Seven Hiking Lessons I Learned From Watching Doctor Who

First of all, I am NOT a Doctor Who fanatic. No! Really, I’m not.

I only started watching it on DVD a month ago, so it hasn’t been long enough for me to become one of those, you know…crazy fans. I haven’t even gotten to the Matt Smith episodes yet.

But I do like the show…a lot. Ok, maybe I even love the show – for entertainment educational purposes only. I mean it’s not like I want to marry the Doctor, or something. Meh.

Ok, fair enough. Maybe I have a crush on one, or two, of his companions, but I’ll never meet them in real life. So, my marriage is perfectly safe.

I don’t own a Dalek. I don’t wear red Converse high tops. I don’t arrange my plans around the Doctor Who Christmas special. I don’t even have a scale model of the TARDIS sitting in my living room…yet.

Now that that’s cleared up, I want to talk about the educational value of watching Doctor Who.

Seriously! Don’t laugh.

It dawned on me – somewhere between Rose and Donna – that you can learn a lot from the Doctor. And, you can apply what you’ve learn from Doctor Who to, of all things…hiking.

The Seven Hiking Lessons

1. Remain cheerful and maintain a good sense of humor – The good news is you’ll never have to face the sort of difficult decisions the Doctor does, but if you do…be cheerful (or as cheerful as you can be).

2. Fight the good fight – Don’t go looking for trouble, but handle it when trouble finds you.

3. Always carry your special tool – The Doctor has his sonic screwdriver. You should have a good multi tool.

4. Always have a travel companion – But not necessarily one that’s half your age and from the opposite sex…unless that’s your thing.

5. Never give up – It’s not an option for the Doctor…and it should never be an option for you.

6. When all else fails…regenerate – You can’t create a new body, like the Doctor, but a good night’s sleep will go a long way towards regenerating your body; mind and spirit.

7. Have a safe place you can go at the end of the day – The Doctor has his TARDIS. You always have your tent, hammock or trail shelter.

Follow these lessons, adapt to change and all of your hiking episodes will end as well as the Doctor’s.

Any more Whovians out there? Got a hiking lesson you’ve learned from the Doctor? Let us know in the comments section.

See ya’ on the trail,

The Bold And The Beautiful Mooney Falls

(Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic)

(Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic)

You want waterfalls? Have we got waterfalls! They’re everywhere around the Nantahala Mountains. Little ones. Big ones. And some grand ones too.

You can easily see several waterfalls along the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, which is great for sightseeing, but, for the more adventurous souls, there are many more waterfalls to see off the beaten path.

So if you want to avoid the tourists, the crowds and the congestion, you’ll want to get out of your car and head off into the woods.



Take Mooney Falls, for example; it’s big, bold and dramatic. It’s situated only two tenths of a mile off Forest Service Road 67 in Standing Indian. It’s a very short walk – with long, gentle switchbacks – and there’s hardly ever anyone there.

Upper Mooney Falls

Upper Mooney Falls

Lower Mooney Falls

Lower Mooney Falls

This might have something to do with its remote location. Mooney Falls is about 6 miles past the Backcountry Info Center on a scenic, basically one lane gravel road. It’s not like people are just passing by on their way to somewhere else.

Most tourists won’t venture this far off the main road unless they’re interested in hiking, which makes it perfect for enjoying the beauty and solitude of this spectacular waterfall.

You’ll never have to compete for prime photo ops at Mooney Falls. It’s about as far off the beaten path as you can get. In fact, I’ve always had it to myself whenever I’ve visited.

Check it out yourself sometime. Oh! And let me know if you do. I’d love to hear what you think.

See ya’ on the trail,

Trail at a glance
Mileage: .2 mile (one way)
Elevation change: about 200 ft
Water sources: Fill up before you go
Trailhead: 5.4 miles past the Backcountry Info Center at Standing Indian

Gimme Shelter

“A storm is threatening my very life today. If I don’t get some shelter, oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away.”

Maybe it’s just me, but how many of you have played this Rolling Stones’ song in your mind – or even sang it out loud – when you’re out on the trail and in need of immediate shelter?

I know I have – every time I hear distant thunder. Or, when the blazing sun just won’t let up.

Trail shelters might not look like “home-sweet-home” or the Ritz-Carlton at Laguna Niguel.

They’re a little rough around the edges, a little breezy, a little musty…and maybe a little cold at times. They might not give you the privacy you’re accustomed to enjoying and they don’t have indoor plumbing.

BUT, they’re a blessing in disguise to a weary hiker, looking for a place to rest, a place to cook a hot meal, a little company, a shelter from a storm.

It might not be apropos to use the song Gimme Shelter when we’re talking about hiking. After all, Mick and the boys were singing about the Sixties and a different kind of storm altogether, but you can’t help it when a song pops into your head.

And, a storm is a storm whether we’re talking literally or metaphorically. Who wouldn’t shout “Gimme shelter” under the circumstances?

By my count, there are ten trail shelters along the 60 miles of Appalachian Trail our local hiking club is responsible for – from Bly Gap at the GA/NC state line to the Nantahala Outdoor Center on US 19.

Our oldest shelter is the newly refurbished Cold Springs Shelter and the newest one is the two story Long Branch Shelter.

I haven’t been to all of them…yet, but here are the ones, in no particular order, I’ve had the chance to visit. It’ll give you some idea of our local trail accommodations. Sorry, no concierge or maid service provided.

This is Cold Spring Shelter:

Cold Spring Shelter

Here is Rock Gap Shelter:

Rock Gap ShelterSilers Bald Shelter:

Siler Bald ShelterStanding Indian Shelter

The nicely situated shelter along the Appalachian Trail at Standing Indian.

And this is the new Long Branch Shelter:

Long Branch Shelter Warm, cozy, dry and cheerful places. You can rest assured there will always be shelter for you when you’re in our neck of the woods.

Do you have a favorite shelter? A great shelter story? Let us know in the comments section.

See ya’ on the trail,