How We Hike

GUIDELINES for PARTICIPATION

For new hikers, and as a refresher for all, please review the following guidelines for amicable participation. Please retain for future reference. Direct related inquiries and suggestions to:
coordinator@blueridgeramblers.com

IMPORTANTLY, AS HIKING INCLUDES INHERENT RISKS, ANY ASSOCIATED PLANNING, COORDINATION, OR ADVICE OFFERED BY OUR VOLUNTEERS AND FELLOW HIKERS IS ACCEPTED AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF EACH HIKER AND EACH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY AND PROPERTY.

Each week a volunteer coordinator/organizer selects hikes considering the weather forecast, the season, the chronology of recent hikes, and the suggestions of fellow hikers. Weekly hike plans are posted on the cover page of this web site, usually by Sunday evening, and are updated if/as needed until 7AM of the day of each hike. Included for each are the gathering locations and departure times, directions to the trailhead, estimated return times, and link to hike details.

Typical routine

Hikers gather, car pool, and depart at 8:30 AM from the Keowee Key Event Parking Area (KKEPA, AKA “the dog park”), on SC130, 0.2 mi north of the SC183 intersection. The group proceeds to the Warthers Auction parking lot on SC28, just south of SC183 in Walhalla; to be joined by additional hikers who assemble there. Plans for the day and driving directions are reconfirmed and all head out at 9:00 AM. Assembly for some hikes is at the Sloan Bridge Picnic Area, just north of SC130 on SC107, or the Holly Springs Mart at the SC11/178 junction.

“Car switches”

When announced, a switch signals a one way hike … NOT the usual out-and-back or loop. Switches require added transport and full participation: All gather at the trail head start point. Then ALL DRIVERS, and ONLY the drivers, move their vehicles to the end point of the hike. There, one or more drivers shuttle the other drivers back to the start point. At the end of the hike the shuttle driver(s) is/are returned to the start point to retrieve their vehicle(s).

Dogs

Unless in open field or rocky bald, pets running loose along the trail can damage sensitive plants or create a serious hazard under foot. Some parks exclude dogs. All require that they be on a six-foot leash. Any not trained to stay by their master’s side should be leashed or left at home. Owners are responsible for any problem caused by an uncontrolled dog and owners should be appropriately insured. For hikes with car switches (above), arrangements must be made to manage dogs through the switch. Please don’t expect transport for dogs back to the trail head in a volunteer vehicle, unless appropriately equipped and welcomed by the driver.

“Iffy weather”

The coordinator rechecks the forecast the evening before the hike and, if inclement, posts an update on the cover page … by 7:00 AM on hike day. No news is good news … that is, if there is no update, the hike is on.

Carry personal identification

Include name, address, emergency phone contacts, allergies, medicines, etc. as may assist emergency responders. Name tags are appreciated, especially early in the season.

Bring a nice lunch

Sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, and snack bars are popular. If you pack it in, pack it out. If others have been thoughtless, help keep the trails clean. An empty lunch sack makes a fine litter bag.

Keep cool and dry

Dress in breathable layers starting with fabric that wicks. Cotton next to the skin will hold moisture. Peel as the weather or exertion warms you. Bring a rain-repellent windbreaker for unexpected showers, wind, and cold at higher elevations. A large trash bag can be used for a dry seat or emergency poncho. Waterproof, lug-sole hiking boots help protect feet and ankles on rough terrain and add traction on mud, wet leaves and slippery rocks when crossing streams. Long pants help protect against poison ivy and ticks.

Keep hydrated

Never wait to get thirsty. Drink lots of liquids before and throughout the hike. Bring more fluids than you think you’ll need. Void well off the trail and pack out used toilet paper in zip-lock bags.

Stay on the trail

Most trails are designed to reduce erosion from run-off. Short cuts contribute to stream pollution and to getting lost. If the group strings out, trail intersections should not be passed by lead hikers until laggers are reunited. If you do get lost, back track only to a known point. Then, stay put. If you have a whistle, use it, or yell. Signal every 10 to 20 seconds. One blast says, “Where are you?” Two, “I’m here/Come to me.” Three, “Emergency/Help!”

Never leave the group alone

If you must separate, take others with you (e.g., your car pool) and alert the remaining hikers. This will avoid “false alarm” searches and delay of the entire group. Try to remember who’s behind you, and let them know where to turn. Don’t assume you know a trail until you have traveled it many times. Trails look different in each direction and in each season. Forks and markers, when present, are easy to miss. Double markers signal caution; usually a turn or branch.

Walking sticks

For many, walking sticks make for more secure footing on steep grades, fording streams, and rock hopping. If you have troubled knees, two walking sticks can really help, especially downhill.

Packs

Many sizes and shapes are available … fanny, day, back pack. Choose one that’s comfortable and big enough to hold your lunch, extra water, clothes, and other gear.

Other gear

The well equipped hiker will have a cell phone (though coverage can be spotty in the “outback”), a loud whistle, a compass, matches, gloves, a wide-brimmed hat, sun block, a small knife, paper and pencil, toilet paper, zip lock bags to carry out used paper, a grocery sack for refuse, and insect repellent (in warm weather). Extra socks, GPS and cameras may also be useful.

Please suggest new hikes, offer your ideas to improve procedures, and volunteer to help.