FREQUENTLY ASKED HIKING QUESTIONS QWhat time will we be back from the hike? AThis is probably the most frequent question asked of a hike leader and one of the hardest to answer accurately. Most hikers average about two miles per hour on level terrain and about one and a half miles per hour if the trail is moderately steep up or downhill, rocky or contains creek crossings. Lunch, snack and bathroom breaks can add between one and two hours to a hike. When you add in such variables as weather conditions, size of the group and abilities of the hikers present, you will see that an accurate time of arrival back at the meeting place is almost impossible to determine. If you have a firm deadline to return from a hike it would be better to postpone hiking to a later date when you are not in such a hurry. You should never ask others to rush because of your plans.
QAm I in good enough condition to do your hikes? AWe hold hikes that are rated from Easy to Very Strenuous. If you have doubts about your ability, then we recommend you start with easier hikes so you can better judge your capabilities of walking in the outdoors. When you have questions about a certain hike, do not hesitate to contact the hike leader.
QWhat is the age of most of the members of the GHCC? AWe have members of all ages but most of us are between the ages of 40 and 70. Hikers in their 20's and 30's are always welcome if they feel that they can keep up.
QWhat type of clothing, footwear and gear will I need to wear or bring? AFor easy day hikes in moderate weather, most any type of clothing and footwear will do but, for longer hikes during more extreme conditions, it is best that you do NOT wear cotton clothing or socks which will absorb moisture from either perspiration or rain/dew and take a very long time to dry. There is an old saying among outdoorsmen, "Cotton Kills!" This means that a person wearing wet clothing can become hypothermic very quickly even in fairly mild weather. Wicking synthetics and some natural fibers such as wool and silk are much better suited to hiking.The modern trend in footwear is toward lighter weight trail shoes constructed mainly of synthetic fibers rather than heavy leather boots and some hikers even prefer sneakers. Heavy, high top boots give more ankle support and protection from the elements but their weight can be much more tiring to the hiker. Some authorities have stated "a pound on the feet is equal to five pounds on the back." However, light weight shoes are not for everyone and you can only determine what is best for your feet by trial and error. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking, it might be best to have your shoes/boots fitted by a professional outfitter. You should definitely make sure the size of your footwear is not too small.. Wool socks or wool blended with synthetics is best for year round hiking. If you have trouble with blisters you should wear thin silk liner socks under the wool outer layer. This double layer cuts down on friction and helps wick perspiration from your feet. Weather, especially in the mountains, is unpredictable and can change very quickly. Always be prepared for the worst. You should carry some sort of rain gear, first aid kit and flashlight in case you are caught out after dark. Your pack should also contain other emergency gear such as a firestarter, lighter or waterproof matches, compass and whistle or other signaling device.
QWhat should I bring on a hike as far as food and drink are concerned? AThe most important thing is to bring enough water. Most authorities recommend two 32 oz. bottles for an all day hike. On some hikes water may be available from creeks but it should be chemically treated or filtered. Some hikers prefer Gatorade, Powerade or other drinks that provide electrolyte replacement. For continued energy, it is important to eat throughout the day, especially on longer hikes. Many hikers carry trail mix which is a combination of nuts, dried fruit and candy. Others like fresh fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges. For an all day hike, be sure to bring a substantial lunch.
QCan I bring children on your hikes? AWe are always happy to have teenagers join us on our hikes. Younger children are also welcome but the parent is expected to watch them very carefully while they are hiking, especially around water and potentially dangerous sections of the trail. We recommend bringing children on easier hikes at first, to judge their ability and interest .
QI like to hike with my dog. Can I bring him on a GHCC hike? AMost of the members of the club are dog lovers and, as a rule, your dog will be welcome to hike with us. You are expected to keep your dog on a leash and under control at all times. We hike in several places where your dog will not be allowed to enter, such as in the Smokies and other national and state parks.
QDoes the club still hike when the forecast calls for bad weather? AIt will depend on several different things such as the time of year, the severity of the forecast and the wishes of the leader and participants. In warmer weather, we almost always attempt to do a hike unless the forecast is for severe thunderstorms or drenching rain. Cancelling a hike in winter is much more common because of difficulty reaching the trailhead when snow or ice is involved. Sometimes the hike destination or duration may be changed at the meeting place before the hike to allow for prevailing weather conditions. With proper hike selection, excessive heat in summer is normally not a problem in the high, shady mountains of East Tennessee. Do not hesitate to call the leader just before a hike during questionable weather conditions.
QWhat is a balloon loop? A Imagine an imaginary line that outlines the shape of a balloon, if you trace around the outside of that balloon, and end up where you started, that is a loop, a balloon loop includes the straight portion that you would imagine as the string or the part of the balloon that you blow up. In other words you enter from a point and go straight for a period of time before making the loop and then return back to the beginning by using that same "straight entrance path" in which you entered the loop just in the opposite direction, arriving at the same place you first started.
QWhat is an in-out or linear hike? AA hike that starts at one point and ends up at the same spot, mostly by going out one direction and returning on the same path just in the opposite direction. These have the added advantage of being able to shorten them as you can turn around at any time and go back out the same way you came, as long as you know where you are going and can do so safely. Always notify others on the event and the leader, if assigned one, that you are going to do this! It is easy to get turned around or off trail in many places, so be aware and use identifying markings or bring ribbons to mark your way if you plan to do this, unless you are sure and familiar! It's good to find a partner that wants to cut the trip short with you!