CPC Hikers

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November, 1996

Our Purpose...

What do my grandson, Mixtec Indians of Mexico, and members of Covenant Presbyterian Church have in common? As we walked down off of Standing Indian Mountain last month after watching the sunset, Mike, Julio, and I went without a flashlight for about half of the distance. There was a half-moon shining, and although we stumbled and stubbed our toes a bit, we made pretty good time coming down the mountain. When we got to the trailhead, Julio mentioned that back in "the village" in Mexico the locals would walk the mountain trails in the dark at a pace and with a confidence that would put our stumbling efforts to shame. A few days later I was tossing a pillow to Ethan, my grandson, and he caught the pillow one out of three tosses. Those Mixtec Indians have years of experience; their feet, eyes, legs, knees "knowing" how to work with each other to react to every vagary of the trail - gaining this ability through practicing together. Ethan's hand-eye coordination isn't great yet - he hasn't had a lot of practice getting the parts of his body to know each other well enough to work together without great effort. (He is an exceptional child though - ask me about him anytime!) We're all familiar with Paul's analogy between the church of Jesus Christ and the human body. Our job is to work together to build Christ's kingdom. In order to do that most effectively, the parts of the body need to know each other. We can't get to know each other simply by sitting in a building together for two and a half hours each Sunday morning. We've got to interact with each other, meet in small groups, go hiking together, attend church picnics together, attend Iron Man Breakfasts together, work together at church work days, help friends and fellow members move into their new homes. We must be involved in each others' lives. When I think about it, I think I'm more like Ethan than like the Mixtecs of Mexico.

1 Corinthians 12:24-25 "...But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other." (NIV)

Our Next Outing...

On November 16 we'll hike in Cloudland Canyon State Park, just a short drive south of Chattanooga. We'll leave the church parking lot promptly at 10:00 AM - please be there by 9:45. This will fit in nicely with the Mission Conference Breakfast, which is scheduled to be over a 9:30 Saturday morning. We should be back at the church between 4 and 5 PM.

The trail we'll hike is about 5 miles long - I know that will disappoint some, but the 7 mile trail is closed because a bridge is out. It's been many years since I've hiked the trail, but it shouldn't be too difficult. It goes down into the gorge, visits a couple of waterfalls, crosses Daniel Creek, and goes up the other side of the gorge, traversing the rim of the canyon before returning.

For those that want a shorter hike, you can walk down to the falls and return to the top of the gorge to wait for the rest of the group while enjoying the spectacular view of the gorge.

Be sure to bring a lunch or snack, and plenty of water.

This is a good opportunity for those of you who haven't been to Cloudland Canyon but are looking for a developed camping resort close to home. The park has camp sites with water and electricity, walk-in camp sites without those, cabins for rent, tennis courts and a pool, and backcountry camp sites as well.


Sleeping pads/chairs. What does one have to do with the other? Those of you that were with us on the October hike know - Ernie, Dave, and I all brought sleeping pads which double as camp chairs. These were pretty popular items on the top of Standing Indian Mountain.

Sleeping pads become very important items when camping. Some teen-agers may pooh-pooh that statement , but those of us who have a few more years on us and have felt the ground get harder over the years understand. Pads are especially important in the winter, when that extra insulation between you and the cold, hard ground may mean the difference between a night's sleep and a night tossing, turning, and shivering.

What about the chair part? You can buy an accessory for some pads which convert them into a chair. And while sitting on the ground leaning against a tree certainly has an aesthetic appeal, after hiking several miles a padded, comfortable chair - a rocking chair! - feels mighty fine at the end of the day.

Let's describe some sleeping pads. I reviewed what was available at Chattanooga Sports recently, and will discuss primarily what they carry. These items are also available at other stores, such as Rock Creek Outfitters (a great store!), The Sports Authority, and also through mail-order facilities such as REI, Campmor, and LL Bean.

What do you consider when purchasing a sleeping pad? Since you've got to carry it with you, weight is a concern unless you're only going to use it car-camping. Also consider length, width, thickness, construction material, and reliability.

Let's talk about these last two considerations first. The pads used for camping are primarily made of either closed-cell foam, or open-cell foam with a water-proof covering. The water-proof covering is important, because without it the pad may become waterlogged - too heavy to carry and uncomfortable to sleep on. The cover also serves another purpose - it will hold air. Thus the open-cell foam pads are equipped with a valve which will allow the pad to be inflated, adding to the comfort of the pad. The closed-cell pads don't have this capability, and thus are of fixed thickness and firmness. On the other hand, if a pad isn't inflated, it can't spring a leak, and thus it is more reliable.

