Camp Director
MAR. 17, 2017
Probably one of the first investments you’ll make in your outdoor career is your sleeping bag. It really sets the stage for you to get out there and make a night of it somewhere in the woods, on a couch, in the car, or even in your own backyard. It’s the tiny, little portable home you can drag with you to camp, a friend’s sleepover, or high up the Sierra Mountains. Choosing the right bag can be an agonizing task if you start to dig in to all the details and options and it’s only become harder as technology and materials advance so quickly. But if you’re looking to make the plunge here are some tips to help guide you on your first investment.
The first thing to know is that quality costs money. A good sleeping bag that will keep you warm and endure the elements will cost you more than the flannel-clad bag at Wal-Mart. Trust me when I say t hat the extra money will go a long way when you’re dry and cozy on that first wet night. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start, choosing a reputable brand (North Face, Montbell, Marmot) is often a good decision as they stand behind their products with warranties and sometimes lifetime guarantees.
When searching for a bag, here are some tips to consider: First, mummy bags are fitted to the natural taper of the human body and reduce carrying weight and concentrate insulation to vital areas. Second, look for women’s specific bags if that applies to you. These sleeping systems have strategically placed insulation that helps retain warmth in areas where the female body typically loses heat. These bags will also be cut specifically to offer a better fit for women’s bodies. Next you will want to look at fill, or insulation. Most sleeping bags these days have synthetic or down insulations, and each have unique features. Synthetic fills are more water resistant and maintain warmth and some loft (think “stay puffed”) when wet. Unfortunately synthetics tend to be a bit heavier and do not compress as well as down. On the flip side, down (or natural feather insulation) is typically lighter for the same warmth rating, easier to compress, and tends to retain its loft quickly after unpacking. Unfortunately down tends to turn into pancake batter when wet and loses its insulating and lofting properties.
These days there are many brands that push the limit on the materials, making down “water resistant or waterproof” or making synthetic fills that are “as light and warm as down”. Remember the basics and these will help guide your decision. For most trips that involve non-freezing weather, synthetic fill bags are preferred as you can worry less about the need for keeping it bone dry. As your trips move further and further to the sub-zero realm, you’ll look for the hi-heat and immense compressibility of down bags to seal out the cold and add a little weight to your pack. All of this brings us to my last point: compressibility. You’ll never know where your adventures may take you, or how big a pack you’ll have, first and foremost look for a sleeping bag that compresses down small. Most manufacturers make compression sacks, and there are even some waterproof options out there. Pro-tip though: don’t store your bag compressed. Make sure you store it loose in the mesh bag you bought it in, or nice and dry in a plastic container. This will preserve the loft and heat for years to come.
Marlin Sill, Hante Director
MAR. 2, 2017
Some of the most memorable places I’ve visited make it to the top of my favorites because of the experiences I shared with those around me. On each trip I always took a moment to look around and notice the smiling faces and mouths agape in awe. I would think, “this place is wonderful, and it is so amazing to see my own joy, happiness, and excitement mirrored in the faces around me.”
On many of my personal trips I have found that company is always welcome. When I set out alone on an adventure I undoubtedly collect a friend or two along the way. These travel companions help strengthen my connection to the experiences I have and the places I visit. I even feel a distinct pride in revisiting my favorite places with friends or family who’ve never been. Witnessing their awe and wonder feels like experiencing the trip for the first time all over again.
You may understand the sentiment- the one of talking about camp with a friend and feelings so excited to see them on the first day or running up to them after Capture the Flag to hear their heroic tale. You may even know the feeling as you walk your parents around camp on the last day, recounting each day and every stand-out moment as you pass through the quad and OD Board and down to the garden.
This can be more difficult with Hantes. Every year there is a new and exciting mix of Hantes. Until you take the leap and understand what it means to “step out and learn” it can be hard to imagine how to share that with others. What sets Hante apart is that for those 2 or 3 weeks everything you do and see is shared with a small, tight-knit group of people. They will share the struggle of packing a wet tent, eating a burnt noodle and pulling their weight to see the valleys from the mountain tops. Those moments will become tales and epic stories to be shared with friends and family that others will sit and listen to in wonder.
Once the adventure is over it can be difficult to recreate the failures and triumphs for your friends. In truth, you will never be able to carbon copy your experience for others, but you can share the joy and satisfaction by taking them on the next one so they can see first hand. We are at that time of year when the leaves begin to bud and daydreams become warmer and lighter like the summer to come. Start thinking back to the summers past and how you want to spend this one, or if there is someone you want to share the magic of Hante with.
Hante has an instagram: @hanteadventures
Flip back through time and see the memories others have shared for over 40 years. You may even come across a familiar face, or even your own. Remember to share!
Marlin Sill, Hante Director