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Hiking and kayaking in the Blue Ridge Mountains

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Hiking with Wildside Adventures (Photo:  Wildside Adventures)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 14, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, Anacortes, golf, hiking, Molly Feltner, mountain, New York, New York City, North Carolina, Pebble Beach, San Diego, Savannah, shopping, South Dakota, spa, vacation package, women's travel, Zion National Park.

Provider: Wildside Adventures for Women
Length: Four days
Price: $390

After falling in love with backpacking during her six-month journey along the Appalachian Trail in 1996, Melody Blaney started leading wilderness trips for both men and women. In 2001, however, she came to the conclusion that many of her female clients had better experiences in women-only groups, so she co-founded Wildside Adventures for Women with fellow outdoorswoman Patti Landovek.

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"It was amazing to me the difference between the dynamics on the co-ed trips and the women-only trips," says Blaney. "Women were much more relaxed and would take risks or challenge themselves in ways they wouldn't do if men were present."

The company now annually runs about 30 two- to five-day backpacking, kayaking, and biking trips around the U.S. designed to help women become comfortable in the outdoors without having to spend a lot of money. "My goal when we started this business was to get women (especially those who can't always afford the high-end trips that are out there) outdoors and exposed to something new," says Blaney. "My ultimate goal is to provide them with the skills they need to go solo or share their skills with a friend."

This June, Melody and Patti will be running a new trip in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains that entails hiking to the summit of Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and kayaking the French Broad River. "From Calloway Peak on Grandfather Mountain we will have incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. The kayaking portion of this trip will offer us the opportunity to float through the Biltmore estate and to observe wildlife along the way."

Trip planning

This trip starts June 12 in Weaverville, North Carolina. Rates include accommodations, kayaking equipment, two dinners, entrance fees, and guides. Transportation to Weaverville and other meals are extra. The town is a 30-minute drive from the Asheville, North Carolina, airport.

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