Other advantages of the closed-cell pad are cost and weight. The three closed-cell pads I looked at weighed 16 ounces, 14 ounces, and 11 ounces, and cost $24.99, $14.99, and $8.99, respectively. The first of these, the Z-Rest by Cascade Designs, folds up like an accordion, and provides for greater thickness than a flat pad by having the main part of the pad constructed in a zig-zag pattern from front to back. The Ridge Rest pad is similar in design, but rolls up rather than folds, and the least expensive of these pads is simply a flat sheet of 3/8" thick closed-cell foam. The other two pads are 5/8" thick; all three are 20" wide and 72" long.

The "air mattresses" provide the adjustable firmness and are thicker than the closed-cell pads. The air mattresses are simply more comfortable, and they also have the chair accessory available. Since open-cell foam compresses more than the other pads, these can also take less space in (or on) a pack - unless you get one of the really thick pads.

A nice feature of these pads is that as the pad is unrolled and the air valve is opened, the expansion of the foam causes the pad to "self inflate", so after letting it sit for a few minutes, you may only need to put a few breaths of air into the pad to adjust the firmness to suit you.

Therma-Rest is the best known brand of the self-inflating pads; that's the only brand I could find at Chattanooga Sports. They come in three thicknesses - the "Lite" and "Ultra Lite" versions at 1", the "Standard" pads at 1.5", and the "Camp Rest" models at 2". They also come in 2 different lengths, as many people don't feel they need the pad under their feet, except in very cold weather. Here are specs on some of the Therma-Rest mattresses:

3/4 Ultra Lite 20"x47"x1" 13.9 oz. $49.99

Ultra Lite Long 20"x72"x1" 20 oz. $64.99

Lite Long 20"x72"x1" 30 oz. $56.99

3/4 Standard. 20"x47"x1.5" 25 oz. $44.99

Long Standard 20"x72"x 1.5" 40 oz. $58.99

Camp Rest Long 25"x77"x2" 61 oz. $74.99

As you can see, Cascade Designs has provided you with a choice from most comfortable in your pack (least comfortable on the ground) - 3/4 Ultra Lite - all the way to the Camp Rest which makes you think you're sleeping on your mattress in bed at home, but also may require that you bring a Llama to haul it to the camp site. And all of them require that you be willing to part with a sizable chunk of change.

Cascade Designs' chair accessory fits all of their 20" sleeping pads; it weighs 10 oz. and costs $32.99. They also make stuff sacks for the pads at about $5 each, and the required patch kit at about $5. Crazy Creek makes a chair accessory for the 3/4 length Thermarest pads which sells for $37.99. It's called the Thermalounger, and is a little heavier than the one by Cascade Designs. If you're only interested in the chair, Crazy Creek makes what they call their Canoe Chair, which sells for $36.99, much less than the $90-$100 tab for a mattress and chair accessory, but this isn't thick enough to be a practical sleeping pad.

I have a 3/4 Lite Thermarest mattress with the Crazy Creek Thermalounger accessory. I think I'd use the Cascade Designs chair if I had it to do over again, since it's lighter and a little cheaper. I also have a flat closed-cell foam pad which I usually also carry, giving me thickness, and ensuring some padding if my air-mattress leaks.

The Fine Print...

We're collecting $2 per seat, maximum of $5 per family for those riding in the church vans. This will help offset the cost of operating the vans.

Please give me any suggestions you might have for hikes, logistics, or content of this newsletter. PLEASE!

Future Hike Dates: !!!Note schedule changes!!!

As of now, we're planning on a hike the third Saturday of every month;, these dates (locations subject to change): 11/16/96 (Cloudland Canyon), 12/21/96 (Savage Gulf), 01/18/97 (Rocktown), 02/15/97 (Virgin Falls, 03/15/97 (North Chick), 04/19/97 (Jack's River), 05/17/97 (Gee Creek), 06/21/97, 07/19/97, 08/16/97, 09/20/97, 10/18/97 (Standing Indian), 11/15/97, and 12/20/97.

Trip Registration:

Please see Cindy or Gerry Williamson at church on Sunday, Nov 10, or call us at [phone# deleted] to register or to ask any questions you may have. We'd like for you to register even if you won't need transportation so we can keep track of who to expect to accompany us on the trip.