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Our Next Outing...
On March 23 we'll leave the church at 08:30 (yes, that's A.M., Willa) to go to Gee Creek Wilderness. There are rumors that there will be a number of parents with infants on this hike, so we're going to divide into two groups - one for an "early out", and the other may walk a little longer. The hike will be out and back on a 2.5 mile trail, for a total of 5 miles (less if you don't want to go all the way out). This will probably be a relatively leisurely hike, with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the beauty of Gee Creek and its gorge. When you register, make sure you indicate which group you'll be with, so we can reserve seats in that van.
The Gee Creek Wilderness was the first designated wilderness wholly contained in the Cherokee National Forest, gaining its congressional designation in 1975. At 2,493 acres, it's also one of the smallest wilderness areas in the Forest, lying between Starr and Chestnut mountains in the Chilhowee chain. Gee Creek is what makes these two separate mountains. Nearly the entire watershed of Gee Creek and its main tributary, Poplar Springs Branch.
Of interest is that Starr mountain was named for Caleb Starr. Caleb's grandson, Sam, rode with the Younger gang of wild-west fame. Sam's wife was Belle Starr, also of wild-west notoriety.
This area was the site of iron mining in the first half of the 18th century. The remains of a concrete flume used during the mining process can still be seen. Notice the large boulders that are lying on top of the flume - a sign of the geologic activity that continues. Mining ended around Civil War times. The area was logged before 1950, but has been largely untouched since then, except for hunters, fishermen, and those who are looking for an outdoor experience.
As with all designated wilderness areas, it is prohibited to remove plants or stones. Unlike most other areas in the Cherokee National Forest, camping isn't allowed in the Gee Creek Wilderness. The small size makes this wilderness more fragile than most others.
As was said last time, you should be in reasonably good physical condition before going on a wilderness hike. If you're wondering if you can walk seven or eight miles, I'd suggest you start walking some shorter distances now to see how you feel.
We'll only be two days into spring on this hike. Remember to layer your clothing so you can adjust for temperature and exertion changes during the hike. You can put layers you're not wearing into a day pack or book bag, which you can also use to carry your lunch and something to drink.
Many folks hike for years without using a hiking stick. I rarely go without one. Is one really necessary? Probably not. But it can sure come in handy at times. Like when? Let's talk about it...
It's a little damp, and you're heading down a steep trail. You put a foot down on a particularly slippery spot and it slides. If you've got your hiking stick, a "third leg", firmly planted, you'll probably still be standing. If you're walking without a stick, particularly with a heavy pack - quite possibly you're on the ground.
You come up on a log in the trail, one that's a pretty high step to get over. Stepping on a wet, slippery tree trunk is probably the wrong thing to do, but getting up over the truck can put you off-balance. Plant that "third leg", and you're on your way.
You're traveling off-trail on a steep, leaf-covered hill side. Every step is tenuous, threatening to turn into a slide down the side of the mountain. Plant the hiking stick like an anchor and you get to pick your own way down the mountain.
You're crossing a rocky creek. There are stepping stones, but some are a long stride between them, and some move a little as you step on them. Plant that hiking stick firmly (test it!) before you step, and stay dry!
Is a hiking stick absolutely necessary? Probably not. There are plenty of trails where a stick would be extraneous; maybe even inconvenient to carry. But as your hiking adventures expand, there'll also be times when you'll certainly be glad when you do have one.
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. On our first outing, we collected $25, spent $14 for gasoline and $5 cleaning the vans. We've got a balance of $6.
We'll meet before the evening service at 5 PM on Sunday, April 7, to plan the May hike. You're invited to attend.
Other planning meetings are scheduled at 5 PM each first Sunday of the month, the following dates: 05/05/96, 06/02/96, 07/07/96, 08/04/96, 09/01/96, 10/06/96, 11/03/96, 12/01/96.
Future Hike Dates:
As of now, with the exception of this month, we're planning on a hike every third Saturday. That'll be these dates: 04/20/96, 05/18/96, 06/15/96, 07/20/96, 08/17/96, 09/21/96, 10/19/96, 11/16/96, and 12/21/96.
Please mail the registration form to the address below, give it to Cindy or Jerry at church on Sunday, March 17, or call [phone # deleted] to reserve seating in the van. We'd like you to register even if you won't need transportation so we can keep track of who to expect on the trip.
If you've got any questions, please feel free to call - [Phone # deleted]