Foothills Striders

Winter hikes, summer reunions highlight group’s year

The Great Smoky Mountains offer a variety of opportunities for hikers of all experience-levels, and, as the new year starts, the Foothills Striders will host two hikes that nature lovers are sure to enjoy.

On Saturday, Jan. 8, the “Get A Little Exercise Hike” will take hikers to Cucumber Gap-Little River Trail Loop out of Elkmont, 5.5 miles. This is a good beginner’s hike and is rated easy. Total time is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and hike leader is Debby Nuchols. For information, call 865-983-5194.

On Saturday, Jan. 22, the Key Swap Hike: Lumber Ridge and Curry Mountain Trails, takes hikers 9.3 miles on a moderate rated hike with approximately a 1,300-ft. elevation gain over 3-4 miles. Total trip time is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with hike leader: T. J. Tolnas. For information, call 865-984-7933.

The Foothill Striders Club is a local, non-profit organization, which was established more than 20 years ago to promote recreation and healthy lifestyles among its members and to provide them with an outlet for community service. The club organizes various activities for the membership including hikes, bike rides, runs, walks, backpack trips, whitewater rafting excursions and picnics.

In July, Blount Today covered a ice cream social get-together and reunion of former and current members held July 25 at Pearson Springs Pavilion. Hiking chair Debby Nuchols said organizers were happy with the turnout. “We had probably close to half our current and former members so we were real pleased with it,” she said of the 50 to 60 who participated.

Club president Gaynell Lawson said the reunion organizers wanted to get into touch with former member and folks who used to be active in club. “We wanted to give them a chance to spend time with current members and share stories of old hikes,” she said. “We had photographs back to 1990, and we enjoyed sharing some of that history with the new members. It brought back good memories.”

“We’ve been around for a very long time,” she said. “We had a T-shirt contest for the person who wore the oldest race T-shirt. We had some T-shirts that went back to 1978.”

Nuchols said the races were all part of the group’s initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles. “We’re also a civic club, and we give back to the community. We give scholarships, do maintenance on trails and trash pickup on the highway.”

The group’s next meeting is Monday, Jan. 3, at Ryan’s Steakhouse, Hunters Crossing Drive, Alcoa. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m., and the program begins at 7 p.m.

This month’s program is by the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross and will be on wilderness and remote first aid.

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