Welcome, Trekkers, to August in May! Who expects 90 degree weather before Memorial Day???We will carry on and hope for the best. 

The Church's Parish Paper for June and July will be issued soon and I wanted to give all the Trekkers a head's up about what will be in it for us. I've changed the schedule some for several reasons and hope it will be satisfactory. On Wednesday, June 5, we will head westward again to the Spring City area for a 6-mile moderate hike in the Piney River Pocket Wilderness Management Area. I've never been there but it has been highly recommended by some seasoned hikers. Descriptions say this is a fairly easy (rated moderate because of length) trek with very little climbing, has a wide river for swimming (better bring your swim clothes), a swinging bridge, rock overhangs, and some creek crossings if there has been much rain.

On Saturday, June 15, we'll return to one of our group's favorite areas - Elkmont - to hike the easy 2.5 miles of Little River trail, cross the easy-moderate 2.4 mile Cucumber Gap trail (which includes several stream crossings), and down Jakes Creek for the last easy 0.4 miles to our vehicle for a total of about 5 miles. The beginning and end trails are wide and well-trod and beginners would have no problem and Cucumber Gap isn't difficult but it is narrower with ups and downs and has roots and rock so beginners would be wise to use hiking sticks which especially come in handy for balancing on rocks when crossing streams. 

The "Easy Monday" June 17 hike will be the 4-mile hike on another favorite: Big Creek Trail near Waterville, NC. This is an easy trail, much like the Little River Trail in that it is wide and well trod. It also was originally a lumber road. Along this trail is Midnight Hole, a great place for dipping your toes or going for a swim...it is very crowded on weekends but perhaps you'll have it to yourselves on a Monday. Sally Guthrie has offered to lead this hike as Jerry and I will be on vacation for a few weeks. While some "easy Monday" folk may think 4 miles is too long, I suggest you think of it as two 2-mile leisurely hikes. At slightly less than 2 miles, there is a lovely spot in front of Mouse Creek waterfall for a lunch break where you can relax and nourish yourselves for the leisurely walk back to the vehicle.

On to July - because the first Wednesday of this month is a holiday week, I'm cancelling it since everywhere will be crowded! So - the two July hikes will be (1) Easy Monday on July 15 and Sally Guthrie again will lead folks on a short and easy trail (to be determined) at the Ijams Nature Center. Details on that will be forthcoming. The second July hike (2) will be on Saturday, July 20 and we'll go again to the Spring City area to Stinging Fork Falls for a 3 mile moderate hike. Although short, it is described as having some steep areas with lots of switchbacks....but the waterfall is worth it, according to all reports (this is another one I have not personally experienced but am anxious to see).

All right then - I have sketched out your summer Ascension Trekker plan and hope lots of you will want to go. Our weather has been so unpredictable who knows if June and July will be in the 30s or the 90s on any particular day.....let's just hope our schedule falls on great hiking weather.

As usual, we'll plan a 9 am departure time from the church for each of these hikes and please let me know if you want to be on the rsvp list. Because I'll be leaving in mid June, I want to make things as easy as possible for Sally and Andrew to keep everybody informed and to try to have transportation needs taken care of. I'll send out more details on that later.

Stay cool and dry and appreciate Mother Earth and God's Great Cathedral -  Emily  Vreeland