Hiking and Bicycling Greeneville & Greene County Tennessee
Q What time will we be back from the hike?

A This 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 postpone hiking to a later date when your are not in such a hurry. You should never ask others to rush because of your plans.

Q Am I in good enough condition to do your hikes?

A We 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.

Q What is the age of most of the members of the GHCC?

A We 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.

Q What type of clothing, footwear and gear will I need to wear or bring?

A For 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 raingear, 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.

Q What should I bring on a hike as far as food and drink are concerned?

A The 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.

Q Can I bring children on your hikes?

A We 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 .

Q I like to hike with my dog. Can I bring him on a GHCC hike?

A Most 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.

Q Does the club still hike when the forecast calls for bad weather?

A It 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.

Q What type of bicycle should I buy?
A This is not an easy question to answer because much will depend on your personal skills, taste and budget. There are three major types of bicycles: (1) Mountain bikes which are designed mainly for rougher trails. They are heavy; have wide tires with deep treads and usually have front or full suspension to afford a comfortable ride on rough, bumpy trails. (2) Road bikes, which are very light; have very narrow, high pressure, smooth tires designed for minimum rolling resistance and do not have a suspension system. (3) Hybrid bikes are a combination of the first two. There is a wide variety of Hybrids available. All three of these bicycle types come in a wide range of prices but road bikes are usually the most expensive because of the lightweight materials used although top end mountain bikes with full suspension can also be very costly..
Basically, you can ride a mountain bike on the road and anywhere else there is a trail rated for bicycles but the bike will not be very efficient on pavement because of the weight of the frame and components and the wide, deeply treaded tires. A road bike is very efficient on pavement but very difficult to ride on dirt or gravel trails. A hybrid is a compromise between the two. It can be ridden on dirt trails but will not handle difficult trails as well as a mountain bike. It also does well on paved roads but is not as efficient as a road bike. Since the club does not ride extreme mountain trails very often but does hold rides on easier dirt trails such as the Virginia Creeper, a hybrid bike may be the best choice if you have only one bicycle.
Do NOT buy a Superstore bicycle. These low end bicycles have very poor components which will not last and may even prove dangerous to the rider. Your best bet is to buy from a reputable bicycle dealer who can fit you with the right bike and keep it maintained for you. If you do not want to buy an expensive bike at first then your best choice would be to find a good used bicycle either at a bike shop or from a newspaper ad,  Craigslist, eBay, etc. If you decide to buy a used bicycle, you should seek the advice of someone who has a lot of cycling experience. Most of the experienced riders in the club will be glad to help you find a suitable used bike.

Q Am I required to wear a helmet when I ride with the club?

A The GHCC recommends the wearing of a helmet while cycling. A well fitting helmet will go a long way toward preventing a concussion or worse in case of an accident. If you  buy a good helmet that is properly fitted and vented, you will almost forget you have it on after a few rides. Experienced cyclists would never ride without their helmet.  However, the wearing of a helmet is not mandatory on GHCC rides, so feel free to ride without it if you are that  "hard headed."

Q Does the club still hold their bike rides if the forecast calls for bad weather?

A Since our road bike rides are very exposed to the weather, many more bicycle rides are canceled than hikes especially during extreme cold or hot weather. Bike riding during thunderstorms or hard  rain is very dangerous if not actually suicidal and riding in the wind can be very scary too! We can't forget that, during bad weather conditions, we are also dealing with automobile traffic and low visibility situations. Discretion is always the better part of valor when you are riding a bicycle on a public roadway.

Greene County
Northeast TN
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